What is the best MMORPG on PC? Is it one with spells to sling and demons to slay? Working your way through the stars as a miner or a corporate bigwig? Solving ancient conspiracies and fighting Lovecraftian horrors? Maybe it’s all of them. If you’re wondering, those oft-used letters represent the words Massively Multiplayer Online, and refer to games where thousands of players come together in the same world.
Here’s our list of the top MMOs on PC, kicking off with a few of the top free MMOs. You’re sure to find something that will swallow up entire days at a time, be that the most popular MMORPG in the world, a hidden gem with a dedicated community, or even an MMO based on a popular book series.
Here are our top picks for the best MMORPG:
The hit Korean MMO has finally made it to western shores and we get to see what all the fuss is about. Lost Ark has been described as “what if Diablo was an MMO?” with over a million players flocking to Amazon’s latest project to find out the answer. You can read our Lost Ark review to catch up on our full thoughts.
Unfortunately, all of these curious new players are putting a bit of strain on the Lost Ark servers, but we understand queues move relatively quickly. If you’re thinking of checking the game out, we’ve got some guides that can help: from how to level up quickly, to what you need to know about Lost Ark gold and mokoko seeds.
While Lost Ark is free-to-play, if you do fancy spending some money there are some starter packs you can consider checking out:
Neverwinter is a surprise. It is thematically Dungeons & Dragons, taking the places, classes, spells, and abilities from the tabletop game, and then cramming them inside one of the best MMORPGs. It should not work, but somehow it does. It helps that there is an earnest love for the source material, and each quest feels like one you could imagine yourself embarking upon while sitting around a table.
Lots of free expansions – which include new races and classes – have been introduced in the time since Neverwinter launched, taking players far from the safety of Neverwinter itself, to lands like Icewind Dale, where barbarians and unpleasant temperatures are the least of your worries.
Word of warning, though: unless you approach the game casually, you will probably have to spend money. It is become increasingly difficult to play for free, though certainly not impossible.
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, and its success in these areas makes it one of the best MMORPGs you can play.
It has few regular quests: instead players gang together to fight in rolling events – mini storylines that play out in stages depending on how gamers perform. These get players to work together organically, and also have an impact on the region they are in, perhaps reducing the threat of roving bands of monsters, at least temporarily. End game content is constantly evolving through the Living World episodic updates, the latest of which will pit heroes against the dragon Jormag and his icebrood. Should you not be ready to meet that challenge, you can play lower-level adventures without spending a dollar, as the core game is now entirely free.
This game is one of the OG MMORPGs. It predates World of Warcraft and Runescape, both of which owe something to Tibia for laying the foundations upon which they were built. It originally launched in 1997 and while the majority of the early MMOs of that era have since had their servers closed down and have fallen into obscurity, Tibia continues to have a solid fanbase to this day.
No doubt, part of the reason that it has been able to survive is its charming 2D pixel art visuals. While its contemporaries would likely look quite janky by today’s standards, Tibia is an historic example of an art style modern indie developers are always trying to create. As for the gameplay, you choose your characters job and then you make your own way in its sprawling, beautiful worlds – there are quests to complete, monsters to defeat, and a world of mysteries and adventure laid at your feet.
Star Trek Online
Miss Star Trek on TV? Star Trek Online might just tide you over until Discovery reappears on Paramount Plus. Each quest in this MMO is like an episode of the show, and each mission series is an arc, complete with the occasional filler episode.
Take a trip to Risa, visit DS9 in Star Trek Online, land on planets and practise your diplomacy, or get into tense space battles with Cardassians, Romulans, Borg, and whoever else is causing mischief. Space fights are tactical, while playing out in real-time, as it’s key to position your ship to get the most out of your firing arcs. On any away missions that devolve into combat, the game turns into a squad-based third-person shooter, complete with ability cooldowns.
Despite a rocky start, STO has grown into a gargantuan, compelling, and free MMO and one of the best space games out there; it’s frequently expanded by massive updates that add whole new storylines, and a while back the neutral Romulan faction introduced unique missions and ships.
Speaking of ships, that’s what really sets this game apart from other MMOs. You’re not just outfitting and levelling up a hero, you get a whole crew and a starship to manage and customise.
Romans: Age of Caesar
Do you like a bit of city-building in your MMOs? If so, you’re going to love Romans: Age of Caesar as it’s a game that tasks you with helping to rebuild the Roman Empire. You’ll be working cooperatively with up to 16 other players and together you’ll have to build and maintain a city.
As you play, loads of other groups of players will be working on their own cities, and together you all form part of a large, interconnected digital empire. Sometimes you’ll need to do battle to defend yourself from oncoming barbarians, and sometimes you’ll have to create trade routes so that you can establish relationships with the other cities. There’s a lot to this game, and it’s easy to get sucked into its world.
Looking to lose yourself in an MMO with a nuanced storyline and deep battle system? Well, look no further than Wizard101. This game sees you playing as a student in the Ravenwood School for Magical Arts and you have to decide whether you want to enrol in the school for Fire, Ice, Storm, Myth, Life, Death, or Balance – each one will allow your character to learn and develop different magical abilities, all of which will drastically affect how you approach battles.
