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 number 25 through 16 of the Greatest MMOs of All Time.
TERA is a free-to-play fantasy MMORPG from developer Bluehole Studios, and publishers En Masse Entertainment and Gameforge. In TERA the world is under siege by otherworldly beings that destroy and reshape everything in their path. While gods squabble and evil rises in every corner, the players must stand together against the onslaught and save their world. True action combat is the main draw here. TERA takes typical MMORPG combat to the next level with enhanced aiming, dodging, and tactical timing to create intense and rewarding combat. For example, to avoid getting hit in combat, players must dodge attacks instead of simply standing in place and relying on arbitrary armor or skill ratings. TERA is free-to-play, with an optional premium subscription available. It's place on this list is secured by it having what's widely considered the gold standard for action combat in the MMO space.
Darkfall Online was a subscription fantasy MMORPG where thousands of players could exist on each server engaged in true open PVP siege warfare running 24/7. Players were able to create their characters and develop them the way they liked with a fantastic skill-based system. Built by the independent Greek studio, Aventurine, Darkfall was one of a few recent sandbox MMOS based in a PvP combat system where there were no safe zones. Even your friends could turn on you, and this likely contributed to the game's niche audience. Still, Darkfall was truly unique for its time, but was shut down in November of 2012 to make way for its sequel, Darkfall: Unholy Wars.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) was a fantasy MMORPG from BioWare Mythic and Electronic Arts. Based on the popular Warhammer Fantasy setting developed by Games Workshop, the game had a strong Realm vs. Realm (RvR) focus, pitting the sides of Order and Destruction against each other in PvP warfare. WAR also introduced the idea of Public Quests that take place in the game's open world and require player cooperation, and features a massive Tome of Knowledge that keeps track of your actions in-game and provides information about Warhammer lore. It's gone now, and that's a huge shame, because WAR will never be forgotten for the many innovations it brought to the genre. It'll also likely be remembered for being an incredibly hyped MMORPG that did not nearly meet its expectations. Could F2P have saved WAR? We'll never really know.
22.) Planetside 2
PlanetSide 2 is a scifi MMOFPS from Daybreak Game Company that takes all the best features of the original PlanetSide and brings them into the modern gaming age, adding improvements that are expected in the genre. Players join one of three factions (Terran Republic, New Conglomerate, or Vanu Sovereignty) and engage in combat on foot, vehicles, or the skies. Battle across open fields to urban centers with and against hundreds of other players to control key territories and valuable resources. It's the full realization of the original game's ideals, and one of PC Gamers top 100 all-time greatest games. It's the bar by which massive online shooters need to be measured.
Although RuneScape's roots are old, the game has had several incarnations, with each new version replacing the old. RuneScape 3, for example, a major overhaul, was released in 2014. While the basic game is free to download and play, it is limited, and a subscription will net a player more frequent (and exclusive) content updates, a player home, the ability to play full screen (free users are limited to a windowed client), and more advantages. An item shop is also available for cosmetic items. To this day, millions play and chronicle their Runescape adventures, enough to garner an official convention in the UK year in and year out.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a premier MMORPG from BioWare and LucasArts set in the Star Wars universe. Set a thousand years before the tale told in the movies, players choose to join the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire as a time of tenuous peace seems about to vanish. Take on the role of many distinguished Star Wars classes, such as Jedi Knight, Smuggler, Sith Warrior, and Bounty Hunter, and forge your own path with either the light or dark side of the Force. It's caused quite a lot of discussion (good and bad) since it's fabled and overhyped launch, but one thing's for certain these days, SWTOR is one of the best story-driven MMORPGs on the market, and is still the only "successful" Star Wars MMO. But it's probably not the best... we'll talk about that later.
WildStar is a sci-fi Fantasy MMORPG with a stylized cartoon-ish look from NCSoft’s Southern California-based Carbine Studios. Play is set on the newly discovered planet of Nexus, once home to the technologically advanced race called the Eldan. Long ago, they mysteriously vanished. Now that the planet has been rediscovered, Explorers, Soldiers, Scientists, and Settlers are coming here from across the galaxy in search of adventure, fortune, and possibly the dark secrets of the Eldan. Why did the disappear and who, or what, made them go? With fantastic action-oriented combat, loads of secrets to uncover and playstyles to toy with, WildStar, while not a surefire hit in its subscription model seeks redemption with a F2P launch on September 29th, 2015.
Since its launch in 2001, AO has built up a solid base of features, including having a level cap of 220, 4 humanoid breeds, 14 Professions, and 83 skills to choose from, along with being free to play. Anarchy Online was the first sci-fi MMORPG, and introduced instances to the genre. AO has a strong backstory, but remains sandbox by allowing players to choose how they play their characters, and for what reasons. Both solo and team play are well supported, as well as PvE, PvP, and roleplaying. It had one of the most notoriously bad launches in history, but survived that troubled period and is still one of today's deepest and most complex MMORPGs.
Lord of the Rings Online is the premier MMORPG set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s wondrous world of Middle-earth, brought to life through those most famous of books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and wonderfully portrayed in Peter Jackson’s movies. LOTRO brings you into the timeline of the events of The Lord of the Rings story, and sets you on a path that parallels the Fellowship of the Ring, aiding them on their journey to Mordor by performing tasks and adventurous deeds surrounding their path across Middle-earth. It's one of the first games to transition from subscription to F2P, a move that likely saved the game's long-term profitability as Turbine's devs are closing in on Mordor and the end of the trilogy now 8 years into the live service.
Though no longer operating in the NA region, Lineage was and is the single biggest all-time MMORPG in Korea. PVP was one of the biggest parts of Lineage, a series that has now seen over 43 million players try out either Lineage or Lineage 2. Lineage's gameplay was centered around a medieval castle siege system that enabled owners to set tax rates and collect taxes on items purchased in stores within those cities. The game lives on today, giving players plenty of action while they eagerly await NCSOFT's Lineage Eternal.
That’s it for this week’s picks. Next week, it’s numbers 15 to 6. What games do you think will land there? Did we miss something here? Discuss! Might as well argue about things that are fun to argue about... that's what we do!