Solo, duo, small group, big group

I’ve talked before about how part of the popularity of MMO’s is that they offer content for lots of different playing styles. This idea of playing style extends to group size. We know solo play is popular — sometimes people just want to hang out but without actually hanging out, and they still want to be able to progress their characters.

WAR has a fantastic lineup of features for solo players. It struck me the first time I read about Public Quests, and from WoW we know that the battleground style of instanced PvP is very friendly toward solo players just hopping in. So there will be plenty of things to do as a soloer if you get bored of questing alone or arguing with random strangers on whatever passes for Barrens chat.

But what about duos? This is a pretty important playing style because it includes all those people who mostly level with their RL partners. I don’t know if devs specifically cater to duos but WoW in particular is very friendly to that style of play. All the epic type quests can be comfortably handled with two players, and it doesn’t much matter which classes they are on. But one of the places where WoW falls down is making it difficult for two players to start the game together if they select different races. LOTRO had a nice solution to this: virtually free travel to any starting town from any other starting town. It’s not even slightly realistic for the setting, but it’s undoubtedly convenient.

I’m sure WAR will be friendly to duos. Anything a player can do solo, a pair can do also but more quickly. I don’t know if there will be epic style quests but there’s no reason why it would be difficult for a duo to jump into a public quest, they don’t sound as if they have numeric limits. But if it isn’t fairly straightforwards for a duo to get together even if they picked different races, expect to hear a lot of complaints. I know people sometimes treat this as whining but truth is, if your main reason for playing a game is to be able to play with one specific person, the game shouldn’t be making it difficult for you. And WAR has a particular issue here because all the classes are race specific, so if one person wants to play an engineer and another an archmage, they don’t have the option to start in the same zone.

If you asked people how long they thought would be acceptable before they could join up, I bet most who planned to play in couples would say under an hour. WoW certainly doesn’t fit that (ask anyone who tried to get from night elf lands to human ones without really knowing the game) and it didn’t hold it back. LOTRO certainly does fit the bill but that alone didn’t make it more popular. So it’s not the only factor, but I think it’d make a lot of people happy if they went with the latter and not the former model.

2 Responses

  1. I’m betting on the latter model. Mythic seem to have done their homework on the small things that make a game better than just good. I would assume that you will be able to meet up with friends very early in the game.

    Also, can’t you queue for scenarios from anywhere in the game? So you could both just queue for the same scenario from level 1 perhaps?

  2. Oh lawdy, you reminded me of my first and only Night Elf character. I hated the Night Elf leveling zones, so as soon as I could I ditched those zones and tried to get to the human areas. I was new. I didn’t know my way around, but I found such a bass-ackwards way of getting around it just was destined to work. My big plan for avoiding travel aggro was to swim, yes, SWIM from one point on the correct continent to whatever beachhead lay nearest to Ye Olde Fantasy Human Lands.

    This was long before I realized that every zone was bordered by mostly impassable mountains, except for certain ones that receieved the dubious honor of having beaches filled with monsters. So I spent hours just plunking across the coastline searching for a beach. But wait, it gets better. I WENT THE WRONG WAY AROUND THE CONTINENT. So I didn’t take the short and sweet route of north from BB skirting around Duskwood to end up in westfall, noooooooo….

    Oh the things you do when you’re new to a game. I think the utterly hilarious part was throughout the whole thing, the thought of hearthing back to hippie night elf land never occurred to me, like it was this thing that me and my mind had agreed not to speak of.

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