Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games are the backbone of PC gaming in this day and age, with games such as World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls Online and Black Desert Online leading the way. It’s easy to get lost with what MMO you think is best for you to try out.
In my time I’ve played quite the few, and I’m here to ‘rate’ the games I prefer the most. MMOs can be daunting when first trying them out, but once you’ve tried one, they generally all play the same, with a few exceptions, of course. So, here we go:
6: Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is a popular follow-up to the first Guild Wars Prophecies developed by Arena Net. It continues the free to play model which seems to have continued onto the next generation of MMOs. Set in the future events of the first Guild Wars, players choose from five different races: humans, charr, asura, norn and the sylvari.
Guild Wars 2 featured a new approach to MMOs, the classic healing role was gone, and instead every class had one skill that healed. Although I didn’t like it, it did change the way we played GW2. This particular change made PvP different and more of a challenge, but even the classic battleground PvP changed with the introduction of World vs World. Similar to The Elder Scrolls Online, WvW pitted realms against each other on a massive map where castles and supply nodes could be captured for your faction; clans would then use siege equipment to break down there gates and capture the node for their realm. Guild Wars 2 is a great addition to the MMO world, but its lack of endgame content meant it grew old quickly. Guild Wars Prophecies set the MMO world on fire when it was first released with its free to play model. GW2 didn’t quite live up to the expectations of its predecessor, unfortunately.
You can find out more here.
5: The Elder Scrolls Online
For many years The Elder Scrolls has dominated the FPS RPG world, with so many games in the series (like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), it was only a matter of time before a multiplayer game was in the works. Developer ZeniMax decided to take the reins for this MMO. When first released in 2014, it was scrutinized for its monthly subscription fee, and rightly so. With so much competition in the MMO genre, it was a bold move from the studio. A year later after many mixed reviews, the subscription fee was abolished, and with it The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited was re-released on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
For most The Elder Scrolls was mainly a single-player game with a non-linear approach to storytelling. This meant players could choose their own way to play, but this being an MMO, there isn’t an option to play offline. The Elder Scrolls Online caters well for those still wanting to play by themselves, but it shines when grouped with friends and other players. It features all the races from Tamriel and is set around 800 years before The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Players are banished to Coldharbour, where the daedric Prince Molag Bal has stolen their souls, and this is where your journey begins.
The Elder Scrolls Online has already seen multiple DLC packs released and is now on the verge of its first expansion, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind.
ESO is a worthy addition to the MMO world, and I certainly believe you should give it a go.
Check out it our here.
4: Eve Online
Eve Online, developed by CCP, has always been a favorite of mine, an MMO of truly massive proportions. Mankind, having used up all of its resources on Earth, begins reaching out to distant stars and colonizing until discovering a wormhole in the Milky Way that leads to another galaxy appropriately named New Eden. Mankind sent many colonies through the wormhole to colonize the new galaxy until the wormhole unexpectedly collapsed. Separated from the Milky Way, humans on the brink of losing everything in New Eden took control. Some factions thrived whilst others were lost for eternity.
This is where the story pretty much ends. Eve is not like your typical MMO. It’s a sandbox MMO, meaning players have the choice to do whatever they please, whether it be as a pirate, a mercenary, a trader or a miner; the choices are unlimited. Players choose the looks of their avatars and are immediately shot into a universe that is vast in every way.
Honestly, most players that try Eve quit within the first few moments of playing. Eve has such a huge learning curve that most players don’t last two seconds. It takes months to learn the basics, and by the basics I mean the basic skills. Eve uses a skill system that uses realtime to learn the skills. This means when you are past the first level of basic skills, some more advanced skills can take days or months to learn. Eve’s combat is at best a point and click, but with large-scale battles sometimes even making headlines in the news. There are so many ships to fly for each faction (Amarr, Caldari, Gallente and Minmatar), that quite a few players can’t even fly them all yet.
There are so many aspects to Eve, which is why many players get lost so easily. So, it’s best to join a corporation (Guild) since these will guide you to a specific playstyle. Want to PvP? Then join a corp that’s in Null Sec and PvP to your heart’s content. Mining is the cornerstone in Eve; without it, manufacturing will cease to exist. Manufacturing works by using the raw minerals from mining and manufacturing ships and ship parts, which are then traded and bought by other players.
