The day is upon us! No longer will Eth and Mathosian battle it out for supremacy. We’ll band with Kelari to conquer rifts, and invite Dwarves to join our dungeon exploring group. Yes, as of Patch 1.10 we’ll see “Factions as Fiction” and huge changes will let the two former enemies work together.
And I, for one, welcome our new Bahmi and High Elf brethren.
To be precise, today’s patch introduces cross-faction guilds, chat, automated Looking for Dungeon groups, and more. Players on PvP shards won’t be able to form cross-faction open world groups and can only whisper members of the opposite faction on shards not their own. Factions will retain their own special cities of Sanctum and Meridian, but will likely share a new central hub in Storm Legion.
While the community has seen a few complaints about this change, I think it’s a good idea and a smart move by RIFT. A few shards have a lop-sided population, with Defiant or Guardian vastly outnumbering the other, and some just don’t have a lot of people in general. Removing many of the faction restrictions will shorten the queue time for dungeons and warfronts and perk up the shard’s economy. People who have been faithful to their guild can roll an alt on the other side guilt-free now and enjoy the capital city and many quests that will be new to them. Additionally, this is a huge boon for guild managers as it greatly increases their recruiting pool. This change effectively merges shards without having to deal with the industry stigma of actually merging shards.
I do understand that this change won’t be to everyone’s liking, in particular folks who are invested in the game’s lore and those who enjoy world PvP. RIFT’s lore explanation for the change is passable: after killing four of the world’s dragons, the factions realized that they are best off working together to tackle Crucia and the Blood Storm. I can sympathize in particular with role players who based a character around the war between the factions, although on the other hand there can be cross-faction marriages now which opens up some new story opportunities.
I suspect this change will kill the last vestiges of world PvP on PvE servers. While this is unfortunate, the most popular avenues for player vs. player battles are undoubtedly warfronts and Conquest, and the factions have been mixed in those areas for months now anyway. Again, I sympathize over yet another loss for world PvP, but improving the queue times for warfronts in particular is a worthy goal.
I actually think that with the “Factions as Fiction” change Trion is on the cutting edge of a design decision that will become the standard in MMOs in the future. It makes sense for games based on a famous story to maintain any faction divisions — just try to imagine Star Wars: The Old Republic with Jedi and Sith working together happily. For new intellectual properties, though, I think maximum fun for the average MMO player can be found by eliminating factions in the world at large and just mechanically sorting people into teams for any player vs. player conflict. (Now, if only they could do something about having shards at all…)
Introducing a cooperation between factions is a pretty significant adjustment, particularly as it’s two months before an expansion. It will be interesting to see how smoothly all the changes have been implemented, but I suspect once we get used to it the increased population pool for everything will significantly improve life in Telara. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a little dwarf mage who needs a new Defiant home.