Once rare like a legendary loot drop, new MMOs are more common the ever. And as part of a genre built upon freedom and vast numbers of players coming together, they’re among the most ambitious games around. Each one promises a sprawling world, a vibrant community, and enough content to make Geralt blush and go all dizzy. New MMORPGs are full of potential, but they’re also precariously close to failure - history is littered with MMOs that have had their moment in the spotlight or never garnered the attention they deserved.
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In the interest of saving you hours spent in character creation for a game you might not even like, we’ve compiled a handy list of all the new and upcoming MMOs in 2017 that are actually worth your time. Of course the new MMORPG scene can be a limited one, and we’ve broadened our criteria to new massively multiplayer online games with RPG elements, so expect a couple of twists on the genre. So, from newly updated sword and sorcery classics to emerging action-RPGs, these are the new MMOs you should take note of.
Sci-fi piracy has proven a popular theme for MMORPGs - just ask Eve Online - but few games bring that concept to life with as much charm as Cloud Pirates. This War Thunder-esque MOBA sees two teams duking it out among clouds and floating islands in a variety of flying sailboats - all rocket-powered, naturally.
Combat is light and accessible, but there’s a great deal of depth to be explored in positioning your ship and navigating the battle. After all, you’re in a flying ship so that means you can avoid enemy fire and sightlines by flying at the very bottom or top of the map; think of it as a new flanking route. Rising up from behind a floating platform before unleashing all of your starboard cannons on the enemy before disappearing again never gets old. Outside of combat there are plenty of new ships, ship upgrades and ways to personalise your character that serve as Cloud Pirates’ long-term hook.
Revelation Online is one of many new MMORPGs making the journey from East to West, but it stands out amongst many of its competitors because of its stylish, free-flowing combat, ludicrously deep character creation and progression systems, and gorgeous open world. It also has plenty of content for players of every MMO denomination, whether you’re after a solid PvE grind packed with questlines and NPCs or just want to hunt down and kill your fellow virtual man in PvP duels and battles.
It’s also got one particularly neat trick up its sleeve: you can reset your character at any point. For free. If you’ve ever ploughed 60 hours into an MMORPG and realised you’d rather be a ranged build than melee and you’ll know how valuable such a feature is to the amount of free time you have.
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Eve Online: Ascension
Finally, space piracy and corporate evil are now open to everyone as Eve Online ditches its paywall in favour of a stripped-back (but still expansive) free-to-play experience. The Ascension update means you can live out your space trucker fantasies without having to commit to a subscription fee: whether you want to wage enormous galactic war on your foes or profit off all the bloodshed, it’s totally up to you.
Entering Eve Online as a free player only holds you back from the highest echelons of upgrades and abilities, so you’ll still be able to work your way up the ranks of whichever space trade you fancy the look of most. Fortunately, CCP Games have also reworked the game’s introduction to ensure that getting to know this famously complex MMO is much easier. And if you’re still struggling we have a handy Eve Online beginner’s guide to help you out.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
The all-online iteration of Final Fantasy has been around for a while, but like all great MMOs it’s still growing. The most recent major content drop is Stormblood, which will be arriving in June, 2017. This being a paid expansion, Square Enix aren’t being shy with how much content they’re pouring into the already sizeable MMO.
Expect a new major quest in the land of Ala Mhigo, new jobs, including the Red Mage, swimming and diving for the first time in the MMO. There’s also a level cap increase to 70 from 60, a new Primal, and additional dungeons, gear, raids and a fourth residential district.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
It might not have been a great MMORPG when it launched, but with constant updates from Bethesda, The Elder Scrolls Online is now one of the biggest, grandest and deepest MMOs around. If you’re familiar with The Elder Scrolls franchise - and frankly, who isn’t? - then this is effectively a fresh fix of the same kind of fantasy RPG gameplay that made Skyrim and Oblivion such huge successes. Of course, there’s an online element too that allows you to finally duel your friends and enter a dungeon with more than a clunky AI NPC by your side, but at its core this is classic Elder Scrolls through and through.
It’s also still getting bigger, with its latest major expansion adding an entire region to the game: Morrowind. You’ll be tasked with saving Vivec City from a meteor by getting in touch with the gods themselves. Also inbound is a brand new nature-based class and a new PvP Battlegrounds system for gladiatorial combat amongst your mates.
