What exactly is WoW as an MMORPG? Obviously it is massive, multiplayer, online and is defined as a role play game. One of the things WoW has long focused on, in my opinion, is the multiplayer aspect of the genre to the extent that any other form of gameplay feels like an afterthought. Multiplayer real time games can be amazing and the friendships and bonds made can last a lifetime. However, there is another side to that. Multiplayer can be a very unpleasant experience for a lot of different reasons. A few of those are:
- Difficulty finding a group as DPS or a specific class/spec
- Negative interactions with group members for a variety of reasons, often reasons not understood by the player.
- Limited ability to execute encounter mechanics due to physical limitation or disabilities. This impacts people with vision, hearing, communication, dexterity, and hand eye coordination among others.
- Difficulty navigating a dungeon or raid such that a player is frequently lost when running back or trying to find the next boss. This impacts people with poor sense of direction, vision issues, or memory issues.
- Needing to go AFK at times during a dungeon or raid due to personal needs or family needs. Nobody wants an AFK group member in a public group. This impacts everyone from parents/caretakers to someone who gets a phone call they have to take. We all often juggle multiple things at once.
- Social Anxiety based on having to interact with others, perform tasking they may not be comfortable with (boss encounters), etc. This is pretty common and for those who have severe issues it means headaches, muscle pain, vomiting, panic attacks, etc.
Why would you want to do “group content” if you don’t enjoy groups? Well that is a common question and it really gets to the core of what the game is - an RPG – the part that feels like an afterthought. Maybe those dungeons and raids should not be limited to only groups of real players. The biggest reason is to complete quests and see the storyline. Secondary is to get crafting recipes and progress that is locked behind the current group content. This is an RPG and players should be able to complete the game and build their character skills without hindrance. Last, but also important, is mounts, pets, gear/transmogs, other drops.
Blizzard is aware of this and has done some great work making older content playable solo! They have:
- Changed some encounters so that the mechanics don’t stop a solo player from doing the boss fight.
- Ensured fights are doable solo based on gear/hit points
- Added fun rewards and Achievements to the old content such as Pets!
- Made collecting appearances and gear a fun and viable activity with the Appearances collection tab and the Transmog NPC. Lots of Achievements as well.
- Made Island expeditions that have lots of cosmetic rewards soloable
That is all great but it means that players have to wait YEARS to be able to solo that content and see those stories, get the recipes, get the gear transmogs, etc. I would really like to see it changed so that the RPG element of the game takes priority and we can do the CURRENT dungeons and raids solo. So how?
Some ideas might be:
Allows the player to see the story through, complete quests, and get any profession related quests/recipes they need that are core to the profession. Gear drops do not have to be the same level as LFR, Normal, Heroic, or Mythic. They should allow access to the basic gear look though and be gear that would make a player viable in LFR. Further, a raid scenario solo means the player can learn the raid layout, sequence of bosses, boss mechanics! This lowers anxiety when going into real group content.
To resolve getting lost, a waypoint system that you can opt to use would be amazing. Select the waypoints you want and some footsteps or a guide shows you where to go. We have that mechanic in quite a few quests and scenarios already. Adding it to dungeons would eliminate the fear and confusion of being lost. Maruadon I am especially looking at you! I also want to thank all the guild mates back in the raiding days who volunteered to wait for me after wipes and lead me back to the boss room. I appreciate you!
This such as disabling a jumping mechanic if the person can’t make the character jump. Changing options for lighting, sound, visual indicators for boss abilities.
To recap, group play is not enjoyable for many, especially not when it feels FORCED in order to complete objectives or see a story in an RPG. Please, consider solo options for current content. It will let RPG folks see the story, complete their quests, finish their professions. For some it will be a scaffold to doing that group content with more confidence instead of it being a barrier. I think this would be a win for so many who love the WoW universe and the ability to enjoy casual or solo play to build our characters and achieve our in game goals.