Perfect Ten: The MMOs with the best value at the start of 2018

Let’s talk about value. A couple of weeks back, I did an article on the healthiest games at the end of the year; today, I’m talking about the best value for the money. Isn’t that the same thing?

No, it isn’t. Because health is about “what games have the most robust community and are most likely to be around next year,” but value is about “where can you get the most for the least money on a reliable basis.” And while there is a fair amount of overlap, it isn’t a one-for-one comparison.

You may recall we did this last year as well. This year, there have been some pretty significant shakeups, due in no small part to the fact that the value-for-your-money in some titles has gone down, and at least one title from last year’s list has outright closed. So let’s take a fresh look at the games giving you solid value for your dollars. Let’s even say ten of them, arranged in list format.

And style.

1. Final Fantasy XIV

This hasn’t changed much. It’s not exactly a mystery that this game is one of my absolute favorites, but it’s not on here as a great value because it’s a favorite; it’s a favorite in part because it delivers such solid and consistent value. When your biggest criticism is “are the big patches full of content too regularly deployed,” things are going pretty all right.

BEARS, BEARS, BEARS

2. The Elder Scrolls Online

Here’s a game that has changed quite a bit… and all for the better. The Elder Scrolls Online has spent all year deploying more content and more options, and while you might not like having to shell out some money for an in-game house, the fact remains that you’re buying and decorating a house. You get an awful lot in the game for subscribing, you get a lot in the game if you choose to buy piecemeal, you get loads of options and stuff no matter how you choose to spend your money.

I’m really hoping that the game continues in the same vein it’s in well through next year, because right now it’s doing a very good job. And it’s also great value for the money, hence why it’s here.

Mounting problems, if you will? Probably not.

3. Guild Wars 2

We had a pretty good year in terms of value for Guild Wars 2. Not a great year, maybe, but a pretty good one. And… then we got the whole mount skin lockbox deal, and suddenly the game has to take a bit of a nosedive in terms of value.

It’s been argued that these lockboxes are not the worst possible incarnation of lockboxes, which is technically true, but it’s still kind of a devaluing and dumb move that makes the game look far worse. We’ll see what happens next year; hopefully this is more of a blip than the shape of things to come.

Harby harby!

4. Path of Exile

Not much has changed for Path of Exile from last year. (In terms of value, obviously. The game has gotten lots of updates.) It still gives a stupid amount of stuff away for free and still offers a small amount of stuff for free in such an unobtrusive way that it’s hard to be even remotely miffed about the point when the developers politely ask for a bit of money. It’s like some kind of shareware title that’s unaware it’s 2017 and still somehow makes money despite that.

Now, if they would just add a controller option, perhaps I would play the… what’s that, Lassie? There already is a controller option? Huh. (I have heard rumors about this, anyway.)

Please tell me the kidney thing is not real.

5. Trove

Part of me wonders if there’s some horrible thing that Trove has done that just somehow got lost in a sea of other nonsense because this has been the year when Trion Worlds manages to make everyone very unhappy as it tries to sell you stuff. Thankfully, however, we’re not talking about RIFT or ArcheAge here; we’re talking about Trove. And Trove remains a fun pixely hack-and-slash romp.

Or, at least, it seems to remain one. Has the studio started harvesting kidneys? That would definitely knock it down a couple of notches in terms of value; there are games that allow you to keep your kidneys.

Perhaps not such good value for bat-men, but they have enough money.

6. DC Universe Online

Last year, I ranked this game a fair bit higher. My experience actually playing the game has made me a bit less inclined to give it high marks, and it has done a couple of weird things this year from a system standpoint; it’s also a Daybreak game, which makes me leery of it given the studio’s overall health and apparent attitude toward shutting down games. But it still gives you quite a bit to play through, and let’s be real, you can try out for free if you’re curious about whether or not you’re going to enjoy it.

Plus, you know, we did actually have a good DC Comics movie in 2017. Of course, it wasn’t the big tentpole film that was supposed to become a darling centerpiece, but let’s just enjoy Wonder Woman for being fun.

