It isn't a new topic, and the discussion of a third faction for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has quietly existed for years even as the game was still developing. The expectations were to find a product similar to the long standing Dark Ages of Camelot which has enjoyed a moderate success over the last decade. One of the most prominent mechanics was a delicate balance between three different factions, something WAR has whittled down to two. There are very compelling arguments from both sides on whether another faction would improve the game or damage what we have now. Is it possible and what kind of work would it require from Mythic? How would it affect players?
Can Three Teams fit Here?
The largest and most obvious hurdle to adding a third faction would be the development cost. The necessary manpower and financial investment to create new classes would be astronomical, but not impossible. Sure, there is plenty of lore to work with and I'm positive Games Workshop wouldn't object to bringing in even more, but which groups would actually work together? Vampires? Skaven? It would be a hard sell to players who know anything about the Warhammer universe. Of course new quest lines could be modeled on the premises of what we have now for both Order and Destruction. Compared to creating entire classes this might seem like a small hitch, but we are talking literally hundreds. You also have to consider the epic quests which are unique to each Tier and aren't exactly available at the 7-11.
Speaking of Tiers, let's consider zones for a minute. RvR lakes are generally wedged between two PvE areas marked for Destruction and Order content. These do increase in size as you move in to higher tiers but where exactly is this third faction supposed to go? It isn't like this is the dinner table and sacrificing elbow room will squeeze in a few more plates. There is a delicate balance between these two factions which mirror each other. In order to move in the extra players, heavy zone modification would require designers, artists, and programmers to converge on every map and change the landscape. It's hard enough to imagine this on a Core ruleset but when you hit a full RvR server, what happens when two factions gang up on one camp?
Could Trolls be Part of Another Faction?
One of the most frequently utilized areas of the factions is the city capitals of Altdorf and the Inevitable City. A third faction would need a hub such as this and done of the scale we currently enjoy this would present a sizable challenge. They could modify one of the cities in progress for the other races, but it would still need some architecture and design changes to fit the style of whatever factions lived there. Next you have to figure out how the city siege system would work. Will there be three more entry zones into this third city and how do you decide the level of influence necessary to begin one? This sounds about as simple as deciding health insurance benefits.
Finally, you have to think about what this will do to the current playerbase and how it's spread out. Someone made a very solid argument the other day that this would be a serious problem if the balance were currently even. This seems to vary from server to server. There are in fact servers, believe it or not, that have a balanced enough population that keeps change hands on a regular basis. If you took equal percentages from Order and Destruction that would just reduce the overall population of both and not affect the balance in any way. This means we'll find fewer people in Public Quests and less in the way of large RvR groups. Most importantly we all know what happens when something new and shiny comes along such as classes. Players leap on it like this was only thing still sustaining their lives. Who do we fight if we're all on the same side?
As you can see, adding a third faction would be an uphill battle and probably low in terms of return on investment. I'd personally love to be wrong and believe Mythic could do it if they set their minds to it. However, when the cost is carefully compared between adding more content and making adjustments to fix bugs while improving gameplay it's going to lean towards the latter. The future of Warhammer Online can't be predicted and perhaps another faction does wait for us down the road. For now, we'll just enjoy the Knights of the Burning Sun, Blackguard, and upcoming Heavy Metal Event.
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