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The case for cross-faction Real ID raiding

I have seen dozens of forum posts, Twitter conversations, and even a knitted wool hat that argued for the concept of cross-faction Real ID grouping, so I thought why not throw my own hat into this contentious debate? I'm old, I'm grumpy -- it's what I do.

First, to be up front, I think cross-faction Real ID is a fabulous idea. This is motivated by pure selfishness on my part. Half of my Real ID friends are Horde, the other half are Alliance. To a degree, this is ameliorated because we have a lot of alts on both factions, but it's not totally addressed. Some of my friends have no alts; others only have alts on the same faction; and still others have one main they dedicate 90% of their playtime to and a host of alts who barely make level 20. We'd easily be able to put together a raid for any of the content in the game, save for that faction wall. We can talk to each other and put together smaller groups fairly easily to steamroll old raids, but doing content like Blackwing Descent or Firelands is arduous.

I do understand that not everyone would be on board with this, and there are good reasons to be discussed. Cross-faction Real ID raiding would not only be a huge change, but it would also cross a line Blizzard has managed never to deliberately cross in all its time of allowing new services like faction and server transfers and character customization. Sure, your Alliance warrior can join a Horde raiding group now, but in order to do so, he or she must become a Horde character. There are no humans raiding with orcs. It's been the case in the game since launch (to the point that Forsaken players lost the ability to speak with human players to preserve it) that the two factions are separate and cannot group together at all. To change that, even for just Real ID friends, would be a huge change in the game.

That being said, here are my reasons for cross-faction Real ID raiding.
  1. Factions shouldn't serve as a barrier to letting friends play together. Whether it be friendships you brought into the game or ones you made during it, the game shouldn't make it harder for you to play together. Indeed, services like cross-faction transfer (that didn't exist when the game debuted) have made barriers to friends that shouldn't be there in the age of Real ID. A lot of my friends were made when I was guilded with them during The Burning Crusade or Wrath, and circumstances have led us to be on different servers, in different factions. With this tool to allow us to play together even with that distance, it's only logical to open it up and allow us to play together regardless of our current faction. I've known some of these people for five or six years now; I know I like doing stuff with them. Let me.
  2. It would actually be cool if Real ID offered you something you could never see in game otherwise. Allowing my tauren to raid with draenei and gnomes would be really, really rewarding for me, as a long-time player with a lot of friends across servers. It would be a nice, low-impact way to reward long-term players with lots of friends.
  3. It would foster a sense of community. Players often bemoan the loss of community caused by the Dungeon and Raid Finders. One way to address that would be to allow friends to make communities. Especially with Battletags, you have an emerging community based around cross-realm activities, and this would be a way to contribute to it.
As cool as I personally think cross-faction Real ID raiding would be, it does have to be approached carefully and I do understand why Blizzard would be extremely hesitant to do it. For starters, the faction struggle between Horde and Alliance is the story of Warcraft for many people. To many people who played the RTS games, in particular, hate for the opposite faction is the basis for the game. We've already seen deliberate limits set on cross-realm raiding (for instance, no cross-realm Dragon Soul), and so it may not be feasible or desirable to expand it. Having an orc and a human in the same raid group might also lead to balancing issues, as cross-faction raids would have access to every racial in the game, while normal raid groups can never get more than half of them.

It would also require reworking for specific loot drops. As an example, Trial of the Crusader drops specific Horde- and Alliance-themed loot, and many mounts have the races of a specific faction listed on them to prevent the other faction from getting them. The opening to Icecrown Citadel has specific NPCs based on your faction, as do a majority of 5-man dungeons at present. These would all have to be reworked to allow it.

It may be too much work to reward too few of us. I still love the idea and would love to see it, but I do understand that I may be dreaming here. Still, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Would cross-faction raiding be awesome or terrible, a nice way to reward players with lots of friends ... or the death knell for the game?

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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