Faction balance is a recurring topic whenever a new realm is announced and we feel it's the right time to outline what we have planned for our upcoming TBC realm.
Over the years of running realms, we've noticed similar patterns emerge regarding factions and faction balance. Generally all realms, both private servers and Classic, follow a similar cycle where eventually one faction becomes dominant leaving players of the other faction with limited options. This leads to many potential issues like players not being able to find groups and guilds, guilds disbanding, players being forced to faction-change, and many more which ripple out and have negative implications for the overall health of the realm. In the past, we've tried to remedy these problems by introducing perks, but their effectiveness is always temporary, eventually leading to the same outcome and requiring serious interventions.
Factions on the new realm
We've decided the new realm will be fully cross-faction from launch. That means players of both factions will be able to group and trade together in dungeons and the open world, make use of cross-faction Auction House, join guilds, and participate in cross-faction Battlegrounds and Arenas. Additionally, PvP in the open world on the new realm will be on an opt-in basis, and players choosing to opt-in will receive a buff granting additional experience gain from killing monsters and bonus damage done. The buff will only be active in the open world and available for characters above level 15.
Additionally, we're introducing a new feature to our realms: Racial Ability Choice. Every player will be able to choose a racial that's available to their class in the character creation screen. If you change your mind, you'll also be able to change your chosen racial using services like character customization, race change, or faction change. Choosing a racial has certain implications — you won't be able to queue for Arena if your team's racial skills are not of the same faction. While in Arena, Battlegrounds or the duel zone your character will appear according to your chosen racial to other players.
We know you're all waiting for the release date and we're going to announce it pretty soon! We've also been working on some features behind the scenes like the AddOn library in the launcher, which will be available for testing in the near future. We're interested in hearing your feedback regarding these changes, you can also try all of these features out on the PTR right now!