Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Possibility of Relaxing the Cross-Faction Restrictions

Before real ID and battle net, if you wanted to keep in contact with your friends, you had to add their characters' names to your friends list. Each time you made an alt, you whispered your friends to add you so you could talk, along with making sure to get a guild invite. It was unlikely that your friends were even on the other faction unless you met them in real life. It was difficult to make cross-faction friends through other mediums over the internet, especially since faction loyalty was much stronger during vanilla.

as demonstrated with cats

But real ID changed everything.

Now we can change our faction on a whim if we have the money to spare, and we can keep in contact with friends regardless of what character we're playing. We can not only easily keep in contact with everyone we know, but we can group up even if we're on different servers. The only thing we cannot do is group with people on the opposite faction.

It's only natural that we'd like to play with our cross-faction friends, but usually do so by trying to convince them to play our faction. However, due to the changes to the game in how we can keep in touch with friends, there has been questioning if there should even be a faction restriction.

Blizzard has stated they have no intentions of removing the faction barrier, but we all know Blizzard changes their mind if they have new arguments or reasoning for it.

Personally, I can see the benefits from relaxing cross-faction restrictions in areas. However, I'm in favor of making decisions based on lore - regardless of how much I'd like to play with my alliance friends, it would be jarring and awkward. Gnomes aren't supposed to be my tanks and the elves I know can't turn into bears. I don't feel it would make sense that in the midst of war and hatred, we would suddenly be okay to fight regular old monsters side by side. A heroic dungeon isn't much of a "we have no chance unless we fight together," kind of situation.

A full out faction restriction removal would be coming out of nowhere and I honestly believe it would have an overall negative effect. While there is a large voice of people who would like cross-faction interaction, a much larger group of people have either no idea it's even being discussed or outright disagree with it. I do think, though, that relaxing faction restrictions could work. Exclusively PvE content on a purely intentional basis (as in, you could not join any queues in a cross-faction group) could be feasible without being game breaking.

communicating would be difficult at first

There are obvious issues with removing faction restrictions when we look at PvP servers and random battlegrounds, though we already see same faction fighting within arena and rated battlegrounds. Unless faction restrictions were removed entirely and unequivocally which thereby removed world PvP as a thing (or alternately, enabling everyone to fight everyone), anything outside of instances would require endless restrictions, rules, and clarifications to keep it from being broken and exploited.

However, consider Thrall's original vision for the horde - ultimately peace between the two factions. Prince Anduin also expresses a desire for peace rather than war. We just had an entire expansion about how war is worse for everyone involved and that it can be used to trick us - Wrathion's vision was for the alliance to conquer the horde after the siege, but lied to them in order to try to manipulate the war toward his own ends.

There are characters like Valeera Sanguinar, a blood elf that is alliance aligned. It isn't entirely out of bounds to imagine that specific members of each faction could find peace between each other to work together. I feel that disallowing cross-faction groups to join queues that would include additional people who were unaware of the feature would be necessary to maintain immersion. While I may have found a friend in this particular dwarf, I may not be totally okay fighting side by side with this draene or finding myself the only horde player with a group of alliance.

and I definitely don't want to work with any humans

Not only from a strictly lore viewpoint, but considering there is a much larger group of people not okay with cross-faction grouping or unaware of it, the reactions and behaviors of the playerbase could be detrimental - if my tank and healer are proud alliance dwarves who think tauren are totally lame, I'm not exactly going to be treated well within that group, and I'd have no way to avoid those kinds of situations.

Now, this is of course just my take on it. What happens is entirely up to Blizzard - though given what we have to work with, I could see something like this happening. I don't believe it would happen any time soon, of course. Would you be upset at the start of the end to the "war" in "warcraft", or happy that you could finally play with your friends without compromising?

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