Working on Book 3 in LoTRO last night reminded me why MMOs are as great as they are. When you get a group of people together, and everything goes well, the experience is far greater than anything a single player game could offer. The big problem of course is when you get people together, and things don’t go well, it’s often far worse than any single player experience. At best you waste a lot of time, at worst you get reminded what High School was like.
A bad grouping experience can make a player jaded, and turn them into a solo player, even in an online world. WoW provided the perfect game for those sick of pick up groups, as you could now solo all the way until the level cap. While a nice feature, the side effect is that now 4 million or so MMO players in the USA and EU view PuGs as something to avoid. WoW has taught them not to group until the level cap, where it then forces you into non-committal groups (BG) or forced grouping (raiding).
One of the things I’m most excited about with Warhammer is the ‘open group’ system, along with Public Quests. It certainly looks like Mythic is trying to get people to play together again in an online world, to work together with strangers and not fear them like the plague. WoW had a culture of bad groups, so even those that might not usual bail on a group did so because that was the culture. Hopefully WAR will foster the opposite, and the mindset of the majority will be to cooperate. Undoing the WoW-mentality will be a tough hurdle, but hopefully Mythic has the tools and design to do just that.