Perfect Ten: My top 10 favorite MMOs across two decades


Normally in these Perfect Ten lists, I’m very outward-facing. I like to create lists that are as helpful or amusing as possible for others looking for certain MMOs. But today I’m going to be as selfishly indulgent as possible and share my top favorite titles in this genre over the two-plus decades of playing. Maybe you’ll find it helpful and amusing – maybe not!

I will say that this list was fiendishly hard to pare down to “only” 10 MMOs. I guess that’s a testimony to how many great games I’ve experienced over the years, but it also means that I had to knock off some strong contenders like City of Heroes, Fallen Earth, and FFXIV. So what made the cut? Read on!

World of Warcraft

I don’t care how much this is a boring or expected pick; it’s simply the truth. For all its ups and downs and behind-the-scenes drama, World of Warcraft has been one of the most formative, engaging, and memorable MMORPGs I’ve played since its launch in 2004. I still remember characters I had years ago, including the little Gnome Warlock who gave me my internet nickname of Syp, and many great friends I’ve made along the way. I’m cautiously optimistic about The War Within this year and am hoping that we’re entering into a better era for the game as a whole.

Lord of the Rings Online

But if I have to identify an MMO home, it’s LOTRO, hands-down, no doubt about it. I’ve adored every step I’ve taken in this game in the past 17 years and have felt incredibly privileged to be able to write about it professionally for most of that span. No other MMO feels like a true “world” the way this virtual Middle-earth does to me, and I’ve not yet grown bored of leveling new characters through this enormous adventure.

Dungeons and Dragons Online

Maybe I’m an old school Turbine fanboy at heart because I have to include DDO on this list as well. This is such an odd, quirky, and sometimes obtuse MMO that nevertheless wormed its way into my heart for its experimental weirdness. I love its approach to instanced adventures with a GM narration, puzzles, environmental hazards, and sometimes hilarious writing. This MMO became a wide canvas to tell D&D stories in many settings, and I’ve long since thought that it’s the most underrated game in this space.

The Secret World

I’ll move from “underrated” to “once-in-a-lifetime cult creation” with The Secret World. I’m sure my love of Funcom fed into this game, but I like to think that TSW won me over with its modern day conspiracy mash-up, highly innovative investigation quest design, enthralling storytelling, characters I fell in love with, and huge story arcs that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Plus, no other MMO has actually freaked me out the way this game managed to do (on more than one occasion, I might add).

Find the path.


Oh RIFT, if any MMO deserved a much better fate, I feel that it’s you. Or the next title on this list. But I’ll go down swinging for you because you deserve it. I adored almost everything about your highly accessible MMO world. It was like you took almost all the best ideas from every MMO to date, refined them, and put them there for our enjoyment. From multiclassing souls to amazing housing to genuinely fun open world events to free server hopping, my praise for you endures in this dark age of your continued existence.


At this point, the “weepy ex-WildStar gamer” is practically a cliché to itself, but that’s not going to stop me from identifying as one of their number. While not a perfect game in design and execution, WildStar ended up being this flawed gem of an MMO that hooked me in deep. I adored the classes, the art style, the storytelling, the world, the music (oh the music!), the housing (oh the housing!), the quirky alien races, and its sense of humor. We as an industry are much poorer for NCsoft abandoning this MMO.

This wasn't really what you cared about anyway, right? Right.

Guild Wars 2

I debated putting this on the list or not, as my feelings toward Guild Wars 2 are quite cool these days, but it would be a glaring omission if my past involvement was brought to bear. For a good stretch there, I was really big into ArenaNet’s game world and found it incredibly accessible with a terrific cosmetics system. However, the spammy combat system and lackluster storyline ended up nudging me away. I do visit every so often, though, and hope that something might rekindle that lost passion.

Homeward bound.

Elder Scrolls Online

I still consider myself a latecomer to ESO even though I’ve been playing off and on since Morrowind dropped, which has been many years now. Combat and character progression aside, this is a fantastic MMO that sucked me into its stories and general gameplay loop. I’ve been rocking a Warden as my main ever since it became available and have no plans to change. The bear is life, yo.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

There are few MMOs that I anticipated as much as SWTOR, and to be honest, it delivered on a lot of the promised hype for me. It’s a good classic MMO combat system married to a Star Wars IP, a morality slider, and a vast sea of voice acting and cutscenes. Those first few years in a galaxy far, far away were among my happiest playing MMOs, and to this day I still enjoy stints back in this game progressing my launch day character deeper into her journey.

She has ideas.

Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online may not be the first MMO that most people think of when the term “underrated” is mentioned, but that just goes to show how underrated it really is. As a Star Trek fan of varying degrees, I appreciate having the opportunity to play in this universe (Teen Justin would’ve flipped his lid to do this). The stories are really great, the ship combat visually and strategically stunning, and the balancing act that Cryptic pulls off to tie together all of the Star Trek properties is quite impressive. I’ve played through this, start to finish, several times and looked forward to my next trip after each run.

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 or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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