It seems to be a hot topic these days (see: /random, Keen, Tobold), and I’m just the sort of person who doesn’t mind hopping on a media train now and then as long as they’re serving all-beef hot dogs on the trip. The topic is: why doesn’t Warhammer Online have three factions? Or could it? Or will it?
This is a bizarre set of questions unless you consider that Mythic made a name for itself with a three-faction battle MMO — Dark Age of Camelot. In it, players aligned with Albion, Midgard and Hibernia to battle to see which of the three was just the duckiest of them all. It’s been proven to be done, but the question remains: why did WAR pare it down to two factions, and is there the possibility of a third in the future?
The answer to first question is obvious and has been answered already. In short, people identify most strongly with good-vs-evil, side A versus side B. Plus, having two factions keeps the game manageable. WAR was built from the ground-up to be a two-faction game, with tug o’ wars between zones and the overall world RvR war. I’ve never heard of an easy way to do a three-way tug o’ war, have you? Can you even imagine how complicated it might be to have a third faction competing for each zone, messing up the area influence meters, or tipping the scales by siding with one faction against another? I mean, if you thought people cry now because of perceived population imbalance, can you imagine how insane it would be with a third?
I think it’s most logical to assume that Mythic will keep the two-faction war from now until the end of Warhammer’s run. But it’s fun to speculate, eh? Here’s a few ideas that popped into my head, particularly when it comes to the next expansion or two:
(1) The safest bet for expansions is that they’re come out and feature a new racial pairing. It would be relatively easy to do and would plug in nicely into WAR’s dual-pairing zone structure. One race would be for Order, one for Destruction, and the war would continue, just a bit more broad. (As you might recall, I’ve predicted a Lizardmen vs. Undead pairing.)
(2) A third faction is introduced as a neutral faction that has the choice for fighting for either side. Roll this around in your mouth a bit — Warhammer Online: Dogs of War. Doesn’t it just… flow? Think of them as a hodge-podge of 3-5 races/careers that would start out in a new zone that has Order vs. Destruction NPCs competing, but the characters wouldn’t be aligned with either of them. Over the course of the zone, the Dogs of War (or whatever you’d like to call them) would be seduced and wooed and paid by both sides to come join them, and eventually the player would make a choice: to join Order or Destruction. Then, at the end of the zone there would be a RvR fight between the two newly-joined factions, and following that players would hop a flight to whatever tier 2 zone they’d wish.
(3) A third faction is introduced but is limited to fighting amongst itself. I’m thinking Warhammer: The Undead as a title and focus. One side would be the Tomb Kings, the other the Vampire Counts. They’d be plopped into their own tier 1-4 zones with a capital city struggle at the end, but wouldn’t be for or against Chaos/Order. Almost a separate game in its own right, but still connected to the larger game world via economy and perhaps scenarios.
(4) Mythic reworks the game from the bottom up to accommodate a third faction into the struggle (triangles will need to be used), and what is already chaotic war will get even more so.
Other than that, I don’t know how a third faction will come into play. As I said, option (1) is the most likely, but I really like the idea of (2) as well. What do you think?