World of Warcraft players will soon be able to play dungeons, raids, and rated PvP together regardless of whether they ally with the Alliance or the Horde. Blizzard Entertainment explains that the feature won’t be ready in time for the upcoming Eternity’s End update but will release in a subsequent 9.2.5 update – there are two decades of code to plough through, after all.
“For years now, many players have questioned whether the rules restricting communication and cooperation between Alliance and Horde need to be so absolute,” the developer says. “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 favourite group content. But these downsides have long been justified in order to preserve a central element of the Warcraft universe—it all began with a game titled, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, right? But, to quote a one-time Warchief of the Horde, ‘Times change.'”
Once the feature arrives, you’ll be able to directly invite members of the opposite faction to a party if you have them on your friend list or if you’re a part of a cross-faction WoW community.
You’ll also find that premade groups in the group finder listings for Mythic dungeons, raids, or rated arena modes will be open to applicants of both factions, though you can still limit your group to one faction if you’re the leader.
However, guilds and Heroic dungeons, skirmishes, and random battlegrounds will remain limited to one 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,” Blizzard says.
The move is significant as the conflict between the Alliance and Horde has been a central part of Warcraft for years. I mean, hey, for the past two decades, you couldn’t raid with a buddy if they were in the opposing faction. For Blizzard, though, it’s time to rethink that.
“There are likely those who have read this far with some unease, worried that this is chipping away at a foundational principle of Warcraft,” Blizzard says. “At BlizzCon in 2019, when an attendee asked about cross-faction play, we responded at the time that ‘Alliance and Horde separation … is a pillar of what makes Warcraft, Warcraft.’ But upon reflection, that’s an oversimplification: Alliance and Horde identity is what is fundamental to Warcraft. And while at times that identity has been one of division and open conflict, we’ve seen Alliance and Horde finding common ground and working together ever since Warcraft III (notably including the last time a Warcraft chapter was named ‘Eternity’s End’), and the instances of cooperation in World of Warcraft itself are too numerous to count.
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“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.”
In other WoW news, Blizzard has revealed that it will no longer allow organisations to offer several “non-traditional” services in the MMORPG, including boosting, matchmaking, and escrow. It’s certainly been a busy day or so for the long-running MMO.