A More Detailed Look At The Only Anime MMORPGs Left Worth Playing In 2018 And 2019.
Does anyone remember when Anime MMORPGs used to be a thing? A time when you could ask anyone what some of their favorite MMOs were and every single person would include games like Elsword, Mabinogi, Flyff, Ragnarok Online, Fiesta, and Tales of Pirates?
Thinking about that makes me feel ludicrously old. Disregarding how I feel, I have nontheless been playing MMORPGs since I was a teenager, and I’m 28 now.
So you can imagine how much experience I have accumulated under my metaphorical belt (since I’m sitting here in my underwear as I record this – yes, because I don’t have a real job) in the genre over the years, especially in relation to Anime MMOs.
I was there during the “Golden Age” of MMOs. I watched World of Warcraft grow into a colossal titan, I saw companies like GPotato, Outspark and Aeria Games all rise with Anime titles that shook the very foundation of the genre.
New Anime MMO after Anime MMO released almost yearly, and with each subsequent release the genre continued to fall victim to oversaturation.
The genre – or Anime genre more specifically, became so densely populated with games that the pool of players interested in the genre slowly spread out and filled the various games that continued to release.
But the playerbase soon became strained – there were so many games and a very limited amount of players actively interested in them, forcing the Anime niche to begin its slow descent into what we have today: A dead Anime market with a handful of good titles left.
The “Age of Anime MMORPGs” has long since passed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a market left for Anime MMOs to monopolize. Quite the opposite, actually.
With the state of the Anime market and the lack of releases targeted towards this audience in specific, players are left desparately anticipating every Anime release there is.
Closers when it was announced. Soul Worker when it came over. MapleStory 2 when it launched recently (to quite ridiculous numbers, as well.) Peria Chronicles when people first learned of it. Kurtzpel when its trailer was first released.
The list goes on. Every new announcement of an Anime MMO tantalizes the hungry playerbase. We’re repeatedly taunted by promises of a game that can satiate our appetite for the perfect game but ultimately let down.
So, with this article my hope is to address the topic: What Anime MMORPGs are still worth playing in 2018, and what Anime MMORPGs are going to be worth playing going into 2019?
Links to all games will be available in the description and pinned comment for any fans interested in playing through the games listed.
Also, note that mobile MMOs will not be included in this list.
Burning Soul Worker
I’m starting this off with a favorite of mine.
I’ve recently begun playing Burning Soul Worker after being recommended it over its Gameforge published alternative, Soul Worker Online.
Soul Worker is a free to play Action MMO developed by Lion Game Studios right out of South Korea.
The game was released originally in Japan in April, 2016, with the Korean localization of the game being published in January, 2017.
The English version came out officially in February 2018, but not before being readily available first as “Burning Soul Worker” to the vast majority of players.
Soul Worker is a hub-based action MMO, having players occupy towns, “hubs”, in essence, where you can interact with other players in the same area, group up with players, trade, and tackle the varied instances together.
While not a traditional Anime MMORPG in the sense of the term, players are able to concurrently play in various areas with hundreds of other players, the game has a functional progression system featuring gear, levels, upgrades, skills and more.
So even though the game isn’t as large or open as Anime-titles released a decade ago, it is no less an Anime MMO than any other title around today.
Presently, the game has 6 playable characters, each with their own unique skillsets and fighting styles.
Haru, the adorable Greatsword wielder and my personal favorite.
Erwin, the young dual-wielding gunslinger.
Lily, the Yandere “psycho-girlfriend-from-hell” scythe wielder.
Stella, everyone’s favorite little guitar-wielding rockstar.
Jin, a guy that likes to punch people.
And finally, Iris, whom I play; a phallus-shaped cannon wielding bitch with family issues.
Each character has their own backstory that you learn at the beginning of the game and their own little.. spiritual compadre that accompanies them – at least as far as I’ve gotten.
I’ve played through Soul Worker, and Burning Soul Worker quite extensively. You can take a look through the channel for proof of that, and it’s been some of the most fun I’ve had in an Anime title in years.
The combat isn’t negatively impacted by lag, the outfits and graphical style are adorable, and, at least regarding Burning Soul Worker, the cash shop isn’t restrictive of players that don’t spend money.
What I mean by that.. is that it isn’t pay to win, unlike the hot mess that is Gameforge’s version of the game.
Yes, the game is somewhat limited in what you can actually do: You run instance after instance, completing quests obtained from the hub you were in and progressing like you would during the endgame of any normal MMO.
So what sets it apart? Its still active population, its fast action combat, its graphical style that looks better than most Anime MMO out there right now, its story, and the fact that it’s still actively updated, so additional content can be expected.
