The 8 Best MMORPGs

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The Rundown
"An epic world of near never-ending potential."
Best to Play With Friends:
Square Enix Final Fantasy XIV at Amazon
"Has a large number of dungeons and raids to tackle."
"This title enables you to embrace your Game of Thrones-loving side."
Best Immersive World:
CCP Games EVE Online at Amazon
"Vast and full of player-generated diplomacy and intrigue."
Best Subscription-Free Service:
NCSOFT Guild Wars 2 at Amazon
"Explore the fantastical world of Guild Wars 2 for as long as you want."
"Plays out best as a solo experience rather than working together."
"Keen to embrace the light or dark side? Either is a great option here."
"If you want a more realistic MMO, The Division 2 is a pleasant change of pace."

Best Overall: Blizzard World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft might be well over a decade old by now, but it shows no signs of slowing down. Released in 2004, WoW pits the Alliance against the Horde in a neverending battle over the fate of Azeroth, the fantasy setting of all Warcraft games. You'll be presented with a vast choice of different races and classes to choose from (rogue, paladin, druid, and more) before embarking out into the wild. It has a straightforward learning curve so it's easy enough to get started (the difficulty slowly ramps up the more competent you become).

It's possible to embark on quests entirely alone, join guilds to partake in epic questlines, or simply hook up with some friends to raid a dungeon. Besides combat and questlines, there are also plenty of other entertaining activities to partake in, from crafting and fishing to collecting epic mounts. And annual events in the game tie into real-life ones such as the fall's Feast of Winter Veil, the spring's Noblegarden, or the Midsummer Fire Festival, so there's always something to celebrate.

There's also a steady supply of expansion packs available for World of Warcraft with more to come, including World of Warcraft Classic, which allows you to go back to the very first days of the game. Simply put: You won't run out of things to do any time soon in WoW.

Best to Play With Friends: Square Enix Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

All Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games encourage a certain amount of teamwork, but Final Fantasy XIV is the most rewarding MMO when it comes to working together with others. In the land of Eorzea, you're tasked with defending against the impending threat of invasion by the Garlean Empire. It's not tied to any of the other FF games, so you can start XIV without any knowledge of previous titles.

Throughout the game, there are quests that tie into each other, providing an overarching storyline to encourage you to get involved in the world of FF XIV, and not just focus on leveling up. There are dungeons solely designed for EXP gains so you can become stronger more quickly, while others are designed to offer impressive loot and rare items.

For fans of Final Fantasy, there are various nods to the franchise with Chocobos, the existence of materia (their version of magic), as well as familiar characters like Cid popping up. It requires a fair amount of time commitment, but FF XIV is a delightfully satisfying world to check out. It's also one of the few MMOs that offers cross-play between PC and PlayStation 4 owners.

Best Console: Bethesda The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online

For those who adore all things fantasy, like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, we recommend gaming's equivalent to those series: The Elder Scrolls.

The MMO version of the long-running series came out on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC a few years ago but is still going strong with new expansions and frequent updates. ESO enables you to explore the world of games such as Morrowind and Oblivion, a land full of magic, dragons, and other mystical things.

There's no subscription fee to pay after the initial purchase, so it's particularly ideal if you simply want to dip in and out of a vast new universe. You can choose to be a physical-based fighter, a sinister Necromancer able to command the undead or a mage who isn't afraid to fight back with a staff once in a while.

Besides being able to tackle a series of quests loosely tied into The Elder Scrolls world, there are also plenty of random events that occur, giving you a sense of being part of something much bigger than yourself. It particularly lends itself to those who love the world of Skyrim and want to experience more. Given there are some similar elements here such as the inclusion of the Dark Brotherhood as well as the Thieves Guild, you'll be enticed to play every Elder Scrolls game after playing ESO.

Best Immersive World: CCP Games EVE Online

Eve Online

Eve Online isn't just a place to participate in space battles, it's also a galaxy-sized game that offers a huge amount of intrigue, politics, and diplomacy. A vast universe of over 7,000 different star systems to explore, much of your time will be spent negotiating with other players and forming alliances and pacts so that you're able to safely escape the danger that outer space presents.

Like other MMORPGs, Eve Online has a player-controlled economy, but that's quite the understatement. This isn't just about selling items at auction, but also about determining your worth and working out how you can exchange gear for currency while exploring. You can participate in a number of in-game activities and jobs, like piracy, mining, and manufacturing.

