A few weeks ago, I wrote The List covering the five reasons why I think soloing in MMOs is a great thing. But being ever-mercurial and after giving it more thought, I decided to explore the opposite side of the coin. While I still find a lot of things very attractive about going it alone in my favorite MMOs, there are some very compelling reasons to join up with others.
Without further ado, here are my top five reasons why one is the loneliest number:
5) No Groovy Cape
Oh I know, not every MMO guild system employs capes but a lot do. And capes are just cool. Characters look good in them and, if designed right, can really show off a guild in a way that goes beyond just the statement “we have a website and tons of members”. I had more fun in the original Guild Wars designing the cape for my guild by making sure that just the right image and colors were combined to give our look just the right snap. And the capes didn’t really interfere with my gear either. I don’t know how many of you remember, but people in GW used to advertise, among other things, that their guild had a “cool cape”. While it was kind of funny to hear that, there definitely was something to it because looking good is a hallmark of MMOs. Not being in a guild robs my characters of the most stylish look available.
4) No One to Talk To or Hang With
I realize that I went on a bit about liking the silence in my MMOs and that listening to inane chatter in both voice and text chats was a bit annoying. Still, and after long months of playing alone, it does get a bit lonely not having the opportunity to share amusing moments or anywhere to brag about the most awesome pieces of equipment I’ve ever collected! I’ve even had to resort to *gasps* GENERAL CHAT. Now if that’s not sinking to the lowest of the low, I don’t know what is. Sad part is that by not being in any sort of organized group that has its own chat channels, I find myself talking to myself. I know… it’s scary, isn’t it?
Add to the lonliness of not ever having anyone to giggle with or brag to is the sure knowledge that everything takes exponentially longer to finish. Even the easiest quests take more time to finish when one is doing it alone. One game that has addressed this 'casual grouping' thing is Rift. They've done it well too. Headed out to kill ten rats? No problem. Find the quest area you need and then look around to see if anyone else is doing the same thing. Rather than competing for the quest "resources", players can simply click "join open group" and voilà, they're suddenly working together. While it certainly helps, it's still not the same as having a reliable quest partner.
3) No Home Away From Home
Guild housing is a terrific place for the group to gather before heading out into the world and it’s a place that is a collectively designed habitat where everyone can let their virtual hair down. I’m thinking back fondly to LoTRO’s guild housing and the mass of decorative items that guildies had collected and displayed in the truly massive environment belonging to the group. The guild house was huge, well appointed, and was a fun place to participate in guild tournaments or to jump off to quest, raid or whatever. Not being in a guild eliminates somewhere to place all that excess stuff collected in the world journey.
2) No Guild Storage or Bank
The few times I’ve flirted with guilds in the past, I’ve found that the guild bank/storage system is a very useful thing indeed. Not being a crafter, I was always finding things for which I had no use. No problem! I simply popped them into the guild bank/storage unit and watched their numbers dwindle as happy crafters came and claimed them. And the benefit went both ways, really. Most of the crafters would later put items back into the storage/bank that I’d happily remove to help out my characters. It was a total win-win situation. As a soloist, I either have to start crafting myself (Lord, help me, NO!) or I just sell the stuff for a pittance. Having a place to offload to the benefit of someone else is a good thing and something that I honestly do miss by playing alone.
1) No End Game Content
Nowhere is the soloist more handicapped by his or her proclivity to play alone than in the mythical end game. Without a steady, reliable, practiced group of individuals with whom to raid, there is little chance that the game’s most epic gear, quests and content will ever be seen by the lone wolf. No matter that the soloist is at the level cap, if the gear says, “ordinary” the rest of the world sneers in derision. My characters will never look as good as raiders/end gamers (see number five on why look is important) and they will always proverbially slink around feeling insecure. There is simply no way that PUGs can make up for the benefit of a coordinated endgame guild.
So there you have it. Sometimes one is a lonely number. What are your thoughts?