Next we have the recently released MapleStory 2.
MapleStory 2 is a free to play MMORPG developed by NSquare in association with Nexon. The game was originally released back in July 2015 in South Korea and launched globally just last week on October 10th.
As MapleStory 2 just released recently I don’t have as much experience in it or its world as I do other MMOs but I can tell you what I’ve experienced thus far.
The game, while numbered like a sequel, is actually a prequel to MapleStory – the game MapleStory 2 is spun off of. It features a large open world – similar to something like Blade and Soul that has areas instanced off from one another, and shares various zones and NPCs with its predecessor.
MapleStory 2 has – at least as of its launch in the West, 9 distinct classes.
Archer, which is pretty much the same in every game: “Pew, pew, I shoot arrows against people with giant cannons and control over the forces of flame, shadow, life, death and.. well, shit.” Uses Dexterity and focuses on high Crit damage and attack speed.
Assassin, a shadow magic wielding knife throwing agile little squishy ninja that utilizes Luck and Crit damage to wreck enemies.
Berserker, a greatsword wielding brute that makes use of their high HP and physical damage to destroy mass hordes of enemies.
Heavy Gunner, not to be confused with Light Gunner (that’s a touchy subject for them,) is a cannon-wielding glass cannon that utilizes Agility to inflict a large amount of damage to enemies.
Knight, your traditional sword and shield tank ‘n spank class that utilizes Strength for damage and Defense for tanking.
Priest, your local healer that you can’t go anywhere without lest you end up face-down in the dirt. Wielding her grimoire and scepter, your trusty life-giver heals your team with a focus on Intelligence.
Runeblade, the two-handed sword wielding non-Berserker is the Berserker.. if the Berserker used some magic, too. Focuses not only on Strength, but also on Intelligence.
Thief, a dagger wielding brigand that utilizes high speed and poisons to really mess their enemies up. Like the Assassin, focuses on Luck and movement speed.
Finally, the Wizard, a staff wielding mage that has control over fire, ice and lightning and is an indespensible part of the team due to their ability to not only regulate your room temperature, but also to start that campfire when you’re hungry in the morning and want some fried eggs out in the wilderness and you’re too lazy to get firewood or flint or really put in any time or effort and just want someone to shoot a fucking fireball at an egg.
Whew. That dragged on longer than I wanted it to.
Each class has their own unique storyline to follow through, similarly to the original MapleStory game. As a brief example, when I went with Wizard, I attended a prestigious magical academy that had a very old, powerful headmaster called Professor Gandalf Dumbledore.
The combat is very action focused although probably not as flashy as its predecessor was. Skill effects are still very pleasing to behold, but there was just something about using skills that flung you all over the screen that left a lasting impression on me.
It is by far the most densely populated Anime MMORPG right now, having over 40,000 concurrent players on Steam at any given time, and tens of thousands of players through Nexon’s own launcher.
Exactly how many players are playing is impossible to estimate, but Nexon did reveal that they had over 1 million active players.
So far the game has yet to go the way of traditional Nexon games, A.K.A, pay to win, so that’s promising but not ultimately indicative of whether or not it will remain as such.
So, what sets it apart? Its holy trinity of Tank/Healer/DPS, dense population, relation to the original MapleStory, detailed storyline, entertaining combat, and a slew of updates, classes, zones and more to be expected over the years to come.
Next up we have Void Elsword.
I’ve done 4 or 5 videos on the official Elsword game over the last 18 months and have been told repeatedly to try out Void Elsword as many fans claim it is a much fairer, less pay to win, more active version of the game.
Elsword itself is a free to play 2.5D action MMORPG developed by KOG Studios. Elsword released initially in South Korea in December 2007, North America in March 2011 and Europe in July 2013.
Like Soul Worker listed above, Elsword isn’t your traditional MMO. It isn’t a hub-based MMO like Soul Worker, Kritika, Dungeon Fighter or Vindictus, instead, utilizing open-area zones like MapleStory and combining it with a plethora of dungeons to combat.
It plays more like a side-scrolling beat ’em up fighter MMORPG, essentially.
Elsword has 12 unique “characters” that function as classes with personalities.
Add, the lightning fast mage ridden with insanity.
Ain, a vessel designed by the Goddess Ishmael herself to force women’s panties to literally just up and walk right out the room whenever he enters. Oh, uses creation and cycle magic and hits people with a pendulum.
Aisha, your basic loli staff wielding mage.
Chung, this game’s cannon-wielding gender confused little boy.
