I asked Blizzard about WoW cross-faction guilds in the wake of World of Warcraft Dragonflight and, while the devs remained tight-lipped, I was pretty sure we’d see them implemented alongside WoW Dragonflight patch 10.1. In the wake of the announcement, I asked production director Pat Dawson and lead quest designer Maria Hamilton whether or not the MMO‘s cross-faction play takes the ‘war’ out of ‘Warcraft,’ a sentiment I’ve seen floating around the internet for a while.
You see, the Horde and Alliance have been at each other’s throats since the dawn of Azeroth itself. Before WoW Shadowlands patch 9.2.5, players could only raid, farm, and chill with members of the same faction – wandering into an Alliance farming zone almost always lead to certain death for Horde members, and vice versa.
With the implementation of cross-faction instances in Eternity’s End, the playerbase has been split down the middle. While some are happy to raid with Alliance players because it means playing with friends, others have remained staunchly against the idea, claiming it taints the multiplayer game‘s very soul.
Importantly, you do not have to partake in cross-faction instances. All of this is opt in and opt out, including the cross-faction guilds that will be accompanying Dragonflight 10.1.
I asked Dawson and Hamilton this exact question: do cross-faction instances take the ‘war’ out of ‘Warcraft,’ leading to a resounding shaking of heads. “One of the core concepts of World of Warcraft is this conflict between Alliance and Horde, and that’s still true” Dawson tells PCGamesN.
“You can go in and battle as Horde team and an Alliance team in Battlegrounds and PvP. However you want to enjoy that conflict; you still can do that. That’s something that we don’t anticipate changing or removing in any way.
“But we also know that, as times have changed in the story of World of Warcraft as well as the world itself, it’s nice to be able to enjoy a larger community, play with more people, and take on bigger challenges as a team regardless of what faction you may have chosen,” he continues.
“The idea here is to give opportunities to people that want that larger community and that want to play with their friends, but in Warsong Gulch you’re going to do Alliance versus Horde. We want to serve both communities that are interested in doing different activities.”
“For me, my character can hate the opposite faction and want to fight them and kill them, but as a player I want to play with my brother,” Hamilton chimes in. “As a player I want to have the option to play with my friends, and that’s my choice.
“If my guild is open to inviting players of the opposite faction, then we’ll do that. I can do it now – we can do Mythics – but this is just the next step, I don’t think it changes anything with the Horde and Alliance hating each other,” she states. “You’re not going to be able to walk into the capital city and not get murdered! That’s still there!
“It’s a convenience for players, and it’s a convenience for those who have invested time and energy into characters they love” she concludes, highlighting that “players who want to maintain that sense of competition don’t have to invite the opposite faction in.”
I understand Maria’s sentiment entirely. As someone who has played WoW for a long time, introducing it to my partner was made harder by the fact he initially wanted to play Alliance. He, however, like me, took one look at the faction balance (or therein lack of) on the servers and was quick to abandon Alliance for Horde. By the time cross-faction instances came in, he was playing a character he didn’t love as much – and wasn’t exactly thrilled about it. Create a new character? Sure, but that isn’t always a viable option – leveling and gearing up takes time.
If the new cross-faction guilds have inspired you to dive back into Azeroth, be sure to check out our WoW Dragonflight review for a head’s up on what to expect. We also have a WoW Dragonflight tier list to help you choose the best class and spec for you.