The Daily Grind: Should MMOs with PvP-focused factions allow cross-faction interaction?

I’m on-board for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth focusing on the factional conflict, but there’s a side of the factions in WoW that has always bugged me: the lack of cross-faction interaction. I can’t group with Horde characters while I’m playing an Alliance character, cannot meaningfully help them advance quests, can’t even talk to them. In terms of interaction, they wind up feeling like very smart NPC characters with no options beyond “hit it” or “ignore it.”

By contrast, Star Wars: The Old Republic has two factions that literally cannot coexist in the same galaxy peacefully, and it has actually done a better job of giving both factions chances to interact. At least Sith players can still talk to Republic characters.

The justification of keeping the faction conflict rolling has always struck me as fake; it drives the point home more effectively if your Night Elf isn’t just shooting at random Tauren characters but at people she knows, has grouped with, and even considers friends. But perhaps I’m in the minority here. What do you think, readers? Should MMOs with PvP-focused factions allow players to interact cross-faction, or is it better to keep them separated in gameplay as well as in lore?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Rolan Storm

Yes, please.

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Arcanum Zero

I’m just tired of game designers crippling their game’s features to justify an unwillingness to manage their community.

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Zora

They could have a justification not to if the focus is constant and world-defining. They should not if the level of hostility swings back and forth between “we are enemies” and “let’s be best captain-planet-level buddies and join forces to defeat the big baddie of the month” every other expansion…if not every other patch as I suspect the upcoming Bubble-For-Azeroth will end up as.

No, it was not a typo. Insular, island-sized segregation act II, here we come…

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Paragon Lost

Yes. One of the silliest, immersion breaking things that Blizzard did was not allow cross faction communication in WoW.

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Sally Bowls

Theoretically, I think the inviolate silos of faction pride are superior. Thus, a lot of early games with faction did it that way.

In practice, chasing the ephemeral group of peripatic eFriends around realms and factions is a pain or expensive.

Unless you selling one of the “Kickstart me!” games selling inconvenience as immersion, I think you should be able to play with as many people as possible (the exceptions being perhaps language and lag(server location) – e.g. Russia, Brazil, AUSNZ)

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Robert Mann

Depends on the game, and the reasons for conflict. At the same time, the horde vs. alliance thing was old before WCIII ended… so that’s a terrible spot to focus.

Honestly, if there’s actually strong conflict going on I’d rather keep the communication to nonverbal, given the tendencies of people to say things that are not only of no benefit but of actively negative benefit.

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Yocraig

The Horde/Alliance thing has gotten old. We should be able to speak to each other and play together. We are almost always beating on the same enemies anyway, why not be able to speak and coordinate the attacks.

I’m hoping that BfA is the beginning of the end of the fake conflict.

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Zora

We are almost always beating on the same enemies anyway, why not be able to speak and coordinate the attacks.

Almost like you see horde and alliance NPCs work together for those oh-so-cool custscenes where the “armies of azeroth united” attack as one while the flavour of the month promoter of neutrality panders to us (because we players clearly are the warmongers there) how we are unstoppble when together yadda yadda…

Fast-forward a year… damn you heroes, what are you doing…sodalizing with the enemy, are you crazy? We -always- have been at war with Eastasia!

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AGx-07_162

Nah. Isolate them. It serves the narrative better.

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Paragon Lost

No it doesn’t. It breaks the narrative because all of their lore supports communication between the two factions all the damn time. It’s immersion breaking that they write about it all the time and yet players themselves can’t communicate between each other.

One of the refreshing things about Rift when it first came out was that you could communicate between the factions, surprised me when someone from the other side actually said something to me one day on the pvp server I played on.

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Ben Stone

Nah, I liked the faction conflict. WoW just watered it down for a whole bunch of expansions by having this ‘lets work together and be BFFs, but then fight 5 mins later for no real reason’ storyline.

They should have kept them as competing, even if they had the same ultimate goal.

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Dread Quixadhal

The benefits of being able to taunt your enemies probably outweighs the risk of cheating. People intent on cheating will do so via voice chat or other out-of-game systems anyways.

If you had a magic wand that could prevent anyone from talking outside the game, or make all information websites go away, then putting up blocks would make sense. But since the internet exists, it’s stupid to push a game design that doesn’t work with it.

Personally, I’d rather factions be something you join by choice, not by creating a character that “belongs” to one of them. Star Wars Galaxies had a nice system where you could remain covert and play both sides, or declare your allegiance for one side or the other and get better rewards, for greater risk.

If you allow factions to be non-permanent choices, it also makes the game easier to balance since if one side is weaker on your server (cluster), you can add incentives to join it.