World Of Warcraft's Game Director Talks Challenges Of Enabling Cross-Faction Play

Saying there is "no quick solution," the issue of the faction divide between Horde and Alliance is something the WoW team is aware it needs to address.


World of Warcraft has always been defined by one question: Horde or Alliance? That faction divide has shaped the game since it first launched, with Horde and Alliance players unable to team up with one another for dungeons, raids, or other endgame content.

But that might not always be the case. In a Twitter thread discussing WoW's upcoming 9.1.5 patch, game director Ion Hazzikostas discussed the importance of how the game's narrative factors into gameplay, but clarified that "story considerations alone" shouldn't dictate "frustrating mechanics." Patch 9.1.5 will finally allow players to change Covenants without penalty, something Blizzard previously seemed reluctant to allow sooner due to story purposes.

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In the current Shadowlands story as of patch 9.1, the various Covenants of the Shadowlands have largely converged to join forces and battle against the Jailer. Hazzikostas says that provides a narrative justification for more flexibility in allowing players to soon be able to freely swap between the different Covenants.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the divide between Horde and Alliance, the answer isn't as simple, as Hazzikostas explains. He goes on to call the faction barrier a "major issue" that the WoW team knows it needs to address.

It's a topic Hazzikostas has touched on before. During a BlizzConline Q&A panel earlier this year, Hazzikostas said the idea of cross-faction play wasn't off the table.

“At the end of the day an MMO like World of Warcraft is about being able to play with your friends, being able to play where you want to be and arguably, there’s greater stretch in the faction identity if you feel you can truly choose the faction you identify with, that you feel most a part of, and not have to sacrifice that because you need to be with your group or you want to join a higher-rated guild," he said.

WoW's 9.1.5 patch will bring about multiple fan-requested changes to Shadowlands, including the removal of the game's unpopular AOE cap and more character creation options. The update is currently being tested on the game's public test realm and does not yet have an official release date.

Blizzard continues to grapple with the fallout from a state of California lawsuit alleging Blizzard fosters a "frat boy" workplace culture. Allegations in the lawsuit have seen the departure of numerous Blizzard veterans and in-game changes to remove references to various developers.

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