It's been months since the release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands' final update, patch 9.2.5.
The update opened up all of Torghast's wings, added some more Renown catch-up, and even introduced a new arena. But much more importantly, in the midst of the smaller features of this patch also came something groundbreaking—cross-faction play.
For the first time in World of Warcraft's18-year lifespan, both Horde and Alliance players could work together, and not just in the game's story.
This World of Warcraft cross-faction play has paved the way for what could be the most important aspect of WoW Dragonflight if Blizzard stays on track.
For the Horde! For the Alliance!
Traditionally speaking, WoW has always been about the Horde versus Alliance conflict. Be it out of the game, with the players' competitiveness and "For the Horde" screams or "For the Alliance" chants, or the story which routinely pits the Horde and Alliance against each other before moving on to a mutual cause.
It's a staple in the MMO—there's a reason why when you meet someone who plays the game, you ask "Horde or Alliance?"
That thought has been engraved into every WoW fan's mind since their first set of quests. It subsequently provided an extra element to the game, one that sets aside its dungeons, raids, and all of its MMORPG fanciness in favor of a sense of pride.
Although all of this is and has been amazing for the game, it could soon be improved in a new way via Cross-Faction play.
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The Alliance loses its ranks
It's no secret that the Horde has historically dominated the player base. Towards the early parts of WoW's lifespan, you could argue that it was more even, with a significant number of servers being Alliance-dominated, in fact.
You can see the disparity between the two factions yourself quite easily. Going by population numbers from wowprogress.com, the amount of Horde players quite frankly dominates the amount of Alliance players. Just by comparing the top Alliance-dominated servers versus the top Horde-dominated servers, there's a clear difference in how many players play each faction. That's not even taking into account the significant disparages in Horde versus Alliance each server holds as each Horde-dominated server's Alliance players only make up 1-3% of the total population.
|Alliance-dominated Realm Populations:||Horde-dominated Realm Populations:|
|Sargeras - 14,673||Area 52 - 24,692|
|Stormrage - 21,187||Illidan - 22,065|
|Jubei'Thos (Connected) -14,783||Mal'Ganis - 16,013|
|Proudmoore - 12,325||Thrall - 16,597|
Now when you look at the Shadowlands expansion, you can spot fairly overwhelming support towards the Horde as opposed to the Alliance, a visual that one could argue had its seed sown back in Legion, and put into motion in Battle for Azeroth.
Although this has been hugely beneficial for the Horde side as with the abundance of players on the faction comes more options, the Alliance has been left with scraps, often struggling more to find groups for content of all kinds.
This prompted not just the Alliance but the overall community to take to Blizzard and ask for something simple yet so potentially groundbreaking to WoW—cross-faction play.
Factions that play together have fun together
Finally, after struggles finding groups and people to play with, the community's cries for help have been answered. Amongst all of the glitz and glamour that a .5 patch brings, cross-faction was finally introduced in a serious way.
So far, it's been a resounding success. We're seeing things move beyond one faction's dominance, and as a result, the player base is finally opening back up more than ever.
Suddenly Mythic+ groups are seeing greater faction diversity, and this new feature has added many more opportunities for grouping up, something even popular pro-players such as PvP and top-end players and content creators have taken advantage of. It has meant the ability to swap to Alliance races for racial benefits while still getting to play with their teammates and guilds.
In the end, there will be tons of tools and toys to play with in WoW Dragonflight, but cross-faction, if explored, will be a great tool to help enable them, and perhaps the most important addition yet.
With that, this one simple decision could make Dragonflight a more influential expansion than the game has seen in years.