For today’s list, I wanted to take a different approach to recommending MMORPGs to you. I know we often talk about underrated titles, but that approach doesn’t always acknowledge that we may dismiss games from consideration even though they are somewhat well-known and -respected.
You may be sleeping on some great MMOs right now that could serve as delightful diversions — or even a new favorite. Here are 10 MMORPGs that I often see discarded for reasons that aren’t entirely fair or rational.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: The laughably ancient graphics. The word “old” in the title. A continued perception that RuneScape was a “starter” MMO that we should have outgrown by now. A very non-traditional gameplay style.
Why it’s worth a look: This legacy branch of RuneScape’s development has blown up to eclipse its fancier sibling. Regular updates with community polls to guide development. A throwback to an older, more relaxing style of gameplay. Often gets lumped into the same category as WoW Classic, so that if you like one, you may like the other.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: The PvP scares you off. The isometric camera and somewhat limited graphics make it look more primitive than flashier titles. The somewhat toxic community.
Why it’s worth a look: Albion is one of the true crowdfunding success stories of the past decade. Its content has grown in leaps and bounds with regular updates. Seems to have cracked the code of a sandbox with a dynamic economy, interesting crafting, and player-vs-player conflict. Personal islands. And it’s got a cute visual design.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: The launch didn’t exactly become the hottest event of 2022. The relentlessly hardcore and group-focused PvE design. No magic (at least, initially). It required a subscription (initially). Very little hand-holding.
Why it’s worth a look: It offers relaxed and strategic PvE combat of that’s a delightful return to MMOs of old. The studio’s greatly improved and expanded Embers over the past year. It is now buy-to-play with an optional sub. Fans are very vocal about how much they love this game. Maybe not quite as hardcore as you fear. It’s finally adding magic. Has a Mac client.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: It’s been in alpha/beta testing for over a decade now… and still hasn’t launched. The graphics give a bad first impression. The gameplay is weird and requires some actual learning.
Why it’s worth a look: This spiritual successor to Asheron’s Call delights in being imaginative and creative with its design. Can mix-and-match combat skills. Hilarious characters. Skill-based leveling with all sorts of wonky ways to grow (including death). Community is friendly and willing to teach. Remarkably full-featured.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: World of Warcraft shoved it aside in 2004 and kept it from being a dominant title. A relatively small community. Graphics haven’t aged that well. You say, “I’ll just wait for EverQuest 3 at this point.”
Why it’s worth a look: EverQuest 3 isn’t coming any time soon. Absolute heaploads of content with numerous expansions. An amazing housing system. Can experience a bulk of the game for free. Lots of interesting classes and races. Gets a yearly expansion.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: Your first impressions and the chaos of launch weren’t the greatest. Worries that it was a flash-in-the-pan MMO that will never reclaim the high concurrency counts of the first month. The messy endgame and wonky performance.
Why it’s worth a look: Amazon’s clearly invested in the future of this game. Its content has grown considerably over the past two years, especially with Brimstone Sands and Angry Earth. It’s a rare modern example of a AAA-level traditional MMO with a wide array of features. The sound, music, and visuals are stellar.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: It’s too complicated. The visuals look chunky and mid-2000s. The heavily instanced design is too much of a divergence from what you’re used to with MMOs. Neverwinter offers a slicker D&D experience.
Why it’s worth a look: One of the deepest MMO character growth systems, period, that lets you multiclass and make the character you want. Voiced narration spices up adventures. It’s continually adding new adventures and has years and years of them in the bank. A lot of the game is free now. Setting your difficulty level for missions is an underrated feature. Its fantasy setting is wonderfully weird.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: “Spreadsheets in space” and having other people gank you sounds incredibly unappealing. The high barrier to entry in terms of understanding the game. Stories of people being brutal to each other are off-putting. After 20 years, it might seem too late to get on board.
Why it’s worth a look: There’s a free version and an improved new player tutorial. New players are welcomed and encouraged within the community. The internet spaceship MMO genre is quite limited and this is one of the best sims within it. Advancing your character offline helps to mitigate those with limited time to play. The drama and huge wars continue to put EVE on the map. The studio continues to churn out expansions.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: It’s “kiddie Hogwarts.” Turn-based combat isn’t universally appealing. All the characters look like they’re 11 years old. You feel slightly creepy as an adult playing among children.
Why it’s worth a look: It’s a great Harry Potter spiritual successor in its own right. There’s a rather robust MMO here with pets, housing, and deep character growth. The little doodles on the UI are endlessly amusing. Using cards as combat is actually pretty fun. Like many older MMOs, it’s grown tremendously over the years.
Why you’ve been sleeping on it: Again, the visuals may trick you into thinking that this is for the younger set. The goofy humor puts you off. It’s never been a top shelf MMO that’s been taken seriously by serious gamers.
Why it’s worth a look: MJ will beat you to death with a herring if you don’t. Collecting and swapping classes is a terrific way to stay engaged. Both the mobile and PC versions work great with minimal specs. Its community is rabidly devoted to it.