World of Warcraft has put a number of factions in their game over time. There are so many I just cannot remember them all at this point. I am sure there is a list on WoWHead somewhere. Each of these pocket groups of NPCs has a reward system included. My point is to examine how they work. There are some factions that hook you immediately and you have to get the rewards. Yet there are others that pass you by and you move on without a thought. What separates these factions for people and how do players use them?
There was one faction that clearly stood out for me back in Burning Crusade: The Sha’Tari Skyguard. Why you ask? Because those damn flying Nether Rays were freaking cool looking. I had to have one. So I ran around for hours killing those Skettis or Skecksis or whatever they were called. I fought through them. I did this during Lich King so I was Level 80 at the time. Finally I got my Nether Ray and flew around feeling cool. I guess for me this faction was all about the reward. I never really took a vested interest in the Faction itself. I only pushed through the content to get what I wanted and then moved on.
Looking forward to Mists of Pandaria reveals a bunch of new factions. Traveling across the landscape I wonder what types of rewards or mechanics Blizzard will use to get players to link up and work with the NPC factions in the game? Will players blow through them like I did just to get a reward? I like the idea of WoW going back to its roots and when they do updates or patches throwing something into the game to bring players back to an old faction they had created. Maybe the Sha’tari need me back for something? Maybe the Nether Rays are doing scout runs over the Jade Forest for something and I have a small quest to do? These types of mechanics seem too much like one shot content sinks to me. That may just very well be what they are, but don’t you think they could be used better?
If it is all about rewards, again WoW comes into a balance issue. Top Tier items have always been gained from raids. So a decent raiding guild will all get the top gear quickly. How do you offer other players this chance to catch up? I think Faction rewards should be more in line with top tier items. This way if I put hours of solo time into getting a reward versus a bunch of runs with my guild, it should work out equally.
Here is the write up from the Mists of Pandaria Factions Section:
“Meet venerable martial arts orders and unusual tradesmen – brewers, serpent riders, loremasters, and more. Aid them and their equipment and favor will be yours.”
In reading this I am kind of excited for the serpent riders. After that I am wondering what I will be able to do in the rest of the game with the rest of the stuff. To be honest, Mists offers a lot with the Brewmaster faction in Warcraft and I will definitely explore that faction as well. It just seems fun. Still, when they talk about favor from a faction, what does that do for your character?
I would like to see Factions used much more in Warcraft because I do think they are an amazing tool for devs and players alike. You can do a lot with small groups in the game and hidden societies. The tabard idea is great because some of them look awesome and you definitely want to wear them around. I think my shaman still wears his Frost Wolf tabard. Hopefully when it comes to the favor of these factions Mists will get more creative with their rewards and cut down on the time it takes to earn the reputation among the factions. If they did this then things might get a little more fun and you would have reasons to follow through with factions other than a cool mount.