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.