Questing is like cooking, more stressy the more people involved

I have been playing a bit of City of Heroes with my beloved this weekend (I’m only about level 5, but the revamped tutorial is pretty cool and I like that you can buy Fly as a power quite early on now.) You’d think this would be a joyful experience since we don’t get to play together very often, and even in WoW it was mostly during raid nights when we both got tapped for the raid. And mostly, it is! He loves the game, I’m curious to remind myself of it, we’re good to go.

And yet somehow, I get tired much more quickly when I’m questing alongside someone else than when I’m playing the levelling game on my own. This is true even when I’m questing with Arb in LOTRO, and she’s probably the most compatible person with me in the sense of playing style that I know.

So why is this? Is it just the constant need to make sure everyone’s on the same quest, everyone remembered to click the quest text, everyone had time to read the quest text, people staying together and not wandering off and getting lost, chatting (I don’t really think that’s stressful?), making sure everyone gets to go train up their stats when they level, etc?

I suspect that there’s something about questing per se that just seems to work better for single players. You can control the pace, can make your decisions intuitively without having to discuss them, can decide for yourself when you want to take a break.

If I look at games where I’ve really enjoyed levelling in duos or small groups, they were either in the past when I was just a more patient player and more interested in chat or RP, or else involved events like instances, PvP scenarios, skirmishes, rifts, or sandbox play (ie. taking our ships in Pirates of the Burning Sea and heading off for adventure). Even when experimenting with fixed groups, I think we found it easier when we had instance nights rather than actually all trying to quest together.

Anyone else find it more relaxing to level via quest when solo? I think in many ways, this is the genius of Diablo in that you can play through the whole thing either solo or in groups, depending on your goals.

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9 thoughts on “Questing is like cooking, more stressy the more people involved

  1. I know it’s very common to solo quest in WoW, so common that you could say that only the end-game is social, but not the game as a whole, in terms of playing together (instead of just chatting).
    Besides the points you mention, a lot of players prefer efficiency and leveling with someone is just slower. Also, in terms of the storylines, it can be more immersive to engage with the quests alone.

  2. That’s pretty much my experience too. Mrs Bhagpuss and I quest very well together when we both start a new MMO at the same time and I think that’s the best duo/small group questing experience you’re likely to get. We quested pretty much to max level in Vanguard and into the 40s in LotRO, for example.

    As soon as we begin second, third and fourth characters we tend to disappear off into our own alt universes and it becomes really difficult to get back to following quest chains together.

    As far as questing with strangers goes – PUQs? – it’s strictly a one-off thing. Meet at quest location, group briefly to get something done, wave goodbye. It really doesn’t work, even in games that handle all the housekeeping for you. For pick-up grouping I’m of the opinion you can’t beat the good old days of Everquest and DAOC where you find a camp, settle down and watch some elf run over the hill a thousand times, coming with his hair on fire and a pack of goblins on his heels.

  3. If I want to follow the story in a series of missions, I generally play it solo. It can still work is small groups with like-minded players or friends – but not always.

    Teaming and running missions in CoH is relatively hassle-free compared to other MMOs, IMHO. There is not much need for a lot of the bookkeeping and checking where everyone is for the most part.
    Playing in a big team is fun for different reasons simply, so going into teams with a slightly different mindset helps.

  4. Absolutely.

    It doesn’t help that my best friend and usual questing mate is some kind of CIA-designed robot designed to beat the Soviets at questing, so I always try to be on the top of my game so as not to slow her down. It works, but the idea of relaxing bumble-about questing is completely out the window.

    It does depend on the game, though. DCUO (which we’ve been plinking at for lols, and which has turned out to be a suprisingly fun game, by the way) has questing mundanities almost completely automated. You kill your mobs, press a key and experience (which is a small orb or what have you) loot, etc., simply fly into your bags from far and near. There is also a universal ‘do something with that object’ interface that’s glaringly obvious and unmistakeable. That might sound monotonous, but I find it to be an excellent solution, actually, for that kind of action MMO. It lets me concentrate on killing and controlling enemies, the part I’m actually good at.

    It also makes me wonder about the real value of “interesting” questing a la Rift/WoW (lasso a mob and drag it onto a crystal which breaks into tiny glowy pieces on the ground which you pick up and once you have six you make a tincture to use on the wounded fuzzlemeister which turns friendly once you beat it down to 10%…) The devs may think it’s great because hey, look, content we put work into, but to me it’s thinly veiled drudgery, especially the second/third time around. What minimal challenge it brings lies not in combat but in attentive housekeeping, which is near the bottom of my list of relaxing activities.

  5. I think the answer depends on mood..
    I mean.. I find questing with my husband ok.. whereas I drive him bonkers because I’ve erm (and yes I’m doing it right now) tabbed out and /followed him, only leaping in to save his life at the very last moment.
    I think I’m generally a pretty patient person when I’m questing, I’ve always enjoyed questing with other people, I think because I don’t mind adjusting my speed and mindset.
    If I’m not in the mood for other people, I solo quest.
    But I genuinely don’t prefer one over the other.

  6. Yes, I totally agree. I love group content, but when it comes to questing I just want to put on music and do my thing. I mean, if there are other people standing around and we all need the same boss or task, then sure that’s fine. But generally if I’m questing I have a purpose and a target and I just want to get on with the business of accomplishing it and not mucking around with other people.

  7. Me, definitely. As much as I’d like to PUG more, or even duo with a friend for the social company aspect, I find the more I play MMOs, the less patience I have in waiting for people to get to a spot so that we can start, and the more I crave just wandering about doing my own thing following my own quest path.

    I think part of this has to do with my sense of immersion. I can read the story and pretend to be more closely involved with the world if I’m only interacting with mobs and NPCs that closely adhere to the lore.

    The moment another player gets involved, I’m suddenly keenly aware of the metagame, there’s another PERSON. Now I have to interact with the person as a person, I have to think about metagame combat strategies (who tanks, who heals, am I performing up to standard or letting the other guy down or am I even necessary if he’s soloing it all, I have to watch his back, my back). Sure, there’s a level of fun involved in that kind of co-op, which can be done in multiplayer co-op third or first person shooters too, but it takes me sharply out of the virtual WORLD – which is usually the experience I was craving when I go questing and leveling in an MMO.

    And part of it is I’m just antisocial and low on tolerance for random people who don’t play like me and grumpy :)

  8. I actually prefer to quest in a group, and I bemoan constantly how easy questing has become in WoW. I guess I’m pretty patient, I do like to read quest text though so I’ll quickly complain if someone starts hurrying me too often.

    My most fun times more recently was the initial few months in Rift questing with two friends – new game, new content and some real challenge as there are plenty of opportunities to overpull and plenty of elites in the open world.

    Now the others have drifted back to WoW and I do still play Rift but it’s not the same at all. :-/

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