No cross-faction play, no end to the faction divide in the cards in WoW
A question at the WoW Q&A panel made the case for why loosening the faction restrictions of World of Warcraft would be nice (i.e. finding people to fill out your mythic or raid groups, having cross-faction communities or enabling mercenary mode in order to help speed up queues in Raid Finder, etc). The question was met with cheers from many in the audience, but game director Ion Hazzikostas, after admitting that help with those issues was important, dashed everyone’s hopes by stating very clearly that the faction divide is here to stay.
Specifically, Hazzikostas noted that identifying with one faction or the other — ironically something that had been highlighted literally seconds before when panel moderator Evitel had people shout out their faction battlecries at the same time — was something that is core to Warcraft. It’s something that they feel makes the Warcraft setting what it is, and despite all of the positive outcomes that might result from loosening those barriers, it is not something that they consider to be possible for the franchise anytime soon.
There’s an element of this that, for me, strains credulity. We’re coming off of a faction war in Battle for Azeroth that was set off for what we’re now learning were completely false pretenses: that Sylvanas was intentionally causing a large number of deaths in order to feed the Shadowlands as part of her arrangement with the Jailer. We are confronting the forces of death, something that is a common end for all people, regardless of faction. And if you remember an exchange from the original death knight starting experience in Wrath of the Lich King, you even have human death knight Thassarian remarking to orc death knight Orbaz Bloodbane that “in death, we are brothers.”
There’s nothing that would serve as a better opportunity to end the faction divide than a conflict against death itself, especially if traveling to the world of death forces us to confront that fact firsthand. And yet, the WoW team is staying dedicated to the idea that Horde and Alliance are two separate teams and never shall the two truly share common ground.
However, there’s something important to keep in mind. Consider the WoW deep dive panel earlier in the day, where Brian Holinka (now dubbed “the Un-Pruner”) came out and revealed that many abilities and concepts that had once been removed from player classes would be making a comeback. The decision had been made once that those abilities no longer emphasized the aspects of the classes and specs that the design team felt needed to be emphasized. Now, years later, that perspective has shifted, and those abilities are being brought back to present the classes and specs in different ways. It’s possible that this belief, that Warcraft is built on this inherent rivalry between the Alliance and the Horde, is something that could be ruled as no longer being in the best interests of the franchise at some future point.
That day is not today, however. Regardless of whatever new monstrous threats we face together, from intergalactic space demons to all-devouring old gods to the realm of death itself, right now Warcraft is about red versus blue and that’s not going to change for the foreseeable future.
If you can’t tell, I’m disappointed in this answer even if I can respect Hazzikostas and the team for sticking to their convictions on this.
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