If there was ever an MMO topic that's been dragged through more puddles
of mud than virtually any other, it has to be the necessity (or lack
thereof) of factions within any given game. This has always been one of
those debates that rarely finds its participants walking the middle of
the line, as href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65251" target="_blank">most
players feel quite strongly one way or another.
Despite what many might believe, it's not just the player versus player
crowd that thinks factions in any game are mandatory. That's right
folks. Ten Ton Hammer's resident carebear (yours truly) has always been
a firm believer in factions and the grind that goes with them.

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out, Felwithe!

Faction within games has the instant benefit of creating conflict.
Conflict creates a natural story, even if the developers have failed to
take the necessary time to create href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65155" target="_blank">a
It gives a player
the continual need to do something, giving them a subliminal source of
direction, rather than just tossing them to the wolves in an open
world. Developers may streamline this in multiple ways, but
it’s an important tool that should never be forgotten, even
if its heyday has passed.

It's no secret that EverQuest was the game that brought me completely
under the spell of MMOG's with its disturbingly difficult learning
curve (at the time) and the unknown consequences of factions. My first
character was a wood elf warrior. When asked which god I wished to
follow, I scrolled over my choices like any other normal person and
selected what I thought was a reasonable choice for a warrior: Rallos
Zek, the God of War. Sounds pretty good, right? Little did I know that
Rallos Zek was an evil god and our dwarven allies would continually
make me pay the ultimate price by killing me on sight. It may have been
a bit of a hassle, but it was an early lesson in faction and one I've
never forgotten since.

EverQuest was where many of us initially learned of - and kindled our
love or hatred for - faction grinding. I can't think of any game since
that has had a harsher faction grind than EQ. If you were desperately
after the Coldain Prayer Shawl, then you killed frost giants in the
Eastern Wastes until you were a shriveled corpse resting at your
keyboard in your attempt to complete this epic chain quest. This type
of grinding was never something I enjoyed, and as such, I never

There are a number of areas to go within World of Warcraft to earn
faction. Some of these new allies will grant you access to special
equipment you can buy, or the ability to learn secret crafting recipes
that will turn everyone on your server green with envy. For those whom
covet these trinkets of power, they will gladly spend more time than I
care to contemplate scouring the lands for the enemies of their newly
discovered friends in their attempt to prove just how valued they are.
Fortunately for us, games like Vanguard and WoW have done a fine job of
taking some of the sting out of faction that EQ had originally given

In the case of Vanguard, I personally think that faction is too easy to
adjust or, in some cases, fix. I agree that we've become too old and
have too many things going on to be bothered spending hours upon hours
in the pursuit of a specific faction, but I don’t think it
should be as easy as it’s recently been. Vanguard was meant
to have a little old-school sting to it, so while it’s nice
to see faction and KoS make a return in the game, it needs a little
more oomph.

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didn't seem too happy to meet me.

has done a reasonable, though not great, job in this area. There
are normally plenty of quests to give you a decent start in your
faction journey. If you choose to grind the faction from there it's
your choice, but at least you have a jump on it if you later decide you
want to bolster some faction with the Darkspear Trolls. There needs to
be a balance of time put in and rewards granted, otherwise, I'm not
going to do much in the quest to get new equipment. Unfortunately, the
accumulation of faction in WoW seems to be for nothing more than
equipment. Grinding for the sole purpose of getting any piece of
equipment has never been something I cared about, although there are a
number of players that will do just such a thing.

Status, or the need to avoid being killed on sight somewhere, is what
it's really all about to me. Everything else faction related in any
game (and I do mean any) is nothing more than a secondary purpose. The
primary purpose has been and always will be survival. It's the
knowledge of managing to sneak my Dark Elf necromancer far into the
sanctuary of the High Elves. It's the thrill of narrowly avoiding
escape from the guards of an opposing city as you rush through a
crowded marketplace. Survival sometimes goes to the smartest, not just
the fittest. Without opposing factions though, this thrill would be
impossible to create within a game.

Another benefit of faction can be for accomplishment. I'm not talking
about just the personal accomplishment you feel when completing a goal,
but the need to be revered (or at the very least noticed) by your
peers. It's that sense of awe every MMOG gamer seeks at even a
subconscious level. It's been going strong for over 10 years, but to
me, no game has ever done this better than EverQuest. In the early
days, you were guaranteed to be surrounded by
“oohs” and “ahhs” as you walked
down the tunnel in East Commons with your epic weapon displayed.

The true crowning achievement though came with being able to stand in a
city which you should normally have no right to be in. Some cities were
easier to do this with than others, but if you saw a High Elf standing
beyond the entrance to the Third Gate within Neriak without being
attacked by the guards, that was a serious accomplishment. If you saw
any race other than an Iksar standing within the farthest depths of
Cabilis, you were looking at href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65200" target="_blank">a
complete psychopath who had
spent more
time killing Sarnaks than you can possibly comprehend. It may have
seemed crazy to the rest of us, but there's no denying it granted them
an instant amount of respect (at least until they open their mouth)
with nothing more than a look.

Times have changed though and none of us has the time to devote to such
a Herculean effort anymore. There's nothing wrong with that, but it
still makes me a little sad. The "glory days" will never return. Still,
it's nice to look back through the early days of online gaming with the
tinted hue of rose-colored glasses. The concept of faction and the
struggles it naturally encourages are still around, but like cherished
memories, they've become dulled and slightly faded around the edges.

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016