World of Warcraft’s lead systems designer believes its latest update brings back compelling gameplay elements that have been absent since its 2010 expansion.

Speaking with IGN, Greg Street said the Thunder King patch addressed things that, on reflection, had bothered his team since the game's third expansion, Cataclysm.

“We felt like since then, we’d lost our way a little bit,” he said.

“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.

“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.”

New areas didn’t allow flying for that exact reason, said Street.

“Somewhere along the way, we’d lost the sense that being outdoors in the world was kind of a dangerous thing.

“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.”

He hoped the changes would entice back a few of the many players who had quit the game for various reasons during its eight-year lifespan.

“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 said.

The Thunder King update went live last week.