World of Warcraft’s Alex Afrasiabi on the possibility of faction unification

    
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During BlizzCon 2018, the folks at Blizzard Watch chatted up World of Warcraft Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi to discuss what lies in store for players in the future of Battle for Azeroth. Over the course of the interview, Blizzard Watch raised the question of whether the growing fissures within the Horde — which is increasingly split between those loyal to Warchief Sylvanas and her dissenters, represented in-game by Saurfang — might ever lead to the introduction of a third faction.

In response, Afrasiabi “explained that creating a third faction would mean splitting up friendships and guilds,” and that “his preference would be the other way: that the Alliance and Horde could group together ‘one of these days.'”

Now, it would of course be ridiculous to jump to conclusions based on an off-the-cuff remark made in response to a completely hypothetical situation, but as Blizzard Watch notes, “What [Afrasiabi] said is significant,” as it’s one of the first indications – from someone in such a senior position, at any rate – that the unifying of WoW’s factions just might be a possibility.

And of course, Blizzard has made a pointed effort in recent times to make it as easy as possible for players to group up with their friends through the Real ID/Battletag system, so it might not be an entirely farfetched idea. Nothing’s certain right now, but it’s an intriguing idea, and one which Blizzard Watch’s Matthew Rossi explores in-depth in his own article on the topic, which you can check out — along with the full interview itself — over at Blizzard Watch.

Source: Blizzard Watch, 2
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blue touchpaper123

To me this sounds like it could be a bit of a reaction to how poorly WoW is doing after the latest expansion which I gather was supposed to put the emphasis back on the conflict between the two factions .

I think for the PVP crowd faction unification probably would be the final nail in the coffin if it ever happens in WoW . I kind of brings the War to an end which to me seems to be one of the central points of the game .

WoW seems to be in such a mess now Blizzard really don’t seem to know how to course correct it . Might be a good time to think of a sequel game . I wouldn’t be surprised that by the end of next year that more people will be playing on the classic servers than the live ones .

A three faction sequel might be interesting .

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Rolan Storm

Day gets better and better. First Funcom report, now this.

Whatever happens the very resonance, mere suggestion it might is so much fun already. Every person who said conflict between factions is forced so right.

I wonder if three-faction could work with united faction of King and Garrosh, Sylvana is being real evil of the world (at last no misunderstood Horde – just real darkness) and ex-Alliance lead by Jaina with the idea of purging them all (Inquisition of sorts). Serrenity’s comments influenced this picture.

Alas, he clearly stated it’s not the case. Well, unify them and be done with it. They have so many enemies and problems they should stick together.

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Santiago Draco

There’s two issues here. It’s not just about “factions” and story it’s also about players being able to play together…. and the money players bleed in order to do so.

What I’d like to see is:
1. Possibly 3 factions for general gameplay, lore, pvp.
2. The ability to raid/group with players of ANY faction for the duration of the event you are running. Outside of that limited and specific function there would be no mixing.

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Bruno Brito

3-way faction is the best way for pvp faction based games, since they “balance each other” ( eh, mostly. It’s better whan 2 factions, at least. )

But considering that Blizz is incompetent to listen to feedback, just fucking unite everything and be done with this shitshow.

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Anthony Clark

This is true. 3 faction would be ideal. DAoC proved that; however, I don’t expect Bliz to be smart enough to listen. Especially after this last Blizcon that showed they are completely out of touch with the players.

What they did to the horde in the last expansion pushed me over the edge. And them wanting the full sub for classic is just dumb. It should be $15 a month for live, $5 a month for classic, and $18 a month for the bundle of the two.

The question is not what’s the difference between $15, and $5, but what’s the difference between $5, and $0. More former players would return for just classic, and not live. If they wanted to pay for live they would already be doing so.

When they made Sylvanas go full-on evil, making my horde toons bad guys instead of just the misunderstood outsiders was just unacceptable. Screw them.

And Diablo on mobile is just plain dumb.

No, I’m not bitter… I’m just unsweetened.

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ESO has tree factions and it’s amazing. I’ve always wished for WoW to have a 3rd faction, but now I don’t care about it anymore as I have ESO.

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Robert Mann

Uh, 3 way tends to fail at that as well. I honestly think there needs to be far more factions, and reasons for them to care about the power balance rather than gang up together, to make a faction PvP system work.

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Sorenthaz

Please just let it happen by the end of BfA already. I’m so tired of the “THE HORDE AND ALLIANCE MUST ALWAYS FIGHT EACH OTHER” narrative that’s been forced at this point by Blizzard, and I’m hoping that they intentionally did that with the idea that once Sylvanas is dealt with the Alliance/Horde can finally seek peace, as that’s pretty much been how the story has been going with Before the Storm and so on. Heck even back at the end of Pandaria we saw the beginning steps towards that where Varian essentially said that he’d take the moment of peace while it was there and that Sylvanas was the only real big priority to deal with (“Sylvanas must be contained”).

