MMOs are a genre that are just better with others, but sometimes that's not always possible. Maybe you're hard-pressed for time. Maybe you're shy or nervous about doing group things. Maybe you're in-between guilds or don't otherwise know anyone. Or maybe you just like the sensation of living in a populated universe while doing your own thing.
Hey, I don't judge. In fact, I think solo MMOing is a perfectly valid play preference. So here are our top choices for solo friendly MMOs.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 has systems that allow you to play alone together, with large-scale events open for participation without a group even needing to form up. You don't even need to take level into consideration for the most part; if you're too high level for an area, you're scaled down appropriately while still earning rewards. Better yet, if you don't want to partake in any events, you don't have to.
An overworld that lets people come together to take down challenges at will isn't the only thing that makes Guild Wars 2 solo-friendly. Each class is entirely self-sufficient, with skills to keep themselves alive and fighting without needing a dedicated healer. Tie that all up with a questing system that simply requires you to do deeds in an area until you're rewarded and you have an MMO that lets you seamlessly move from being in a large group to adventuring alone without use of a party finder.
If you're looking for a more traditional themepark experience while also having a dynamic battle system, then WildStar may be the ticket. The game features a colorful and emotive art style that doesn't take itself too seriously and a classic breadcrumb trail quest system that has a few extra wrinkles added on in the form of your Path quests. All completely available solo.
While WildStar does have group content in the form of dungeons and raids, it also has similarly-styled content for solo players with Expeditions, a completely soloable side mission that takes you off the surface of Nexus and into various adventures that otherwise would be the domain of group content. Want to be forced to run a marauder-owned battle gauntlet, or fight off hordes of angry aliens? You can. Even the endgame of WildStar gives you a solo progression track in the form of Dailies and Contracts. WildStar now has more options for solo players than it ever had at launch.
If a themepark MMO is your thing but you don't like the active combat of a game like WildStar or Guild Wars 2, then Rift could be your new favorite home. This game features a traditional breadcrumb questing track with classic MMO tab-target gameplay and a deep variety of Souls you can select from to create your own unique class.
Rift features a similar open world event system like Guild Wars 2 in the form of Rifts that tear open the sky and spill monsters out, which people can automatically form up to take on. In addition, the game has an Instant Adventures feature, letting you queue up for a large-scale group event easily. While this is essentially a group endeavour, Instant Adventures feature no deeper mechanics than Rifts, and even provide bonuses in XP gain for doing them. Of course, if that doesn't appeal, you can still level and play the game in the "classic" sense, following quest hubs and exploring the world of Telara at your own pace without ever touching a Rift or IA.
The Secret World
If you want something truly unique in your MMO diet, then consider The Secret World, a horror-themed MMO which casts you as a member of one of three secret societies trying to fight back the nightmares and myths of legends from seeping in to the modern world.
TSW has a few unique tricks that make it a soloable affair. First, there are no classes in the typical sense. Instead your choice of two weapons and selections from an Ability Wheel determine your role, and it lets you put together your own class to make your character a solo monster. In addition, TSW also has a breadcrumb trail quest system with a couple of unique wrinkles in the form of Investigation and Sabotage Missions. Investigations require you to step out of combat and follow clues to figure out puzzles or mysteries, and Sabotage eschews combat entirely for stealth and avoidance. In both cases, they are extremely engaging and very rewarding. Top that with a truly compelling narrative and an outstanding cast of characters, and The Secret World provides an MMO experience for soloists that is beyond compare.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
This game is the grandpappy of solo-friendly. The absolute best value for a solo MMO player's dollar. SWTOR offers the near-equivalent of eight BioWare-style single-player RPG's in the base game alone all set in the Star Wars universe that, now free of being official canon, gets to just have fun in the galaxy far, far away.
No matter what class you choose, you can play solo with your companion in tow who can fill out whatever deficiencies you may have. Chose a healer class? Switch your companion to tank mode and enjoy playing a healer without the stress of a PUG breathing down your neck. Each class has its own unique storyline and each planet has its own series of quests, letting you play through in a typical themepark style. After that, the expansions have added on even more story, especially with the release of Knights of the Fallen Empire. SWTOR lets you play completely solo from the very start to the very finish and even beyond.
These games are some of the best options for a solo player, but the case could be made for several others. To that end, feel free to offer your own suggestions for solo friendly MMOs in the comments below. And remember: your choice to play an MMO solo is not "doing it wrong," it's doing it your way. You have every right to enjoy the genre just as much as the grumpiest of MMO statesmen demanding you get off their lawn. Enjoy your own adventure!