Thursday, March 29, 2012

Grouping beats solo-ing

I know that my name is Darth Solo but... I have a confession to make. Last night I joined a few random groups for the first time in the Diablo 3 beta and I liked it. It was loads of fun. From now on I shall be known as... drum roll... Darth Social! Nah, I kid.

For those who don't know, I coined the screen name Darth Solo back in the old days when I was playing WoW pretty much on my own. It ended up like this after a binge of raiding in Vanilla WoW, after I got a severe case of burnout and my real life was starting to suffer. I took a very long break from WoW thinking that I would never return. Eventually I did, and I played for several happy years until last year when I quit for good. And no, this time I won't return.

When I returned to WoW after my long absence, I vowed to stay out of guilds, out of dungeon runs and especially out of raids. Since WoW is so vast and there are so many things to do, it was very easy (and fun) to play on my own without getting bored. I stuck with my promise for a long time because I didn't know anyone and as a result it was very hard to get into dungeon or raid groups.

Fast forward when the Dungeon Finder was introduced. I gave it a try and immediately became a big fan. Finally there was a tool which allowed a solo player to get into a group within a few minutes, run a quick dungeon and then be on their merry way without being forced to make any commitment to the rest of the group.

Diablo 3's developers have obviously learned a lot from Blizzard's other games and the way groups are created is proof of that. I wasn't incredibly excited at the idea of grouping with other people in Diablo 3. I just wanted to do my own thing, go at my own pace. But things changed last night.

It was so easy to get into a group that it instantly set me at ease. From the login screen just click the "Public Games" button and after selecting a quest you are logged in directly in town. From there you can click on a banner belonging to one of the group members and be instantly transported to their location. Nothing can be easier.

Grouping, for one thing, increases the life of the monsters based on the number of players. This makes them tougher to kill and more dangerous. You can't just go wandering on your own in a 3-4 person group because you might be quickly killed if you meet the wrong group of monsters. So for those thinking that the beta is too easy, they can challenge themselves by doing just that: joining a group and then solo-ing mobs on the other side of the map. Of course that wouldn't be very nice towards the other group members...

The biggest advantage in grouping is the amount of loot that drops. Gold seems to drop in higher quantities and magic items drop in larger numbers. In a half hour of grouping I picked up over 7000 gold (on my own it's usually half that amount) and over a dozen blue items.

Another advantage, which is nothing to scoff at, is that you will level faster in a group. Levels fly by. Not just your character levels but also your team mates. I saw various people leveling more than half a dozen times last night.

The cool thing is that you can leave the group at any time without impacting the rest of the team. If you leave, monsters simply become weaker. If another member joins, monsters will become harder. This is obviously a departure from MMORPGs like WoW where every team member plays a specific role and is required for a successful mission. Since every class (or build) in Diablo is DPS, there are no roles to fill so no one is missed.

Now I know that I will be grouping as often as possible in the full game because it's the best use of my time. How about you?

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