Because of such complexities, and a steep learning curve (expect your ship to be destroyed often), this is a harsher MMORPG from the get-go. It might take you a while to truly get going, right down to how your skills (leadership, navigation, etc.) actually develop in real time. But with a welcoming community and lots of resources online, you'll become addicted in no time at all.

Best Subscription-Free Service: NCSOFT Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 is a highly appealing game because it recognizes that not everyone has the time to sync up with other players on a consistent basis or schedule. It features a storyline that responds directly to how you interact with things, kind of like a single-player RPG, but within the large, persistent world of Tyria. The inciting incident is the re-emergence of a long-disbanded guild and the fight over a horrible species of alien that seizes control over the world.

Guild Wars 2 looks quite gorgeous, using larger characters than most other games in the genre so that things look colorful and charming. This is a particularly great MMORPG if you have limited time but still want to achieve something (completing a quest or finding a new item), without feeling as if you're punished for not logging on every hour.

Due to its ability to react dynamically with how you conduct yourself, there's a ripple effect amongst its questing system so that things feel fresher than simply going from A to B constantly. Combat is similarly more dynamic with the ability to use the environment as a weapon, as well as use regular swords and magic to fight back. Regular updates also mean there's always something new to do.

Best for Solo Players: Cryptic Studios Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online

After a rocky launch, Star Trek Online has turned into a great experience for those who want to know what it feels like to be a Starfleet captain. You explore space, the final frontier, and take care of your ship and its members while completing quests. Best played solo, you can design a captain and crew from numerous different races and professions with a vast array of customizable skills and weaponry, as well as upgrading your ship's tactical and science divisions.

Besides playing as part of Starfleet, you can also command Klingon ships as you explore a vast universe of encounters against hostile alien races and dangerous planets. Randomly generated quadrants mean you can never run out of things to do, as you choose whether to be honorable or ruthless in your journey.

In addition to controlling your ship, you can also beam down to new planets and areas, taking part in away-team missions that are a bit more fast-paced than the tactical space combat that occurs from your ship. It all feels suitably like how you'd expect Star Trek to feel. There's room for some crafting as well, but don't worry, this is all in keeping with the franchise as scientific discoveries are developed along the way.

It might look a little dated in places but there's a steady stream of expansion pack content with the latest, "Victory is Life", embracing familiar areas for Deep Space Nine fans, as well as including the voice talent of many favorites from that show. Past expansion packs have included characters from the original series, Voyager, and The Next Generation

Best Franchise: Bioware Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic

For when you want to embrace the light or dark side, there's Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's not the newest of MMORPGs anymore, but it's been a pioneer for doing things a little differently than most, like focusing on making your experience more like watching a Star Wars film than playing a game.

The Old Republic is set long before the events of the Skywalkers, where the Galactic Senate and the Sith Empire are pitted against each other. There's a choice of eight different classes with each of them offering up a three-act storyline that progresses as you level up.

Morality plays an important role here, whether you join the Jedi order or the Sith in your journey to shape the galaxy to your liking. It's an appealing way to ensure you feel personally attached to your character rather than simply following the same route repeatedly.

That's made all the better by the fact that this game is made by BioWare, known for its morality tales such as the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises. Besides the importance of moral decisions, you can also work to unlock new skills based on your play style (like being able to talk your way out of situations instead of going in guns blazing), as well as enjoy simplistic space combat, too. There are also dungeons and raids for those who want to work together in a more MMORPG manner rather than simply follow the storyline. Either way, it's gripping, even more so if you're a big Star Wars fan.

Best Shooter: Ubisoft Tom Clancy's The Division 2

Tom Clancy's The Division 2

The Division 2 is set in the near future when the country is on the brink of collapse after a smallpox pandemic, and you play an agent within the Strategic Homeland Division who is attempting to rebuild the city of Washington, D.C. It's a cover-based third-person shooter as well as an MMORPG since you work together with other players to complete missions.

Complete quests to level up, upgrade your abilities and your gear, and see random people online dance in safe zones; it's everything an MMO should be but designed for more casual gamers, thanks to its fast and furious cover-shooting. There are extensive customization options to level up your skills according to your play style, and the ability to adapt your weaponry (smart grenades, turrets, and other futuristic tactical options) in a similar manner. And clans can be formed with up to 50 members working together to complete special raids for even better gear.

A mixture of story-led campaign missions and more loot-focused quests ensure there's always something new to do here. It's a game that's particularly well-suited to consoles, although it's also available for the PC.

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