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Cross-Faction Instances: Endgame Implications



One of the hottest topics throughout the ages is finally becoming a reality in Patch 9.2.5: Cross-faction Instances.

Gameplay across factions has been at the top of the WoW community’s wishlist for a long, long time, even dating back to the days of peak Alliance vs. Horde fervor. Throughout the past year, the possibility of cross-faction instances has gained massive traction and community support due to a widespread desire for increased inclusion throughout the game. Additionally, the prospect of cross-faction gameplay has been a heated topic for Mythic+ enthusiasts in particular since many Horde players have desired to play on Alliance to obtain certain racials after watching a sea of teams opt for Alliance in almost every MDI. Now, this issue seems to be reaching a resolution, as the advent of cross-faction endgame is almost upon us in just under 18 years after the “World” came to Warcraft.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at some implications of cross-faction instances in endgame content and why it is likely to be a huge gamechanger.



What Are Cross-Faction Instances?



To get us started on the topic, here is a quick summary of cross-faction instancing and its practical applications, as mentioned in Blizzard’s announcement and IGN’s interview of Ion Hazzikostas:

  • Players will be able to directly invite members of the opposite faction to a party if they have a BattleTag or Real ID friendship, or if they are both 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 desire.
  • 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).
  • This will 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.
  • Cross-faction guilds are being considered, but most likely after 9.2.5.


Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of cross-faction instances, let’s dive into the implications of this new feature.



Endgame Implications



As mentioned in our summary above, Blizzard intends for cross-faction grouping to be an opt-in feature only, so players will not be able to join cross-faction parties through the Dungeon Finder, LFR, or other randomized activities. This way, one of more interesting outcomes likely to result from the new cross-faction installment is an increase in the usage of in-game World of Warcraft Communities to coordinate cross-faction parties.

So what are some of the other implications that cross-faction instsances might have on raiding and Mythic+? Dratnos weighs in:


Dratnalysis
For many players, this update means that you will be able to play whichever faction you prefer based upon aesthetics and/or racials without penalty. However, there are a few restrictions that remain in play that raise some considerations.



MYTHIC+


For Mythic+, cross-faction gameplay implies that it will be possible to have a few players of a group swap to the opposite faction if the racials are worthwhile instead of a whole team. For example, a Mythic+ party could have most of the team playing Alliance for Shadowmeld, Stoneform, or slightly better DPS racials (or faster reputation grinds at the start of patches, thanks to the Human racial, Diplomacy), whereas maybe a few members of low-mobility classes would play Horde to take advantage of the Goblin Rocket Jump.



RAIDING


Guilds still remain locked to a particular faction on a specific server. This means that staying within a guild may be an overriding factor for many players when considering faction swapping. Prior to the recent cross-faction announcement, the consequences of faction swapping for a competitive edge in the RWF were much more severe since it meant cutting off the loot trading support networks that these top guilds have already constructed on their main faction. On the other hand, a lot of the friction associated with changing a guild’s faction has dissipated with the upcoming cross-faction grouping capabilities. While it is still an expensive endeavor to transfer an entire guild to a different server and/or faction, cross-faction instances mean that we no longer need to worry about losing our network of Mythic+, PvP, and/or raiding friends in the process.

More importantly, we don’t yet know whether cross-faction Mythic raiding will be:

  • Open from the start of Patch 9.2.5
  • Open after Hall of Fame closes, or
  • Never available at all.


In the absence of Blizzard’s confirmation upon any of these three possibilities, we will try to brainstorm the implications of each point.

Firstly, in the case that cross-faction Mythic raiding will be available with the launch of Patch 9.2.5, we may see mixing and matching of a guild’s player factions based on the advantages/disadvantages of various racial bonuses and abilities. Given that a Mythic raiding guild requires at least 16-20 members to obtain guild-related achievements such as Hall of Fame, we could potentially see guilds go Alliance but have 2-4 members go Horde to take advantage of racials such as Goblin Jump.

Secondly, if cross-faction Mythic raiding opens after Hall of Fame closes, then the slight minmaxing gain of having some members remain on one faction while others swap to another may be rarely utilized. Instead, we may see an increased emergence of community-based raiding such as organized cross-realm Mythic (CRM) raiding groups.

Lastly, if we never see cross-faction Mythic raiding become an option at all, then cross-faction raiding will likely be used mainly for Mythic+ dungeon groups and for Heroic and Normal raids for people simply looking to raid with their friends on opposing factions.


Another potential implication of the cross-faction announcement may be a hint at Blizzard’s expansion release timeline. With such a major feature being implemented in a .5 Patch, this could mean that Patch 10.0 is a lot further away than the usual expansion cycle would suggest. Even with Shadowlands losing a full .3 Patch, we may not be seeing WoW’s next expansion this year at all, and the addition of cross-faction instances may be Blizzard’s way of making the wait more tolerable.



Conclusion



With an announcement as massive as cross-faction instances coming in Patch 9.2.5, the community has had varying reactions, ranging anywhere from utter excitement to downright skepticism. Whatever your stance may be, we personally cannot wait for red and blue, Orcs, Humans, Night Elves, and the rest to be seen together…perhaps in the MDI and the next expanion’s RWF. It will be thrilling to behold!

What do you think of cross-realm instances? Let us know on Twitter or join the Raider.IO Discord!



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About the Authors


Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.


Dratnos hosts the The Titanforge WoW Podcast. He’s also an Officer in the World 36th guild poptart corndoG, and a commentator for events such as the MDI and the Race to World First! He streams on Twitch, where he likes to review his friends’ logs.


VitaminP (VP) is the Lead Editor & Assistant Producer of Raider.IO and has worked for the organization since the formation of the News Section in November 2018. Although VP is currently focused on pursuing her Masters of Business Administration, she specializes in tanking classes and has loved doing competitive Mythic+ on and off since early Legion.