SkySaga: Infinite Isles
One feature that often gets overlooked when devs go about crafting a new MMORPG is accessibility. That doesn’t mean a huge lack of depth or systems, it just means how well they’re explained and presented to players. This is a quality that the Minecraft-like SkySaga: Infinite Isles possess in heaps. There’s no fumbling for where and what to do, no looking at crafting screens in sheer confusion - this is an MMO without the lengthy onboarding process.
But what exactly do you get up to in SkySaga: Infinite Isles? Hint: it’s in the title. There are an infinite number of portals to other worlds that can be opened up from the safety and comfort of your home planet. These portals are procedurally generated lands ripe for budding adventurers to charge into, swords drawn and backpacks waiting to be filled. Everything you loot can be put to good use personalising your own home and making an impenetrable base, which you’ll need because people can also launch raids on another player’s homeworld.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
Classic MMO principles lie at the core of Visionary Realms’ Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. The developer has promised to introduce a new generation of players to the group-focused adventuring and challenging combat that was once the norm for the genre. Pre-quest preparation and strategic team coordination are key to completing Pantheon’s dungeons and bosses, most of which are simply impossible to beat solo.
It also adds a crucial bit of spice to its loot system by making character abilities into treasures that can be picked from the bodies of the creatures, people and bosses you slay. Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen even strips out some of the more tedious elements of MMORPGs like navigation and objective markers turning them into fundamental gameplay features. Instead of blindly following an endless list of waypoints, you’ll have to learn the land and environment yourself, utilising class abilities like the Cleric’s prayer to guide you towards your next goal.
Crowfall is a new MMORPG that’s essentially all endgame. You won’t find yourself having to kill innocent boar after innocent boar until you achieve He-Man levels of strength. Instead, you begin the game fully loaded with the superpowers of whatever class you chose and compete with other players for control of the map.
The premise is loosely based on Game of Thrones, except with significantly less bonking. What that does mean however, is that you’re effectively tasked with building yourself an empire from mud, timber and the hides of your enemies. There are also no quests or abilities to unlock, so character progression comes down to crafting new weapons and building a menacing base to rule from.
Riders of Icarus
Every new MMORPG nowadays has to have a unique selling point, for Riders of Icarus that feature is mounts. Sure, plenty of MMOs have mounts, but as you might have guessed from the title, mounts are pretty central to character progression and questing in Riders of Icarus, which is just as well, because there are hundreds of potential pets to ride and battle with in this otherwise traditional MMO.
Wherever you travel to in Riders of Icarus, you’re bound to encounter plenty of new and powerful creatures to capture and use for yourself, from adorable kangaroo-like woodland critters to ancient, fire-breathing dragons. Of course you’ll have to tame them before you can utilise their strengths, and Riders of Icarus makes this a game mechanic as important as dialogue or combat. It being an MMO and all, you’ll also get to show off your mount to friends. Sort of like Pokémon, except in a fantasy setting and with much, much more killing and bloodshed.
Not many game franchises have been as successful as instilling a sense of immortal power in their players as Blizzard’s Diablo series has. Enter Mu Legend, a top-down, action-RPG that manages to make mowing down a horde of demons with a greatsword feel as great as it sounds. This new MMORPG boasts a diverse character creator, a range of levelled and endless dungeons and PvP for player to sink their teeth into.
As the focus is predominantly on fast-paced and brutal combat, there’s a lot less helping farmers bring in their crop and hunting down badgers in Mu Legend than in other MMOs. Mu Legend is also the follow-up to the immensely popular Mu Online, so expect more highly addictive loot drops and a level cap you could never, ever reach.
World of Tanks Blitz
World of Tanks Blitz has only recently arrived on Steam. That means the WoT universe is now open to a huge number of players who might otherwise find themselves overwhelmed by some of the original’s more complicated features like the garage and registration process. Everything in World of Tanks Blitz is designed to be navigable with a single tap or click of the mouse, which means less time spent managing your crew and research projects, and more time blowing your enemies asunder in the game’s renowned multiplayer tank melees.
And while the out-of-match experience might be stripped back, you’ll still have over 200 historical vehicles from over seven nations to unlock over the course of your tank commander career, not to mention weapon upgrades and camouflages to make yourself stand out on the battlefield.
Have we missed out one of your favourite new MMOs? Let us know which upcoming MMOs you're looking forward to in the comments below.