We’ve come a long way since the days of Ultima Online, Runescape and Phantasy Star being the names on the tips of tongues when it came to discussion and debate over MMO gaming. Here’s just a slight taste of the top 5 MMORPGs that have whet my appetite since the early days of one of gaming’s most prominent genres.
Final Fantasy XIV : A Realm Reborn
7 months into the re-launch of Square’s failed MMO, A Realm Reborn forces us to wonder just how much time and effort is needed to churn out a fantastic game when so many others try and fail. A Realm Reborn was crafted in 2 years alongside constant updates to its original, lacklustre, title.
What essentially formed from the literal ashes of the Final Fantasy XIV world was a game that, while lacked a certain degree of depth and content, made up for with its attention to the finer details like story and immersion.
Naoki Yoshida and his team proved to the world that personality is as much a part of a game as it is to human life – and Final Fantasy XIV dishes it out around every corner.
Though I’ll admit to pouring hundreds of hours in World of Warcraft, RIFT came along maybe a little too late to prove MMORPGs could be better than Blizzard’s monolith title. While I didn’t have the time to commit to RIFT by the time of its release, the effort I put into playing as much as I could during my busy schedule proved straight up just how fantastic it really was.
Hard-core raiding and PvP stands tall in RIFT with world PvE events and even player housing making a welcome return to the MMO scene, RIFT really isn’t a game to be snuffed at.
Top-grade visuals, incredibly deep lore and dozens of fleshed out character class combinations make RIFT the ideal MMO for the wider market.
World of Warcraft
It’s hard to not recommend this monolithic title. No doubt you’ve heard of it, laughed at it or already played it – World of Warcraft is huge. Blizzard have had a good 8 years to perfect the formula that attracted so much attention in 2004, and while many see the game as a more casual affair than before, it’s never been bigger.
A ridiculously huge world to explore, riveting PvP combat, incredibly captivating lore and a playerbase bigger than any MMORPG currently on the market, World of Warcraft set the bar high before the slew of uninspired MMOs began to make rounds.
Memories stemming from the assault on ‘Ulduar’ in patch 3.1 and the raid of ‘Icecrown Citadel’ to see out the story of the Lich King started in 2002’s Warcraft III are, to this day, the best memories of my gaming life. Something about Warcraft’s progression and questing just made every piece of end-game content feel like a worthy time sink.
Just to give a little love to those who try to be different, I’ve switched out another standard 3D MMO in favor of Elsword; a 2.5D Hack n’ Slash side-scrolling game that had its fair share of troubles in showing its face in more than a few countries.
While the game has been available for some time in certain parts of the world, Europe – outside of Germany – had to wait rather patiently for this anime-inspired answer to ‘MetroidVania’ MMOs to rear its broad, big-eyed head.
Elsword has the unfortunate attitude of coming across as one of the low-budget, rushed titles that plague the MMO Portals of today’s industry. It has some fairly lousy voice acting, a horrible user interface and some disappointing translation issues, but when you’re looking to load up a game for some quick and stylish monster slaying akin to arcade games of old pumped full of speed – Elsword is the one you should be downloading.
TERA whipped up a storm when its pick-up by Ubisoft was confirmed; and the ambitious MMORPG garnered a slew of attention when it launched in South Korea prior to that. Whether the cause was from its radically different active battle system or the luscious visuals is a whole other story for another time.
This Korean-born MMO ushered in something to set it aside from its competitors – a battle system that wasn’t all tab-targeting keyboard mashing. The active battle system had players use the third person perspective to aim arrows at their enemies like a shoot em’ up and swing their weapons with precise movements.
Players had to actually make direct contact with their death dealing abilities rather than getting close by and face-rolling their hotkeys. These details made for a system that – when presented to a gaming conference along-side more traditional titles – would knowingly steal the show.
There are a ton of other titles well worthy of being a part of this list; but character limits and sheer volume of text prevent me from saying any more than this. Dragonica, Global Agenda, Final Fantasy XI and The Secret World and the original Guild Wars would have been the most likely candidates if this were a lenghty top 10. Consider this a spare of the moment ‘notable mentions’.