Although the name would suggest that massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are similar to role-playing games, they are different on so many levels. Working with other players to achieve goals by combat and trading, and being able to work on talents such as fishing and blacksmithing is what makes MMORPGs special.

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MMORPGs have taken pop culture by storm, inventing their own vocabulary, not to mention a host of problematic psychological afflictions! Indeed, these addictive titles are notorious for driving some people over the edge of acceptable behavior, but with a little temperament and discipline, they’re a lot of fun! If you’re ready to lose yourself in another world, you may want to start with one of these.

Updated on March 25, 2023 by Gabrielle Huston: We’ve added a few of our other favorite MMORPGs for you to check out, young and old!

18 New World

MMMORPGs love to explore the fantasy genre, and New World is no exception. It takes place on a fantastical island called Aeternum, where you – an explorer during the 17th century – discover new resources, mystical powers, and other players to befriend or behead.

New World was one of those games to suffer from having too many players at launch, causing its servers to buckle under the weight. However, it has recovered since then and become a well-enjoyed title for many. It was nominate for the Best Multiplayer Game by the Game Awards and the Best Original Soundtrack (Video Game) in the Hollywood Music In Media Awards.The year it came out, 2021, it was also one of the top played games on Steam.

17 Guild Wars

The original Guild Wars nabbed itself quite a huge fan-base at a time when World Of Warcraft had half a year’s head start. It was far more realistic than its competitor in terms of graphics and visual style, which drew in many gamers who weren’t turned on by WoW’s cartoon look.

Guild Wars was meant to be played with a party, which made going solo a near-impossible experience. It’s one of the things that made it so endearing. Though the original would never match its sequel in terms of scale or substance, it did lay the groundwork for what would later follow, making it an instant classic.

16 Ultima Online

Many fond memories are springing into some readers’ heads right now. Releasing in 1997, Ultima Online was one of the earliest, most popular MMORPGs. It was a bizarre time in video game history where anything could go, and game developers had the time of their lives. This game was set in the world of Ultima, which is a beloved series of open-world fantasy RPGs that began in 1981.

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Ultima Online had a long life and received eight expansions (as well as lots of free updates), and the last one was as recent as 2015. One fun fact about the game is that it was important to the developers that players were totally free, which meant that they needed to be free to be evil. They spent a long time balancing the ways that a player could be criminal while protecting other players from undue harm.

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This South Korean MMO has been running almost a decade, and shows no signs of slowing down. TERA is a fantasy MMO with a focus on immersive combat mechanics, as opposed to more popular titles like World Of Warcraft.

The game is popular among its 28 million+ players for having a most robust character creation system, a more accessible style of play, and plenty of fancy armors and weapons to get their hands on.

14 Trove

Trove is a Minecraft-style sandbox MMORPG that was first released on PC in July 2015. It was ported to PlayStation and Xbox in March 2017, then finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch in June 2021. Not many MMORPGs are suitable to the console platforms, but Trove fits like a glove!

It’s simple, but surprisingly engaging. This is a great ‘baby’s first MMO’ choice for younger audiences. It’s also beloved by its fans; out of almost 90,000 reviews on Steam at the time of this writing, it has a 9/10 score!

13 Planetside 2

While different from the traditional MMORPG formula, Planetside 2 was nevertheless an MMO in spirit, with a different game mechanic as its core focus. The objective of the game was to participate in a massive-scale war for dominance across the planet Auraxis.

The game holds the Guinness World Record for most players competing in a single battle – an astonishing 1158, to be exact. Nothing quite matches the sheer scale of Planetside 2, and although its glory days are behind it, it’s still an MMO title with a lot to boast about.

12 Black Desert Online

Another Korean MMO with a lot going for it, Black Desert Online came seemingly out of nowhere and upended its competitors with a very distinct combat system, excellent graphics, and an engaging storyline.

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BDO sports one of the most diverse character creation systems of any MMO game; a major plus for gamers who don’t want to look like they rolled off the assembly line. There’s a ton of classes to choose from, a boat-load of esteemed titles and accomplishments to obtain, and yes, pets. A very good pet system!

11 Star Trek Online

Trekkers were definitely excited at the prospect of immersing themselves in the Star Trek universe and living out their dreams of being a Starfleet officer, which made Star Trek Online such an enduring hit.

Though critic reviews were mixed, the game has soldiered on with several expansion packs and updates to keep things fresh. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a great vehicle for Star Trek fans looking for a little MMO escapism in a world they probably know, top to bottom.

10 EverQuest

EverQuest is one of the earliest MMORPGs that is still played by a large number of people. The game changed to a free-to-play model back in 2012, but players complained that the free-to-play option limited players to a small fraction of the game’s content.

