Top Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games

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World of Warcraft

World of WarCraft
World of WarCraft. © Blizzard Entertainment

Initial Release Date: Nov 23, 2004
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Theme: Fantasy
Rating: T for Teen

World of WarCraft is the fourth game in the WarCraft franchise and it has been in continual development for more than ten years with the initial release coming in November 2004. The original release takes place in the world of Azeroth just a few years after the events of WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne. Since its release, the game has become the most popular and subscribed MMORPG ever with more than 5 million subscribers. In the game, players control a character from either the first or third person perspective and begin exploring the game world completing quests, interacting with other characters, and fighting all sorts of monsters from the WarCraft universe. The game has a number of different realms or servers that players can play on, each of which has it's own copy of the game world that are basically independent of one another. The realms include a PvE or player versus environment mode where players complete quests and fight against AI-controlled characters; PvP or player versus player where players not only have to contend with monsters in the game world but also with other player characters; and two variations on the PvE and PvP where players must role play.

The frequent updates and expansions to World of Warcraft since it's inception has helped it maintain its popularity for more than ten years and makes it still the best MMORPG available. There have been six expansions released which have updated nearly every aspect of the game from gameplay to graphics and more. The expansions include The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King (2008), Cataclysm (2010), Mists of Pandaria (2012), Warlords of Draenor (2014) and Legion (2015).

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Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 Screenshot
Guild Wars 2 Screenshot. © NCSoft

Initial Release Date: Aug 28, 2012
Developer: ArenaNet
Publisher: NC Soft
Theme: Fantasy

Guild Wars 2 is a fantasy based massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the word of Tyria. The game features a somewhat unique aspect whereby the game's storyline adjust based on actions taken by player characters. In it, players will create a character based on one of five races and eight character classes or professions. In the game's overarching story arc players are tasked with reassembling Destiny's Edge, a group of adventurers that helped defeat an undead elder dragon. The game receives continual updates every two weeks or so and introduces new storyline elements, rewards, items, weapons and more. The game does not have traditional expansions such as World of WarCraft but it does add seasons of Living Stories which can be compared to WoW expansions. Guild Wars 2 was released for sale in retail outlets but did not require a subscription fee. The game was recently made free to download however the free version does not contain as much functionality as the full retail release.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars The Old Republic Screenshot
Star Wars The Old Republic Screenshot. © LucasArts

Initial Release Date: Dec 20, 2011
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: LucasArts
Theme: Sci-Fi, Star Wars Universe

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game set in the Star Wars universe where players create a character and join one of two factions the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire as well as choosing between the light and dark side of the force within each faction. The game was released in 2011 and quickly gained a huge subscription base in the few weeks after released, which then dropped off eventually leading to the switch from a subscription-based model to a free-to play model. The game remains free to play to this day.

The storyline of Star Wars The Old Republic is ever changing like many of the MMORPGs listed here but it is set some 300 years after the events in the action roleplaying game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series which is thousands of years after the films. There are eight different classes that players can base their characters on and more than 10 different playable species or races. The game also features PvE and PvP environments/servers to play and includes all types of different features including melee and space combat, companions, interactions with player and non-player characters and more.

The Old Republic has also seen five expansion packs released since the initial launch including Rise of the Hutt Cartel, Galactic Starfighter, Galactic Strongholds, Shadow of Revan, and Knights of the Fallen Empire. Each of the expansions offers additional content, new chapters, gameplay updates, new items and much more.

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WildStar Screenshot
WildStar Screenshot. © NCSOFT

Initial Release Date: Jun 3, 2014
Developer: Carbine Studios
Publisher: NCSoft
Theme: Fantasy/Sci-Fi WildStar is an sci-fi based MMORPG that was released in 2014 and has since been released as free to play. The game is set on a planet called Nexus where two main factions fight for control, the Dominion and the Exiles. Players​ create characters from six different character classes and two different races. Characters level cap is currently set at level 50 with gameplay including various quests and PvE and PvP combat.

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Rift Screenshot
Rift Screenshot. © Trion Worlds

Initial Release Date: Mar 1, 2011
Developer: Trion Worlds
Publisher: Trion Worlds
Theme: Fantasy

Rift is a fantasy based free to play multiplayer online role playing game where elemental planes of existence have caused rifts in the land of Telara. Players will control a character from one of two factions The Guardians or the Defiant selecting from one of four character class groups of Cleric, Mage, Rogue and Warrior and can further customize from more than a dozen sub-classes. There have been two expansion packs released for Rift, Storm Region in 2012 and Nightmare Tide in 2014. Both expansions add new content including addition quests and new zones. The game started as subscription based but converted to free-to-play in 2013.