The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best in-game cutscenes and cinematics?


There are a lot of ways that stories can be told in MMORPGs, but one of the most straight-forward and visually exciting is the cinematic cutscene. These temporarily yank the player out from actively controlling a character to simply watch an important narrative beat play out as a small movie in the game.

Not every MMO has them, and not every MMO’s in-game cinematics are equal in quality and effectiveness. I always loved The Secret World’s mission bestowal cutscenes for their personality, and I’ve been warming up to World of Warcraft’s gorgeous game engine cinematics over the last two expansions (even if the story they tell often doesn’t make sense). But it’s hard to deny that Final Fantasy XIV’s cutscenes aren’t a huge backbone of that game’s narrative.

Allowing for both pre-rendered cinematics and cutscenes that use the game’s engine to create, which MMO wields these the best inside of the game itself?

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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Yes Secret World absolutely.


FFXIV Shadowbringers honestly stands above all others for me in terms of story-telling through cutscenes. Previous exapacs not so much, but ShB really took it to a new level.

Oleg Chebeneev

Id argue cutscene in new WoW expansions are superior over TSW.

Also noone mentioned it since noone here plays it, but Lost Arc cut scenes are top notch. Maybe they are the real winner here.


My favorite is SWTOR, with Secret World as a close second. They’re both great, but I give the edge to SWTOR because it’s more participatory with the decision-making, whereas Secret World sometimes leans a little too far toward the player character just being a captive audience for NPC monologuing (as interesting as those monologues may be!)


TSW then WoW. Pretty much for Wrathgate.


FFXIV of course.


Cutscenes and cinematics (and narrative) belong in single player rpgs, not in mmos.


Not a MMO, but the very first game I ever encountered cutscenes was Doom 3 (was it a novelty thing back then?) For me it became a benchmark on how to do a cutscene that actually adds to the atmosphere and not just detracts from the gameplay.
Then slowly but surely cutscenes became more elaborate (remember the one from EQ2 that tried to break so-called “the 4th wall” i.e. your monitor pane?)
Feeling nostalgic.

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Definitely have to put my hat in the ring for FFXIV. The best story presentation I’ve ever seen in an MMO bar none. SWTOR is second, but it isn’t very close IMHO.


The cinematics aren’t that great though, the same combat animations are recycled constantly, so the cool moves you see… happen again and again.

FFXIV 1.0 actually had fantastic animations that were all unique to the cutscene, but apparently having animations that would only display once was too expensive so they cut them out for ARR and started using ones that could be reused.

Check out the opening cutscenes on Youtube for FFXIV 1.0, they still hold up to this day and are better than anything that ARR has.


Those cutscenes were fully motion captured, so they were expensive yes, but also because they were expensive there weren’t very many of them. Look up the 1.0 cutscenes on youtube and you’ll see that ARR by itself has far, far more. 1.0 had gorgeous cutscenes, but it barely had anything worth calling a story because their insistence on full motion capture only hamstrung how much story they could tell.

Recent expansions have gradually introduced more and more motion captured scenes. Watch the 5.3 ending if you haven’t.


I’m nearly done Heavensward but I got burnt out clicking my way through cutscene after cutscene all with the same formula of: “walk walk walk… dramatic music, emote, dialogue, emote, walk walk walk”.

I heard Heavensward was better than Stormblood, so I’m worried about resubbing.

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Paragon Lost

The Secret World was always tops in my book.