Perfect Ten: MMOs that cater to the time-limited player

    
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Every once in a while we receive emails here at Massively OP that share a similar sentiment. Usually that boils down to, “I love MMOs, I want to play MMOs, but I’m extremely time-limited due to family/work/superhero commitments. What should I play?”

I’ve seen this question asked numerous times elsewhere, where it has been dismissed by people who go “All MMOs can be played no matter what! Just go at your own pace!” However, I don’t think that really addresses the need. These people are looking for MMOs that can be enjoyable in short bursts (say, around a half-hour) and offer advancement and progression at a rate that makes any player feel satisfied. Not every MMO does that, if we’re honest.

So where can the time-limited player get a thrill and accomplishment these days? I have a suggestion. Ten of them, in fact.

Fight on sight.

  1. Guild Wars 2

While some of the Living World episodes may demand longer stretches to complete, the massive amount of map completion that’s available offers more than enough casual and steady activity for any length of time. You never have to travel very far to uncover something new, fill up a heart, and complete a quick daily. The zone level scaling tech and the relatively flat leveling curve means that progress from one to 80 comes pretty regularly, too.

2. Elder Scrolls Online

I’ve seen this MMO recommended quite often to people looking for shorter span games, and I think the key here is the One Tamriel update. By allowing players to go anywhere and group up with anyone without worrying about level disparity, it’s removed a lot of that psychological pressure of being left behind. Even the weekend warrior can have his or her fun here!

3. Warframe

This was the first game that came to mind when I brainstormed this topic, because no game offers intense bite-sized missions the way Warframe does. There’s always something to do, something to chase, and something to enjoy, even if you’ve only got a sitcom’s worth of time in which to do it.

Flexin'

4. Final Fantasy XIV

Many traditional leveling MMOs disqualified themselves from this list, but I’m going to include FFXIV for the reason that it’s a game that goes out of its way to hold your hand and walk you, step by step, through its linear progression. Even during a short play session, you’re still getting a good dose of story and moving toward your eventual goal — and you don’t feel like it’s worthless to engage in that.

5. Neverwinter

And speaking of “hand holding,” you can’t get any more brainless than a sparkly path leading you to the next destination like you do in Neverwinter! Actually, there’s a lot of depth in this game, but its zippy personal instances make this a must-have for someone who wants to come away with actually having finished something in only 15 or 20 minutes.

6. Star Trek Online

Another Cryptic entry, STO has a few missions that will push outside of the 30-minute barrier that I imposed for this list. Still, a vast majority are pretty doable (even if just in stages) in under a half-hour, and the sheer variety and storytelling excellence (seriously) makes it a strong contender for occasional gaming.

7. Path of Exile

As long as you’re cool with the type of gameplay in such titles, action-RPGs are a great idea for shorter play sessions. Path of Exile gets you into the action very quickly and delivers a satisfying experience full of victories and loot. As a bonus, the frequent new leagues offer everyone opportunities to (re)start together, even if you’ve only a few hours that week in which to play.

8. Trove

From clicking the desktop icon, you’ll be in and playing Trove in seconds — and you won’t be limited in what you’d like to do that day. Dungeon diving, exploring, mining, building, crafting, killing — there’s an ocean of options, and all of it is easily accessible from the start.

9. MapleStory 2

I’m going to toss this into the list because (a) it’s a newer title that many might not have tried yet, (b) it has a huge amount of content, and (c) you can do a whole heck of a lot in a half-hour. The combat is fast, the story comes in the tiniest of bites, and there are fun optional exploration goals for each map.

10. Mobile MMOs

I know, I know, kill me now. But hear me out: While mobile MMOs get a bad racket (and often deservedly so), there have been some quality releases over the past couple of years, including the recent Villagers and Heroes, AdventureQuest 3D, and Old School RuneScape. Since mobile devices are always on us, it might be perfect for the mom or dad who can’t sit in front of a computer for an hour but might have some time while waiting to pick up kids or taking that extra-long bathroom break. Just sayin’.

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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Mewmew
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Mewmew

There really are some quality mobile titles shuffled in between all the pay to win lootbox stuff. They don’t deserve hatred just for being on mobile. Pay to win was invented on PC after all, even though mobile perfected it. Still not all of them are like that. Even though the quality games are a smaller scattering of what’s available, they are there.

As for the rest of your list, it’s pretty well and good. Most of your list has quality quests and stories you can experience in short amounts of time. There may be one or two I’d trade out but you do have the major contenders there for the most part.

Star Trek Online makes it especially easy with the way the episodes are placed in your journal. I was pretty surprised when I first tried it out. It has these great small story blocks that are easy to follow along and do them bit by bit in short gaming sessions. There are better games out there for sure, but they do brief session story gaming really well. So it always keeps a spot on my HD because of that.

