Top Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games

Join the masses in one of these virtual worlds

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games are just that: massive. Known by players as MMORPGs or MMOs, these behemoths entertain millions of people and make a massive amount of money while they do it. No matter what you are looking for, you can find a virtual world and become anyone you want in one of the popular MMOs listed here. All of these MMOs started out as a subscription service, but most of them are now free to play.

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World of Warcraft

World of WarCraft
Blizzard Entertainment

"World of Warcraft" is the fourth game in the WarCraft franchise, and it has been in continual development for more than 10 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 several different realms or servers that are independent of one another, where players can play. The realms include a PvE or player-versus-environment mode in which 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 its inception have helped it maintain its popularity 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," "Wrath of the Lich King," "Cataclysm," "Mists of Pandaria," "Warlords of Draenor," and "Legion."

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

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Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 Screenshot

"Guild Wars 2" is a fantasy-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the world of Tyria. The game features a unique aspect in which the game's storyline adjusts based on actions taken by player characters. In it, players 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, and did not require a subscription fee. The game is now free to download, but the free version does not contain as much functionality as the full retail release.

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

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Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars The Old Republic Screenshot

"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 and choose 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 following its release. In time, the subscription base dropped off, which eventually led to a 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 role-playing action 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 playable species or races. The game features PvE and PvP environments, and servers include features such as melee and space combat, companions, interactions with player and nonplayer characters, and more.

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

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

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WildStar Screenshot

"WildStar" is a sci-fi based MMORPG that was released as a subscription game 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 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.

Initial Release Date: Jun 3, 2014
Developer: Carbine Studios
Publisher: NCSoft
Theme: Fantasy/Sci-Fi

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Rift Screenshot
Trion Worlds

"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 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 additional quests and new zones. The game started as subscription-based but converted to free to play in 2013. However, players receive bonuses if they pay for Patron status.

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