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The 10 Greatest MMORPGs of All Time - 2017 Edition

William Murphy Posted:
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It feels like this is a list we should revisit every so often, especially as games change, games launch, and games die in the world of MMORPGs. The following is a list we compiled using something we like to call “our hearts and minds and asses”. In short, it’s not scientific, definitive, or in any way gospel. Our Top 10 Great MMOs of All Time list is merely our own thoughts, put to paper. We absolutely welcome your own insight, and soon we’ll begin a poll of our users to catalog the Players’ Choice for 2017 too.

Now, let’s get on with it!

This list was insanely hard to whittle down. And we also didn’t want to make it entirely about old games that no longer have the limelight. Similarly, there haven’t been very many new MMOs in the past decade that hold a candle to the games that started it all. And it’s also true that we don’t include some of the largest games that are still big today in Asian territories - mainly because the bulk of this site is English speaking and in the EU or NA territories. So we focused more on games that do well here.

In short, this list is mostly just us struggling to show love to every game we’ve adored, and can be taken with a grain of salt. As we update it every year or more, it can and will change.

Honorable Mentions: Asheron’s Call, Lord of the Rings Online, The Secret World, Rift, Black Desert, Meridian 59, Lineage 1 and 2, EverQuest 2, Planetside, Maple Story, Runescape, SWTOR and so many more. Maybe we’ll have to do a top 40 like Casey Kasem soon.

Number 10: Final Fantasy XIV

If for no other reason, FFXIV deserves a spot on this list for being the only MMORPG that was ever dead on arrival only to be shut down and resurrected into something truly sublime. Loved by millions of Final Fantasy fans across the globe, FFXIV is a testament to what a studio can do with care for its fans, reverence for its IP, a focus on core ideals, and polish.

Number 9: City of Heroes

I don’t want to make the next two games “In Memoriam”, but it might be unavoidable. City of Heroes was once one of the largest MMORPGs ever released, and earned the nickname “The Widowmaker” because it was one of the first MMOs to break free from the fantasy trope and hit a section of gamer that wasn’t just into D&D. It’s so missed to this day that there are a handful of independent fan projects looking to carry its mantle. Until then, fans of CoH can only play their favorite NPCs in NCSOFT’s MXM.

Number 8: Star Wars Galaxies

Star Wars Galaxies was a mess at launch. But goddamn, what a beautiful mess it was. It was a Star Wars fan's’ dream game. A living breathing universe to start life in as whatever kind of scoundrel, farm boy, dancer, or pilot you wanted to be. It had player-made villages, endless horizons, and though it suffered a fate it didn’t deserve, it’s hard not to miss the broad stroke of genius it represented. The limitless possibilities it offered.

Number 7: Elder Scrolls Online

ESO launched just a scant few years ago. It didn’t immediately wow critics and fans, with such high expectations off the back of Skyrim. But through earnest and passionate development, ESO has become of the brightest spots in modern MMORPGs. It’s my own personal favorite game of the past several years, and rightfully earns a spot on this list. In time, it could even move up the ladder. But first, it’ll have to overtake its spiritual forebear.

Number 6: Dark Age of Camelot

A large number of the team responsible for Number 7: ESO just so happen to be the folks behind the game that coined the term RVR: Dark Age of Camelot. Pitting three mythological realms of fantasy against one another, DAOC is renowned for its intense and lasting PVP thrills. To this day, a cadre of fans flock endlessly to Dark Age in order to partake in its neverending war. Few games can claim this long of a lifespan. And though its heyday is long-passed, DAOC remains one of the most influential MMOs of all time. 

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William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.