Now, Eve is special in its own way, as not many other MMOs used this system. Players could use their in-game cash (ISK) to buy PLEX. PLEX is an item used to buy game time and is traded between players or can be bought for real cash. This way of marketing is self-sustainable; if a player was short of cash, they would buy PLEX and sell it in-game. The more wealthy long-time players would buy that PLEX for game time, essentially making the game free to play. A recent update did change this though, and Eve officially became free to play. Free to play meant players could fly for free but with limitations, of course. Only basic skills could be learned, but it was a move that brought Eve up to date with the MMO market.
Eve has had 38 content updates since its launch in 2003, which is a very impressive number for such an old MMO, and the updates have brought the MMO right up to speed with its competition.
You can find out more here.
3: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Many gamers have by now played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I & II. Well, in 2008 developers BioWare jumped on the MMO bandwagon and decided to shift the popular single-player RPG to the MMO genre, thus Star Wars: The Old Republic was born. It featured a little bit of every MMO out at the time, and that wasn’t a bad thing either. I mean, who doesn’t want to play as a Sith Lord throwing lightning bolts around like a certain Greek god? Set well before the movies and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I & II, the universe is full of Jedi and Sith, which makes for the perfect setting. Players start by choosing their faction: the evil Sith Empire or the virtuous Galactic Republic. Players get to choose from a range of species and classes that depicted the Star Wars galaxy: Sith Inquisitors, Sith Juggernauts, Smugglers, Jedi Knights etc. Each class had two different paths they could go down that would depict how they would play the game, which are your usual MMO roles (Healers, Tanks and DPS).
Again, another MMO that released a subscription fee which was later scrapped in favor of a free to play model, but free to play isn’t really free exactly. Yes, you can level to the max level but at a reduced rate, and you are limited to bag space and XP gains etc. It borrowed a lot of inspiration from the daddy of MMOs, World of Warcraft. Featuring PvP battlegrounds, like Huttball and your typical capture the flag, PvP was enjoyable for the most part. Even the UI was similar to Vanilla WoW with plenty of abilities per class. Combat was nearly identical to WoW in the fact you couldn’t move whilst casting, interrupting other players casting, etc.
What set this MMO apart from any other MMO was its storyline; it has perhaps the best storyline in any MMO to date. Well, apart from WoW, but we will get to that in a bit. Let’s be realistic here though, BioWare are no strangers when it comes to storytelling. With that company behind some of the best RPGs on the market, it was only fitting SWTOR received this treatment too.
I think the thing that made this whole MMO most appealing to me was that it was in the Star Wars universe, wielding my childhood dream weapon, the lightsaber. It couldn’t have been a more exciting moment; the moment you shoot lightning out of your finger tips screaming down general chat, “UNLIMITED POWER!” Well, you get the point!
I played this MMO upon release and still have spurts of playing it even now. With so many content and expansion updates, the story keeps getting better. So give it a try, you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
You can find out more here.
2: Black Desert Online
This Korean-made MMO is perhaps the newest on the MMO scene. Now, when the Koreans are involved, it’s usually a very anime-esc affair. But Black Desert Online puts any other MMO to shame with its looks. It is by far the best looking MMO to date. But looks can be deceiving, I hear you say? Well, that rule doesn’t apply to BDO. Developers Pearl Abyss released the game originally in Korea in 2014, where it became very popular; so popular that it was then released in Japan and Russia a year later, where it received a great reception by EU and NA viewers until we were graced with its presence.
Now, BDO isn’t the same as your typical MMO when it comes to choosing your class. BDO features one of the most advanced character creators to ever grace the MMO scene. Honestly, people have made celebrity look-alikes from the King of pop, Michael Jackson, to other game characters like Geralt of Rivia.
But enough of the character creator, let’s move onto the classes. BDO’s class system also changes; gone is the ability to choose your sex. Instead, your given class has a chosen sex, but generally there is a female and male class that is very similar to the playstyles of the typical Witch and Wizard classes. There are a total of twelve classes to choose from, and I can honestly say each class is a pleasure to play, to the point where I pretty much have one of each class.