Elesis, Elsword’s older sister. Uses fire magic and a claymore. Doesn’t seem to have nearly as much backstory as other characters so we’ll just name her “generic nee-san.”
Elsword, the kid the game is tentatively named after utilizes a greatsword.. while weighing all of 40lbs.
Eve, “The Little Queen of Nasods”, is a.. robot. A very attractive female robot. She has many uses, I just can’t name them here. She uses.. drones? I think. Little robots that assist her in combat. Not humanoid robots like her though.
Lu/Ciel, the weird tag-team duo of adorable little loli and creepy older onii-chan. Lu, the loli, uses magic gauntlets, while her creepy brother uses dual gun blades. I’m not even gonna joke about these two, there’s enough fanfic surrounding them as-is.
Raven, whoa, that hair though, holy shit. He’s like.. an angry, Super Saiyan Edward Elric, in so that he utilizes a metal arm and a sword.
Rena, the Archer.
Rose, the blonde bombshell, is our gun expert. She uses revolvers, muskets, auto-guns, hand cannons..
And holy shit, finally made it through that. Didn’t think I’d manage to to be honest.
Like MapleStory 2, each “hero”, or “class” has their own backstory, although these characters actually have personalities and speak, giving actual personality and character to the hero you’re playing.
Each hero is capable of progressing into various other classes as you continue to level up, leaving players with.. too many combinations, honestly, for a casual player like myself to really comprehend.
As I pointed out, the game is akin to a beat ’em up fighter, utilizing action combat similar to the original MapleStory if you ever played it.
Void Elsword, the game I’m talking about specifically here, is further along than the official English Elsword game, receives faster updates, and actually has a larger playerbase due to how poorly the official game is handled.
So, what sets it apart? Its vast, detailed class system, character personality and engagement in story, non hub-based world, very flashy combat and large population.
Next, we have Mabinogi.
Mabinogi is a free to play social MMORPG, probably the only social Anime MMORPG in existance, but by no means a social game like Second Life.
Mabinogi was developed by South Korean company devCAT and published by Nexon.
The game was released in South Korea in June 2004, Japan in April 2005, China in November 2005, North America in March 2008, Australia in June 2008, and Europe in May 2010.
Mabinogi, interestingly, features unique hand-painted textures stylized with something called “edge detection outlining”. It is the only MMORPG I’ve seen utilizing this graphical style and would love to see an updated engine make use of it.
There is no effective “class” system in Mabinogi. There are “Talents”, which focus similarly to classes but you aren’t locked into them.
Talents instead determine what skills your character excels at, providing stat boosts and increased experience for the skills that Talent encompasses.
Talents can be reset through the “Rebirth” system, that allows players to reset their level back to level 1 while keeping all of the skills you learned, talent ranks and AP earned, making you stronger every time you Rebirth.
The Talents in question are Puppetry, Close Combat, Archery, Magic, Battle Alchemy, Martial Arts, Music, Lance Combat, Holy Arts, Transmutation, Smithing, Mercantile, Cooking, Tailoring, Medicine, Carpentry, and Adventure.
While many talents seem self explanatory, several are not. Regardless, Mabinogi allows players to play the game how they want to. Whether that be by running dungeons, leveling up, grinding monsters, gear, crafting or just adventuring.
The combat system is tab-target, but instead of traditional tab-target that has you cycle through a list of skills, Mabinogi has you focus on a countering mechanic that makes combat arguably more tactical in nature than in most MMO.
It’s actually difficult to explain, but makes combat require close attention to what the enemies are actually doing.
The world itself is especially large, having players make use of mounts, ships and more to navigate the open world.
I’ve only had the pleasure of exploring a fraction of what Mabinogi has to offer but it is one of the most unique MMORPG – and by far the most unique Anime MMORPG out there at this time.
So, what sets it apart? Everything.
Next in this list we have Closers, or in this case, Code Closers since I prefer Code Closers to the official Closers game.
Closers is developed by Naddic Games and published by Nexon and En Masse Entertainment. The game was released in South Korea in December 2014, Japan in August 2015, and North America in November 2017.
Now, I’ve done quite a few Code Closers videos on the channel. It is probably the most heavily covered Anime MMO on the channel, period, as I enjoyed it that thoroughly.
Just like Elsword, Closers is a side-scrolling action beat ’em up MMO, but unlike Elsword, Closers functions like Soul Worker, making primary use of a “hub” that you take and complete quests in, then proceed to leave to participate in various dungeons to progress.
There are various “classes” or “heroes” in the game, occupying three different factions: The Black Lambs, Wolf Dogs and Wild Hunters. Now, I apologize in advance for butchering these characters names, but here we go.
