Whether your lust is for goblin slaughter, wizard fiddling or sci-fi zapping, MMORPGs are amazing. What other genre offers such an expansive array of fantastical virtual planes with the only instruction being go out and play? I was introduced to this genre at a young age and have been addictively hooked to the almost opiate thrall of this joyful mistress. So in celebration of all the massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) I have devoured, and the lack of physical social activity, I invite you all to join me as I count down my top ten MMORPGs of all time.
10) A Tale in the Desert
To kick of my list I give you a game which throws away every generic convention of the genre. Gone are the funny hats and anatomically incorrect boobies; in their stead is a game that invites you to become a survivor in the desert. Developed by eGenesis and launched in 2003, ATitD is a game based around crafting with the ultimate aim being to pass the tests of the almighty pharaoh. To do this, players must flock together, create tight knit communities and build like industrious little chaps. Collecting resource is the real core of the game and everything from the humble bricks through to the sculptures you create to subjective taste are a result of the many raw materials available to you; picked grass, mud, sand slate, the list goes on and on.
Now in its fourth iteration, ATitD is a game that should be enjoyed by anyone with an eye for great community driven gameplay, a love of crafting and a lust for desert living. The game offers a trial period of twenty-four hours worth of game time, so you would be mad to miss out on such a unique title.
9) Dark Age of Camelot
Although a little long in the tooth, Mythic's creation is still alive, well, and fortunately offers bundles of fun. As one of the elders of the genre, DAoC Is the origin point for many conventions of the genre today and as such is still supremely playable. Now the game is primarily down to a single cluster of servers, but remains well populated, active, and the all important Player versus Player is still run at regular intervals. With a plethora of races and classes to choose from, three individual factions and all manner of content accumulated over a near decade long life span, DaoC is still a great MMORPG worthy of any time and effort.
Since the game has been around for so long there is the worry that a newcomer will never catch up with the veterans of the game. While this is a slight concern, the speed of progression is swift and the in-game communities are supremely helpful. While serious PvP playing may require dual accounts, DAoC is still a great game to casually dip in and out of.
Released back in 2004 to little fanfare or reception, Ryzom is an absolute gem of a MMORPG. Incorporating the sandbox style gameplay seen in games such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, Ryzom lets players shape and decide the path they carve through the game. While it is close to half a decade in age, the game still bustles with stunning visuals, great gameplay and pioneering concepts. Unfortunately, for all the glowing praise any player will heap upon it, Ryzom has had a troubled development cycle with several publishers and a prolonged closure. However, now it is back and seemingly stable albeit with a diminished population.
For those gamers out there intrigued to play a classless MMORPG with the ability to shape your experience across a rich, colorful and vibrant world, Ryzom certainly deserves your attention and perhaps usage of the 21 day trial is in order.
7) Anarchy Online
My nostalgic love of certain older games in the genre may cloud my judgment, but Anarchy Online is still an absolute treat to play. Developed by Funcom, AO boasts an intriguing world, interesting and unique classes and a very polished and enjoyable experience, overall. Although a little underpopulated at present, I can't help but indulge in this classic at regular intervals. Since the game is free to play, to certain an extent, it isn't hard to see why this game still enjoyed today, especially by the active lower-level community.
While Funcom's attention may be pointed towards its youngest game, Anarchy Online is rumored to be receiving a facelift in the coming months and as such, this game may just become celebrated in once more. Here's hoping.
6) Eve Online
This science-fiction MMORPG is one that divides gamers and critics alike. Lauded for its great sandbox gameplay and truly epic scale and depth, Eve Online is a stunning and mentally arresting game. The player is given the choice of total freedom in the universe of New Eden. Be they ambitions of mining, industry, combat or even piracy, this is a game where the only limitation is your imagination. Although Eve Online is one of the most acclaimed games of the genre, its steep learning curve may be off-putting to all but a hardened few. Of course, those who battle through are rewarded with a great MMORPG experience.
For those inclined toward spacefearing gameplay and absolutely staggering depth, Eve Online is a must have. If you have the time to spend crafting and plotting your progression in the daunting universe of New Eden, head over for a 14 day trial and prepare yourself to devour as many Internet guides as you can.
