This is such a strange topic to write about, but also one that feels oddly appropriate. So many MMOs nowadays have evolved into an amalgamation of game modes and content – some stuff you can play alone, some of it requires strangers, some of it is best with friends, some is friendly, some is just for fun. Even though these experiences seem to be getting farther and farther away from what made the genre so exciting to begin with – adventuring in epic online worlds – it has led to creation of a term with both good and bad connotations: solo friendly.
For whatever reason, an entire sect of MMO players (myself included sometimes) prefer to enjoy the Massively Multiplayer Online games by themselves. Whether it’s just some sort of cathartic release of getting lost in your character, or a complete and utter disdain for fellow humans, the trend is far from dissolving. Perhaps instead of considering new and inventive ways to introduce solo friendly content to our online multiplayer games, we can think of some ways to turn those online multiplayer games into single player games? I’m not suggesting that these single player games should replace the MMOs, so maybe just a spinoff would do.
5) DC Universe Online
The problem with a game like DC Universe Online being an MMO isn’t readily apparent. On its face, it makes sense to jump online in a massive world with thousands of other super-powered players, that’s kind of what happens in the comics. The issue is that not only do the game’s core heroes always overshadow you or get lost in the shuffle, but other players typically overshadow you as well. After you spend a solid hour or more making what you think is the greatest created hero of all-time, there are probably several dozen other heroes that pull off that same look way better than you.
Other than preserving your self confidence when choosing an outfit though, DCUO is also engineered like most single player action-RPGs. The game works great on consoles, a lot of the content is completely solo friendly, and getting to fight alongside the Justice League would be much better if you actually got to feel like a part of their ranks. By spinning off into a single player affair, the story would improve with more intimate moments and your character could take center stage. Don’t let X-Men Destiny leave a bad taste in your mouth; the inFAMOUS franchise proves that a quality single player superhero game is possible in today’s gaming world.
4) Guild Wars 2
This one is probably obvious for those that have played the game. In Guild Wars 2, you have what’s called your “personal story” which is ArenaNet’s attempt at creating a more intimate and entertaining main plot for an MMO. The result is hit-and-miss, but the ideals are admirable. By focusing on your character specifically and letting you shape your impact on Tyria, it manages to tell a tale that feels more personal and engaging, even if the end result is the same instance for everyone.
The implication here is that, if ArenaNet, or someone else, didn’t have to worry about all these fancy group dynamics or party systems and could just create the world and populate it with great singleplayer content, would it still be fun to play? I think so. The dynamic event system would work just as well for a singleplayer game and not having to return to NPCs to complete quests sounds great. The huge environments are ripe for exploring regardless of single- or multiplayer. Most importantly though, this would be a great opportunity to fully develop and realize those choices you make at the beginning of character creation regarding your background and personality.
3) Star Wars: The Old Republic
Similar to Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic has a very solo-centric main plot. Complete with potential romances and a faction to side with, one of the biggest appeals the game has to offer involves playing mostly by yourself. This is due in large part to the fact that Bioware, a developer known for its engaging stories, developed the game. Not to mention the fact that it’s part of a franchise with two existing singleplayer games that are often regarded as some of the best RPGs of all-time.
Whether it be an adaptation of SWTOR, or a new Old Republic game all together, this definitely needs to happen. Since it takes place prior to the existing RPGs, it’s a great opportunity to switch gears and focus even more on the individual player while still providing tons of great content. One of SWTOR’s biggest struggles has been maintaining the level of quality and consistency needed to justify itself, which is a big reason it went free-to-play. Strip away the unnecessary parts and create a new standalone singleplayer game – it’s basically what everyone wanted in the first place.