World of Warcraft's lead systems designer believes the latest update brings back the classic gameplay that made the MMORPG so compelling in the first place, after too many years focusing on secondary concerns.
Blizzard's Greg Street told IGN that World of Warcraft went downhill with its third expansion, Cataclysm.
"We felt like since then, we’d lost our way a little bit. We had some really epic quests and we’ve told some great stories, but the second-to-second combat out in the field wasn’t as interesting," he said.
"So we made an effort with the launch of Pandaria and we redoubled it with this most recent patch to make a lot of cool stuff for players to do out in the world. We still have great dungeons and other instance content, but we also just have fun things to do out in the world with your friends."
That's one of the reasons why the new areas added in patch 5.2 don't allow flying.
"Somewhere along the way, we’d lost the sense that being outdoors in the world was kind of a dangerous thing," Street said.
"Walking around and fighting mobs is basically the heart of World of Warcraft, and we had lost a little bit of that and wanted to make it fun again."
World of Warcraft has been active for eight years, and Street said that along the way its lost "a lot of players" for various reasons.
"It's great to give those players a reason to come back and try it again, and appealing to their nostalgia is a good way of doing that," he added.
Update 5.2, The Thunder King, released last week.