Could WoW's long-lasting faction war be coming to an end?
For two consecutive World of Warcraft expansions, the games two central factions, the Alliance and Horde, have been working together toward common goals instead of fighting each other head-on, as they had throughout most of the games history. While elements of the longstanding faction war are still present in WoW, its becoming clear the two iconic sides are slowly becoming more and more unified over time.
Today, Blizzard developers emphasized the WoW dev team is taking strides to tear down barriers between the games faction split.
Were looking to update the choice available to players to reflect the shared experiences we have with our real-life friends but also the in-world stories that were telling, WoW game director Ion Hazzikostas said in a group interview today. What weve often said is if Thrall and Jaina can choose to work together and stand in the face of a common enemy, then why can’t you and your opposite faction friend make the same decision?
In the next WoW: Dragonflight patch, which releases on Tuesday, May 2, players will have the ability to invite members of the opposite faction to their guild, breaking a tradition that had been a part of WoW since its release in 2004.
Cross-faction guilds expand upon the cross-faction gameplay initiative Blizzard brought to instances in the later stages of the games last expansion, Shadowlands.
Still, even though an eventual unification of the two factions is likely on the horizon, Blizzard is navigating a slower timeline to complete cross-faction play. Largely, there are two reasons why Blizzard is taking a measured and conservative approach to unification: one of which is technical and another thats based purely on player passion.
Hazzikostas mentioned that not only would there be a lot of “untangling” to do in the game’s code in order for cross-faction gameplay to work fully, but that Blizzard wants to understand the ramifications of social changes surrounding the game-altering system before the devs commit to it fully.
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Introducing cross-faction play to WoWs ecosystem and allowing players to interact with their friends across the faction divide, only for that privilege to be ripped away from them is not a position Blizzard wants to find itself inand the devs understand that. Getting out in front of any cross-faction-related issues is a priority for the WoW dev team.
Philosophically, we want to tear down barriers and reframe faction as something that is a reflection of cosmetics, theming, what values appeal to you, and what place you want to take in the World of Warcraft; less about who you can and cant play the game with, Hazzikostas said.Screengrab via Blizzard Entertainment
While the idea of bringing cross-faction gameplay to the forefront of the WoW experience may be welcome for some players, there are others who are staunch in their ways. Particularly, Battle for Azeroth was a turning point for faction-stricken WoW players, as the introduction of World PvP via War Mode only heightened tensions between the Alliance and Hordetensions that have remained in Shadowlands and Dragonflight.
In regard to WoWs overarching narrative, the faction war could be a thing of the past, although with a game like WoW, theres never a never, WoWs lead quest designer Josh Augustine told Dot Esports in a group interview.
In the past, I would say in some ways, we were hamstrung to the Horde and Alliance. It was so cutthroat and it was harder to tell stories of them working together. But in Dragonflight and recent [expansions] we see lots more opportunities to show them working together, but there are still tons of opportunities to show that not everyones on board with that.
Theres no telling where WoWs story will go following Dragonflight, especially since cosmic plotlines surrounding entities like the Infinite Dragonflight and the Old Gods could come to fruition. Regardless of where the story goes, though, its almost certain the relationship between the Alliance and Horde will evolve right alongside it.