Since World of Warcraft took the world by storm in 2004, many MMOs have come out in hopes of success that rivals Blizzard’s juggernaut, and there’s now a new top dog.
Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games have been a gaming centrepiece for many years, as titles come and go relatively quickly with short or extended shelf life. The largest community for the past two decades has been the Blizzard phenomenon, World of Warcraft, with an annual average breaking the 10 million player mark for the past five years in a row. This is quite a feat, especially to stay relevant for so long in a technological age that saw many MMO titles fail since WoW‘s inception.
Even though WoW has been one of the most successful games of its kind, and has spawned many viral instances, such as the fame given to one Leeroy Jenkins that has made World of Warcraft larger than even its own community, other games have appeared to take the top spot away from Azeroth. It is worth mentioning that, out of the top MMO games available to play, WoW faces competition from even itself with the release of WoW Classic back in 2019.
These are the top 3 MMO games at the top of the world right now:
3. World of Warcraft
It’s kind of obvious this title would appear on this list, even though its placement might be surprising. The world of Azeroth has 1.11 million active players and has seen many upgrades and expansions over the years to keep players returning for more. These expansions have extended the life of Blizzard’s popular title by a wide margin and have given longtime players more to conquer.
Adventurers are allowed to choose from different factions, different races, and different classes in a robust character creation screen that allows players to venture forth any way they choose. The intricate quest system kept players busy and a prime time television satirization on South Park showed that WoW can not only dish jokes but take them as well.
The WoW website allows players to search for certain items and engage with a community of over a million people. Not only are players treated to a large community, but the option to pay for in-game goods using real-life currency is also a boon for fans that don’t have as much free time as others. With the wide variety of playstyles, a thriving community, and many options given by the developers to succeed, it’s truly no wonder why WoW remains near the top of the list.
2. Old School RuneScape
Flashing back to the past at number two is Old School RuneScape. Released back in 2013, OSRS has 1.83 million active players and counting. RuneScape features a wide variety of activities to accomplish, gear to collect, and point-and-click-based combat. The three different categories of player skills give every type of MMO RPG enthusiast a playstyle choice, as characters are free to build however the players prefer. The combat, gathering, and artisan skill trees have depth and quality of life improvements improve on the title.
With a plethora of features, this MMO allows for a huge multiplayer experience that also drives nostalgia into the player, bringing 2001 into 2021. Notably, if WoW and WoW Classic’s player base were combined, the total active player count would be higher than this title. The community still thrives on its web-based forums, and those who are interested have never had a better time to check it out, as Old School RuneScape is completely free-to-play.
1. Final Fantasy XIV Online
FFXIV is unsurprisingly at the very top of the list. Final Fantasy XIV is a very ambitious title that saw the fantastical world come into MMO territory for a second time after Final Fantasy XI. The game experienced a very rocky launch in 2010 and saw Realm Reborn after the developers publicly apologized for the state of the game. Square Enix used a canonical style ending and rebirth of the world to reintroduce FFXIV as an MMO. This was a very innovative way to show players they were serious about quality. A detailed plan for the title also shows commitment and allows fans to calendarize what’s new in Eorzea.
The FFXIV game is wrought with features that allow players to completely immerse themselves into its world. A robust character creator, a wealth of gameplay variety, a massive FFXIV items list, and the return of the FFXIV Gil help make this title stand among its peers as the most popular MMO right now. The amount to do in the title is staggering, and the latest Shadowbringers expansion gives players even more content to delve into. With a developer that listens to its fans and new content coming out reliably, this is an MMO for the ages. FFXIV currently boasts over three million active players.
This does come with a catch. The game does have a subscription plan, so those looking for a free-to-play option should look elsewhere. Recently the title had some over saturation issues and won’t allow for new character creation on the North American servers until the status of “congested” is lifted. This is due to its massive popularity—an MMO indeed.
With these three titles leading the MMO charge, players that want to dive into these vast worlds have never seen a better opportunity. With a swath of playstyles and a huge spike in player bases, the top three MMO’s are as good of a place as any to begin a foray into new worlds.