In the process of doing some clean-up, came across this thing that I don’t think I ever posted here.
Even if I did, I feel like there’s still discussion to be had about the merits/flaws of a four-faction system vs. the two-faction system we ended up with.
Look, I just really like the idea of the Forsaken being “undead EVERYTHING” and high elves being able to join any faction. And Frostwolf worgen because tell me that ain’t perfect.
Something I consider to be a fundamental flaw in the design of World of Warcraft was the sentiment that “orcs vs. humans” needed to be preserved as a core value of the game. It’s handily demonstrated in Warcraft 3’s opening cinematic that the conflict between the orcs and the humans (and consequently the larger gathered factions of the Horde and the Alliance) is small potatoes when a dangerous third party enters the fray; quite frankly, I think WoW should have run with that ball instead of dropping it for the sake of Red vs Blue.
With that in mind, I think that WoW should have had a four-faction structure, to mirror the four different campaigns we saw in WC3:
- Thrall’s Horde, consisting of the orcs, trolls, and tauren,
- The Grand Alliance, made up of humans, dwarves, and gnomes,
- The Forsaken, made up of free-willed undead of all races,
- and the Night Elves, basically going alone because their druids can shapeshift into anything.
Critical differences? You can defect. If you want to be a night elf that fights for the Alliance, there’s a method to do that. If you want to be a Forsaken Tauren who goes to bat for the Horde, you can do that. Hell, if you want to reject the four players factions altogether and go to work for the Twilight’s Hammer, you can do that.
This also means that when you introduce new races into the game, there’s a great deal more fluidity in their narratives. Blood Elves/High Elves make sense joining pretty much any faction after the destruction of Quel’thalas, but they also make sense as an NPC faction dedicated to rebuilding Silvermoon and reclaiming their former glory. For races like ogres and goblins, you’ve always got different clans/cartels willing to align with any faction if the price is right. For the draenei, they’d have a different reason for every faction; joining the Horde is about helping the orcs reconnect with their noble history on Draenor, joining the Alliance would be about connecting with other adherents of the Light, joining the Night Elves would be about protecting their new world, and joining the Forsaken… well, undead draenei being all grumbly about being rejected by the Light in undeath would be perfect, no?
Even the worgen would make sense on any of these factions; for the night elves it’s the Druids of the Scythe; for the Horde it’s Frostwolf orcs who are taking their natural lupine connection a step further, for the Alliance you can stick with Gilneans and for the forsaken it’s a) dead Gilnears who had the curse and/or b) the Sons of Arugal.