After all of the show-floor demos, online betas, and special edition pre-orders, The Elder Scrolls Online will open up the gates of Tamriel and hope to siphon away committed players from the millions of MMORPG fans who set aside their time and money to dive head-first into magnificent open worlds with their friends. Here are some of the best of the best when it comes to the MMORPG genre.
Before all of this computer-video-nonsense, Dungeons and Dragons was being played on tabletops across the world. Today, people can also play the game online. Neverwinter takes place in the Forgotten Realms, one of the most iconic places in the D&D universe, and stands out from its MMORPG counterparts by having its rules closely resemble the tabletop gaming days of old. Currently the game only allows players to adventure through the city of Neverwinter and the nearby Neverwinter Wood, but future locations have been hinted at. Hop on, roll a character and join a party, or play the role of DM and make your own content for players to adventure through.
9. Tera Rising
Upon first glance Tera may appear to be your standard freemium MMORPG. Set in a fantasy world that doesn’t particularly stand out, the game is easy to dismiss. It is not until you jump into Tera’s gameplay that the title begins to distinguish itself, and the more you play the more you find its finely tuned combat sets the experience apart. For those who find the numbers game in most MMOs too overwhelming, Tera Rising offers an action-RPG style of play you might find more suited to your style.
You might have spent time with Trion’s other MMO, Defiance, last spring, but Rift is the developer’s true labor of love. Rift stands out by spawning dynamic instances throughout its map which draws large groups of characters to battle. Instead of forcing you to spam the chat, looking for a party to take down these large events, the game loops all players into the same instance, forming an organic party and rewarding players based on their contributions to closing a Rift. A soul-based system is used to craft your character from their abilities to their look, making your leveling choices all the more important. Rift is a fun and unique experience.
7. The Secret World
Set in our modern world, The Secret World features dark-fantasy elements such as vampires, zombies, and demons. Players can travel between real world locations, such as London or New York, and also step into fantasy locations from the mythologies and fiction the developer, Funcom, has pulled from. While the setting is what stands out when talking about The Secret World, there are other differences. The game does not lock players into classes, giving players more freedom after character creation, and has some quest puzzles that require players to do real-world online research. If you’re looking for an experience breaking from the traditional MMO format, The Secret World might be the game you’re looking for.
6. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy XIV has had one strange journey. When the game was initially panned upon release, Square Enix quickly shut the project down and went back to the drawing board. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is the fruit of this unique process, and has received a far warmer reception than the original game. For console owners looking to get in on MMORPGs, A Realm Reborn is unique in its multiplatform release, available on PlayStation 3 and PC – with a PS4 version coming later this spring. A Realm Reborn doesn’t do much to shake up the MMORPG formula, but it’s depth and addictive qualities make it something every fan of the series should enjoy.
5. Star Wars: The Old Republic
The Old Republic was not the first Star Wars MMORPG, Galaxies had that distinction, but it was Bioware’s first attempt at the genre. The spiritual successor to the highly praised Knights of the Old Republic, the game offers Bioware’s same choice-driven storylines and allows players to have companions follow them around the universe. With ship-to-ship combat (the focus of the recent expansion), romance options, and Star Wars lore, The Old Republic easily stands out from other MMORPGs. Star Wars fans aren’t likely to be disappointed.
4. Lord of the Rings Online
J.R.R Tolkien’s fantasy world is one of the most iconic when it comes to swords and sorcery. While it is easy to dismiss Lord of the Rings Online as another fantasy-based MMORPG, the game offers many distinctions in its ties to Tolkien’s world. The world of LOTRO tracks the quest of Frodo and the Fellowship, starting in Eriador and following them to the latest expansion, Helm’s Deep. As wizards are limited in number in Tolkien’s world, characters are limited in their combative embellishments, but the game still has its share of wonders with unique aspects like housing and music. In PVP players can jump the fence and play as a monstrous servant to Sauron. Much like The Old Republic, LOTRO may not stand out to standard fans of MMORPGs, but to fans of the source material it is a must-play.
3. Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2’s unique qualities start with its one-time purchase model, allowing lifetime access to the game, and continue to its dynamic quest structure. Guild Wars 2 expands upon the original game with more levels and deeper content, players can hop into the World versus World zone and engage in some of the largest scale PVP combat available. Developer, ArenaNet, comes at its content from fresh perspectives, offering combat that is more dynamic and uses the environment as a weapon. Guild Wars 2 is one of the best MMORPGs still running and a blessing for those looking to avoid subscription fees.
2. EVE Online
There are many titles MMOs can boast, biggest subscription base, most lifetime members, EVE Online distinguishes itself with the most involved (craziest) fanbase you can find. The game’s astonishing complexities leave many players too intimidated to give it a shot, but those who get their hooks into the economy, exploration, and alliances start down a rabbit-hole of epic proportions. EVE Online can evaluate its battles in astonishing amounts of real-world money, has been used to evaluate potential government employees, and has provided some of the best organic storylines in all of video games. EVE Online is not for everyone, in fact, it might be fair to say it’s for a select few. But those select few seem to find something very special in its sci-fi world.
1. World of Warcraft
I know, surprise, surprise. World of Warcraft simply towers over the competition in the MMORPG space and it has done so for a ridiculous amount of time. Why is World of Warcraft the best? Is it due to the deep and specific world-crafting, the lore which has evolved over numerous years, or simply the fact it has the biggest subscription base of all the games on this list? It is all of those things, but it is also how any new MMORPG finds itself drawing immediate comparison’s to this video game Behemoth. World of Warcraft’s popularity stands as a testament to its quality. The game has evolved to give players new experiences, it offers a massive community to interact with, and it keeps delivering highly praised expansions. For those who wants to dip their toe in the MMO waters, World of Warcraft is the place to start.
Who knows, maybe we’ll see Elder Scrolls Online on the list next year. Or the upcoming sci-fi world of WildStar. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.