Part 1: How much do the games cost and which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
Part 2: What can I play (races and classes?)
Part 3: What do the games look like?
Part 4: What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
Part 5: Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
Part 6: Crafting
Today’s topic: I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
I have those moments quite frequently. I always enjoy chatting with people and that is what I love most about MMOs, but I do not always want to play with others. I have the habit of going afk in the middle of a quest, doing other stuff like getting myself a cup of coffee, cleaning the flat in between, cooking, reading news websites or replying to emails,… – as soon as I play with others, I cannot do that anymore and it annoys me greatly. Of course, I want to do group things once in a while because it is fun, after all. But that is the point: Doing stuff together should, in my opinion, be something you can do but it should not be the only thing you can do in an MMO.
Anyway. Let’s have a look at how you can play solo in those three games.
All three of them offer solo level content: The usual which you probably know if you have played a (standard) MMO before. There are quests, those give you experience and experience is what you need in order to level up. There might be quests in between that require you to get a group to help out, but you can skip them and just do something else. I have written about the quests in the PvE-section above already.
LotRO also offers skirmishes (which I have also already written about). Just look at them as kind of “solo instances”. They can get challenging, especially when you either choose the mobs to be higher level than you, if you do them without your NPC or if you choose a higher tier (difficulty ranges from tier 1 to tier 3). Turbine also changed how the epic quest chain works. Previously, if you were unlucky, it could take very long to find fellow players to do the group quests of that quest chain. Now, you can do them as a group or on your own! You usually get a buff that scales you up in power once you enter the area of the quest or you enter the solo version of the instance instead of the group version. This way, both the solo and the group players can enjoy the game the way they want.
Deeds and achievements: LotRO has deeds, WoW and Rift have achievements. In some cases, WoW awards you with stuff like a non-combat pet (e.g. for having a certain amount of non-combat pets with your character) or even a mount. Rift awards you nothing or titles (as does WoW as well in some cases).
Deeds are a bit different as they actually make your character stronger. In LotRO, your character has virtues which give you, for example, a bonus to might, evade rating and power regeneration outside of combat and you have 10 ranks of this virtue (each rank increases those stats a bit more). Specific deeds increase your virtue by 1 for solving them. You also unlock your character traits by doing those deeds. Character traits are used to specialise (to take my warden as an example: She can trait to do more damage, to tank by healing herself more or to tank by drawing more aggro). Unfortunately, lots of those deeds consist of things like “kill 500 wolves in region XY”. And believe me, that is a lot. Others are more fun as they are related to exploring regions or finishing a certain quest line etc. Still, I would prefer if they were ‘fluff’ like the achievements are. In all three games, there are a lot of deeds and achievements you can do solo. But there are also deeds and achievements that require a group or a raid.
I have already written about quests. But what about quests when you have levelled up to the max level? WoW offers a lot of daily quests. Most of those give reputation for the various factions in game. The higher the reputation, the better the items you can get. You can also run dungeons with the faction’s tabard equipped and get faction points that way. But if you prefer solo play, then you can do the daily quests. With the next patch, Blizzard will add a new zone, “Firelands”. That one will also apparently have lots of daily quests that are designed to entertain the solo players (there will also be content for groups and raids, of course!).
LotRO has repeatable quests. Most of those are connected to certain factions. So it is basically the same than WoW. There is also a daily quest connected to each skirmish. The first time each day that you do a certain skirmish, you get bonus experience when you finish it. This is very nice for levelling. I usually ran each skirmish that was available once and then returned to questing in the open world (if I still had time after doing the skirmishes). Other regular daily/repeatable quests also let you gain more reputation with certain factions. There are also nice rewards, although in a lot of cases, it is not just a better item but also a mount.
WoW and Rift have crafting dailies. LotRO doesn’t have them. In Rift, you get a certain currency which you can then spend for special crafting recipes. WoW handles it quite similar. Cooking, fishing and jewelcrafting have their daily quests. The other professions have none. They give you special currencies which you can spend on recipes as well or a bag with random items. Some cooking and fishing dailies additionally give you one to two skill points. My favourite daily quest is the fishing one from the quest giver near Shattrath “Crocolisks in the city”. The reward is a bag with items in it – and there is a chance to receive a cute crocolisk non-combat pet! Awwww. :)
PvP is not possible as a solo activity – unless you are on a PvP server and run around looking for 1 vs. 1 fights agains the other faction, of course. Or 1 vs. 2 fights if you are really brave. ;)