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The Greatest MMOs of All Time - Number 5 through 1

William Murphy Posted:
Editorials 0

This will ruffle some feathers. The staff at MMORPG.com, from President Craig McGregor and CTO Ben Krueger, to our wonderful list of reviewers, columnists, and community managers, all the way down to your humble and lowly Managing Editor (me) have voted. We took the top player-rated games from our Game List, including those that have been closed after launch, and we ranked them. Each of us filing up our own top 35 list from greatest to least great.  Why 35? I think you'll all agree that while we might have 800+ games on our list, not all of them are MMOs, and not all of them are very good.

So the purpose of this ranking list is take stock of all we've played in the past fifteen-plus years and try to make sense of the games and where they stand in the greater scheme of an ever-changing industry. What makes a "Great MMO"? Well, in our voting we took into account both the technical and community achievements of each title, but also its wider effect on the MMO genre as a whole. In short, this list isn't just about what we think is "The Best", but also about what we think has had the most significant impact on culture and gaming as a whole.

With that in mind, here comes numbers 5 through 1 of the Greatest MMOs of All Time.

5.) City of Heroes

The Widowmaker is our number 5, and frankly, we wouldn't have it any other way. Gone way too soon, City of Heroes (and yes, Villains) was the perfect example of what an MMO could be when designed by a team unafraid to take risks and make the game they wanted to play.  We've covered the untimely demise of CoH before, but frankly all we can do these days is hope that another game comes along and takes its crown. With several in development by indie teams, we may get what we wish for if we're lucky. Until then, we'll just have to look back and fondly remember the game and what it was.

4.) EverQuest

This is the MMO that broke open the genre and paved the way for everything that came after. While many here will argue that the industry went down the wrong road of the fork created by UO and EQ, there's no denying that even today Norrath holds a special place in the hearts of so many. Just take a look at how popular (and devisive) the progression servers run by Daybreak Games are for an indication of how strong the nostalgia is with this one. With several new MMOs seeking to return to the way EQ made their developers feel (Pantheon, Lucimia, etc.), maybe we'll get a new sort of EQ addiction one day soon.

3.) Star Wars Galaxies

The actual success of SWG can be debated time and again and probably will be until this site is lost to the ether. Simply put, Star Wars Galaxies was the game so many people wanted, and the game so many never got to try when it was at its best. Though SOE would eventually admit that the NGE and CU were mistakes, Star Wars Galaxies will forever be remembered for its potential over what it actually achieved: it was the freaking universe of Star Wars, made real and livable in videogame form. Sure, there have been other Star Wars games that present movie-like experiences since SWG, but nothing has ever captured what it was like to live in that universe quite like SWG. 

2.) Guild Wars 2

ArenaNet sought to make a new kind of MMORPG when they made Guild Wars 2. And while the forums here often argue over just how good the Tyrian epic is, no one can deny that GW2 is a game unlike any other.  The highest rated game on MMORPG both by the staff and the players since its release, Guild Wars 2 is quite possibly the most successful MMORPG in the world save one (which should be obvious by now). GW2 may not be perfect, but its uniqueness and fearlessness to try new things continue to make this title one of the best we've ever seen. Here's hoping it's just getting started.

Tada. Come on, did you expect anything less?

1.)  World of Warcraft

Love it or hate it, the cultural and historical significance of Blizzard's MMORPG cannot be denied, even today when it's faring far worse than it ever has. Because, even eleven years later, at several million subscribers strong, Azeroth is still the biggest MMORPG there ever was.  When we began this list we said it would be a ranking of games that not only we loved to play, but games that impacted the genre and the entire gaming industry. It may be the expected Number One, but that's precisely why it deserves the spot. Even if we were to make this list ten years from now, we're betting that Azeroth would still be close to or resting at the top spot. Until November of 2004, there was never anything like the phenomenon of World of Warcraft. And while many games tried to capture what made WoW so much of barn-burning and chart topping experience, it's very likely that nothing ever compare.  

Here's to you, World of Warcraft.  

That's it. We're done. For reference, numbers 35-6 are listed below. Did we miss something here? We'll be doing this again in another couple of years, so make your case now for what games we forgot or what games deserved to be higher. How much do you hate us for making WoW number one? Let the comments loose!


  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Guild Wars 2
  3. Star Wars Galaxies
  4. EverQuest
  5. City of Heroes
  6. EVE Online
  7. Ultima Online
  8. Final Fantasy XIV
  9. Dark Age of Camelot
  10. Final Fantasy XI
  11. Asheron’s Call
  12. Meridian 59
  13. Rift
  14. EverQuest 2
  15. The Secret World
  16. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
  17. Anarchy Online
  18. Runescape
  19. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  20. WildStar
  21. Lord of the Rings Online
  22. Planetside 2
  23. TERA
  24. Darkfall
  25. Lineage
  26. Planetside
  27. Path of Exile
  28. Age of Conan
  29. Wizard101
  30. Fallen Earth
  31. Ragnarok Online
  32. Lineage 2
  33. Shadowbane
  34. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
  35. A Tale in the Desert



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.