After intense debate, endless discussion, and an equally long wait, the developers of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands have finally decided: high-level content will be traversable with members of the opposing faction beginning with patch 9.2.5. This functionality is under development and confirms in passing that patch 9.2.5 is well planned.
We discussed this topic in a fairly recent article and mentioned the possible limitations of such a system. Blizzard details them in the press release below.
What you must remember
- "Cross faction" is planned for patch 9.2.5, not for Eternity's End because it takes too much work to be ready on time.
- It will be possible to invite players from the opposite faction to your party if they are on your BattleTag friends list or real name, or if they are a member of a cross-faction community.
- All predefined groups dedicated to dungeons, raids and rated PvP will be open to players of both factions. This includes raids, mythic (also mythic+) dungeons, arenas, and rated battlegrounds.
- The party leader will be able to choose to restrict the research access of the players of his faction only if he wishes to do so.
- Guilds, random activities (heroic dungeons, for example), skirmishes and random battlefields remain exclusively dedicated to each faction.
-Cross factions will be available for legacy instances with the exception of Battle of Dazar'alor, Trial of the Crusader, and Icecrown Citadel, as well as a few other faction-specific instances (for now, these will be reworked later).
- Other than instanced content, nothing will change on a faction's side.
For years, many players have wondered if the rules restricting communication and cooperation between the Alliance and the Horde should be so strict. The division between factions could prevent good friends from playing together or cause players to feel that their faction offers them far fewer opportunities to experience the group content they love the most. These disadvantages have long been justified as a way to preserve a central element of the universe of Warcraft. After all, it all started with a game called Warcraft: Orcs & Humans.
However, to quote a former Horde warchief: "Times have changed."
I'm pleased to announce that we're working on implementing the ability for Alliance and Horde players to form organized groups for dungeons, raids, and rated PvP. We have behind us two decades of codes and content that we have created with the certainty that groups can only be made up of players of the same faction and, although we want this feature to be available as soon as possible, the magnitude of the change means that we will not can be prepared in time for the next content update, end of eternity. We plan to test and release it as part of the upcoming 9.2.5 update. We're looking forward to hearing your feedback on the information we're going to share this time as well as the details regarding the implementation when the feature is made available on the Public Test Realm after the release of end of eternity.
When designing the rules for this new feature, we have based on two objectives:
- Focus on the game by stays already organized. Dungeons, raids, and rated PvP have been at the center of some of the most interesting discussions as a method of loosening the factional divide. This type of content, by definition, requires an already organized group and, therefore, is where social barriers most affect people's ability to access these experiences in the conditions they prefer.
- Make sure the feature is optional as much as possible. Due to both the fiction of the game world and the preferences of the players, decades of rancor must be overcome. While we're excited about giving players the option to ignore the faction divide and cooperate to defeat common enemies, we realize there will be many who will react cautiously to this change, and we don't want to hurt them either. This is about giving players more options.
These premises have led us to the following system:
- Players will be able to directly invite members of the opposing faction to a party if they share friendship by their BattleTag or Real ID, or are a member of a community of WoWinterfaces.
- Groups already created in the Group Finder lists for Mythic Dungeons, Raids/Arena, and CBP will be available to those who request them in both factions. However, the party leader may choose to restrict entry to members of the same faction only.
- Guilds will still be single-factioned, and random assignment activities like Heroic Dungeons, Skirmishes, or Random Battlegrounds will still be single-factioned. This is because factions put less pressure on random groups, and it also avoids compromising the optional nature of participation intrinsic to the feature, as there could be cases of assigning an orc that is queuing to a group in which there is a night elf.
Once in a party, members of opposing factions will still be unfriendly while in the open world (and totally hostile in war mode!) as before, though they will still be able to communicate via party chat. However, when entering a dungeon, raid, or rated PvP encounter, all members will be friendly and can assist each other in combat, trade loot, earn shared achievements, and cooperate as members of the same faction always have. . An important reason why we have announced this feature in advance is that we want to make sure that we are meeting all expectations and requirements for a smooth experience. A party raiding, completing Mythic+ Keystones, or seeking high PvP ratings should have no problem doing so, whether the members are from the same faction or different factions.
This functionality, which will also apply to classic instances, will be available at all levels, though there will be several older instances that faction groups won't be able to enter, at least for now: the Battle of Dazar'alor, Trial of the Crusader, Icecrown Citadel (remember the battle between warships?), and others that contain faction-specific elements that we will need to redesign to support these types of groups.
Some of you have probably read this far with some trepidation and concern that this is undermining a fundamental principle of Warcraft. At BlizzCon 2019, when an attendee asked about faction play, we replied that the Alliance/Horde split was a pillar of what makes Warcraft sea Warcraft. However, on second thought, it seems to us that this was oversimplifying it: the identity of the Alliance and the Horde is the really fundamental thing in Warcraft. While that identity has been a source of division and conflict at times, we have seen the Alliance and the Horde find common ground and collaborate ever since. Warcraft (which also happened the last time a chapter of Warcraft it was called end of eternity...). In addition, the occasions in which they have cooperated in the own World of Warcraft they are countless.
We hope that these changes serve to strengthen the identity of the factions by allowing more players to play with the faction whose values, aesthetics and characters they find more interesting instead of being forced to choose between their personal preferences and the ability to play with their friends.
After the events of Battle for Azeroth, the Alliance and the Horde have reached an uneasy armistice. Both factions still maintain their differences, and despite the fact that some of their leaders collaborate with each other in the Shadowlands, countless members of each faction are neither willing to forgive nor forget the actions of the war. For every Jaina there is a Genn, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon. Regardless, what if players make that decision for themselves, especially in co-op environments where the story revolves around coming together to overcome fearsome threats?