You’ll end up travelling around the fantastical world of the Spiral which, in true video game fashion, involves locales that range from winter wonderlands, to arid deserts and countless other environments. The game’s storyline involves you coming up against the school’s former necromancy teacher, Malistaire. While at first, he might seem a bit of a generic evil wizard, you’ll soon find that his motivations are much more interesting.
Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a story of heartwarming redemption. When it originally released, it was not 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 Final Fantasy XIV in its entirety.
The outcome is A Realm Reborn. And it is good. It hits everything the series is known for: epic stories of good and evil duking it out, varied, painfully gorgeous environments, over-the-top characters, flashy cutscenes, and Chocobos galore. It is also clever: players have a great deal of flexibility within their FFXIV classes. As soon as you hit 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 do not need to create alts to try out other roles.
The Endwalker expansion adds new jobs (the Reaper and the Sage), locations, instances, and the long-requested male version of the Viera race. However, it’s the story that takes centre stage, concluding the events that began back in A Realm Reborn. Few MMOs receive as many quality updates and expansions, so it’s worth hopping back in if you’ve been away for a while. If you want to find out more, check out our FFXIV Endwalker review. It’s also well worth checking out our FFXIV leveling guide if you’re new to the JRPG game.
World of Warcraft
Over a decade old and still the most popular MMORPG game in the world, World of Warcraft is a bit special. During its long reign, WoW has changed a lot, introducing a number of new classes and races; just check out our WoW Dragonflight tier list for a glimpse at the most powerful character combinations that are now possible. Over the years, players have also been treated to a graphics overhaul, whole new continents… players can even travel back in time. The world is enormous, and teeming with rich, story-laden quests at every turn.
At times it seems traditional, which is unsurprising considering it is the MMO that defined the modern style of the genre, but Blizzard is still mixing things up. The WoW Dragonflight talents system overhaul provides welcome class complexity that’s guaranteed shake up the meta, along with revamps to professions and UI that are sure to blow the cobwebs off Blizzard’s venerable RPG game. WoW’s longevity means there’s great third-party support, with innumerable WoW addons to assist you on your journey. If we had to crown an MMO as king of the genre, World of Warcraft would likely be it.
Like World of Warcraft, Runescape has been a staple of the MMORPG genre for as long as we can remember. But rather than dwindle, Runescape continues to grow in terms of both players and content. New quests and events are introduced on an almost weekly basis so that veterans always have something fresh to experience, while new players enter a world already enriched by a decade of lore and adventures.
Don’t worry about getting to grips with Runescape either as its community are among the most generous and friendly in all gaming (or you can check out our Runescape beginner’s guide) – whether you’re looking for advice on a tricky quest or simply after a chat, you’ll find help is always at hand. It’s not just history that Runescape boasts either, with major expansions, a mobile release, and countless spin-offs, Jagex’s MMO shows absolutely no signs of stopping.
Black Desert Online
Black Desert Online received a graphics overhaul in 2018 to remaster the original (and already gorgeous) MMO, breathing new life into the game. For what it lacks in polished dialogue, it certainly makes up for it with one of the best character creators around and a gorgeous fantasy world that you’ll want to roam around in for hours.
Just don’t get too comfy as there’s plenty of fighting and grinding, so if you’re looking for a relaxing MMO, this may not be the game for you. As Black Desert Online isn’t your average MMO, it can be tricky to get your head around the new systems, especially how combat, trade, diplomacy, and resources work. Check out our beginners guide to Black Desert Online if you’re keen to jump into this MMO brimming with sword fights and fiery chaos.
There’s a good chance that you’ve already heard about one of the many tales of dark bastardry that have spun out of Eve’s New Eden. It is a game of cold-hearted betrayal, mining, economics, more betrayal, more mining, and the occasional thousand-person spaceship battles.
With CCP’s hands-off approach, the universe of New Eden is one of the most player-driven MMOs in existence. Wars span weeks, if not months, across multiple systems. Years of plotting and sabotage to bring huge corporations down from the inside. Reports of huge losses in ships and cargo, some reaching the thousands of dollars in real world value. As you can imagine, it is not the easiest game in the world to learn, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. Our own Eve Online beginner’s guide will show you how to set up in one of the best MMOs around.
Elder Scrolls Online
Despite a rocky beginning, The Elder Scrolls Online remains a strong entry for one of the best MMORPGs on PC. The Elder Scrolls games are among the best RPGs around and now you can sink even more of your time into the series’ rich and vibrant universe by playing online with friends or total strangers.
Set 1,000 years before Skyrim and 800 years before Morrowind and Oblivion. The Elder Scrolls Online begins in Coldharbour’s Wailing Prison where, staying true to Elder Scrolls tradition, the player is a prisoner. After escaping you are free to explore the continent of Tamriel, battling monsters, discovering dungeons, and crafting weapons with fellow adventurers or on your own. With a handful of expansions bringing old and new regions into the game like Murkmire and Summerset, not to mention plenty of planned future DLC releases, the Elder Scrolls Online universe is forever expanding making for an MMO that always feels fresh.
