The Daily Grind: What MMO should a true MMO newbie try in 2020?

The Daily Grind: What MMO should a true MMO newbie try in 2020?

If you’ve ever been to generalist gaming Reddits, you know one of the most common threads is the “what should I play” thread, which is as tiresome to answer as it must be to ask. But it’s much rarer that such a question comes from a gamer who’s never played an MMORPG before. And one of those did indeed pop up a few weeks back, from a brand-new would-be MMO player who was debating what to try first (and in so doing made the bold decision to suggest WoW Classic looked “clunky,” hah!).

The responses included everything from Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV to “why not try everything,” which isn’t really super helpful. What would you recommend for a true MMO newbie right now? What’s the best introduction to MMOs in general? Should someone start at the beginning of the genre? The middle? Or something from the last few years? Should such a player aim for accessibility, community, or longevity?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Ryan Higgitt

So due to lockdown, me and my girlfriend actually went through this. We built her a gaming pc and she had never played a pc game ever! We tried gw2 and ESO, ESO was a clear winner. The simplicity of it and the easy teleport to a friend made it very easy if she got lost. She loves it!


To answer the question WoW, or SWTOR. ESO if it’s a console player.

I’m not the sort who would recommend the newbie bother with the ‘true’ MMOs though. All of the extant ones are long past their expiration date. If you’re a newbie who wants to play MMO’s I’d have to ask what possesses you to such a pursuit, here at the end of all things, the time of great change.


I think there’s a couple of factors that would strongly influence the game I’d recommend.

If you’re going to be playing *with* the person you’re talking to, then picking one you enjoy and are familiar with seems like it would vastly up the odds of them having a good time. It is an MMO after all, and not playing solo would be great.

If they’ve got an IP they’re already fond of from single-player games? And there’s an MMO that leverages it? That also seems like a strong recommend. Do they like Star Trek? Did they play Knights of the Old Republic or Fallen Order? Are they fond of Skyrim, or the Lord of the Rings books/flims? Those seem like pretty big hints. :)

After that, I think the question starts to be a bit more iffy – do they care if it’s F2P? Do they want a game with a subscription? Do they want PvP?

But I think from a blind start I’d go with GW2, SWTOR, ESO, and BDO. All of them are inexpensive/free, and have a bunch of stuff for someone who’s never played them before to do. Which they’d prefer is going to depend a ton on the target audience. :)

Ben Stone

For a true novice, either GW2 or ESO. Both very simple and newbie friendly.

WoW is also still a solid choice, but will probably be less confusing to new players when Shadowlands streamlines levelling.

Early in BFA my friend tried to get his partner into WoW, but the low visual quality of older content was pretty offputting. I think with levelling now being able to be exclusively through nicer looking expansions like Pandaria, Legion or BFA will make the game appear more modern.

Kickstarter Donor

Check if the game runs servers in your country/region. If not, don’t bother as your in for a substandard experience.

Rolan Storm

TESO, of course. Slow paced growth from single-player gameplay to MMORPG tropes. No game does it better. None.

Jim Bergevin Jr

Why isn’t “why not try everything” super helpful? Picking an MMO to play is just like picking any other game to play. The difference is, most MMOs cost you nothing up front nowadays. So it really is the perfect place to pick one based on what appeals to you as an individual and try it out.

That’s why I have well over 30 MMOs installed on my PC right now, and can honestly say that there have been only a few that I could not play any further than the first hour or two. All the others I enjoyed to one extent or another and there are at least a dozen I play on a regular or semi-regular basis. And there’s a few more I plan on giving a try over the next few months.

So, “why not try them all” is probably the best answer you can give someone for a question like that. Unless they are prepared to fill out a two page questionnaire on their likes and dislikes, like those dating sites have.

Hikari Kenzaki

So, I’ve studied up on a few cases where people completely new to gaming have tried to jump into games or MMOs. I’ve also seen people in my community who don’t come from a gaming background. The long and the short of it is that there are a lot of gaming concepts/tropes that we take for granted or handwave.

So, my suggestions are:

1) Go for a genre or IP you’re familiar with: My first MMO was City of Heroes because I love Superheroes. Once I had my own hero, based on designs I’d originally worked on in High School, I was hooked and willing to overlook pitfalls (though CoH is arguably one of the best games for a new player).

In fact, Cryptic excels at making the games you’re already interested in and then takes the time to explain stuff along the way. CoH and Champions are both fun hero genre games, STO and Neverwinter are set in two huge IPs and spend the first 10-20 levels in what is effectively a tutorial.

Other examples would be LOTRO, SWTOR and similar IP games which generally take some time to handhold new gamers because they understand many people are coming for the IP, not the game

2) If none of those work, then I’d go for AQ3D. It starts out simple and it guides you through a lot of gaming tropes by laughing at them with the player. It also has a ton of pop culture and dad jokes to get the player through those initial ‘this makes no sense’ moments.

3) It’s dangerous to go alone: Whatever you do, go with a patient friend who is willing to help see you through the hurdles.


Have to say FF14. I never played until a month or so ago. Couple of friends wanted to try and well… although a certain east asia weirdness still ticks me off (including a certain tendency for scantily clad women), the game is definitely great.
Besides the graphics which is gorgeous and the ability to basically level all classes, the biggest selling point for a newbie is the active help which is great as it slowly would help bot a new to the game but also a complete MMO newbie into the game explaining the most important mechanics including tanking, healing, aggro, …
The first dungeons of the story (we haven’t yet finished the ARR btw), are simple and slowly put you through certain mechanics that you want to learn with all roles.
Kudos to Noshida and SQEX for doing this great job.


I would say FFXIV

But, thats purely due to lack of choice in the market. The best experience for a brand new player is to jump into a brand new mmorpg. You get to experience the game at it’s peak, with the best community and with the best spread of players. You get to be a part of something exciting, and that is the best experience for a new player. Also helps that if the game is new, then everyone is in the process of learning so the new player will feel more at home.

Joining an old mmorpg just isn’t as fun. You may get to experience “typical” mmo mechanics or whatever but it just doesn’t compare to the feeling of being there at the start of a new game.