Grouping Is Where The Fun’s At

Had a blast in World of Warcraft this morning when I took on Wailing Caverns with my new Undead Warrior along with two old friends from previous MMORPGs (they just started playing WoW). Now that might not seem like much worth blogging about except that it is for me when you consider that this is not only the first time I’ve done the instance but one of my very few times grouping with anyone since starting the game back in October last year. Kinda sad isn’t it?

I always just figured I was kinda lazy (there’s no doubt an element of that in it, regardless) but I just never needed to group much in all of my time playing WoW. Even by the time I was adventuring in Outland, there really was no need to group. Soloing was a lot more convenient and a heck of a lot faster. Even today in my WC group I had an absolutely great time yet only chalked about half a level of exp (granted, I was level 25 though).

I compare this back to my days of Everquest 2 when grouping was a perfectly viable, if not preferable, alternative to soloing. They were both well defined options for progress. Soloing was seen as the “I’m just on for a little while” or the “I don’t want to freaking talk to anybody” option whilst grouping was the “fast exp, good loot, fun social” option. Only got 30mins before the wife kicks your ass? Go solo. Got a whole a morning to kill? Grab a group and hit an open dungeon for hours on end.

Somewhere, somehow, it just all got a little muddled up in World of Warcraft.

I know I’ve harped on about this before but the grouping aspect of WoW is pretty terrible and, in my opinion, perhaps the biggest – and maybe even the only – failing of the game. The lack of grouping incentives and focus purely on closed instances (as opposed to open dungeons) has bred unsociable players (I’ll include myself in that). No wonder PUGs have gotten such a bad name from WoW. Had grouping been a tad more vital, and a tad more appealing, players would’ve yearned to group, feared being ostracised and perhaps behaved a little better.

Although I think it creates a few issues along with solving some, patch 3.3 and the new cross-realm LFG system does genuinely excite me though. Not quite sure how it will work in terms of building up relationships and friendships (can you be friends or communicate with someone on another server?) but at least it will certainly address the issue of the time taken to put together a group. Whether or not it will actually make grouping more enticing or the party members any more responsible and well mannered is another thing entirely.

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10 Comments

  1. Brian Inman says:

    Grouping is fun to one extent, but just like soloing it has many downsides also. I prefer to solo because it means more loot, more money, and more xp.

    I have never felt that grouping was really a benefit except maybe killing a final quest boss that can’t be soloed.

    With Warcraft you can easily bypass it all though because there is so many quests, or grinding is pretty easy compared to games like Aion.

    • Gordon says:

      Which is where WoW falls down, imo. Grouping should have more of an incentive in order to entice people into it… to me, it’s kinda the point of a MMO. I could do solo quests in Dragon Age if that’s all I wanted. Unfortunately though I, like everyone else, usually opt for the easy and lazy route and don’t bother putting a group together.

  2. Ramon says:

    WoW just isn’t well-designed in terms of grouping. Games like Shards of Dalaya are, and that just takes the grouping formula from EverQuest and improves on it in ways that EQ itself didn’t.

    Of course for EQ-like games that means it’s impossible to play at all without a group, but it makes grouped play so much more exciting and rewarding that it’s worth it. If someone were to do a modern game in this way, they’d just need to offer an alternative progress path (without resorting to soloing). That’d be fantastic.

  3. Bronte says:

    I also hate how the game doesn’t expect you to group for your ride form 1-80, save for a few select moments/dungeons. And then at 80, if you want the good gear, you are expected to suddenly pull a 180 and be exceptional at forming and running good groups.

  4. Mojeaux says:

    And that’s my biggest beef with WoW. They made it too easy for the people that didn’t want to or have time to group. And on the surface, I don’t have a problem with a game that caters to the casual gamer, but unfortunately it was such a success that companies now days can’t/won’t make the next “EQ” where grouping is rewarded and encouraged, because the WoW community is so vocal and condemning of other games that don’t adhere to the solo mentality that Wow espouses. I was so hopeful that Vanguard would be the next EQ, but it seems that they were bitten by that same corporate mentality that they needed to be “the next WoW” and had to change design in mid-stride. And we all saw how that ended.

    • Gordon says:

      I don’t think WoW’s casual nature is a problem, they just need to get the balance right and make grouping more rewarding. In EQ, for instance, grouping was a necessity yet when it’s optional, there has to be sufficient carrot to get people to do it.

  5. Gordon, my friend – I think you should lvl your ass up to 80 and appreciate what groups really are worth at that stage. Sure, WoW could be better. I was playing a game called Dofus and if you were in a group it didnt matter whether you were in a dungeon – you’d still get 4x xp boost for playing with other people. Great. Big whoop.

    Thing is, should you get yourself to 80, you will soon enough realise that groups are where its at. And its not just small 5-man groups – its 10 and 25 – opening up content you couldnt dream of conquering on your own.

    In my opinion, being able to solo to 80 is a huge plus – its so fecking annoying to rely on a good group to come along. Cause although I agree the best experiences come from social play, lets face it – most people on your server are twats and it takes a while to find real “groupworthy” friends.

    Love ya bro,
    Brush

    • Gordon says:

      Meh, I think grouping is just as viable at any stage of the game. I mean the entire game should be fun right? Otherwise why don’t we just buy some level 80 characters from eBay? :)

      I suppose for me the journey and leveling up aspect was always the most fun. At the level cap you just end up collecting loot and dressing your character like a Barbie doll only to have all of your achievments undermined as soon as the next expansion comes out :)

      What’s the rush anyway? :)

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