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The List: Five 'Deep Cuts' for Hardcore MMO Players

Columns By Som Pourfarzaneh on October 12, 2015

Five 'Deep Cuts' for Hardcore MMO Players

For the past couple of Lists, Ripper X and I have brought you the Five Best MMOs for New Players and Five MMOs for Experienced Players.  As promised, this week we’re taking a look at five “deep cuts” for the most hardcore of players out there, who are either looking for intense PvP experiences, open world sandbox mayhem, or a glimpse into the history and legacy of the MMO genre.  They may not be the most pretty, the most modern, or even the most popular MMORPGs available, but they’re sure to give you a good idea of what hardcore MMOs have to offer.


5. Darkfall: Unholy Wars

There are those who will stipulate that the relaunch of Darkfall: Unholy Wars simplified the original vision for the game, but there’s no denying that Aventurine’s sandbox should be counted among the most hardcore MMORPGs out there.  With a seamless, non-instanced dark fantasy world, sandbox character progression system, deep crafting, and an undeniable bent towards PvP, Darkfall: Unholy Wars will give you a run for your money.  It can be pretty brutal!

4. Ultima Online

Never mind that Ultima VII was one of the first western RPGs that got me hooked on the genre, and Ultima Online was my first foray into the realm of MMORPGs.  If you’re looking for a glimpse into the history of MMOs, Broadsword’s game is somewhat of a living fossil that will give you a look into the type of classic open world action that is still relevant for a lot of gamers.  It’s also unflinchingly sandboxy, and while you might find yourself lost from the moment that you set foot in Sosaria/Britannia, the journey will undoubtedly be illuminating.

3. Asheron’s Call

Asheron’s Call is one of Rip’s favorites, and it’s difficult to find a long-standing MMO that is as hardcore as Turbine’s MMORPG.  The Darktide Server features free-for-all, skill-based PvP with full loot and XP loss when you get taken out by another player.  It’s one of the most intense PvP-based MMORPGs out there, and is not to be missed!

2. EVE Online

How does one explain EVE Online to the uninitiated?  It’s a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game - that’s true.  It takes place in space, encouraging you to specialize your ships and explore the known universe - that much is readily apparent.  What’s difficult to describe is the unbelievable scope of empire building, economic warfare, and metagame player interaction that is so far-reaching that it’s resulted in not a few out-of-game financial scandals.  If you’re thinking of playing CCP’s space MMO, be prepared to be overwhelmed, and make friends quickly!

1. EverQuest

Call it a theme park; call it a vintage game; call it a classic.  Whatever words that you use to describe Daybreak’s flagship MMORPG, it’s indisputable that EverQuest, along with Ultima Online before it and World of Warcraft after, set the ground rules for modern MMO development.  EverQuest is over sixteen years old and has twenty-one expansions to its name, and must be played if only to understand from where contemporary MMORPGs have derived their inspiration.  If you haven’t given EverQuest a try, you owe it to yourself to see what all the fuss continues to be about.

What are some of your favorite hardcore, sandbox, PvP, or classic MMOs?

Som Pourfarzaneh / Som is a Staff Writer at and a Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.