Tobold, MMOCrunch and Random Battle are three blogs which have recently talked about solo vs group play in an MMO, and everyone brings some good points to the table. One major issue during the leveling process is that far too often, grouping actually slows progress down, and hence players solo instead.
The quick fix to this would be to make grouping more rewarding than soloing, while not going as far as EQ1 with forced groups. Players avoid groups in WoW because they know they can accomplish more solo, and hit the level cap faster.
What stuck me however is not the group vs solo aspect, but the whole ‘rush to cap’ notion. Why do we just assume everyone want to hit the level cap as fast as possible?
The easy answer is, ‘Blizzard said so’. It’s no secret the ‘good’ stuff in WoW is at the level cap, at least according to Blizzard, which is in sharp contrast to what most people really like about WoW; the questing and fast paced progression.
Before WoW (yes, people played MMO’s before WoW), rushing head first to the level cap was not how most people played. No one rushed to 7x GM in UO. You blatantly could not rush to cap in EQ due to how long that whole process use to be. In Asheron’s Call, after a certain point, level gains were insignificant due to diminishing returns. DAoC had plenty of PvP pre-cap. The list goes on.
Yet today, in WoW/LoTRO/AoC (and I’m sure others), you have the ‘leveling game’ and the ‘end game’, and the two are usually night and day. Will that be the case with Warhammer Online as well? The reason I ask is because for months now, we have been reading about all these great Public Quests and PvP areas, which are zone/level specific. What if I really love doing a certain Public Quest, or enjoy how PvP works at a certain level? Will I still need to rush and hit cap, just so I can join the ‘official’ endgame of city sieges?
Unlike questing, PvP is almost endless content, and since WAR is built around PvP, who is to say people won’t slow down and enjoy each tier of PvP, instead of always looking at their XP bar and grinding out another level. Perhaps the whole ‘group vs solo’ issue will be a non-factor, as players instead focus on their current tier and battling the enemy, enjoying what is currently in front of them, instead of rushing towards the end-game carrot. One can hope, right?