Having reached what I believe to be the tenth level of MMO hell, The Plateau of Eternal Soloing, I have decided to give Lord of the Rings Online a bit of a rest and spend some time investigating the merits of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. One aspect of MMO gameplay that Champions Online recently introduced me to that WAR also offers is the concept of the public quest.
For someone like myself who often finds it difficult to raise or join a group because of the anti-social hours I usually play, engaging in public quests can be a much needed break from lonely solo treadmilling. The ability to wander into an area that allows you to participate in progressing either the game storyline or developing your own character without having to zone, instance or raise a group is really refreshing. And the fact that participating in one doesn’t rely solely on you having to find the full complement of a tank, healer and nuker in order to complete the quest makes it very doable for the single player. Basically, it parallels real life in a way in that some challenges and projects we take on we cannot achieve on our own, but if we can contribute or add to the greater whole in some way then the ultimate goal can be achieved.
The experience of engaging in public quests has actually raised a deeper question in my mind as to whether the MMOG genre is really achieving what it set out to do for the average player. Of course, there will always be the hardcore guilds, clans and kinships who regularly group-up for weeknight and weekend raids and the alike, but for everyone else, are MMO’s really providing a rewarding multi-player gaming experience? Or is the public quest concept a mechanism being rolled out as developer recognition of the fact that a growing number of players are just not able to achieve their higher end goals due to their struggle to find good, regular groups? As (real) life just seems to be getting busier for many and the amount of time and hours a player can dedicate to online games is being reduced are public quests perhaps one answer to that dreaded alternative of tenth level hell?
I’d appreciate hearing our readers thoughts and own experiences of public quest participation.