How Will WoW’s Faction Changes Work?

Tobold writes today about race changes in WoW, based on the news that faction changes will likely be allowed at some point in the future, as reported yesterday.

Due respect to Tobold, but that’s not neccessarily going to be the way it works. From reading the announcement you might think that, but I’ll maintain that an EQ2-style betrayal mechanic is also a possibility; the tone of the announcement from Blizzard implies that it’s just starting to get looked at.

Yesterday I made the statement that changing your faction would likely be a paid option like appearance respecs, but an in-game betrayal system would eliminate the need for that, as well as making more sense in the context of the game itself, and probably alleviating the need to create a rather complicated system.

The sticking point is that no race in WoW can be every single class. Say you have a Human Paladin whose player decides they’d rather play Horde. Can you just choose a race to move to? Or is that limited by your class? Can our hypothetical HUman Paladin only change to Blood Elf on the Horde side because that’s the only Horde race that can play Paladins? Or can you change your class as well? And can you freely choose that? How do things like gear translate if you change to a different class that might not use the same stuff? If you have a level 35 Paladin, can you move him over to a level 35 Death Knight?

This becomes awfully complicated, as you see. From this perspective – and possibly this is wishful thinking on my part – it becomes a great deal easier to simply alow Gnome Hordies and Alliance Orcs. Following the EQ2 model, there’d be a quest chain to complete to do this, betraying your own faction and demonstrating your allegiance with the other.

Obviously there’d be some questions to answer and structural changes to make with this approach as well, but it seems cleaner and less problematic to me. Either way you can surely see why Blizzard’s announcement sounded so tenative.

8 responses to “How Will WoW’s Faction Changes Work?

  1. My guess is that it will be a question of paying Blizzard money and being offered a list of opposite-faction races for your class to change to (perhaps even offering races of the same faction, or perhaps requiring players to switch factions and then switch again). The quote was “players will be able to use the service to transform an existing character into a roughly equivalent character of the opposing faction”, and being shoehorned into a currently valid race is the easiest way to have this feature work as advertised.

    EQ2-style betrayal would be complicated in WoW because players cannot communicate with the opposing faction. (I don’t know how this works on EQ2’s PVP servers, but the regular ruleset does not restrict communication, guilds, etc.) I also strongly doubt that they will re-evaluate class/race restrictions at this point in the game. Time will tell, but the pay to swap is the easiest to implement, and thus, in my view, the most obvious.

    Then again, they’d have to decide how they would handle your mount collection. Most faction-specific pets/mounts currently have a counterpart, so they might just automagically convert your mount collection, city factions, etc. If not, they might have an issue – I’d seriously consider paying to swap factions twice if it meant being allowed full access to all the Horde mounts. This is the kind of detail that has to be decided on before the service can go live.

  2. GA has a good point: the quote does call this a service. An EQ2-style Betrayal would be fascinating, but is contrary to just about everything we currently know about Blizzard.

    I wonder if this is the reason they’re finally implementing the Venomhide Ravasaur faction. This way they can convert to and from the Frostsaber faction.

    Okay, fine. I’ll go get my tinfoil hat.

  3. I’d love to see this as an EQ2-style betrayal quest chain, but it’s a safe bet Blizz will just make this part of their micropayment-based “character recustomization” scheme.

    I do think it’s likely they’ll be opening all classes up to all races in the expansion, so this system puts the infrastructure in place to let that happen.

  4. Race offers the most visible clue to who your enemy is in Alliance vs. Horde PvP. So I doubt we’ll ever see Alliance Tauren or Horde Gnomes. I agree it could be an interesting system, but a paid-for race change is much more likely.

  5. It’s Blizzard with new orders given from their new overlords. Sure they have pretty much free reign with WoW but there has to be some expectations coming from Activision.

    So with all that in mind this is just another way to monetize a hot property. Server moves? Check. Name/gender changes? Check. Blizzard will charge the customary $25 (maybe more?) and you will be shuttled into a mold.

    Any alliance pally becomes a blood elf version of one on the horde side. I think the biggest option you’ll get is if it’s a class with multiple options — say a dwarf rogue switches sides then you’ll get to choose which race you want that can be rogues.

    Given how generic that armor and look is in WoW there’s no way that they’d allow a gnome to play both sides. You key on looks as much as red names in PvP in WoW, so a horde sees a gnome it gets pasted, same with orcs to alliance. I think that they’d never consider allowing races to flip sides.

    Just my thoughts. I’d LOVE it to be EQ2-like, but that’s another strike in that coffin. No way that they’d model something they do so blatantly after EQ.

    Oh, and I love the redesign. Looks very clean, and sharp.

  6. It’s nothing to do with game story or anything. You just pay and are “reborn” as a class of your choice on the other faction side.

  7. Hmm im hoping its only a matter of time before they break down the race ‘classes’ in all seriousness imagine an undead paladin…… how could that not rule!

  8. @pitrelli—

    I think it’s such a no-brainer that they open up class-race combinations. It’s a zero-cost way of adding replayability to the game for people who like leveling alts.