Perfect Ten: The 10 live MMORPGs everybody should try

If you have ever visited the MMORPG subreddit, you probably know that one of the most frequent posts that pop up are ones asking the community for recommendations. These are players who have left a full-time game and are now fishing around for a substitute, or those who have “played them all” and are hoping that some undiscovered gem exists, or are having a difficult time finding a good game match for their preferred playstyle.

I am often leery about tossing out blanket recommendations because it’s far better to get to know a player, his or her game history, and the type of game sought before giving my opinion. But if you were to put a fish cannon to my head and threatened me with rapid-codding, I think I would be generally OK promoting the following 10 MMORPGs to most players, sight unseen.

These are MMOs that have earned my personal recommendation and are the titles that I tend to promote the most. Here we go!

1. Secret World Legends

Reboot discussion aside, Secret World enthralls me with its storytelling, world building, mind-bending quests, reality blurring, and memorable NPCs. It’s the best example of an adventure game made massively multiplayer (or now, just multiplayer), and its conspiracy themes and contemporary setting lend it a unique feel that you don’t get in most MMOs. I lost count of the number of times I’ve said, “You don’t see THAT in most online games!” And every time that happens, I want to share it with the world.

2. RIFT

Yeah, I’m fully aware that RIFT suffers from the perceived taint of Trion Worlds’ business model handling. I’ve never thought that its F2P model was as harsh or out-of-wack as ArcheAge’s, but instead feel that this is a great alternative to World of Warcraft that throws in a few features that its much more famous brother lacks (such as housing and instant adventures). It’s just a good, solid MMO for the most part, and one that I keep returning to over the years.

3. Final Fantasy XIV

This is an odd recommendation for me to make, because it’s coming more from a stance of respect than personal love. FFXIV isn’t quite the game for me, mostly due to its aesthetics, but I can’t help but admire its devotion to storytelling, regular updates, a cost-effective subscription, and its devoted playerbase. It’s an easy recommendation to make.

4. Guild Wars 2

I know, I’m marching down the obvious, but I’m not going to bypass them just because of that. Guild Wars 2 is a good title to recommend to players burned out on traditional MMORPGs but who don’t want to stray too far from the familiar. There’s a little of everything here for you, especially if you like to pursue flexible goals and explore a beautiful world.

5. Lord of the Rings Online

Long in the tooth? At 10 years, perhaps, but I like to think that this MMO has aged well as it’s fleshed out Middle-earth and added more to the epic journey of the books. For Tolkien fans, it’s a lore-master’s dream to visit this game and see what it has to offer. Plus, it comes with a generous, friendly community that’s well-known for roleplaying, community events, and fashion shows.

6. Star Trek Online

I’ve long felt that STO is one of the better-kept secrets in the MMO industry. It’s neither done spectacularly well nor faded away, but endured on the strength of its IP and the gradual expansion of its quests. And believe it or not, this game has some pretty terrific writing and quest elements (although its voice acting and animation leaves a lot to be desired).

Missusbugs.

7. Trove

Once again, here’s an MMO that I don’t regularly play but I do respect greatly. It may fool you with its kiddy looks and silly concepts (such as Candy Barbarians and toilet mounts), but Trove contains hidden depths with its flexibility and sandbox elements. Allowing the players to take a creative part in the game’s landscape and even weapon design makes this a title worth noticing.

8. Elder Scrolls Online

Another easy recommendation to make, even if I’ve never gotten very far into it. ESO has come a long, long way from its shaky launch to create a massive world with questing freedom, housing, a great deal of character build options, and Elder Scrolls lore out the wazoo. Plus, some pretty good voice acting, story beats, and an acceptable buy-to-play model keeps this recommendation-high.

9. WildStar

Call this my (cough) wild pick, WildStar makes my recommendation list because at the end of the day, it is a really well-done MMO with a lot going for it. It’s beautiful, it has a unique world populated by bizarre alien races, it sings with one of the best soundtracks that has ever graced an MMO, and it has a tremendous housing system. It’s a real shame what’s happened to it on a business level, but as long as it is operating, I feel comfortable in pointing it out to others.

10. Black Desert

Trove aside, I wanted to make sure that I got at least one purebred sandbox MMO on this list. And out of those operating, the medal for best overall package goes to Black Desert. It’s got a more acceptable business model than ArcheAge and has so much for players to see and do. Huge points for its beauty, housing, and neverending pursuit of improvement.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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79 Comments on "Perfect Ten: The 10 live MMORPGs everybody should try"

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AngryPacifist

Secret World and Wildstar are best

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Castagere Shaikura

Good list of mmo’s. I tried them all except BDO just had no interest in it. Funny but what you said about Wildstar is true. It is a unique mmo and they just messed up big time with it. I have always thought if that game had Wows fluid tab target combat system it would be right up there with Wow. The secret world legends game would have been great if they aloud us to transfer out old character over instead of starting over.

taradyne
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taradyne

I think this is a good list, with something for just about everyone. I have 5 of these games currently on my desktop so I’m biased, but I’m happy to see SWL and LOTRO make the list.

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lokoma

i see RIFT on the list and this has already lost all credibility with me

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Kayweg

Anyone got a perfect 10 on this ?
I’m missing Trove. Cubes just don’t do the trick for me.

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connor_jones

Secret World Legends – Agreed, everyone should at least try it. It is truly unique in the mmo space. Like the SWTOR original class stories, I have my doubts if we will ever see anything quite like Secret World again. That said, I loved New England, Egypt, and Transylvania, but now that I’m in Tokyo I find my enthusiasm waning. Not sure what’s up with that.

Rift and FF14 – I know these have been around for a while and they definitely have their fans, but GW2 has me covered in the sword and sorcery department.

GW2 – Are there any friends of Massively who have not tried it??? ;-) But seriously, from where I’m standing Anet delivered in spades with Paths of Fire.

Elder Scrolls Online – This one for me falls into the category of “I wanted to love this game, but…….”

Wildstar – I actually liked the aesthetics to this one, and the lore had me intrigued even if it wasn’t terribly original. That said , I was totally drained by the time I got to the arctic map.

Star Trek Online – Yeah, I know; it’s not very alt-friendly, the content varies greatly in quality and polish, and the game is a bit too much about the lock boxes. That said, it does some things really well, like the multi-dimensional gameplay with both ship combat and space legs, managing/upgrading your ships and crew can be very engaging, and the game draws on all iterations of the IP and yet still somehow works.

Lord of the RIngs Online – I don’t know how many times I’ve been set to give this one a go only to get sidetracked by something else; most recently Secret World and Paths of Fire.

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Modrain

From the list, I haven’t tried Secret World, that never really made me want to play it. And Star Trek Online and Lotro that are both games using non-game IPs, something that I usually avoid. As far as I’m concerned, pretty good list!

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overbyte

Trove and wildstar over swtor? Crumbs

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Armsman

Just play WoW – it’s pretty much the same as SWToR – just without the SW wrapper. ;)

Estranged
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Estranged

This list is not only solid, it makes me reflect on my MMO addiction issues!

The Vanilla Rift leveling experience, storyline, open world content and dungeons are so good. Just give it a whirl.

Bannex
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Bannex

I agree with everything on this list and I share similar opinions on most.

The only thing I don’t agree with is RIFT. It’s the Boost Mobile of WoW clones, it’s the General car insurance of mmos. Housing is generally the only selling point. “It’s like wow with housing!” No, compete the statement “Its like WoW with housing, no polish, piss poor AI, terrible combat, awful animations, horrible pvp (yes, worse than WoW) tiny player base, Trion, and stupid ugly races/player models.”