The game of EverQuest is one of the most influential MMORPGs of all time. Titles like World of Warcraft might have been different if not for the influence of Everquest. Played in the first-person, Everquest provided an immersive experience that made stealth-based and hands-on combat enjoyable.

9 Rift

As you might expect, Rift is a typical MMORPG that is similar to World of Warcraft. Like WOW, Rift used a subscription service, then later integrated a free-to-play option with reduced features.

One might wonder why people would play Rift when they could play WOW. Yes, Rift did little to distinguish itself from the genre titan, yet some players prefer Rift’s intensity and wide selection of skills that give the game more depth. It’s possible for people to like both World of Warcraft and Rift; both are excellent games.

8 Runescape

For a free-to-play MMORPG that released all the way back in 2001, Runescape has somehow managed to remain popular all these years. Runescape still has at least 50,000 players playing the game at any given time. In this title, players perform typical MMORPG tasks such as fishing, mining, blacksmithing, and battling with enemies. The PVP area in the wilderness is a true test of a player’s Runescape prowess.

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A new version of Runescape known as “Runescape 3” released in 2013. Though there are new versions, Old School Runescape remains as the most popular version. Graphically, Old School Runescape is not very impressive, but the gameplay is fun, and that’s what has made the difference.

7 Lord of the Rings Online

After shifting to a free-to-play model, Lord of the Rings Online surged in popularity. Set in J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle-earth, Lord of the Rings Online is much as you’d expect—it’s a traditional MMORPG with a Lord of the Rings theme.

It’s a game that encourages exploration, because of its discovery-friendly map. Chances are, if you enjoyed Star Wars: The Old Republic and are a fan of Lord of the Rings, you’ll like this game. Much of Lord of the Rings Online alludes to the movies and books, which is a huge draw for fans of the series.

6 Guild Wars 2

Instead of being a typical questing MMORPG, Guild Wars 2 revolves around an event-based system, which allows players to fight with their guild, party, and basically any other player. The concept of guilds is not unique to MMOs, but it seems like Guild Wars 2 got the formula correct the first time.

As a result of the game’s success, expansions were made to supplement the base game’s content. As a game released on August 28, 2012 that doesn’t require subscription fees, there are many reasons to jump into Guild Wars 2.

5 EVE Online

The great thing about playing EVE Online right now is that the game has received numerous updates since its launch. As a result of the changes the game received, many players and critics have changed their minds about the title for the better.

Quite a few developers have attempted to create enjoyable outer-space-themed MMORPGs. Where most games have failed, EVE Online seems to work. The combat of the game may not be as good as Star Wars Galaxies, a 2003 outer space MMORPG (now sans servers), but it has much more content to keep players engaged.

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4 Star Wars: The Old Republic

As a game with the third-highest budget of any video game ever made, Star Wars: The Old Republic does a great job of keeping its RPG elements deep and enjoyable, and does it on a massive scale. Choosing to be a lightsaber-wielder or commando, players embark on a journey with a unique story for each character class.

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No, it wasn’t the sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords that people had hoped for, but it remains relevant in today’s MMORPG world. Star Wars: The Old Republic is an excellent MMORPG that does an excellent job of telling an engaging Star Wars story.

3 Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy XIV isn’t your typical Final Fantasy game. As a world-renowned role-playing game series, the transition to becoming an MMORPG was more difficult than Square Enix predicted. At launch, the game was a colossal failure. Later, Square Enix would re-release the game as Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn.

After a long start, you dive into the action of Final Fantasy XIV, soon finding that completing quests in the Final Fantasy XIV realm is surprisingly fun. A wide variety of player classes and a large map are reasons to pick up Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn today.

2 Elder Scrolls Online

Unlike the Elder Scrolls RPG games that were developed by Bethesda Softworks, Elder Scrolls Online’s developer is ZeniMax Online Studios. Despite being a company who doesn’t usually develop Elder Scrolls games, ZeniMax Online did an excellent job at creating one of the best MMORPGs of all time.

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Amazingly, they kept the game true to the Elder Scrolls series without making it a basic, typical MMORPG. It is recommended to play this game on PC, but the console versions are also excellent. Playing through dungeons was repetitive at launch, but an abundance of new content makes Elder Scrolls Online excel as an MMORPG.

1 World Of Warcraft

The king of MMORPGs is undoubtedly World of Warcraft. It shook the video game market to its core when it released in 2004, peaking at 12 million players in 2010. The amount of content and player variety makes it among the leading MMORPGs and best games of all time.

In World of Warcraft, players can choose to fight for the Horde or Alliance factions. Pandarens (a race from the Mists of Pandaria expansion) have the advantage of being able to choose, while other races are locked to a particular faction. Engaging quests, a dynamic leveling system, tons of loot and gear, being able to make friends… all of this makes World of Warcraft the best and most enduring MMORPG ever made, period.

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