World of Warcraft: Dragonflight’s prelaunch battery of content, including a new launch cinematic, the pre-expansion release of the new Dracthyr class, and especially the allure of being able to party up with my Horde buddies, is doing a lot to get me to come back to WoW. (To say nothing of the serendipitous brand synergy between this latest expansion and the recent Game of Thrones spinoff.)
Like a lot of players, I felt burned by the developments of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. The expansion’s story was wildly unpopular, with a character celebrated for making the best out of a bad situation turning to full-on war crimes. Left with that bad taste in my mouth, that “Have you heard of the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV...” copypasta actually worked really well on me, converting me to a diehard FFXIV player. Since then, I’ve made it my singular purpose to transform my little corner of The Verge into Final Fantasy XIV-ville. But I do have a soft spot for my original MMO of choice, especially when it comes to dragons. Dragon lore is some of my favorite bits of WoW storytelling, so I’m jazzed to see dragon mommy Alextrasza and the rest of the dragon crew get an expansion all their own.
One of the most interesting things in the trailer is this new camaraderie between the Horde and Alliance factions. In the trailer, we see a beautifully rendered troll and dwarf (WoW cinematics remain undefeated) share a thrilling moment riding their dragons above the Dragon Isles. This newfound friendship is a hard pivot away from the bitter strife between the two factions, as seen in just about every expansion up to Battle for Azeroth and the launch trailer sets up one of Dragonflight’s newest and most intriguing features: cross-faction cooperation.
You could already form groups with the opposing faction when patch 9.2.5 released back in May, but in Dragonflight, the developers are expanding that system. Players of opposing factions will now be able to share loot from mob kills — ending the long tradition of trying to “tag” a mob with a quick bit of damage to claim its loot before a member of the opposing faction could do the same. There are also rumors that the team is considering adding cross-faction dungeon and raid queues and, possibly, cross-faction guilds.
The wall between the Alliance and the Horde is one of the defining features of World of Warcraft. (For the Alliance!) But as the game, the story, and its community have evolved, that barrier has become a bit unwieldy, barring folks from being able to play with their friends. If I wanted to play with friends as a long-time Alliance-only player, I’d either have to make friends with random folks, prearrange creating a new character with the friends I want to play with (who typically roll Horde), or, shudder, shell out the cash it requires to faction change to the much more popular and populated Horde faction.
My WoW main is old enough to have her driver’s permit. It is one of the oldest things I’ve had continuously in my possession, beating out my 12-year-old corgi and second only to my 22-year-old MSN email address. Like Leo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, “she ain’t f**** leaving.”
So the idea of cross-factional play is extremely interesting to me and possibly worth re-upping my subscription. The Dracthyr evoker class is another siren song calling me back to the shores of Azeroth. If you’ve preordered the expansion, starting today, you can create and quest as a Dracthyr evoker in Dragonflight’s tutorial area. Final Fantasy XIV put me on to the MMO healer life. After a lifetime as an avowed DPS-only person, healing is now the only MMO class that I want to play. The Dracthyr evoker is an interesting hybrid class that, like paladins or druids, can do damage or heal, and I’m interested to see if my skill as a healer in FFXIV can transfer to WoW (probably not, but a dragon girl can dream).
I still don’t know if I’m ready to return prodigal daughter style to World of Warcraft. But it just may be the right time to give it a try since Final Fantasy XIV is currently in the slow time between expansions. It’s not cheating if you’re on a break, right? World of Warcraft: Dragonflight launches November 28th on PC. You just might see me there.