Welcome to here.

7. Neverwinter

This game seems to have gotten slightly more love this past year than Star Trek Online, but you can pick either one to get a nod for their value. That’s not to say that either one is perfect, and there are still aspects of the business model that I find particularly… let’s say unsettling. But they’re certainly giving you good rewards for free, and while some money is probably expected, the net result is a pretty good value.

I’m really kind of hopeful that we learn more about the supposed Magic: the Gathering MMO next year, so then we could hypothetically put that here. Because let’s face it, this is a formula.

We all live in a potentially messy world.

8. EVE Online

This has not been a good year for EVE Online in terms of health or overall stability. But it’s been a fine year in terms of value; the game still is unique in its offerings, and it also made a lot of effort toward keeping free players on par with paying ones and provide more options along that line. So it deserves a nod.

Fair warning, though, if you’ve never played the game: Do not expect exciting space battles where everything comes down to well-timed missile launches. The excitement you get from this will be of a different sort.

How're yez?

9. Final Fantasy XI

Oh, here’s a surprise! How good can the value be on a game that’s in self-described maintenance mode? Pretty good, if you can pick up all of the expansions and content for a song, take all of it on solo or in a tiny group with a couple of friends, and still get monthly updates for a game that, again, has been officially declared as maintenance mode.

Final Fantasy XI is no longer getting any major updates that we know of, but for a game that’s moving into sunset territory, it offers an astonishing amount of content in terms of storytelling, worldbuilding, and just straight-up interesting mechanics. If you’ve ever had some curiosity, you owe it to yourself to grab the title and give it a shot.

'Credit where it's due' actually means offering credit where it is due, even if it feels weird to offer that credit.

10. World of Warcraft

What.

Yeah, I’m actually surprised. Legion had a downright good update cadence, and at least right now, it looks as if we’re moving into 2018 with a decent update cadence all over again. There’s a lot of stuff to do in the game, and if you haven’t done much or anything in World of Warcraft’s most recent expansion, you have plenty of projects to keep you busy… and the next patch for the game is poised to drastically overhaul the leveling structure of the game, so that’s another net benefit.

Plus, you can actually use in-game money to buy… well, other stuff in other games with the Blizzard tokens. It’s not, like, real-world cash payouts, but it’s a nice benefit if you’re farming those tokens and earning gold. So that’s pretty good value heading into the new year. Not that it doesn’t mean we’ll still be there toward the end of the year, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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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psytic

I think DDO and LOTR give you more to do for free than either FF game. You still have to pay for the FF games and sub. Seems more like a fanboy list. I like FF don’t see it being in the top 10 though.

On a side not why does GW2 get so much flack for mount skins in lock boxes. ESO does the exact same thing and nobody cares I don’t get it.

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rafael12104

You guys are going to hate me. You know why? Because the best value going into 2018 is none other than, (martial arts gong please) Blade and Soul.

Yup, I said it. Again. Lol.

Listen man, I do like the game, but if you look at everything that is offered, the xpacs included which have all been added at no cost. And then you think about the fact that the game is free to play? Sheez. “There ain’t nothin better.” as we say down here after a cold beer.

So, no pay walls, to date. Two major expacs with all the trimmings. And still running about 1 major update about every 45 days or so. And I mean major, as in new content and QoL features. They removed the rng from leveling altogether, for example. They removed the need for any side quests as well. Want legendary end game gear? Just play the story line. That’s it!

And at the beginning of 2018 they are giving all f2p citizens a “showroom” QoL feature which will allow you to store your outfits, weapons skins, and pets for free. No more nickel and diming inventory space.

You want value? I give you BnS. You pay what you want and you get all of the content you want for “nothin”.

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Fervor Bliss

FFXIV $20 starter edition then 15 x 12 = 180 for Sub.
So $ 200 for 1 year of play. This is the best value ???????
And once you stop paying monthly. All it does it take up hard disk space.

