In the interview, Hazzikostas touched on a multitude of topics, from culture both in the game and at Blizzard, and on the future of World of Warcraft in light of the changes it is undergoing in response to the lawsuits filed against it. One of these comments addressed the concept of players from opposite factions being able to play and raid together–a feat presently impossible despite the narrative in World of Warcraft featuring the two forces working together on multiple occasions.
Historically, Hazzikostas and other World of Warcraft developers had swiftly dismissed the idea of cross-faction play. During BlizzConline earlier this year, Hazzikostas said World of Warcraft was at least considering bridging the gap between factions in the future. Now, however, it seems like World of Warcraft is not only entertaining the idea, but strongly considering it, as it would make sense with the narrative direction of the game and solve many population problems, especially on servers where the Alliance and Horde populations are uneven.
I’d say that is a bit more on the radar, yes. That’s one of those areas where, a lot of things to solve, a lot of things to figure out to make it happen, but at the end of the day, if Jaina and Thrall are working alongside each other in the raid, why can’t Alliance and Horde players also work alongside each other in that raid, especially when we know it’s going to solve a lot of the social problems people are grappling with? Particularly trying to keep a high-end Alliance guild together in North America or a Horde one in Oceania.
In the earliest alpha builds of World of Warcraft, Blizzard had planned to allow members of both factions to mingle and play with each other if a character built up a positive reputation with the opposing faction. Unfortunately, this was removed before release, opting to make cross-faction play all but impossible. Players on opposing factions cannot even communicate with one another without the use of a special Elixir of Tongues item, unless they are members of the few opposing races who share a language like Horde Blood Elves and Alliance Void Elves, or Pandaren who joined opposite sides.
The idea of cross-faction gameplay and raiding would make most World of Warcraft players happy. At this point, the story of World of Warcraft has moved beyond the faction war. On a logistical level, some servers have terribly imbalanced populations between Alliance and Horde populations, with the worst of them nearing a 25% to 75% split. Allowing players to more readily cross the faction line would fix this faction imbalance by effectively doubling the player population, which would fix the in-game economy and make finding parties easier.
On the other hand, some players would rather see the factions remain separate. Many World of Warcraft fans have a strong sense of pride in their World of Warcraft faction, and fear removing the wall between them might dilute their identity and complicate World PvP, a popular staple of the game since its release. However, eroding the boundary between factions may help make the opposing faction seem less like faceless enemies, which could help curb toxicity and improve the community–a goal World of Warcraft has been focusing on recently. Nonetheless, World of Warcraft hasn’t communicated any actual plans to implement cross-faction systems, so players will have to see if they ever do.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is available on PC.