Why I Play Multiplayer Games By Myself

gw001.jpgAkela Talamasca at Massively posted today about why he enjoys soloing through his favorite MMOs. This is something that I find myself enjoying as well and I’d like to share a few more reasons why it can be fun.

Akela lists his reasons as such:

Feeling of being a hero, not a nameless part of a team.
Inability to trust other players.
Time management.

For my situation, the first two certainly apply. I enjoy being the star of the show and I detest when other players lower my enjoyment of a game. Time management isn’t a big concern for me, as I tend to be the one scheduling the guild events and trying to get everyone together.

For me, it often boils down first to a lack of friends playing the same game as me. Most of my friends are in City of Heroes, a game that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with since it was released, mostly due to my decision to roll an empathy defender. Too often during my time with CoH would I log on only to find nobody I knew online and no way to complete my missions solo (my empathy/psychic defender can heal himself all day long, but actually inflicting damage on an opponent is out of the question).

My more recent MMOs, mostly Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, have done a very good job of catering to the solo player. WoW is, without a doubt, one of the easiest MMOs I’ve found for the solo player. I played a priest to 70 and rarely ever grouped up for any of it. Guild Wars wasn’t very solo-friendly at first, but with the release of Nightfall, became much easier thanks to the addition of Heroes (AI-controlled characters that could level with out and could be customized and even controlled directly by the player, depending on how much micromanagement you enjoy.) With my AI teammates in tow, I truly get the chance to be the star of the show while still having the support of a full team.

Besides that, however, I get to play the game my way. This is important to me, especially since I don’t generally know everything there is to know about a game. I don’t know the best way to configure my warrior hero or even where to get all their upgraded armors. I know my character, I like my character, and that’s good enough for me. Having another player around telling me how he thinks I should have everything set up doesn’t interest me in the least.

Additionally, this means that I get to learn on my own. I get to make my mistakes and gain understanding of not only what the best way to configure my warrior is but why that’s the best way. I also don’t have to worry about somebody criticizing me if I make a mistake. The AI doesn’t taunt me for my failures.

Finally, I guess there’s just the sense of accomplishment of being able to get through something difficult without any help from someone who’s done it before. Most of the Guild Wars player base has finished the first three campaigns already. I’m still working on Factions and Nightfall, so the times I have joined a PUG, I’ve had a hard time just keeping up as expert players lead me by the nose through the mission as fast as possible, hardly giving me time to check out the new scenery and experience the unique encounters there.

For me, I suppose, the choice to play MMOs over a solo game is to have the option. If I get stuck somewhere, I have people I can ask for help. If I’m feeling particularly sociable one day, I can make new friends and give myself the opportunity to experience new parts of the game I was unaware of. For the most part, however, I will continue to play solo in these multiplayer worlds and thank the developers who understand enough to cater to my gaming needs in a genre that rarely understands my kind.

5 thoughts on “Why I Play Multiplayer Games By Myself”

  1. For the majority of my push through a game’s content, I really do prefer the solo game. I like the challenge that encounters designed for multiple people present, without ever having the disappointment of knowing I did my part and my teammate didn’t. I have all the time I could want to explore every nook and cranny of a zone, and don’t have to wait for group formation. It gets to the point, though, where soloing means I’m passing up content, and I just can’t let that happen.

    So: I tend to look for highly solo-able classes with whatever twist I can get on them to make them useful to a group. X/Dark Miasma Mastermind is a fantastic example of this in CoV. You can easily pass on four of your primary powers, allowing you to grab pretty much everything from the secondary set. In WoW, I started a druid. Feral is fantastic for soloing, and I feel *most* like a hero when I’m tanking an eighty-foot-tall ogre demigod for a raid.

  2. I agree with what you said about more experienced groups rushing through stuff without letting some of us understand what’s going on. I like the opportunity to read quest dialogs and not be rushed through clicking the options when 5 other people are yelling at you to hurry up.

    Otherwise, when I gravitate towards soloing, it’s primary due to time reasons such as having unpredictable AFKs due to stuff going around in the house.

  3. Nice article.

    It’s the solo playstyle that really makes me long for the “Glory Days” of Ultima Online. The fact that if you were good enough (Or if you had a Tamer..), you could beat almost any monster in the game solo was a wonderful thing. I loved trying to melee down dragons and cleaning out the Lich Lord room..

    Saddly, those days have passed even for UO. It’s now an itemized, unbalanced heap of code. Sure, you can still solo a great deal of monsters on top of the foes that are now expressly designed to be killed by groups, but it’s EXTREMELY dependent on gear, and skill/stat levels that are only obtainable from killing some of those group-based monsters.. I remember killing a dragon with bandaids and a few healing potions, wearing only GM crafted gear and being only 4x GM.

    WoW is saddly the closest thing left that I play that’s even close to solo friendly.. And even then, it’s not that great. Sure, you can reach max level, but there’s just no feeling of openness to the game.. There’s no path for you to find and chose to walk – only a subway system where you can chose to get on or off, but ultimately, everyone goes in the same direction.

    Some day, someone is going to release another great sandbox MMO in the vein of Ultima, where grouping is never a requirement for anything. Where a clever player can slay even the mightiest of foes with no aid from other players. Where an adventure is never forced upon you.. it’s always discovered on your own terms.

    Here’s to hoping.

  4. I think that is why EQ2 has appealed to me so much now…I have 3 alts…each doing crafting for a different item (food, jewelry and weapons or armor…)…then I concentrate on each to reach a level…then move on to the next…
    And I never have to group once…if I do not wish to…but the option exists…
    The games Solo timelines (noted on EQ2 wikia) shows that progression can be done all the way to max without the grindy feel…as you always have quests, etc…
    And I know people scream…just play a single player game…well, if any came close to letting me just do what I want instead of walking me down a specific path (Oblivion was a good example of a game that kept me for hours…), then I would play them more…and then having the chat system there while I play…it is great, and finally..I can be as casual as I please…with no restrictions on a save point…
    So, solo MMO’s rock…
    Cheers!

  5. I have to agree with what you said about soloing giving you options. My play time varies from day to day and week to week. I avoid signing up for most guild events and raids simply because I never know what will happen. The perils of being Dad with a Family and they come first, I guess.

    I know I tend to play MMO’s like they are a single player with a built in chat room.

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