According to this video, source RPS, it looks like The Elder Scrolls Online folks are aiming at making their MMORPG a single player experience. Or at least they’ll be making the main storyline a single player experience.
Now I’ve said before that I think that MMORPGs should allow solo play, or at least not force players into grouping, and I stand by that. There are tons of great reasons to be able to play solo. But there is a trend in the latest MMOs, SWTOR for instance, to encourage players not to group… at all.
It’s funny, kind of ironic, in that the systems I’ve wanted to see in these games such as great stories are now being implemented at the expense of the other game systems that I still like.
One of the problems I have with forced grouping is that it is often a painful experience, usually when grouping with strangers. (Using Diablo 2 as an example, the 2 times I played with a stranger put me off Diablo multiplayer for life.) But I don’t want the MMORPG to go down the path where it is simply a single player game with a multiplayer component, like Diablo 3. That is the wrong direction. Completely.
What I would prefer is to have incentives for grouping that outweigh the downsides. You’ll never get rid of idiots who want to spoil the game, but hugely antiquated (and dumb) ways of assigning XP, or loot, need to be looked at.
Don’t make the player into a stand-alone hero. Make her into a member of a virtual world, provide the tools to shape her own story, and stand back and see what happens.