WoW players will soon be able to form parties for dungeons, raids, and rated PvP across factions, finally lifting restrictions between Horde and Alliance.
In a move that will likely divide the fanbase much like the Horde and Alliance struggle itself, Blizzard have announced their plans to introduce cross-faction instances to World of Warcraft. For decades, the faction war has seen players commit to their side, without any way to party up with the opposing faction. The divide is deeply rooted in WoW's content and lore so to say this is a big deal is an understatement.
But, in a recent blog post by Game Director Ion Hazzikostas, Blizzard announced their reasoning behind the decision.
"For years now, many players have questioned whether the rules restricting communication and cooperation between Alliance and Horde need to be so absolute," the post read. "The faction divide could keep close friends from playing together, or cause players to feel that their faction leaves them with far fewer opportunities to pursue their favorite group content."
"But, to quote a one-time Warchief of the Horde, “Times change.”"
World of Warcraft Introduces Cross-Faction Instances
The new changes will allow players in both Horde and Alliance to form premade parties together in order to tackle dungeons, raids, and rated PvP. The studio clarified that the extent of the change means that it won't be ready in time for the Eternity’s End content update, instead aiming for a subsequent 9.2.5 update.
The change will be implemented through following certain guidelines. According to the blog post, these will be:
- Focus on organized instanced gameplay
- Make this an opt-in feature as much as possible
From these guidelines, the following system has so far been laid out:
- Players will be able to directly invite members of the opposite faction to a party with a BattleTag or Real ID friendship, or if you are members of a cross-faction WoW Community.
- Premade Groups in the Group Finder listings for Mythic dungeons, raids, or rated arena/RBGs will be open to applicants of both factions, though the group leader may choose to restrict the listing to same-faction applicants if they so choose.
- Guilds will remain single-faction, and random matchmade activities like Heroic dungeons, Skirmishes, or Random Battlegrounds will all remain same-faction (both because there is less faction-driven pressure around random groups, and to avoid compromising the opt-in nature of the feature by randomly placing a queuing orc in a group with a night elf).
It's understandable that these changes will be met with uncertainty from WoW's playerbase, but Blizzard has maintained that they hope the changes will be well-received in the end.
"We’re hopeful that these changes will serve to actually strengthen faction identity by allowing more players to play the faction whose values, aesthetic, and characters they find more compelling, rather than feeling forced to choose between their personal preference and the ability to play with friends. "
"We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on this feature both now and once it arrives for testing on the 9.2.5 PTR. We’ll see you in Azeroth."