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What If… World of Warcraft Introduced a Third Faction

Would this be the shot in the arm this sagging MMO needs?

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Imagine if World of Warcraft: The Mists of Pandaria actually released this Summer. Imagine if they continued down the road where there is no common enemy at the heart of the story. Imagine if Blizzard gave us what they promised, more focus on the conflict between the factions. Now, just follow me for a second here. Imagine if they also introduced a third faction.

With WoW’s longevity as the hot topic discussion these days, what could the developers do to really spice up their aging MMORPG? Sure, bringing a new race, class and zone to the table is a fantastic start for Mists of Pandaria, but they’ve done that before. What if they went even farther? What if Blizzard took a small number of races already in the canon and in the game world, but were never playable, and joined them together into a loose alliance.

Tired of always being the victims of raiding Horde and Alliance members, maybe the Dark Iron Dwarves, Dragonkin, Ogres, Naga, Furbolg, Nerubians, Elementals or even Centaur rise together to push back Azeroth’s heroes. How would you react?

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Would this be the shot in the arm the game needed to bring back former players who’ve since moved on to other games. I would certainly resubscribe in a heart beat if I got to actually play as an Ogre. I loved the Ogre Shamans in Warcraft 2. That’s where the spell Bloodlust (not Heroism… I piss on Heroism) originally comes from.

How much fun would it be to customize and gear out a character model that wasn’t that same humanoid shape standing on two feet. How bad ass would a Nerubian look in a full armor set? Would this be a huge undertaking for Blizzard? Hell yes. I honestly think it would be worth it, though.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know a lot about lore. Continuity issues would surely arise, but not all of the races I proposed would have to be available in the new faction. Pandarens already get to choose between Alliance and Horde once they reach a certain level. Why not make them have the option to be a part of this new Confederation of former NPCs as well?

Imagine how picking a class would work. We already know Furbolgs make great Shamans just like the Ogres. Ogres can also be Mages. Dragonkin and Nerubians would easily fit as Warriors. Elementals could have multiple skins based on which class they chose. An Elemental Rogue would be the air model. An Elemental Mage could change from fire to water based on what tree they specced into, or even which school of magic they were casting from.

Centaurs wouldn’t need to purchase land mounts. They could actually get the racial talent Taurens had in the original beta, or something similar to the Worgen’s “Running Wild.” Nagas would clearly swim faster as a racial bonus. And, Dragonkin could easily transform into an aspect as their flying mount.

Think of Black Rock Mountain, all of the sudden, becoming a capital city for these discarded races. We’ve run through the many sections of this area while questing, completing dungeons and raiding on countless occasions. Imagine the mountain opening up to reveal it’s true depths as the stronghold for WoW’s newest clique. The old instances that used to call the mountain home could be offered in a “Caverns of Time” fashion, or as one of the new challenge mode dungeons.

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The concept is far from perfect. The time investment from the developers is pretty much insurmountable. Blizzard doesn’t introduce something to their games without a reason and a story behind it. A lot of prep work for the current game would need to be implemented just to make sure players knew why this was happening.

Then, the work would have to start on creating character models, animations and dialogues. Think about the writing involved in creating a leveling and questing experience for the new races. Blizzard would essentially have to create a smaller version of the game from scratch. Battlegrounds would need reworking completely. Instanced BGs such as Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley could remain 1v1 matches, but the starting areas and NPCs would have to change depending on which two factions were chosen. Wintergrasp and Tol Barad would be much more complicated, requiring complete overhauls in concept and mechanics to house three raids.

Another obvious danger inherent in changes of this scale are resource allocation. Of all the projects Blizzard is working on to keep the game running and fresh with content, how much of that would suffer with employees being moved around to build and balance a new faction? Pulling off a drastic shift in the game would be disastrous if elements of PvE were overlooked or diluted.

Maybe the game is too old to make a third faction as well. Players who put hundreds of hours into their main characters would be extremely hesitant to leave all of that behind. I can’t imagine how the developers could create incentive for starting fresh characters on the new faction without depleting the current factions too much, especially on low population servers.

Call it wishful thinking, but imagine what would happen to the current faction balance issues if a third was introduced. Would the Horde outnumber the Alliance by such a large margin anymore? Isn’t it about time these races had their story told, and not just as dungeon fodder for players on their way to shiny purples? When will these humble creatures have their day in the sun? I think it should happen someday. I think Blizzard should look into it. Just imagine…