After nearly 18 years, Alliance and Horde players will be able to team up to take down WoW’s big bads.

After years of the factions being "at war," it seems peace is coming to Azeroth. Or at least, as much peace as one can expect in a game where there are opposing factions. World of Warcraft will finally add the ability to group together for content like raids and instances.

This has long been one of the biggest dividing lines in WoW. Players on Alliance and Horde could not participate in content together, despite the story bringing the factions together to fight bigger evils for years.

While this hasn't yet been implemented in the game, Blizzard says that it should be ready in time for 9.2.5. This will be part of the Eternity's End set of patches, but not the initial release. The main reason it's taking so long is that Blizzard is essentially recoding a part of the game that's been around since 2004. That's nearly 18 years worth of systems that need to be retooled.

"For years now, many players have questioned whether the rules restricting communication and cooperation between Alliance and Horde need to be so absolute," Blizzard said in a blog post. "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. But these downsides have long been justified in order to preserve a central element of the Warcraft universe—it all began with a game titled, “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans,” right? But, to quote a one-time Warchief of the Horde, “Times change.”

How will the new crossfaction WoW system work?

According to Blizzard, they were guided by two key rules when crafting the new system - a focus on instanced gameplay, and making it an opt-in system as much as possible.

"In terms of in-world fiction and player preferences, there are decades of animosity to overcome. While we are excited to offer players the choice to reach across the faction divide and cooperate to overcome common foes, we know that there are many who will react warily to this change, and we don’t want to override those preferences. This is about increasing options for players.

And so, this led Blizzard to create the system with the following rules. One key feature is that cross-faction players will still not be able to join guilds of the other factions.:

  • Players will be able to directly invite members of the opposite faction to a party if you have a BattleTag or Real ID friendship, or if you are 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 so choose.
  • 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).

How will cross-faction affect the lore of World of Warcraft?

Players may ask - how does this affect the lore of the game? Well, that's actually already been solved in game. Following the end of Battle for Azeroth and throughout Shadowlands, the Horde and Alliance have already been in an uneasy alliance. That explains why you're able to group Night Elves and Orcs together to take down the big bads, but outside of those instances, players still appear as unfriendly. The existence of arenas and battlegrounds are treated more like war games in this instance, rather than outright conflict.

After all, games like Final Fantasy XIV have a single faction, yet still have battlegrounds and PvP without issue. Why should WoW be any different at this point?

For all the latest on World of Warcraft as it heads into a new era, keep it locked here to