Trove is an action-focused MMO, most often compared to games similar to Minecraft and one of the best building games on PC. Firstly you’ll need to build a base, a home from home, where you can fashion all sorts of creatures, weapons, and items. Once your homebase is established, you’ll be able to zip between worlds and loot dungeons and go on quests online with your friends or guild pals. Trove’s dedicated community are always updating and bringing the best mods to Trove, so there’s always something to do whether you’re improving your base or looting with your online buddies.
ArcheAge can be a very traditional MMO, with quests, factions, and a completely forgettable story. But what makes it one of the best MMORPGs is that you can ignore all of that and head into the sea.
The ocean is huge. To sail from east to west in the fastest ship in the game can take anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour depending on dangers like storms, whirlpools, sea creatures, or pirates. There is even a legendary Kraken that dwells in the northern ocean, and it takes an entire raid of 40+ players and ten galleon-sized ships, cannons blazing, to even scratch it. Deep under the ocean you can find shipwrecks filled with delicious bounty, the hardest of which requires diving gear to reach.
ArcheAge is free to play, with a premium subscription available that offers several perks, including the ability to claim your own patch of land – not instanced, genuinely taking up space in the open world – on which you can build a house or even an underwater aquafarm full of fish. Alternatively, there is ArcheAge Unchained, a new separate version of the game that gives you access to all the perks of a subscription for a one-time fee.
Regardless of which version you choose, the fantastical world of ArcheAge is the perfect setting to embark upon a life of crime on the open seas, where you’re essentially playing a pirate game and everyone else is an unsuspecting sailor – but instead of a parrot, you’ve got a dragon.
If you’re looking for an MMO where you can sit back, relax, do a little crafting, and tend to your farm while popping out for the occasional fight and odd monster hunt, then Albion Online is not your game.
It’s PvP from the get go and for that reason you’ll always need to be alert and on-guard. The full-loot drop system can be slightly frustrating, but Albion Online demands players to be tactical and patient. It’s a lot of fun, and requires brain power and perseverance to steer your guild in the right direction, but it’s as rewarding as it is tough.
Lord of the Rings Online
Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth is a perfect setting for an MMO. It has great characters, a massive world to explore, and everyone is always fighting.
Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits – aka the good guys – make up the playable races of Lord of the Rings Online, and as hunters or burglars or one of the other classes, you’ll go on your own adventure, half-following in the footsteps of the famous Fellowship. Meet Ents, get lost in Moria, or take long rides through Rohan.
Expansions push the story forward, following the books, and with each major plot point comes new mechanics, like the addition of mounted combat. If you have ever dreamed of experiencing Tolkien’s world first hand, then this MMORPG has you covered. Best of all, it is free-to-play, making it the perfect RPG MMO to play right now.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
A galaxy far, far away is the perfect setting for one of the best MMOs, so it is no surprise that BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic is a winner. Play as one of eight classes, split across the Empire and Republic. Each has a detailed, dramatic story, and they are good. Surprisingly so.
You can take on the role of an Imperial Agent, working for the good of the Empire by rooting out terrorists; a Jedi Knight sworn to hunt Sith and protect the galaxy; or even a slave-turned-Sith Inquisitor, playing a dangerous game of politics. You can play all of this for free, but as a subscriber, you can level faster and concentrate solely on the interesting class and planetary quests instead of the trite filler rubbish.
Several expansions have kept it feeling reasonably fresh, but it is the excellent Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion that really deserves to be played. With its web of intrigue, relationships and a focus on player choice, it feels more like a proper Knights of the Old Republic sequel than anything that has come before it. SWTOR is easily one of the best Star Wars games ever.
World of Warcraft Classic
If you didn’t expect to see World of Warcraft on this list twice then you’re severely underestimating Blizzard’s juggernaut MMO. There are thousands of World of Warcraft veterans nostalgic for the charm and challenge of the vanilla game, and the launch of WoW Classic has granted their every wish. Based on the version of Azeroth pre-Cataclysm, WoW Classic is home to veterans and newbies alike, enjoying the sense of community that emerges by necessity when you remove dungeon finders and quest markers.
Access to the game is included with a standard World of Warcraft subscription. Even if you’re familiar with the modern game, it’ll take substantial adjustment to survive the notoriously difficult levelling experience of Classic. While some diehard fans might claim that spending hours on a WoW Classic dungeon, wiping against the final boss then running back to find that he’s despawned and can’t be summoned again is all part of the adventure, they probably just want you to suffer like they did.
Instead, learn from their mistakes and prepare yourself thoroughly with our WoW Classic tips for new players. We also have guides for WoW Classic races, and the enviable WoW Classic legendary weapons you can obtain. With any luck, we should be hearing about the Burning Crusade expansion and how it all works soon.
And so concludes our list of the finest MMORPGs available to play on PC. What world you dive into next is entirely up to you. Will you go for one of the free MMOs, or will you be splashing out on a subscription? Regardless of your choice, know that the best multiplayer games are a ticket to new friends and, of course, new enemies. Pick your battles, create your clans, and head into a new adventure. Good luck!