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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is best played from both sides

It’s time to get over playing only Horde or Alliance

Blizzard Entertainment
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the MMO’s seventh expansion. For years, players have started each expansion with a below of “for the Horde” or “for the Alliance.” Battle for Azeroth seeks to harness that passion by pitting the two factions against each other more so than ever before. But instead of loyally choosing a side, the best way to play Battle for Azeroth is with both a Horde and an Alliance character.

Normally, both factions would level through an expansion in the same areas, ignoring each other on a PvE server and beating the hell out of each other on a PvP one. Not only have PvP servers gone away in Battle for Azeroth, the factions will be leveling on completely separate continents. While both Horde and Alliance players will eventually have access to all dungeons, each experience is different depending on your faction. The dialogue is different, the characters can be different and even the bosses can be different.

While players will eventually leave their faction continent to battle though enemy territory, they will never experience the zone’s true storylines or quests. The stories of the Zandalari trolls and Kul Tiran humans are locked behind the factions that will eventually recruit them.

This new system is one of Battle for Azeroth’s strongest features, and does a great job connecting players with their home faction while making them feel uneasy on the other continent. The only shame is that both continent’s have fabulous zones and stories, some of which will never been seen by half of the player base. Ordinarily, this would be a problem, but Battle for Azeroth feels like it encourages players to play both sides.

There is more than enough content per faction to keep players busy, but there is essentially a whole other campaign on the other side. Having one character on each faction isn’t just a weird way to play with your friends on both sides anymore, it’s a way to milk the most out of the expansion.

Blizzard Entertainment

After playing both sides of the beta, it’s hard to pick which is the best. Both have great character moments, fun quests, gorgeous zones. To play only one side — even if you’re a diehard Alliance player — feels like you’re cutting yourself out from a great experience.

It’s ironic, that in the expansion focused most on faction pride that I would have interest in playing a Horde toon despite my Alliance leanings. But the beauty of this new development is that both sides are equally interesting for the first time ever. Whichever faction you’re for, Blizzard is doing a great job surfacing the interesting tension on either side.

For Alliance player, maybe you want to be on the side of Saurfang or Sylvanas when that volcano finally erupts. For the Alliance, maybe you want stable, powerful leadership that will bring about new allies and friends. Both of those missions are interesting in their own way, and each are worth playing through. I may play Alliance, but I want to see what the Horde is doing from their perspective — even if my main characters is supposed to hate them.

Alliance or Horde, Horde or Alliance, it makes no difference. Battle for Azeroth sets out to sensationalize the two factions, making it clear that war is the only option. But leading into the expansion, it seems clear that Blizzard’s intention is to make players see how silly their squabbling is. Greater threats are coming, and we’re all too busy fighting to see it.

Even after the Horde and Alliance move away from attempting to kill each other, we can assume that the factions will still have their own parts to play in the war against the void ahead, a unique way to see the world of Warcraft. Each side, each legion of heroes, is important in a different way. Battle for Azeroth is the first expansion to ever embrace that idea. Give the Horde and the Alliance a shot together, even if you still bleed red or blue at heart.