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Lord of the Rings Online Column: Let There Be ORCS

By Garrett Fuller on April 16, 2012

Orcs have gotten a bad rap from day one. Back in Tolkien they were the mindless bad guys for Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli to kill. Were they ever a threat to the races of Middle Earth really? If anything the Elves were the real villains in that story: more on that later. As our green friends progressed they grew a bit cooler. Sadly, Dungeons & Dragons did them no justice by making them pig faced and cowardly. However, Warhammer took the British Football Hooligan to perfection and created some of the best Orcs in any game. Warcraft gave the Orcs their noble savage lineage and made them equals in the eyes of fans. So for all of you today I want to run down the Top Five Orcs in RPG history.

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5. Lord of the Rings Online - Uruks and Orcs

These guys come in at number five because of Monster Play. Back in the early LOTRO days I had a blast playing my Orc and Uruk bowman in battles. The only let down here is that you cannot play as an Orc or Uruk in the actual game. They do get honorable mention on the list because they are the original Orcs in Tolkien that defined the race for our generation. However, Tolkien's bad guys were created from elves which is kind of lame, because there is no pure orc here. Still cool and mean and wild, these orcs deserve a spot on the list, but please Turbine, make them PLAYABLE!

4. The Dungeons & Dragons Online Half-Orc

D&D has never really come full circle on the Orcs. That is why they are ranked at number four here. Oddly, they only allow players to create Half-Orcs sticking to the D&D lore. The Half-Orc Race in DDO is cool and came way too late into the mix. The game had been out several years before these guys showed up for players. While everyone likes to play different races, the half-orcs were late to the party and perhaps did not get their due. Half-Orcs of course favor the Barbarian class and do very well with some of their feats. Still, the race comes in as only HALF orc. Therefore, they get bumped back.

3. Elder Scrolls Orcs

The Orcs in Elder Scrolls took on a whole new level of cool with Skyrim. Having Orc blacksmithing ranked higher on the Perk chain than Dwarves, seriously...win for Orcs! The look of the orcs and their armor was great. There is only one drawback, they worked for the Imperials. Now, let's be honest, the Nords in Skyrim were win and thankfully you could play your Orc and join up with Ulfrich's rebellion. The Skyrim orc picture with the two axes and the fur armor is so freaking cool. Also, if you played through the whole game you found the Orc camps and followed the story line it was pretty bad ass. The Orc tribes are cool and their Daedric Prince Malacath gives you a kick ass hammer when you prove the chief too weak to lead. That is very Orcish in my opinion. The story is great but sadly the Orcs in Elder Scrolls are still tied into the elves and no one likes that.

2. World of Warcraft Orcs

For the Horde! The Warcraft orcs are some of the best in the world. They have a cool look which can be savage and noble, they follow Thrall who just plain rules, and they can cast spells! The Orcs in Warcraft grew up from the mindless brutes in other games to become a complete race with a well formed history. I played an Orc Shaman in Warcraft and still have him at 85 today. He is one of my all time favorite MMO characters. Also, Orcs have always had shamans but the Shaman class in Warcraft really gave players some great powers. It was also cool when WoW launched in 2004 only Orcs, Trolls, and Tauren could be shamans. This version of orcs comes in at number two because they launched the orcs into a new generation who doesn't just see them as monsters to players. They are seen as a playable race with a savage history and a cool back story. Thanks to Warcraft there are loads of new orc fans.

1. Warhammer Orcs

WAAAAAGHHH!! Gork and Mork!! The Warhammer Orcs are pure win. No one can knock them from the top spot. The only flaw with the Warhammer Online Orcs was they launched with only one playable Orc class, the Black Orc, which was the Orc tank. The Choppa came later and was definitely cool. Still, the Warhammer orcs go beyond just an MMO here. The savage bully boy, boot stomping, mushroom spawned hooligans really gave all the orcs a step up. The Warhammer orcs were taking heads long before the Warcraft orcs were on the scene. They have their goblins, squigs, and even little snotlings to kick around. The idea that size matters to orcs and the big ones become bosses and beat on the little ones until they fight is just great. Warhammer gave us Orcs riding Wyverns, Savage Orcs, and most of all...Orcs in space with Warhammer 40,000. These greenskins are the best orcs in any game hands down. They set the bar above the Tolkein bad guys into a whole new level of pure savagery. Also, they come from mushrooms, not elves! In all of orcdom, the Warhammer Orcs top the food chain!

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Sometimes less than serious, in this space, we look back at the genre's history and far into the future to bring you a new list each week. Our countdowns are written by assorted members of the MMORPG.com Staff.
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