This is where your typical MMO ends. Usually, you level up by completing quests, but BDO doesn’t do that. Instead, all your leveling is done by killing mobs (farming/grinding for you MMOers out there). Now, usually I would say I hate killing endlessly, but the combat in BDO is glorious. Never have I played an MMO where I actually enjoy mindless killing. Combat is initiated by hitting a combination of keys and using combos to great effect.
The game’s only flaw, and I wouldn’t really call it a flaw because the game is on a ‘Buy to Play’ plan similar to Guild Wars 2, is that the game wants you to spend real cash in-game. Now, what I mean by this is that all characters look the same. No matter what armour you equip, you look very basic unless, of course, you spend money on the Pearl Market. Pearl Abyss create some very nice costumes and offer many different in-game services through the Pearl Market. But these costumes and services are not cheap, one costume can cost in excess of £30 sometimes.
Now, remember when I said this was Korean-made? Well, Koreans love PvP, we’ve all seen them on StarCraft II and so on. BDO is also very PvP-centric. Players can activate PvP mode whenever and wherever they like, meaning if you are encroaching on someone’s grinding spot and they don’t like it, well, let’s just hope you’re good at fighting. BDO also features massive scale PvP in the form of castles and siege weapons. Guilds can ‘own’ these nodes on the map that provide benefits for that guild. But your guild isn’t the only guild that wants that node, which leads to guild wars. So, if you love PvP, BDO is right up your street.
PvP isn’t just the only thing to do in BDO. With world bosses around and life skills, there is always something to keep you occupied. Very similar to Eve Online, BDO is also a sandbox MMO, meaning you can do and be whatever you like. If you want the quiet life of crafting and gathering, go for it. If you want to PvE, there are dungeons and world bosses to keep you occupied. This fictional world is your oyster, and it’s waiting for you to enjoy it.
You can find out more here.
1: World of Warcraft
Now, even if you don’t game much, pretty much everyone has heard of World of Warcraft (WoW), especially with its recent movie release last year. Warcraft started life as an RTS back in 1994 and has since spanned two sequels and expansion packs. Developed by Activision Blizzard, World of Warcraft set out on an ambitious task back in 2004 to be the best MMO out there. It’s fair to say it achieved that goal. With six expansions, WoW certainly takes the crown as best MMO. At one point WoW boasted a massive 12 million subscriptions.
Whenever someone mentions an MMO, WoW is immediately compared to it. It’s the foundation on which MMOs are built upon, really. I’m the worst enemy for it. If I play any MMO, I always compare it to WoW. There is a reason for that too, WoW has achieved so much in its 13 years that other MMOs have tweaked themselves around the success of WoW. The different character roles (Tank, Healer and DPS) prevail in any MMO. The different classes too, Priest, Mage, Rogue, Warrior, they usually appear in any MMO but with tweaks to their names and how they play.
I have played WoW since I was a teenager, and the only reason I wanted to play it was because I loved Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. The epic story and lore behind it was unreal, and it has since continued into WoW and has gotten better and better with every expansion. Yes, the engine is a little dated now, and it was never a great ‘looker’ like other games, such as BDO, but it made up for the lack of graphics with storytelling and gameplay. It promoted you to play together; even right from the off, “Vanilla WoW”, as we call it now, had 40-man raids which pitted you against extremely tough bosses. The raids persisted in every expansion since launch and has evolved into the backbone of WoW.
WoW is getting old now, and Blizzard know this, which is why updates are being added to the game, such as making it ‘free to play’ but only for up to level 20, which is nothing on the level 110 cap. An example of these updates would be introducing Blizzard coins, which play a similar role to Eve Online PLEX; they can be bought with cash and sold in-game for gold, then bought with gold and traded in for game time. The fact WoW still has a monthly subscription is off-putting to most, but it is one of the only MMOs out there with a subscription.
With that aside, WoW is still as popular as ever, and with its recent expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, it only cemented its place even more as the king of MMOs. If you have never played WoW and have previously been put off buy its subscription plan, give the free to play a whirl. What’s to lose, right?
Check it it out here.