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The List: The Top 5 Casual MMORPGs

Column By David Jagneaux on June 02, 2014

With so many options out there for an MMO to play, there is something for everybody. Whether you’re looking for an epic fantasy adventure, alternate history, sci-fi conquests, or maybe even a real-life simulator, you can surely find and MMO to satiate your unique hunger. Not everyone is a seasoned MMO veteran however, so it’s not as easy as booting up you level 80 Paladin to go run some raids and engage in PvP for a few hours on the weekends. Maybe you’re a new player looking to ease into the genre, maybe you want a game to play with a friend or significant other, or maybe you just want something that’s easier to pick up and play for short bursts of time, but the move towards casualization of all genres is big and growing. This is our list of the top 5 best casual MMOs on the market right now and each of these would be great choices for anyone looking for a more casual MMO gaming experience.

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5) Mabinogi

Don’t be fooled by the art style or name – Mabinogi packs a whole lot more punch and content than meets the eye. One of the most striking and appealing parts about Mabinogi is undoubtedly the art style – it truly looks like an anime has come to life on your computer screen. The soft visuals do a great job of setting the tone for this very casual MMO, as the game includes so many options that it can almost get overwhelming, but it does a really good job of slowly introducing elements over time. Mabinogi makes for an excellent first MMO if you’re curious about the genre and it can be downloaded and played for free right now.

4) Runescape

Like many people, this was one of my very first MMOs that I ever played. The beauty of Runescape has always been in not just its simplicity of design and visuals, but ease of access above all else. It was one of the very first successful browser-based MMOs and it still holds up to this day.

There are tons of options for players, whether it be questing, hunting, crafting, PvP, or in most cases just all-around social interaction. The tutorial does a great job of getting new players acclimated to the world and it’s full of great content. It often gets looked down upon by the more “hardcore” MMO players, but most people would be lying if they said they’ve never played Runescape at all – it’s a great casual MMO. Best of all, you can play it completely free of charge right now if you want.

3) World of Warcraft

It would be simply untrue to have any type of “Top X MMO” list without including World of Warcraft. While the game is far from designed specifically for a more casual audience like the previous two entries on this list, it is extremely newcomer friendly. On the heels of EverQuest all those years ago, World of Warcraft popularized the theme park MMO concept and spearheaded the trend towards easier to play and understand MMO experiences.

Before WoW, you would have to truly search environments, talk to NPCs, and decipher information for quests. Not to mention that most games had only a fraction of the content that games like WoW have now, instead relying on social interaction and the freshness of the genre as a motivator. With its extended free trial, jump right in and try it out – it’s the current king for good reason.

2) DC Universe Online

It’s always easy to try new things when they’re paired with something that’s already familiar. If you’re new to the MMO genre, a great place to start would be jumping into a superhero MMO that’s full of iconic DC heroes you already know and love like DC Universe Online. With the resurgence in popularity of superheroes as of late, in particular several DC icons such as Superman and Batman, now is the best time to get interested in a fun and easy to enjoy MMO like DCUO.

The game is available, completely free to play and download, on the PC, PS3, and PS4, meanings it’s the most widely available and easiest to get into game on this list. The consoler versions are optimized incredibly well and the action-oriented gameplay makes the controller interface feel incredibly comfortable. Thankfully, the game features a surprisingly deep creation system for making your own unique hero, but also has plenty of appearances by DC’s finest.

1) Guild Wars 2

Don’t let the number at the end of the title fool you, this is very much a standalone game. Guild Wars 2 is great because of the breadth of content offered and the ability to truly play it however you please. Many of the tropes of the genre are not present in this game, such as stand and click combat, quest givers, or boring quests. Guild Wars 2 instead employs a combat system that is much more engaging and action oriented, as well as dynamic events and organic quest content within the game world itself.

Above all else though, Guild Wars 2’s standout feature is its flexibility to be played however the player wants. If you’re not interested in large-scale or even small-scale PvP, you can ignore it completely. If you don’t care about dungeons and fractals, that’s fine too. You could even spend all your time playing alone and focusing on the personal story and general content spread across the game without any repercussions. The inherent grouping incentives make it easy to find people to play with and the systems encourage experimentation. While a lot of the features may seem foreign to MMO veterans, it’s very easy to pick up and play for newcomers. Don’t be fooled though – if you decide to get more serious, Guild Wars 2 has more than enough depth to become your MMO of choice as well. Oh, and it’s buy-to-play, meaning no subscription fees, which is perfect for a more casual player.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, it’s really hard to say what the best casual MMO would be for you as a player. Maybe you’re looking for something that’s really laid back and easy to play, maybe you’re new and want a good introductory game, maybe you want someone else to get interested with you, so the best way is to just to download and play a bunch to find out what you like. With so many free options available, you can surely find the right game for you. In fact, there is a heavy trend towards accessibility and casualization with most games, especially MMOs, so no matter which game you decide to play, chances are it will be casual player friendly by default.

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