Soloing, bliss or burden?
On occasion I enjoy time playing MMOs alone, that’s not to say I don’t like company or don’t see the benefits in teaming, but for me the enjoyment of a game can be enhanced by tackling it alone sometimes.
Of course you may ask what’s the point of playing an MMO rather than a single player RPG and the answer is other people, yea it sounds silly but single player games lack in certain areas like a player driven market, folks standing around benches crafting or just a general feeling that the places and regions of the game have other people doing the same as you . I supposed they have that “Lived in” feeling that single player games often fail to deliver.
What did I miss?
If I had to choose one thing that I find better about playing solo it would have to be the ability to see a lot more of the content, you have the time and chances to read the history behind a quest, discover the reasons behind them and actually read the dialogue. I’ll not deny it is going to take longer to reach the end game content and I may never see the level cap but the general idea is to enjoy the journey as much as the achieving the ultimate goal (max level).
Currently I heard the Van Hemlock podcast episode 135 in which Mr Vanhemlock explains the vast world of tome unlocks he has encountered in Warhammer Online and how he tend to approach it alone and not as part of the static group. I have to agree that soloing is perfect for those players that enjoy achievement whoring. I must have spent a massive amount of time in City of Villains just working toward various badges (sell X number of items on the market, Craft 1000 recipes, take Y million points of damage, kill 250 enemies of type Z) the solo play-style is wonderful for picking away at those ingame achievements without boring fellow players to death, unless they are after the same achievements of course.
I don’t expect any game to give me an easy time just because I’m not teamed up, generally I will approach a game with the assumption that I’ll be completely out of my depth. That said we are starting to see games now are altering the lower end content to make it easier for soloing, in a hope that players can reach the level cap sooner but this also double up as an incentive for us solo players to give that game another try. A while back Matt “Positron” Miller wrote about solo players on his MMO Designer blog and it’s nice to see how developers think about solo players and how to take them into consideration when balancing game-play, even though we seem to give them a headache most of the time.
Messing with your play-style
With solo game-play comes adjustments to your play-style, taking a more strategic approach to quests & tasks. Without doing so you’ll find wading into an enemy mob, with swords flailing will most likely result in failure. You have to choose your targets, carefully watching that you haven’t aggro’d more than “you can chew”. Unless your character is blessed with a heal ability you’ll need to equip yourself with some kind of health restoring device (potion/medkit) to help when you get into trouble.
Most of all you have to accept that you are playing a game designed for groups and you may no be able to check every box. At times you are going to get splatted over and over and there isn’t a great deal you can do about it other that come back in a few levels time and try again. City of Heroes is great game for solo player as you can raise or lower the difficultly as you see fit, this allows you to still enjoy the game despite you character not being great at offensive attacks.
Learn the classes
A big factor in the solo game-style is the class. Knowing the game is really the only clear way to understand which classes work well in a soloing capacity. There are normally good guides about which classes work for the solo gamer, generally they tend to be those with massive armour or healing powers. Some people will like the challenge of attempting to solo a class that isn’t one that is typically used, I have one such character in City of Villains that doesn’t sound to fun to the normal player but I have some wonderfully different experiences that make them a pleasure to play.
In all soloing isn’t everyone idea of fun, but we each enjoy these games in different ways.