WoW: Trike!

Have I mentioned my goblin turbo-trike? No? I’ve had it for a while now, and it’s easily my most prized possession in World of Warcraft.

I described goblin trikes in a previous post as three-wheeled go-karts. The turbo-trike is similar, but goes faster, and has a raccoon tail on an antenna and flames painted on the engine housing, clearly souped-up but still as ungainly-looking as the original, half hot rod and half Big Wheel. Like all mounts in this game, it vanishes when not in use; obtaining a mount means learning a spell you can use to summon it. I have several mounts, some in both their slow and fast versions, and, aside from the fact that some are fast and some are slow, they’re basically all equivalent in terms of gameplay. But the feel of the trikes is superior in two respects. First, the ride feels very smooth. With other mounts, you get hoofbeats and the rocking motion of galloping. Goblin trikes just go forward, without any fuss. You can move and steer (both in and out of vehicles) with the mouse by holding both left and right buttons down, and doing so in a trike feels very simple and direct in a way that a more complicated animation would spoil.

Secondly, trikes are pleasingly incongruous. Now, Azeroth is a technologically diverse place. Chainmail and rifles are both commonplace, and robots and rocketships are not unheard of. So internal combustion engines have a place here, even if they’re magically summoned. Nonetheless, many of the settings — elfin glades, deep jungles, trackless wastelands — have dominant moods that jar a little with puttering around in a little car. (It helps that the design of the trike kind of jars with itself. The trike is automatically scaled to fit its owner, but “fit” here means “appears to be a little too small for”. Oleari really needs a fez.) I won’t say it spoils the mood exactly — but it does help to keep things from feeling too serious.

The best part is that trikes have all the abilities that all the other mounts do, but the mere fact that it’s a little car doing them makes it all much jollier. What abilities are these?

  • It can jump. With a horse, you’d take that for granted. With a car, it becomes like something out of an old videogame. Sometimes when I’m going over the top of a hill, I’ll jump at the end, knowing that I’ll take damage when I hit the ground, just because it seems somehow appropriate. Other steeds do not inspire this behavior.
  • It can go up stairs, on ramps, and into some buildings. Most interiors automatically unmount you, but some of the larger, more monumental enclosed spaces are treated like outdoors, so you can send the trike zooming up and down corridors like it’s a child’s toy.
  • It can swim. It can swim underwater, just driving upward and downward like a little open-air submarine. I recall James Bond had a car that could do this in one film, but his was at least airtight, and went through a little transformation sequence to shift between ground mode and underwater mode. Also, although it doesn’t involve swimming per se, driving along the bottom of a lake and emerging on the other side is fun.
  • Shamans have a spell for walking on water. It applies to your mount as well. I’ve come to really like driving around on the surface of the ocean. It’s often the easiest way to get from point A to point B, because there are no obstacles, not even any wandering monsters. (The ocean has monsters, but they’re all underwater.) Again, you can do this with any mount, but the trike’s smoother ride brings out the smoothness of the surface.

Combining these, sometimes the game presents an opportunity to jump into a body of water, be carried under the surface by your momentum, and then surface and drive away.

Soon, Oleari will be advanced enough to be permitted flying mounts. We’ll see if the turbo trike is still my favorite mount or not when that happens, but at the moment, it seems to me that flying has the danger of making the terrain irrelevant. Half the fun of the trike is how it interacts with the terrain.

1 Comment so far

  1. malkav11 on 3 Apr 2011

    It does make terrain largely irrelevant, but it’s also WAY faster getting around (which is important at later levels), gives you access to some areas that simply can’t be reached without flying, and gives you a lot of really pretty aerial views without being stuck on a preprogrammed inefficient flight path.

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