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I remember when I first started playing WoW sometime shortly after its launch and thinking wow this is awesome. I can solo effectively and only need to find a group for dungeons. This is such a great change from DAoC and EQ.
In WoW I soloed all the time while leveling and would only group for dungeon content.
And that is how it has been in pretty much every MMO since.
You get your quests and run around and do them. You see other people running around doing the same thing...but no need to talk or interact with them, unless of course you want to do the occasional group quest.
One exception since the WoW solo friendly advent was doing world pvp in Warhammer. I would always join warbands.
Another was last year when I played on the EQ progression server (until the hack when Sony or whoever it is now shut down). I grouped almost exclusively from level 1-50 and actually joined a guild and did some raiding...I'm not a raider typically.
Was playing GW2 obw and I don't think I talked to another player the whole weekend.
I remember fondly when I first started EQ back in 1999 forming a regular play group with some people and how much fun that was and all the friends I made in pugs. You knew everyone, had grouped with many, and a lot of people by reputation (good or bad).
I remember playing on the day DAoC launched and grouping up with some random strangers and talking about how cool the game was. We were just running around killing mobs and it was great.
Granted, we all remember the days of sitting around spamming LFG (usually on the ramp in Lower Guk), not being able to find one. Sometimes even logging after a night of not getting a damn thing accomplished because we couldn't get a good group together.
But have we sacrificed what makes an MMO an MMO for on demand convenient solo content. How many games since the launch of WoW have you had to group to effectively level? How many have you been able to level soloing almost exclusively?
I don't know if GW2 will be good or not, but I think its good that they have moved away from the quest hub model. Hopefully it is a step in the right direction.
But maybe what we are all missing in MMOs theses days is what made EQ and DAoC so frustrating at times, but also made them so great.
tldr Maybe being able to solo from 1-max level is what is killing all of these new mmos that launch and fail. Maybe a shift back to the "need to group" like in EQ and DAoC is what the genre needs to put the mmo back in mmos.