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Doctor Sweers

Don’t forget…you can roll 8 toons (limited 1 to each server) for 12 bones a month. ;)

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Fervor Bliss

You could spend $100 dollars in cash shops of other games and be playing happily for a very long time.
So you would get 2 MMO’s for years.
Picks 2, 3, 5, and 6 (maybe more but I do not know them well)

5seconds2urheart
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5seconds2urheart

“For a song” OK, Nana. Let me check my wallet to see how many songs I have left.

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rafael12104

I’m out of songs. Will they take limericks?

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Vincent Clark

FFXIV definitely deserves the top spot. I would gladly give more for my subscription. That’s not me being a fanboi, that’s just me speaking from experience with other games that don’t provide the consistent and quality content that comes with FFXIV.

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rafael12104

I won’t’ argue against FFXIV. That game sealed a special place for itself a long time ago.

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Coolit

Personally I feel FFXIV and WOW are the best value games with ESO in third even if I do think Morrowind was overpriced for what it brought to the table.

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Melissa McDonald

LOTRO’s F2P option is quite generous and takes you all the way to the Trollshaws / Weathertop before you have to buy into the ability to do quests in subsequent zones. Yet you still get access to those zones, and can level up by grinding without having to buy anything. It’s really quite generous.

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Vincent Clark

Along those same lines, I would say the game is at it’s best between levels 1 to 50, to include Moria (to this day, the best expansion in the game). After that…

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PhoenixDfire

On the Crowdfunding side I backed £300 ($400) for Elite:Dangerous. Over the last three years I’ve had Eight Major updates and played over 1,500 hours which works out at approximately about £0.20 ($0.25) an hour and I’m still having fun with it.

Ironically if I’d bought it as today and put in the same time that’s £40 ($50) and £ 0.02 an hour.

Still best value I’ve got out of any game yet.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Star Citizen is the best value. Where else you can buy a huge flagship you can fly with friends for just under $10k? Drop 500-600$ more and you can have a private land on the Moon.

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MeltWithYou

Wait – so flagship + land on the moon is roughly $10, 500 or flagship + land on the moon would cost $20k-ish…i know SC has some pricey stuff, but thats pricey as FK

man I’d rather take that money, put it down on a IRL house or put it down on an IRL x6…ill tell my kids to stick their arms out the window and we can pretend fly

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Oleg Chebeneev

You really comparing a cheap rat-filled house with glorious battleship?

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MeltWithYou

LOL down payment my friend, but man, thats a lot of money…even for a whale. I wonder how many people have that kinda spare cash lying around that could just up and say – yep – totally buying this.

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Tanek

There is probably a joke in here about how the super-rich in the U.S. need the new tax plan to pay for their Star Citizen habit, but I’m too depressed about the state of our political system to make it.

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Crowe

LOL, I think you have a point there!

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Melissa McDonald

Going to have to object to that since the game isn’t really launched, and the accessible content is little more than a walk-through or an empty combat sim against drones. Not much else. SC’s playable content in 2017 is more rumour than fact. Just my opinion.

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Armsbend

Oh you.

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sizer99

Okay, and the huge flagship isn’t available yet, and god knows when and if it ever will be, but here, they will give you a loaner jpeg of it. And if that isn’t generous I don’t know what is.

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BalsBigBrother

PoE doesn’t have native controller support on the PC and the last I heard it is not getting it either but I would love to be proved wrong.

However a steam controller works really well as an alternative once you get used to using one of the community profiles. That is what I use these days for PoE and never had any issues at least not so far. Best thing is my hands no longer hurt after an extended play session which is one of the main reasons for me buying the steam controller in the first place.

Grim Dawn now has native controller support, Marvel Heores (rip), Van Helsing and a few other arpgs have controller support and it would be great if PoE would join them.

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Stropp

Is the Steam controller much different than a standard XBox/PC controller?

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rafael12104

In my experience it is not. In fact, in the early days of the Steam Box they used a xbox/pc controller as the design was on par.