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What is the best MMORPG on PC?

Ever since I was a tiny child, I've had a love affair with an MMORPG. From Runescape, through to World of Warcraft, to more complicated fare like Eve Online - MMO RPG games remain my preferred way to play. 

And I think that if you choose the right game, they could be yours, too. Here’s my list of the 10 best PC MMO games on the PC. They’re in no particular order, but whichever place you choose to explore, will be stay with you. Here’s to growing old in strange new worlds.

1. World of Warcraft

The headlines say that World of Warcraft is in decline, that it is facing falling subscriptions, server merges and stagnating content. Nonsense. World of Warcraft is better now than it ever has been. 

Why is it so good? It’s because it does everything well. 

The lore is so extensive, that it rivals even the greatest RPGs. For nearly a decade its systems have been tweaked and refined to near perfection. Quests have transformed into fun outings filled with variety, banter, and life. 

There are the raids: huge mega-dungeons filled with bosses that are varied, wild and novel. There are the dungeons: carefully crafted focused bites of story that can be repeated again and again. There’s the PvP: an ongoing conflict between Alliance and Horde that includes arena based league combat alongside skirmish modes inspired by Battlefield, Team Fortress, and Quake. There’s a solid crafting system, a decent minigame diversion in pet battles, and the list goes on. 

It is everything to almost everyone, and it is excellent. 

Is it strange how after writing all this, I find myself installing the client again? Not one damn bit.

Buyers Guide: Head over to this page to either return for a free seven days, or create a free account which you can level all the way up to 20. If you have some friends already playing, why not consider using either a Scroll of Resurrection or Recruit a Friend for some neat bonuses.

2. Guild Wars 2

Where World of Warcraft is as traditional an MMO as they come, Guild Wars 2 is the weird, contrarian opposite. Its design can be seen as an attempt to fix and improve on every broken mechanic that online games persist in pursuing. 

It has no quests: instead players gang together to fight in rolling ‘events’ - mini storylines that playout in stages depending on how gamers perform. It has no raids: it’s endgame is more about exploring the world or levelling alternative characters. It is heavily PvP focused: it is trying desperately to create an eSport with in-game tournaments and a spectator mode. But most importantly, it doesn’t demand a subscription fee from players. 

That last point is incredible, given the focus the game’s developers Arenanet have placed on improving and expanding the game. Every two weeks on the dot ArenaNet ship out the next chapter of Guild Wars 2. Dubbed the “living story” — changing the world with each release — these bi-weekly updates accommodate the players needs with fresh things to do and major improvements. 

Highly recommended. 

Buyers Guide: Can be picked up at most online/retail store, or straight from ArenaNet. Watch out for flash sales: Guild Wars 2 is occasionally discounted on weekends or during holidays. 

3. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a story of heartwarming redemption. It was originally released two years ago, but it wasn’t very good. In fact, it was terrible. This triggered Square Enix to take drastic action: ditch the old team, hire a new team and remake the game.

The outcome is A Realm Reborn. And it’s good.

If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, you’ll adore Eorzea. It hits everything the series is known for: epic stories of good and evil fighting it out, varied environments, great characters and flashy cutscenes. 

It’s also clever: players have a great deal of flexibility within their class choice. As soon as you hit a paltry level 10, you gain the ability to switch to any of the games eight combat classes at just the switch of the weapon. The upside is that players don’t need to create alts to try out other roles. 

It’s also one of the few cross platform MMOs, in which PC and Playstation players share the same world.

Buyers Guide: Sold in most retail/online stores, or from Square Enix.

4. Planetside 2

Yes, Planetside 2 counts as an MMO. It’s an MMOFPS: a huge, persistent open world filled and fought over by thousands of players, some on foot, some in tanks and quad bikes and jeeps and jetpacks, others in bombers and air transports and air fighters. At its best, Planetside 2 is like nothing else. 

It’s bloody massive. 

One moment you could be storming an enemy base on foot, and then the next providing air support to the flank of a fleet of Galaxy’s. 

It’s best fought with friends: a friendly outfit (Planetside’s equivalent of a clan or guild) can work together to achieve extraordinary feats. Different classes fulfill different roles: light troopers using their jump packs to leap over walls, Inflitrators providing sniper cover or hacking their way into a base. There’s always something that fits into your personal playstyle, and it makes Battlefield feel like the breadsticks before a five course meal.

Buyers Guide: Planetside 2 is free to play and can be downloaded via Steam. Boxed versions of the game include bonus currency and are worth seeking out when you’ve settled in. A subscription will boost your progress, but isn’t necessarily worth the outlay.

5. The Secret World

What if myths, legends and conspiracies weren’t works of fiction at all? The Secret World asks exactly that - it’s an action MMO set in the modern world: except this modern world is filled with cults, zombies, ghosts, demons and the boogie monster. 

It works because the quests it presents are a cut above what MMO players are used to. Taking an example from our Petter Martensson: there’s a mission where you’re investigating a haunted house, where young girls appear and disappear from photographs in front of you. Creepy. 

Leveling in The Secret World works a bit differently too. When you level up, you gain skill points and ability points. Skill points are used to help you equip more weapons, to which there is a massive degree of variance. Ability points on the other hand help you develop your special abilities such as throwing fireballs or enhancing your character with powerful buffs. There are plenty of combinations of the two that will help you make your avatar unique to you.

