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The List: Top Crafting Systems

Column By William Murphy on February 02, 2011

Crafting is often thought of as a necessity for MMO gamers. And while that particular point may be debatable, there's no denying that crafting is often in line with how vibrant an economy a game has, as well as the fact that crafting can promote community within a game as well.  That said, we here at MMORPG.com have taken a little time to put together our list of the top crafting systems from MMOs of the past and present.  There's no accounting for systems that haven't been released to the public yet.  What you see here is merely the best of the current crop - examples that companies even thinking about adding crafting should take a look at.  While you may not agree with every title on this list, we definitely ask that you toss in your own nominations.  That's the point of this weekly List of ours as always.  And so, we present to you these seven examples of MMO crafting at its finest. (Ed note: Be sure to check out Drew Wood's The Quiz: Tribute to Crafting Edition to see how well you know crafting in the games below)

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7.) Everquest 2

Everquest 2 is probably best known as “that other game that launched in 2004”, but make no bones about it: there are some things it does far better than its release competition.  For instance, EQ2’s crafting is by far one of the more robust systems in the industry.  Not only can you make some of the best items in the game, or decorate your own personal domicle, but the actual process is a lot more than just gathering ingredients and pressing a couple clicks.  It’s actually an active experience.  Can it be repetitive?  Absolutely.  But it’s also one of the most layered systems out there.

6.) Vanguard

Say what you will about the launch state of Vanguard, but these days one of this unsung game’s shining features is its robust crafting system.  A simple overview of Vanguard’s crafting would be to say that “you can make pretty much everything.”  Boats, guild halls, weapons, armor, potions, yada-yada-yada.  The list goes on.  Also worth noting for the crafters out there that haven’t tried this game is that the crafting “sphere” of Vanguard can be progressed without ever going on a merry ol’ adventure.  You can work entirely as a crafter in Vanguard through work orders and crafting requests, making yourself a real Bob Vila of Telon.  Vanguard may have started a little more than rocky, but even with its niche user-base the game’s still got one of the best crafting systems on the market. 

5.) Darkfall

Similar to Vanguard, Darkfall has an extensive and deep crafting system that allows players to create everything from armor and weapons to warhulks (siege weaponry) and player owned and operated boats.  In a game that’s all about the conquering of other players, it only makes sense that the crafting system would play a part.  On top of the weapons of mass destruction, players build cities, can own homes… everything feeds into the economy and the constant struggling between warring sects. 

4.) EVE Online

Speaking of games where the economy and crafting is half the fun, perhaps no game does both quite like EVE.  EVE is known throughout the MMO community for having one of the most in-depth and subterfuge-filled crafting games around.  While the entire crafting system is based around ship-building, it’s the sheer size and scope of the system that earns it spot here.  As any EVE fan can easily attest, the game wouldn’t be nearly as engrossing without its crafting and subsequent economy.

3.) Pirates of the Burning Sea

PotBS catches a lot of flack, and you could surely say its launch missed the “Pirates are so kewl!” bubble, but Flying Lab’s excellently designed crafting is one of the game’s bright spots.  Again, like all the games on this list, the crafting ties in extremely well with the economy, and the economy of a virtual nautical era Caribbean is faithfully recreated in PotBS and easily one of the game’s high points. Now that it’s F2P, it’ll be interesting to see just how the influx of players take to the game’s rather intricate and untraditional form of crafting.

2.) Fallen Earth

Another game with a hardcore cult following, Fallen Earth’s version of a future post-apocalyptic U.S. is rife with people struggling to make ends meet and to stay alive in what’s basically a new Wild West sort of atmosphere.  You’ll craft everything from your ammo all the way up to your mode of transportation, and the game’s PvE sandbox style pretty much insists that you get involved in some way or another.  Thankfully the kind of stuff you can and will make in FE is novel and interesting enough to make crafting very rewarding.  Plus, who doesn’t want to make their own motorcycle?

1.) Star Wars Galaxies (Pre-NGE)

I hesitate to bring this one up, as I know it’s still a wound (maybe a scar?) that people feel the pains of today.  But bar none, SWG had the most interesting and important crafting system in recent MMOs.  It fostered a sense of community like few games do in that everyone was dependent on one another for supplies, armor, transportation, and so on and so forth.  Blasters, starships, housing, food, furniture, droids… SWG was once the epitome of living in a virtual George Lucas film (when people still liked his films).  And while it’s a shame that those days are gone, one can only hope that someday another game will get enough exposure for a similarly engaging crafting community.

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The List
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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