Blizzard Entertainment has announced that its two World of Warcraft factions, long separated to preserve the central conflict of the franchise, will be able to unite in premade parties in an upcoming test build.
It’s a major turning point for the game, which has always restricted communication and gameplay within each faction. But, as Game Director Ion Hazzikostas said in a blog post Monday, “The faction divide could keep close friends from playing together, or cause players to feel that their faction leaves them with far fewer opportunities to pursue their favorite group content.”
The upcoming changes will allow players from different factions to create premade parties for “dungeons, raids and rated PvP,” according to the developer blog post. Guilds and random matchmaking will remain faction-dependent.
These new cooperative features will show up in the 9.2.5 version of the public test realm — Blizzard’s space to test new content before public release. No date was given for the 9.2.5 update.
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“We’re hopeful that these changes will serve to actually strengthen faction identity,” Hazzikostas said, “by allowing more players to play the faction whose values, aesthetic, and characters they find more compelling, rather than feeling forced to choose between their personal preference and the ability to play with friends.”
The news continues a flurry of major announcements for Activision Blizzard, which was sued by California last year over claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and was acquired by Microsoft for $68.7 billion earlier in January. Blizzard announced a brand-new survival game on January 25, the same day one of Activision’s other studios, Raven Software, announced the intent to vote on unionization. Employees have organized walkouts and strikes as they advocate for better conditions as they work on major titles like World of Warcraft.
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