Once rare like a legendary loot drop, new MMOs are now more common than 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 MMOs that are worth your time. But we've also gone one step further: as the worlds of MMORPGs are ever-changing, we've included games with recent updates, new content drops, and the like, plus new massively multiplayer online games with RPG elements. So, from newly updated sword-and-sorcery classics to emerging action-RPGs, these are the new MMOs you should be paying attention to.
Rift felt like a breath of fresh air in a stagnant genre back in 2011, and it’s only got better since. For starters, it costs a lot less than it did: gradually, the base game and all of its expansions have gone free-to-play. Meanwhile, new updates work to keep to keep Rift fresh. In Crucia’s Claw, a new raid introduces ginormous bosses, while one of the cleverest class systems around continues to expand with magical archers and more.
Everything that helped Rift garner rave reviews at launch still holds true: this is a game that excels at pulling large groups of players together and throwing them at convincing threats. It handles quests and raids with practiced ease, and weaves spontaneous events into the mix too. Classical yet modern, Rift is a fantasy MMO for this decade.
ArcheAge is a really ambitious MMO; a giant sandbox where you can fulfil your dreams of living like a fantasy pirate. Like so many MMOs, its world is ever-evolving through frequent updates, the latest of which is Erenor Eternal.
The huge update adds three new zones to explore, new equipment tiers, customisable Ancestral skills, plus streamlined trading routes. Of all those, ArcheAge is the only game where the latter could be considered the most exciting. With its focus on building your own life and success, sailing and shipping goods is a hugely important and satisfying element of this MMO oddity.
Not everyone can get enthused about traditional MMO combat, which is where TERA comes in. It’s an action-focused game, with Devil May Cry-style flips, slices, and sword thrusts that are a far cry from the click-and-wait cooldown systems seen in pretty much every other MMO. Combine that combat with the flashy visuals you'll see everywhere else in the game, and TERA is quite the sight to behold.
It’s getting on a bit now, but 2017 holds as much for TERA as when it launched back in 2011. Regular events, such as Dragonsire’s Revenge and Lakan’s Fury, keep the world of Arborea a vibrant, busy place. And since TERA is free-to-play, there’s no reason not to dive in and see what’s going on.
Think Mad Max with even more vehicular combat. Crossout is a post-apocalyptic MMO based around building and customisation: there are a multitude of body parts, weapons, electrical gadgets, and cosmetic oddities with which to create your mobile death machine.There are four factions to join up with, each bringing their own distinct style and selection of vehicle parts to the wasteland, as well as a robust marketplace where you can trade with other players.
The game’s economy ensures that you get drip-fed these as you progress. There is also a limit to what can and can’t be welded to your car’s exterior, and managing this is just as important as clever manoeuvring and decent marksmanship. If you’re looking for a trip into a nightmarish future full of crumbling cities and desolate barrens – and hey, who isn’t? – then jump behind the wheel.
Guild Wars 2
When it launched in 2012, Guild Wars 2 was almost certainly the strongest MMO since World of Warcraft, and five years on it's showing no signs of failing. It’s latest expansion, Path of Fire, tasks players to kill Balthazar, the rogue god of war, before he brings Tyria to ruin. It’s all very exciting, and continues to prove Arenanet’s storytelling chops.
Guild Wars 2’s expansive, beautiful world is its main pull, but there’s elegance in its systems, too. Dynamic events pull players – friends and strangers alike – together for mad dashes across its landscapes, while the combat feels pacey and dramatic despite being based on the traditions of hotbars and cooldowns. The game is buy-to-play, but only for the expansion packs. The core game is free, and best of all, it's not been changed; there's no microtransactions to hold back the best gear.
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 then you’ll know how valuable such a feature is to the amount of free time you have.
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.
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.
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. This being a paid expansion, Square Enix aren’t being shy with how much content they’re pouring into the already sizeable MMO.
Stormblood has brought a new major quest in the land of Ala Mhigo, new jobs, including the Red Mage, as well as 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.
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 you 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.
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.