Why I love to solo in MMOs

The other day Wilhelm said something in one of his posts that immediately spoke to me:

“Why [being able to] solo was, and remains, important is a whole different topic that I might have to revisit.”

I’m gonna shamelessly nick that topic now. 🙂

I can’t overstate how important the ability to play solo is and always was to me personally. It’s been exacerbated by bad experiences with other players I had during the last few years, yes, but I’ve always liked doing stuff on my own. Also, working in shifts often means that you can’t play with others even if you want to.

If you speak about this openly you are often told “well, don’t play MMOs then”. This obviously misses the point though.

I’ve already stated some of the reasons why I like playing in a multiplayer environment in the article linked above. Of course there’s another big reason: I can play together with others if I feel like it.

The thing is, I don’t always feel like it. When I come home from work I often crave some peace and quiet. Interactions with people on the internet are seldom quiet and not always peaceful either. Bad PuGs, guild drama, you name it.

When I started to play Everquest II shortly after release I fell in love with it right away, I felt it was something special. Yet once you left the Isle of Refuge (newbie island) pretty much everything needed a group back then, you could do hardly anything on your own.

I already worked in shifts then, so being part of a regular group wasn’t possible. I quickly fell behind the friend I started to play with and had to make do with PuGs. For every one good PuG I found I wound up in at least two really bad ones. Having to wait for up to an hour until everyone in the group was at the chosen starting point, just to realize after a couple successive wipes that it wasn’t gonna work out wasn’t uncommon.

I had only made it to level 24 (of 50 at the time) when I decided that the game wasn’t for me, despite really liking it on many levels.

EQ2_000044
Sad Warlock logging out for the (presumably) last time in Nektulos Forest

I returned for the first time half a year later after hearing many awesome stories about dungeons, raiding and the great guild said friend was in. There were some opportunities to level up solo by then, but still not nearly enough for me. Although the guild indeed was a great bunch and tried to help, I burned out while trying to reach max level as fast as possible and quit again.

It wasn’t before 2007 that the game had transformed into a much more solo-friendly experience, and this time I really got going. I played for about 1 1/2 years straight, pretty much every day.

I absolutely did play together with others during that time. I ran countless dungeons and raids with that guild, Vivere militare est, for two and a half expansions in a row. And it was great!

That was only possible, though, because the game allowed me to do many activities on my own, in my own time.

This is why whenever a new developer team comes along and advertises they’ll “make grouping great and important again”, I’m out. Been there, done that, no thanks.

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