Vexia
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Kickstarter Donor
Vexia

I played a lot of Blade & Soul during my last semester of college because it’s really easy to hop in, complete a few quests, and then go about your day. Most of the dungeons I did at the time also weren’t very long, but I was nowhere near endgame. Some of our other MOP B&S aficionados would be able to say more about whether that part of the game is much more time-sensitive.

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rafael12104

Hey there!

Yes, BnS can be great if time is limited even at end game. Dailies are quick and easy. You get a choice of the dungeons to run and some are really fast while others are still quick but take a few minutes. So essentially, you can be done in 20 mins or you can take 30 to 45 mins if you prefer more complicated content.

Grinding for end game gear is really up to the player. Just doing dailies and events will get you what you need so nothing additional is required. But the pace is slower than if you grind for mats. From cap to endgame gear though it is a quick turn regardless because in completing the story you get an endgame starter set. After that, it really depends on the player.

Raids. The top tier isn’t short. Heh. Very few clans have full clears on a daily basis. The next tier down will take a couple of hours with a competent group. But the first real raid, Black Tower, is almost a dungeon daily with a well-geared group. My old clan cleared it regularly in about 20 to 30 mins.

Overall, I think BnS is a good choice for limited time players.

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Tiresias

I don’t know if it falls completely into the “MMO” space, but Destiny 2 is great for this. You can actually participate in really difficult endgame content that takes about 30 minutes to get through, or jump in for a few PvP matches in that time.

I’d understand the objection about the game basically being a lobby shooter at endgame, once you have cleared the various zones of their story and sidequest content.

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Daniel Reasor

I find SWTOR’s system of assigning gathering and crafting to off-screen companions while I actually adventure pretty friendly for short game sessions, too.

Dalishal
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Dalishal

Warframe absolutely. One of the reasons I play it most often right now with my kids sports in full swing. If my RNG is good I can get a whole Warframe farmed in 30 min. Farm 300,000 credits plus in 30 min, level a new weapon, hunting wildlife for ship decorations, and so on. It is the most satisfying MMO for short bursts of play time.
ESO is also a good one, but it is in second place right now for me in speed and fun to Warframe.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

GW2 is a solid pick, it’s always a game where I’ve felt that I could make progress even in short 5-10 minute sessions. Nothing major, but “Welp that heart/PoI/vista/skill point is done!” is enough to leave me feeling like I did something.

Also, Warframe and the rather large crop of sorta psuedo-MMO’s (Vindictus etc.) where you mostly play by doing shorter instanced content is perfect. Sometimes I just wanna log into Warframe and ninja flip through a few missions real quick and call it a day.

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Ironwu

Certainly agree on Warframe, GD. Just finished doing a quick Defense mission to advance a ‘Frame & Weapons set to move Mastery Rank along a bit. :) Took less than 10 minutes; I try to do at least one a day, for sure.

Reader
Bryan Correll

I gotta echo what others are saying about FF14. It’s a good game and a strong recommendation for anyone new to MMOs, but it does require time in some fairly large chunks. If you can only play a couple days a week but can game a fair bit on those days it’s good. But half-hour play sessions? Naw.

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IronSalamander8 .

I enjoy FF14 and I do think it holds your hand to a point but I have to echo others here in that it requires dungeons and raids to advance the story (and a lot of things are locked behind story progression) so not really that casual friendly overall.

Alex Js.
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Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

Nah, it’s still very casual-friendly. All of the Main Story Quest dungeons are VERY easy and require very little coordination or the time to go through (not counting the cutscenes). The “Extreme/Ultimate” versions of dungeons are not necessary at all to progress through the story and can be completely skipped (unless you care about your “ilvl” numbers).

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Ironwu

FFXIV should be stricken from this list.

I would nominate (in no particular order):

* World of Warcraft – just a ton of content that can be done in easy steps, with the design focused on progression to cap. Only at top raiding tiers can you not be super casual.

* Elder Scrolls Online – All content is available, so just months and months of progression. Great community to help with harder stuff when you need it and don’t have much time.

* Warframe – There is always something to do that takes 15 minutes, or less, that will advance your character and equipment. Being F2P, both client and no-sub at all, makes it really great. And a lot of the micro-transactions in the shop are really micro and really useful.

Those are my top 3 that I would choose. GW2 is OK, but things can stagnate once you hit level cap. The rest (especially PWE P2W Gambling Box junk) is, meh.

Just my 2c.

micedicetwice
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micedicetwice

Final Fantasy? Absolutely not! Every piece of any new content in this game is tied to the story completion, which takes months and months for a casual player. If you don’t have enough time you’ll be forever behind everyone and everything.