The acronym, "MMO", means Massive MULTIPLAYER Online, the operative word being multiplayer. Yet even in today's crowded MMO market, there are many games that never necessitate any human interaction, that allow players to be Forever Alone should they choose to be so.
The List today isn't in any particular order. The games presented are interchangeable, the order flexible because, in all reality, this entire article boils down to #1. Now don't go skipping all the erudite thoughts that fall between here and there, y'hear?
#5 - Rift
Rift sits squarely on the list of Forever Alone dating sites for the simple reason that there are zone groups, rift groups, Instant Adventures and more. None of these require so much as a squeak from a player. They are left to merely click the "join" button (in some cases) or simply stumble into a rift and enter the fray.
Dungeons, of course, require a little more finesse in terms of grouping but with features like the Dungeon Finder, even the tenuous thought of having to interact with another player is reduced to a button click.
#4 - Guild Wars 2
Like Rift, Guild Wars 2 offers players the opportunity to "join" together to complete objectives without ever having to, you know, speak or chat in a party channel, join a voice chat, be part of a guild (despite the game's name!) or anything that even approaches actual multiplayer activity. All the Forever Alone has to do is blithely skip through the game world and magical multiplayer opportunities present themselves without any effort on anyone's part.
ArenaNet has made it very clear that Guild Wars 2's main story is a player's personal story. It's not "our story", though we travel the roads simultaneously and ultimately towards the same goal. It is my story and nobody better get in my way.
#3 - Star Wars: The Old Republic
People will probably be slightly cheesed off at SWTOR's inclusion but let me explain: The relative difficulty for partied players to join one another if separated by any measurable distance and the focus on each player's personal story, create the perfect storm for solo play. There are not the opportunities for "non-grouped-group play" as can be found in both Rift and Guild Wars 2, but the story is definitely focused on the individual, a Forever Alone's fondest dream. Because grouping is such a pain at times, its just easier to play with yourself.
Stop that. You KNOW that's not what I meant.
Back to point: SWTOR is a terrific place to explore a great story at one's leisure on one's own without the intrusion of nagging voices wanting to follow their own story.
The only potential sticking point as a Forever Alone title is the whole notion of romance. Then again, those aren't actually real people your schmoozing so it can be overlooked.
#2 - World of Warcraft
Anyone who would suggest that World of Warcraft is only about raids and dungeons and world bosses is missing the best part of the game: Being Forever Alone in Azeroth. Just consider the recently added Pet Battle system. All a player needs is a flying mount, a list of rare and exotic pets, pet masters to slay, PvP pet battles to join, achievements to earn, titles to gain and it's the perfect recipe for weeks, if not months or even years worth of solo-able content.
The game world is so enormous, the stories contained within it are so grand and so often missed if following racial storylines through Pandaria. It is worth every player's time to go back to learn more about the amazing world that Blizzard has so lovingly crafted. By the time a player actually has seen and played every corner of Azeroth, there is an expansion that adds more. Oh, and while doing that, there are achievements to earn, titles to gain, blah blah blah.
WoW could keep an army busy for years.
#1 - Every MMO Currently in Live Status
Over the years since the earliest days of MMOs, the genre has undergone a massive alteration in the style of game play that users expect. Players want more content that can be solo'd to allow those with little or no time to be able to jump into the game and feel like they've accomplished something.
Games have become more casual, rules about grouping have been eased, features have been put into place to make finding groups much easier and that require little or no interaction beyond the press of a button. In fact, a compelling argument could be made that these types of games should rightfully be called "Massive
Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games".
Look at any game you've played in recent memory. It's almost a guarantee that it is packed with content that Forever Alone can take on just fine, thank you very much, no other players required. Sure there are places that might never be seen because of the shunning of joining up with others, but that's generally small and easily overlooked by those who simply prefer to play alone.
So, there you have it: A list of four games and a grossly generalized statement that make up our group of Soloable MMOs". I'm pretty sure we missed a few...if not most...so be sure to let us know your favorite game(s) in which to face off against the world all by your lonesome.
Suzie Ford is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. You can follow her (if you dare) on Twitter @MMORPGMom.