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Cross-Faction Instances Coming in Patch 9.2.5

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Blizzard is working on cross-faction play, allowing Alliance and Horde players to form premade groups for dungeons, raids, and Rated PvP in Patch 9.2.5. Here's an in-development preview of the feature. 

The feature will be available for playtesting shortly after Patch 9.2 goes live.

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For years now, many players have questioned whether the rules restricting communication and cooperation between Alliance and Horde need to be so absolute. The faction divide could keep close friends from playing together, or cause players to feel that their faction leaves them with far fewer opportunities to pursue their favorite group content. But these downsides have long been justified in order to preserve a central element of the Warcraft universe—it all began with a game titled, “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans,” right?

But, to quote a one-time Warchief of the Horde, “Times change.”


I am pleased to announce that we are working on adding the ability for Alliance and Horde players to form premade parties together for dungeons, raids, and rated PvP. There have been two decades’ worth of code and content crafted with the assumption that parties can only have players of a single faction, and while we want to make this feature available as soon as possible, the extent of the change means that it couldn’t be ready in time for the upcoming Eternity’s End content update. Instead, we are planning to test and release it as part of a subsequent 9.2.5 update. We’re eager to hear your feedback about the details we’re sharing today and on the details of our implementation when this feature becomes available to the Public Test Realm following the release of Eternity’s End.

In crafting the ruleset for this new feature, we were guided by two goals:

  • Focus on organized instanced gameplay. Dungeons, raids, and rated PvP have been at the center of the most compelling arguments for relaxing the faction divide. This is content that by definition requires a premade group, and thus social barriers will have the greatest negative impact on people’s ability to access these experiences on their preferred terms.
  • Make this an opt-in feature as much as possible. In terms of in-world fiction and player preferences, there are decades of animosity to overcome. While we are excited to offer players the choice to reach across the faction divide and cooperate to overcome common foes, we know that there are many who will react warily to this change, and we don’t want to override those preferences. This is about increasing options for players.

These guidelines led us to the following system:

  • Players will be able to directly invite members of the opposite faction to a party if you have a BattleTag or Real ID friendship, or if you are members of a cross-faction WoW Community.
  • Premade Groups in the Group Finder listings for Mythic dungeons, raids, or rated arena/RBGs will be open to applicants of both factions, though the group leader may choose to restrict the listing to same-faction applicants if they so choose.
  • Guilds will remain single-faction, and random matchmade activities like Heroic dungeons, Skirmishes, or Random Battlegrounds will all remain same-faction (both because there is less faction-driven pressure around random groups, and to avoid compromising the opt-in nature of the feature by randomly placing a queuing orc in a group with a night elf).

Once in a party together, members of the opposite faction will remain unfriendly while in the “outdoor” world (and fully hostile in War Mode!), as they do today, though they will be able to communicate through party chat. Upon entering a dungeon, raid, or rated PvP match, however, all members will be friendly and able to assist each other in combat, trade loot, earn shared achievements, and otherwise fully cooperate the same way members of the same faction have always been able to. A major goal in announcing this feature in advance is to make sure we’re capturing all the expectations and requirements for this to be a smooth experience. A group raiding, doing Mythic+ keys, or chasing higher PvP ratings should be able to operate seamlessly whether they’re a same-faction or cross-faction group.

This functionality will also apply to legacy instances, and is available at all levels, though there will be several older instances that cross-faction parties cannot enter, at least for now: Battle of Dazar’alor, Trial of the Crusader, Icecrown Citadel (remember that Gunship Battle?), and a handful of others that similarly have extensive faction-specific components that will have to be reworked to support cross-faction parties.

There are likely those who have read this far with some unease, worried that this is chipping away at a foundational principle of Warcraft. At BlizzCon in 2019, when an attendee asked about cross-faction play, we responded at the time that “Alliance and Horde separation … is a pillar of what makes Warcraft, Warcraft.” But upon reflection, that’s an oversimplification: Alliance and Horde identity is what is fundamental to Warcraft. And while at times that identity has been one of division and open conflict, we’ve seen Alliance and Horde finding common ground and working together ever since Warcraft III (notably including the last time a Warcraft chapter was named “Eternity’s End” …), and the instances of cooperation in World of Warcraft itself are too numerous to count.

We’re hopeful that these changes will serve to actually strengthen faction identity by allowing more players to play the faction whose values, aesthetic, and characters they find more compelling, rather than feeling forced to choose between their personal preference and the ability to play with friends.  

Following the events of Battle for Azeroth, the Alliance and Horde are poised in an uneasy armistice. The factions still stand apart, and even as some of their leaders cooperate in the Shadowlands, countless members of each faction will neither forgive nor forget the wartime actions of the other. For every Jaina, there is a Genn, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon. But why shouldn’t players be able to make that choice for themselves, especially in cooperative settings where the story revolves around coming together to overcome dire threats?


