A Massively Overpowered reader by the name of DaBruuzer posed a great question to the team, one I thought we’d have a better time answering as a group since many of us play with spouses, significant others, or dear friends in duos.
“I would love to see some coverage about MMOs that are couple-friendly. My wife and I have been playing MMOs as a couple for many years now, always trying out new games that make duoing fun. Since the sunset of City of Heroes/Villains, we just haven’t found a new home. I have seen lots of stuff about soloing and grouping, hence my ‘couples’ angle. I don’t necessarily mean about a game’s marriage features — more like MMOs that complement a two-person group set-up.”
For this first installment of the reincarnation of our old Think Tank, I asked the MOP crew about the very best MMOs for duoing.
Brendan Drain (@nyphur): I’ve used MMOs throughout the years to keep up with friends I can’t physically spend time with, so I see the value in games having a focus on on duoing (which may not be a word, but totally should be) rather than on only solo gameplay or larger groups. I’ve always found EverQuest II to be a very comfortable game to play with one other person, as there are loads of class combinations that match up well with each other. You don’t have to go the typical tank and healer approach as EQII has more hybrid classes like the Bruiser with its built-in self-heal or the Shadowknight’s health drain buff. Questing through zones in EQII with a friend is pretty painless compared to soloing, and there’s plenty of extra stuff to do when your partner’s not online, like crafting, collecting, house decorating, or hunting named mobs for loot. EVE Online is also pretty good for duoing if you’re into space MMOs, as much of the PvE content is balanced around individuals, but there’s nothing stopping you bringing a wingman along. Solo PvP is also very rare and skill-intensive in EVE, but a small pack of just two or three newbies can get some nice kills in faction warfare.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Duoing is how I spend the vast majority of my online gaming time. My husband and I are pretty inseparable, and I know how hard it is for other people to get their spouses into their games, so I don’t for a minute take it for granted that we both prefer to play together. Geek cred moment: I actually built a motorcycle in World of Warcraft a few years ago and gifted it to him for Christmas as a joke-but-not-really to make our duoing easier (it’s got a sidecar! Vroooom!). City of Heroes, as DaBruuzer noted, was perfect for a duo that was either out of sync level-wise or just couldn’t stick with a darn class for more than five minutes. Guild Wars 2 is our modern favorite for the same reason; we can basically play whatever characters we want together on any given night, and we’re not playing against the game (sacrificing experience or drops or missing out on endgame) when we do so. A hat-tip to classic Guild Wars, too; prior to seven-hero parties, the game was optimized for two humans with three heroes apiece.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I’m a bit of an outlier as I already spend a great deal of time doing stuff with my wife as it is; back in Star Wars: The Old Republic we would play a tank and a healer, bring out DPS companions, and go to town in group quests without a care in the world. The best games we’ve found for operating like that, traditionally, have been The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy XIV; then again, we’re not averse to just playing the most group-critical roles and filling out party ranks with whomever. Of course, the level best game for duoing was probably City of Heroes, as the game largely didn’t care about who you were and gave you plenty of leeway in making any group size work. But that doesn’t really help anyone now, does it?
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I’ve duoed (briefly) with my wife in Guild Wars 2, Wizard101, and World of Warcraft. While all of those games were great for that, extra points go to Guild Wars 2 for downleveling my character to match whatever zone my wife was exploring. Since I usually shot ahead of her in levels, this worked out great and gave us maximum flexibility for solo and duo play.
Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): It might be obvious that I would choose Star Wars: The Old Republic as an MMO that is really fun to duo in. However, I didn’t choose it because it’s currently my favorite MMO but because it’s currently my favorite MMO because of duoing. If you and one other friend, mate, or even child are looking for a game that is actually more fun to play with one other person, then SWTOR does it. There are quests with dialogue cutscenes that you and your partner can battle over who wins the voice-over roll. If you run two different classes, you can see two amazingly told stories instead of just one. And with a partner you can actually level a bit faster because you don’t have to search for another player to do heroic missions, which are mostly geared for a two-person group.
Mike Foster (@MikedotFoster, blog): I think Final Fantasy XIV’s smaller party size makes it great for couples. With only four people to a dungeon, two can make a much bigger difference. I’ve also played lots and lots of Dota 2 with significant others, but I feel like that one’s a bit more niche and we also had friends to fill the rest of the team out. Overall I’d say any MMO with strong syncing/mentoring features is ideal, that way you and your partner can still hang out together even if you cant put in the same hours. As a side note, Portal 2’s co-op mode is the best way to find out if your relationship can weather a storm.