Faction unification would be a win-win across the board, the only folks who would cry about it are the hardcore PvP minority really and maybe some diehard faction loyalists. As someone who’s mained both sides, I think the faction division has gone on long enough. Probably even past its due at this point because the Horde population is actually outnumbering the Alliance quite a bit when it comes to both high end raid guilds, warmode, and general server populations.

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Ben Stone

I would prefer a faction system akin to Everquest 2, where you could betray your faction and become exile (third faction) who have no restrictions on who they can fight (Freeport, Qeynos or other exiles), and then as a next step you could earn loyalty with the opposing faction and join them.

Unfortunately most of WoW’s storytelling is racially based, and races are seen as collectives, not individuals. So it probably isn’t feasible. More personal choice is always welcome though, and it would open up more race options for each faction.

Reader

I’ve had this as a thought in my head for a long time – like you find an NPC in some murky swamp tavern and he can help you on your path to change your faction…

Magikfyre
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Magikfyre

Maybe just do something like ESO? Join a faction as any race (I know it’s a cash shop opt in). Or at the very least allow turncoats.

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It’s not about being able to play an Tauren for the Alliance or a Bosmer for the Ebonheart Pact, but about adding something fresh to the game like a 3rd faction or unification, this changes more than allowing to play any faction with any race. If they make it like in ESO, it will be just like allowing the Humans to be Hunters and the Tauren to be Paladins… this literally changes ABOSLUTELY NOTHING. It changed when they did the stupidest thing ever in TBC – to give the Horde-exclusive Shaman to the Alliance and the Alliance-exclusive Paladin to the Horde.

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Utakata

I won’t be holding my breath or pigtails until I see this.

(I am also having difficulty in seeing how this would actually work as well. Which is saying something, because I can see how a 3rd/neutral faction could work. o.O )

quark1020
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quark1020

It should be relatively simple to let the factions play together. We already have areas where everyone is hostile to one another, regardless of faction, so it would just be the inverse of that. It would be a bit more challenging lore wise. At least if we want it to be better than just using the power of friendship to defeat the void.

I’m not against the idea of adding a 3rd faction, but I’m not optimistic on how it will be handled. My crystal ball of cynicism foresees watered down faction quests, thinner faction populations, and worsening faction population imbalance.

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Utakata

I am not sure what to say to that. I see your point, but then again I don’t see your point. For me the story wise, 3 factions would make sense, as one would take a stand against the other two…or play neutral ground. Or even having the two factions where one can join if they didn’t like the other. (See: City of Heroes for this example.)

But having one single faction seems very disconnected if the story line is about having conflict between the two factions. As this simply wouldn’t make sense. So this is where my grasping of understanding here is falling off the rails. Therefor, whatever Blizz does meta’dly with the two factions has to work with the story. Or that is going to feel way too weird for my tastes. >.<

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

I thought of the “unified faction” as being the logical conclusion of all of this faction non-sense. Lore-wise, at this point it’s been what, decades of constant war with one another? Citizens of each faction are probably more more tired of the constant warfare than we are. I can see Saurfang and Anduin getting to the end of this expansion and being like “Fuck it, we’re done with this bullshit. Let’s be friends.” and Sylvanas and Jaina being “NO DEATH THE OPPOSITION” and being the leaders of angry, radical outskirts of each faction that won’t let go of the war.

Maybe I’m giving them too much credit, but I think thematically having the “Battle for Azeroth” end with everyone being like “yah, we done. I wanna go pick flowers,” works well.

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Utakata

“I can see Saurfang and Anduin getting to the end of this expansion and being like ‘Fuck it, we’re done with this bullshit. Let’s be friends.’ and Sylvanas and Jaina being ‘NO DEATH THE OPPOSITION’ and being the leaders of angry, radical outskirts of each faction that won’t let go of the war. “

If that’s the story, then I can certainly see that working. Although, it kinda reminds me of last night’s midterms. o.O

quark1020
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quark1020

We’re probably overthinking the lore aspect of this. At least for me, when I think of unifying factions, I’m only thinking about being able to do raids, arenas, and dungeons together. We can still keep the factions separate and the overall political aspect of the lore the same.

Its just that, currently in raids and dungeons, both factions seem to enter through the same entrance, take the same paths, and defeat the same bosses. We never see any other raid teams from the opposite faction attacking the last boss, yet both factions get get credit for defeating it. So, why not just have the factions work together?

Now, Blizz could do something fun and unique and have two raid teams actually work together, perhaps from different sides of the zone, to tackle a particular raid or mechanic. However, it would be quicker and probably cheaper to just let the LFG tool to just smash together raid teams regardless of faction.

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John Mynard

Except, after the events surrounding her return to Kul Tiras, I think she’s probably going to be back to the old Jaina, at least mostly. I mean that was the whole point, wasn’t it? Jaina coming to terms with her demons?

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kelathos .

Unite the factions in PvE, but allow Warmode to live on. It’s a simple solution.

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TomTurtle

I’ve been wanting this dearly. Please let it be so after Battle for Azeroth!

My ideal scenario would be not only cross-faction dungeons and raids, but also cross-faction tagging system in open world PvE.

Those who like to PvP would still be able to. You don’t really have to worry about major lore implications for PvP since that’s not really the focus of that gamemode.