Alone Vs. With Friends
Let's get the obvious one out of the way. Do you want to play with friends? Do you want to be left alone? How you want to play is a big consideration when looking at the differences between single-player RPGs and MMORPGs.
While many MMO games can give you solitude as well, single-player RPGs are by their very nature solo adventures that allow you to explore a fresh undiscovered world with only NPCs who are meant to be there taking up space in the world. MMOs are full of other folks in nearly every corner of the world, and sometimes you even have to compete with them for resources or quest objectives, but there are other people to play with. Both can offer fantastic gameplay experiences.
A Living Breathing World
Single-player RPGs can give you a large open world to explore full of NPCs to bring life to the game. The world of MMOs lives and breathes with the other players that surround you.
While a great single-player RPG world can be more vast and varied, an MMO tends to feel more alive when full of people. The world of an MMO will grow and change over time, while short of some DLC a single-player game will tend to be the world you have. MMO life cycles tend to be much longer due to being able to live in a world, while single-player RPG games often just feel like you are visiting.
Your Impact On The World
Single-player RPGs excel at letting you impact the world around you. Things you do can change the world dramatically, whether it's the life and death of NPCs, a big threat roaming the lands, or something as small as buying a home. MMOs tend to have to remain persistent for the most part so that something you do does not affect the experience of other players.
An entire town of NPCs isn't going to magically disappear in an MMO because it would stop other players from experiencing that content. In a single-player RPG, they are free to make dynamic sweeping changes to things you interact with because you are the only one experiencing them.
An MMO can be more expensive than a single-player RPG, or it can be cheaper; it just depends on what you're playing. Single-player RPGs are typically one-time purchases (at least the best ones are), while MMOs can be one-time purchases, monthly subs, or completely free depending on what monetization model is being used in the MMO you're playing.
The amount of money you're going to spend is a big consideration when looking at single-player RPGs vs. MMORPGs. A single-player game can give you dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of fun for $70. An MMO can give you hundreds if not thousands of hours of fun. In the long term though, it all depends on what you're looking for and how much money you're willing to spend on it.
Beating The Game
This may be a big one for a lot of you. While it can be sad to have a single-player RPG finally come to and end, it can also be extremely satisfying to know you've beaten the game. With an MMO, it's hard to get that feeling because there is always going to be the next adventure or the next big bad to fight. It's in the nature of the game.
That being said, sometimes you CAN get that feeling in an MMO. An example from my life is when my small group of scrappy guildies took down the Lich King in World of Warcraft. It was just as satisfying as any conclusion to a single-player RPG. The build-up was years in the making, and the final fight was intense and epic. I felt like I had beaten WoW. A feeling I still kinda carry to this day seeing as how I've only dabbled occasionally since then. Any time someone asks me if I play WoW, I only half-jokingly reply that "I beat that game".
There are no real winners and losers when it comes to single-player RPGs vs. MMORPGs. Both can bring the fun, but each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Many of us are fans of both, and while there will always be crossover between why we play them, there are reasons whey both remain viable options for our gaming time.
About the Author
Troy “Noobfridge” Blackburn has been reporting on the video game industry for over a decade. Whether it’s news, editorials, gameplay videos, or streams, Noobfridge never fails to present his honest opinion whether those hot takes prove to be popular or not.More Stories by Troy Blackburn