Buyers Guide: There’s no subscription fee, but new expansions are paid for. There’s a master edition available on Steam that includes all content released so far.

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Crimsoner's picture
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Seriously? You're doing Top 10 lists now? This is utter clickbait, and you know it. I mean, feel free to do a "Our favourite MMO" list, but "10 best mmo list" is real N4G clickbait.

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Shriven's picture
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"This list [is] in no particular order".... that is why I numbered them..... when I could have just listed them.... yep.

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Nick Wilson's picture
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Hey there Crimsoner,

Thanks for your feedback. Just wanted to clarify that I mentioned in the intro that this list was in no particular order. It can be astounding how many people missed that part =D.

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magicus's picture
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Except that it's pretty obvious which is your favorite game, considering you have it bannered at the top of the article, give it a perfect review, and say you're installing the client again as you're writing! And by the way, I played Quake 3 for 10 years, no PvP in any MMO out there comes remotely close to that kind of competitive FPS gameplay.

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Malakie's picture
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Sorry but I think there is one other game that should have been included on the list above all else. It does not have the flashiest graphics, the coolest weapons nor the fastest pace but it IS the grand dad of them all and it IS still running and it is still fun to play... Ultima Online.

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Dog Pants's picture
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Glad to see Planetside 2 in here. As far as value for money goes, I tended to buy a wad of in-game cash when they had discounts on, then keep an eye on the daily sales for things I fancied. It can be a bit expensive otherwise, but it's worth spending a bit of cash on a few weapons if you get into it.

Regarding SWTOR, the story mode was good. Like an MMO Mass Effect. Even with multiple people the conversations flowed, with each player getting to choose a bit of the dialogue. The two-player dungeons were great from what I played. It's just a shame the rest of the game epitomised everything I hated about MMOs - specifically grinding through the game's fauna just to be able to get to the next interesting bit.

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Stranger's picture
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The list is a little messed up.

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Shriven's picture
1155

.

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davidpop's picture
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WoW and most of the other games on that list are not mmos, they are nothing more than Xbox games.

All you do is stand around in a lobby waiting for a que to pop and then you are teleported to location.

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Jado's picture
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lol wtf, WoW and runescape ... you got to be joking, WoW died and ended when TBC ended. ronascape is like just retardedly crappy.

but what suprises me more is that Tabula Rasa and city of heroes and everquest 1 and 2 isn't amongst them ... wich clearly shows that this guy has hardly played any game in my opnion.

eve online, Rift, LoTRO, Star Wars the old republic and TSW well i agree on but the rest meh crap games.

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Thorgi's picture
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Reading comprehension, man. Top 10 MMOs on the market. On the market as in currently available and competing, which CoH and Tabula Rasa aren't.

The top 10 list was pretty much a popularity list. WoW is still the giant and Runescape is one of the few mmos actually getting bigger, which is impressive given its age.

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liviliam's picture
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Tabula Rasa, it was so good they shut down the servers?? WoW has more players than any of the other games on this list, so it stands to reason that it should be here. Just cause it doesn't agree to you, doesn't mean its wrong.

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Interesting list. But I wonder, if WoW is still so great, why is the author only now reinstalling? Something made you leave, and is going back really going to a still great game, or just nostalgia?

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weejohnathon's picture
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Had to leave a comment here about this. I won't speak for the other games as I don't know them enough except perhaps WoW but this part here for SW:TOR

Just be aware that the restrictions on what you can and can’t do with a free account are a little ludicrous: you’ll be prevented from owning a mount, have reduced bag space, even a reduced levelling speed unless you pony up.

This reads like no research was done at all apart from going on the home page.

1. You will be prevented from owning a mount - Not true, subscribers get access to a mount 5 levels before the f2p players. They get their mounts at the levels subs used to get them at launch. If anyone wants them earlier they can unlock it it legacy for credits or cartel coins if the have the legacy level.

2.Have reduced bag space - Again this is wrong, everyone no matter what level of access you have starts with the same ammount of inventory slots, additional ones can be purchased for credits the in game currency or cartel coins.

3. Reduced levelling speed - this part is correct but look at the subscriber benefits for both Rift and Tera they also give subs more XP its the same thing, if your gonna point it out on one do it on all please.

The only part you got right is ludicrous restrictions however you failed to mention any of them at all, some of which are need to purchase unlocks for Hide Head Slot to hide helm, Artifact Equipment Unlock to wear purple (epic) amour, credit caps, ability to send mail across chars. Please do more thorough research before falsely commenting on games as its bad jounralism and can impact that game if people rely on your site.

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the fact that everquest is not even mentioned once in your article tells me just about all I need to know.

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Grungebreath's picture
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"Ever since I was tiny child, MMO’s have been been the backbone of my gaming habits."

What are you, 14?

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My first mmo was called LPMud in 1990. I got into the code and rewrote half of it, then we ran it for some 40-80 players. Text only but otherwise these games haven't changed much since...

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Nick Wilson's picture
130

Ahhh, a true veteran of our time. I salute you =D.

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Thorgi's picture
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Not sure I'm following your logic.

Personally, my first MMO was Ultima Online at the age of 8 and Anarchy Online at the age of 12. I'm 24 now.

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Nick Wilson's picture
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The first MMO I played was Runescape at the age of 9. Hope that clears things up for you.

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