Akela 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.
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.