One of the things about MMOs is that it's a living world, where other people exist within it. It's not just you alone, or you and some friends, but a large population of people playing together. This is what seperates MMOs from regular online games. It's important that this idea is respected, because what's an MMO without the massively multiplayer component. Yet, Blade & Soul's option to make everyone else go away is interesting to me and has created a rather odd gameplay experience, that I rather enjoy.

Right now, the server is packe and there is a lot of people around. Everything that I can do can be done solo and doesn't need a player, doesn't also need them to be around. When you enable the function, everyone around you disappears and only their nameplates remain, assuming you leave them on, which can be turned off as well. Unlike Elite Dangerous, you don't get your own instances of everything in the entire world, instead you get to just not see them, or see their names flying around.

Chat remains, you can still group-up, but the super busy (and immersion ruining) zerg rush can disappear for awhile. While I'm sure such an option is intended to reduce the lag, there is also this catharsis when you no longer are over-stimulated by 20 jumping avatars rushing the quest NPC. Instead, the world slows down a bit, it calms down a bit more, and everything continues as is. If you leave the names on, you'll see what seems like ghosts running around, while if you take them off the world gets quiet.

Sure, monsters might be fighting imaginary beings and you're never truly alone, but it's an interesting way to play. You can still read chat, interact with everyone, and the such. Monsters are still out in the open, but, the world slows down a bit. Surely, obviously, later on in the game's life when there isn't 100 other people in a starting area, this isn't a problem, but for me it's... rather nice? It's something that I can sit down and enjoy. This brief moment where the game just, calms down a bit.

Maybe it's age, or maybe it's the fact that I don't enjoy seeing the movement of a hundred or so people on my screen, but the idea that an MMO doesn't always need to have so many people around, and that you can filter some of them out is nice. I know that games like The Elder Scrolls Online tackles this by filtering in a specific amount of people in and out of your screen, but it's nothing like a single player experience that you can replicate in Blade & Soul.

Another interesting thought is that Star Wars: The Old Republic makes a strong attempt at becoming a single player game. You have a few open areas as you progress through the game, but until the end-game in the latest expansion, you're by yourself. Which makes sense. It's easy to make the leveling experience be something that you can do optionally with your friends, but at the same time focus all of the energy on group quests at the end of the journey.

Let's face it - no one really wants to group up and level together. Questing with two people is harder than just one, and each additional person just makes it even harder. You have to rotate through bathroom breaks, computer crashes, getting to and talking to an NPC, finding locations, and if the game doesn't support drops for everyone, fighting over drops. In addition to these issues, if at any point everyone gets to a different part of a zone, or different levels, grouping becomes really hard, where two people may have to run through previous content to help a third.

That's fine - it's actually fun for some, less for me, but nevertheless, I just want to reiterate that it's neat to play Blade & Soul somewhat by myself. Watching the chat stream by while I move through a much slower and quieter world. Toggling other players off when I enter towns, and back on when I'm out in the world. It's just a really novel feature, that I enjoy. Not everything has to meet specific expectations, and an MMO that lets you quieten the world down and make it a little less massive, especially during the massive rush, is rather nice in my book.

Oh if you want to throw down the whole idea that solo questing is bad, that's fine. I think it's fine and I think group content based games are fine. However, if you want a game to be big, I don't think forcing complete and total group play start to finish is going to be an easy thing to develop, whereas if you give an automated means of reaching max level, then it's easier for the mass market to consume. I'm okay with understanding this, and rather like questing, so for me, even playing something like Blade & Soul like a single player game feels good.

Not everything has to conform to specific standards. At least, that's my opinion.

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Last Updated: Mar 25, 2016

About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.