5) Age of Conan
It has been almost two years since veteran MMORPG developer Funcom delivered Age of Conan into eager arms, and the game has caused much debate amongst genre fans. At release, the game was criticized for a lack of content, bugs and a number of other issues. Subscribers left and it seemed that the almighty Conan was to disappear very quickly indeed. Funcom not only addressed the concerns that plagued the launch of the game, but upped the standards and produced a remarkable turnaround in fortune. With a new expansion almost at our door step, AoC is a great MMORPG that should be played by all. With three factions to choose from, a nice selection of varied classes and an engaging combat system, it is easy to see why Conan is quickly winning back hearts and minds.
Robert E. Howard's world of Hyboria is expertly crafted and realized, thanks to Funcom's masterful turning of the tide. Age of Conan is a great MMORPG that newcomers and previous players alike should try.
4) EverQuest 2
Let it be known that I adore EverQuest and its land of Norrath. It was the first MMORPG that I played and ultimately fell in love with. While its successor didn't totally live up to my huge expectations, it came very close. Set 500 years after the original game, EverQuest 2 streamlines and refines the original game while adding on a layer of polish and individuality. It has to be said that EverQuest 2 is one of the best, if not the best, looking games on the market at present. Its visuals just ooze beauty and anyone failing to be astounded by the sheer graphical sparkle this game offers is merely a Luddite. Fortunately, it is not just all style as the game packs some real substance, and with a dozen expansions already available, the world of Norrath continues to enthrall many enthusiasts even now.
If you have a powerful enough PC and the desire to see one of the best games currently in the genre, look no further than EverQuest 2. With great concepts, unique advancement systems and art direction to die for, this game is one of the best.
3) Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
Scandalously and wrongfully ignored, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is one of the most immersive, individual and epic MMORPG on the market at present. The brainchild of industry godfather Brad McQuaid (lead designer of EverQuest 1), Vanguard takes the original concepts of the genre and expands upon them with truly epic results. With a staggering amount of races, classes, towns, cities, villages and continents, Vanguard increases the capacity of every aspect of the genre. Everything is grander and huger, making this an utter colossus of a game. While the game received poor reaction at launch due to numerous bugs (as is the case with a lot of MMORPGs), a dedicated design team has slaved over the code and truly brought the gamers the true and rightful successor to EverQuest and the ultimate immersive experience.
With stunning visuals, oodles of content and a truly epic scale, Vanguard is one that all interested in the genre must really try. While the game doesn't have the reputation it so rightfully deserves, Vanguard is an absolute gem and one you should really try for yourself.
2) World of Warcraft
Given another day, this game may have well just hit my top spot. This goliath of the genre is loved and loathed by the MMORPG community in equal measure; its popularity seemingly is its undoing but I don't think Blizzard is noticing too much. I must admit, as a hardened and veteran MMORPG player, I adore the lands of Azeroth, Outland and Northrend. With just the right mix of genre conventions, expertly sculptured landscape and all important humor, World of Warcraft is one of the greatest games of all time. With an enormous player base and masses of content, this is a game that any prospective genre fan should enjoy and one that veterans alike should admit to loving. Blizzard has hit an absolute sweet spot in terms of immersive gameplay and refined, innovative concepts. The quest system is revolutionary, the instance dungeon system is genius and the class progression is brilliant; it just goes from strength to strength.
With the new Cataclysm expansion gracing our paths later this year, World of Warcraft is here to stay for a very long time. For excellent Player versus Environment, Player versus Player or even just a spot of Role-Playing in Goldshire, look no further.
1) Lord of the Rings Online
It was a close call, but Turbine's MMORPG really hits all the metaphorical buttons for me. Mixing elements of EverQuest and World of Warcraft with an excellent story befitting the license layered on top, LotRO is the current pinnacle of the genre. Rather than simply relying upon Tolkien's seminal work, Turbine makes expert use of it by expanding upon Middle Earth, forging great stories and individual tales. The class system is slavish to the lore but feels distinct and unique, questing is delivered with convention but also refines the experience as important storyline quests genuinely change the game world permanently. It is this attention to detail that makes this game really stand out.
As the game continues to grow and more of Middle-Earth is introduced, each expansion and free content update makes the game richer, deeper, and more cherished by fans. Even if you are not a fan of the license the game uses, Turbine has created something that would sway any gamer into instant affection.
And that wraps it up for my top ten MMORPGs. I hope that you enjoyed reading this and invite you to tell us of your favorites games of the genre.