We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on this feature both now and once it arrives for testing on the 9.2.5 PTR. We’ll see you in Azeroth.

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Good news, hopefully it's a step towards a full merge, otherwise it won't fix much. Looks like they still have to work around some limitations, like raids containing a faction-specific content, but this could be solved by simply adding a toggle, which version to pick.

Edited by Arcling
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32 minutes ago, Teufel said:

So... Mythic raiding?

Should work for Mythic raiding as well. Does mean guilds might need to fully transition into communities?

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I guess I am probably the only one that doesn't like this... I suppose they already killed off any Faction loyalty most people had left anyways. Wonder if this leads to some things with the next expansion. Maybe the Horde and the Alliance just both completely fall apart lorewise. Would make more sense than anything else that has happened in-game for the last 5 years.

Edited by Devylknyght
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18 minutes ago, Prophet001 said:

Makes sense for gameplay and practicality but it's horrible for the Warcraft Universe.

You mean the universe where we've ignored faction divide and fought together in EVERY expac?

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1 hour ago, Nym85 said:

Should work for Mythic raiding as well. Does mean guilds might need to fully transition into communities?

Guilds still remain separate, so this changes nothing for mythic raiding. You still need people from your own server for the most recent mythic. Not sure if doing this as a pug counts. Perhaps it will require people to be in same guild anyway to be eligible, but regardless of that, current raiding guilds will likely require their members to remain on their faction.

49 minutes ago, Prophet001 said:

Makes sense for gameplay and practicality but it's horrible for the Warcraft Universe.

We've already had mercenary mode for PvP, you could also fight your own faction on arenas and battlegrounds. This barely makes any difference, just enabling it for PvE as well, although not completely (yet). Don't see how this is horrible for the lore, given what happened with Jailer etc. Besides, if enemies couldn't overcome their differences, then Forsaken and Blood Elves would never join Orcs, because they fought each other in previous wars.

Edited by Arcling

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18 minutes ago, Arcling said:

Guilds still remain separate, so this changes nothing for mythic raiding. You still need people from your own server for the most recent mythic. Not sure if doing this as a pug counts. Perhaps it will require people to be in same guild anyway to be eligible, but regardless of that, current raiding guilds will likely require their members to remain on their faction.

cross faction does allow them to take advantage of racials from both if its relevant for a specific fight

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4 minutes ago, Ulzorn said:

cross faction does allow them to take advantage of racials from both if its relevant for a specific fight

Do they still require set amount of guild members to earn their achievement/Hall of Fame?

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1 hour ago, Arcling said:

Do they still require set amount of guild members to earn their achievement/Hall of Fame?

no idea about that,tbh. and HoF is another beast entirely

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Negative feedback? I've seen nothing but positive feedback about that

8 minutes ago, SidonisAntares said:

Man they are really ticking off the wishlist to preserve subscriptions in light of the scandals and negative feedback over the Microsoft purchase.

 

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3 hours ago, Devylknyght said:

I guess I am probably the only one that doesn't like this...

Well then, I guess it's a good thing this optional feature is optional for you. Hey?

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Good and all but i was waiting for full Cross-Fraction, making groups and do quests together... Just hope eventually all content (barring some raids and quests with fractions specific stuff *coff ICC) become Cross-Fraction

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Once in a party together, members of the opposite faction will remain unfriendly while in the “outdoor” world (and fully hostile in War Mode!)

So, griefers will now invite you to the M+ key you really need, teleport you in front of the instance and gank the *filtered* out of you before you are kicked?
I hope stuff like this is handled in beta testing...

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7 hours ago, Knokkelmann said:

So, griefers will now invite you to the M+ key you really need, teleport you in front of the instance and gank the *filtered* out of you before you are kicked?
I hope stuff like this is handled in beta testing...

Most of the times you'll be immediately moved to a different shard, so I don't think that will be an issue

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14 hours ago, Lestat777 said:

Well then, I guess it's a good thing this optional feature is optional for you. Hey?

Yeah it's also a good thing that paying to play the game optional as well.

Part of me keeps hoping for something that will get me excited to come back. It's nice that this will do that for a lot of people. Just not for me. Maybe the next expansion will have a different faction layout like the covenants or something. Choosing your dragonflight, or light or void or something. I just think HvA WAS the game for me. Without it, I don't think it has the same appeal for me. 

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4 hours ago, Devylknyght said:

I just think HvA WAS the game for me. Without it, I don't think it has the same appeal for me. 

But we've already had mercenary mode for bgs for years. Did you quit back then? Also you could fight your own faction in rated bgs already. Arenas were introduced in TBC, did you quit back then too? Factions don't work, people will choose to be on a larger faction (Horde is getting close to like 70%), until nothing can be done on the other one.

 

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