Secret Design of WoW PvE: Solo Difficulty vs Group Difficulty

The series: [Intro­duc­tion, and a call for com­ments, Solo Dif­fi­cul­ty vs Group Dif­fi­cul­ty, PvE vs PvP, Vari­ety vs Spe­cial­iza­tion, Solo Per­former vs Group Util­i­ty, Your role in a PvE raid]

Your abil­i­ty to solo par­tial­ly deter­mines the expe­ri­ence you’ll have in groups. If you have an easy time in the lev­el­ing game, you are going to have a more dif­fi­cult expe­ri­ence in the endgame/group game. The fol­low­ing list goes from easy-to-solo to hard-to-solo.

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Max level does not mean Skilled

(Relat­ed post: Raid­ing does not mean Skilled)

World of War­craft, and every game like it, is real­ly two dif­fer­ent games. I first read this thought at Pen­ny Arcade (can’t find where because their search func­tion is weak). Basi­cal­ly, you have the lev­el­ling game where you start at L1 and then play until max lev­el (cur­rent­ly L70), and then the game that hap­pens after the lev­el­ling game, which is filled with group activ­i­ties of all sorts as you improve your max lev­el char­ac­ter.

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Game Riding Shotgun

What hap­pens when you’ve got two gamers (me and my wife) who can’t play a game togeth­er, but you both want to play? Some­one rides shot­gun. This can be due to the game being sin­gle-play­er, or more recent­ly, due to the need for some­one to hold an infant.

The per­son who rides shot­gun does­n’t have to focus on con­trols or the repet­i­tive tasks that take up a lot of time on gam­ing. They focus on the big pic­ture, missed details, and so on. If the game is some­thing you’re both inter­est­ed in, you com­bine to become some­thing of a super­play­er. For exam­ple, I can’t spot those hid­den flags in Assas­s­in’s Creed for the life of me, but she’ll pick out one that’s under a pile of hay, which is itself under a tarp… three miles away, through dense fog, around the cor­ner. She spots the tiny cor­ner of that flag, and we get clos­er to com­plet­ing the game. In Pix­eljunk Mon­sters, I point out that she tends to stand next to mobs, wait­ing for them to die, when she could be three steps away, upgrad­ing a tow­er while she wait­ed. And we get clos­er to get­ting a rain­bow on that lev­el. (Yes, you can play PJM with two players–and we often do–but when I get home from work and she’s play­ing, I don’t say, “Drop that and let’s play togeth­er.” I fix myself a drink.)

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