Perhaps more than any other genre, Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs require an intense time commitment, so these recommendations are for games that grabbed us from the get-go all the way through to the 133rd hour. Here’s our list of the Top 10 MMORPGs.
A quick note: all of these games are still playable, but we tried to balance both how easy they are to recommend in 2021 and their contributions to progressing the genre as a whole. Let’s get started!
10. Final Fantasy XI
Final Fantasy 11 came out in 2002, and if you were like us, you snagged the hard drive router combo so you could play it on your PS2. Fast forward to 2021 and there’s still a community dedicated to helping new players experience this amazing Final Fantasy story. Sure, the controls are a bit complicated for modern standards, but just the other day we got Chapter 4 Part 2 of the Voracious Resurgence event! Final Fantasy 11 will always hold a special place in our hearts and if we’re being honest we still sneak on and play every now and then. Protip, hit up one of the free to play double xp weekends to jump into the story asap.
Would you rather have the power of flight, or super speed? Why not both? DCUO has been a home for DC and superhero fans and continues going strong 10 years later on 5 different platforms. Now that DCUO is free-to-play and on multiple platforms, it’s now more accessible than ever and still has major content drops like the most recent World of Flashpoint. City of Heroes laid the foundation for superhero MMORPGs but DCUO has such a breadth of existing lore and characters, it was a must recommend for this list.
In a genre highly dependent on grinding to make the numbers go higher, Tera sets itself apart
from the rest with an action combat system that still feels good to play today. Its gameplay is highly skill dependent, and the BAMs (Big-Ass Monsters) that roam freely are always tempting
to sharpen your skill against. It does have issues such as animation-locking during
combat and a less-than fulfilling endgame, but Tera’s combat is still fun to play if you boot it up right now, and that is a true feat for a free-to-play MMO released a decade ago.
7. EVE Online
EVE Online — Project Discovery
Eve Online has spawned so many great real-world stories that they could make a Top 10 List
of their own. A game of staggering depth and complexity, Eve Online has fostered a player base since 2003 with its meaningful consequences – you can permanently lose ships worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars – and its freedom for players to do just about anything, like assist in Covid-19 research and organize a stirring tribute for Stephen Hawking. Eve Online has found a way to stick around for almost two decades by being uncompromising in its vision, and that vision is staggering.
6. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Storytelling is vital in RPGs and Bioware tells an excellent one in Star Wars: The Old Republic. For fans of the classic KOTOR series who may not be well-versed in MMORPGs, SWTOR has been tweaked to be single player friendly as well, and now that the game is free-to-play, anyone can jump in to try the class stories and the first couple of expansions. Major content drops don’t seem to be as often as they used to, but The Old Republic is still worth returning to after all this time.
5. Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars popularized the concept of an MMO with no monthly fees, and continues that business model to this day. It’s also very accessible; while it encourages social interaction and cooperation with others, it can also largely be played solo. Add that to the game’s unique weapon ability system in which different weapons provide different abilities for different classes WHILE in different hands, and ArenaNet’s “Living World” approach to storytelling segments, and you have a recipe for a game that stands the test of time. There’s even a new expansion, End of Dragons, that’s slated for 2021.
4. Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online allows you to get lost in a fantasy world where you can control your own story down to the nitty gritty details. Do you want to summon dark magic as a Breton while you fight, or would you rather be a Wood Elf with the power of nature and a bow for defense? ESO combines gorgeous, diverse landscapes that you can easily travel around, wonderful combat and expansive quest options, all while allowing you to play alongside your pals. With consistent DLC drops and performance updates, ESO continues to improve upon itself and now has never been a better time to hop into the world – especially for those who loved Skyrim and other Elder Scrolls games.
3. Phantasy Star Online 2
While the UI and menu design feels a little dated these days, Phantasy Star Online 2 still feels incredibly fresh to play, thanks to the fast-action anime sci-fi combat, incredible character creation tools, randomly generated fields, excellent electronic soundtrack, and chaotic Urgent Quests. It’s also had over eight years of content updates that all rolled out just this past year with PSO2’s recent western release, and will soon receive a new open world, graphics engine update, systems and more, thanks to a major update with New Genesis. The future is looking very bright for Phantasy Star.
2. World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft changed the entire MMORPG genre after its original launch in 2004, setting itself apart from past games by being more accessible to veterans of the genre and newcomers. With nearly sixteen years worth of patches and eight expansions, WoW is an industry titan. While Shadowlands has experienced a delayed launch on top of the longest duration of a launch patch in the game’s history, there’s no denying that WoW still has years of quests, raids, dungeons and even transmog fashion pieces to collect from previous expansions. With the option to also hop into WoW: Classic and the recently released Burning Crusade Classic servers, there have never been more ways to experience WoW.
1. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Screenshots and Artwork
One of the greatest modern success stories in video game history, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn took a bland, widely panned launch game and completely retooled it to sit atop the throne of MMORPGs. Not only did Square Enix keep the old game going while working on the reboot, it worked the reboot into the game’s storyline, marking it as a calamity that reshaped Eorzea. Final Fantasy XIV has only improved since release with three current expansions and a fourth on the way, and each one has added classes, dungeons, and raids pulling from both Final Fantasy history and other Square Enix properties such as Nier Automata. Final Fantasy XV may have come and gone, and Final Fantasy XVI is on the way, but A Realm Reborn still shows no signs of slowing down.
And there you have it! Our picks for the top 10 MMORPGs. Have we missed any? What do you think needs to be reshuffled? Let us know in the comments below.