The Black Lambs are comprised of:
Seha, your traditional sword-wielding shonen lead.
Seulbi, a telekinetic that hits people with daggers.. ’cause she thinks that’d be smarter or more useful than picking 100 enemies up and ripping them all in half.
Yuri, a sub-genre of Anime that I love watching when my wife is at work.
J, who hits people.
And Misteltein, a powerful gender-bending little shouta knight that makes you question your sexuality at times. Or.. people that’re interested in lolis, anyway. Never been my thing, honestly. I like my girls.. wait, when did this become about me?
The Wolf Dogs are comprised of:
Nata, the foul-mouthed, quick-tempered knife user.
Levia, the witch of the group, and also the kinda girl I’m into. She’s apparently very good at following orders, and super shy.
Harpy, the babe of the group that uses Bionic legs to wrap around people and choke them.
Tina, yet another robot that uses various military weapons and can generate Phase Force.
And Violet, the greatsword wielding Valkyrie.
Finally, the Wild Hunters are comprised of:
Wolfgang, the.. librarian. Yes, librarian. He’s a librarian.
Luna, the Aegis wielding preteen ball of death. She likes Origami.
The official Closers version only has up until Wolfgang, whereas Code Closers has up until Luna. The Korean version of Closers has two more Wild Hunters, though:
Soma, who utilizes Tonfas and enjoys playing with dolls.
And finally, Bai, the Mystic that utilizes the Blade of Ice that has the power of Dimensionals imbued within it.
Again, these characters all have a backstory attached to them however Closers probably has the least-developed arc for characters.
Where Soul Worker and Elsword both give you a lot of character focus, Closers is much less focused on the characters, and much more focused on the combat.
Which is where Closers really excels, honestly. The combat in Closers is one of the fastest Anime MMOs I’ve played, and there is a very large emphasis on being able to successfully and effectively play your character.
The world, as I mentioned, is completely closed off. There is a central “hub” that you remain in until you complete the story associated with that zone, then you move on to the next “hub”. Rinse and repeat.
So, what sets it apart? One of the best combat systems in an Anime MMO, a large, diverse selection of characters with unique fighting styles, fun housing system, and active updates.
Eden Eternal Vendetta
Next, we have Eden Eternal Vendetta. Not Aeria Games’ Eden Eternal.. I would never recommend an Aeria Games game to anyone. So Twin Saga and Aura Kingdom are out as there are no good alternatives for them.
But Eden Eternal Vendetta.. is an actively updated free to play open world Anime MMORPG that is a significant improvement to Aeria Games’ Western port of the game.
Eden Eternal, developed by X-Legend and published by Aeria Games released in China in November 2010, Japan in Jaunary 2011, and both North America and Europe in June 2011.
Eden Eternal is the first traditional Anime MMORPG we’ve listed so far – it has a normal class system, normal leveling system, normal world-exploration system and normal story-telling and progression system.
There are a plethora of classes to choose from: Thief, Martial Artist, Blade Dancer and Samurai comprising the melee spectrum, Hunter, Engineer, Ranger and Inquisitor comprising the ranged spectrum, Magician, Illusionist, Warlock, and Luminary comprising the magic spectrum, Warrior, Knight, Templar and Dragon Knight comprising the defense spectrum, Cleric, Bard, Shaman and Sage comprising the support spectrum, and Mimic.. which is just.. nothing.
Eden Eternal has a unique leveling system, reminiscent of Final Fantasy XIV with a few key differences. Players can level up both their characters levels and their class levels as well.
Gaining character levels unlocks additional branch skills – techniques that are usable among all classes that fall under the same category as the class you’re leveling.
Like Final Fantasy XIV, Eden Eternal has additional classes locked behind individual class-requirements, such as a Templar requiring a character level of 60, Knight class level of 45, and Cleric class level of 45.
This provides players an incentive to keep playing and keep leveling additional classes – so they are not only capable of unlocking everything they want, but are capable of filling every role necessary for their party or guild.
Combat is tab-target yet very fast and very sleek. When I first played the game I made note of how good the special effects looked and still believe they’re even better looking than in more recent X-Legend MMOs.
One thing I’d like to note about Eden Eternal Vendetta, is that they took models, mounts, outfits and more out of other Aeria Games’ games like Aura Kingdom and Twin Saga and implemented them into Eden Eternal, providing a larger selection of player outfits, pets, mounts and other cosmetics you wouldn’t normally find in-game.
So, what sets it apart? Its sleek graphical style, unique use of a detailed class system, and the fact that it’s one of Aeria Games’ only good games.
Ragnarok Online is probably the OG Anime MMORPG. Everyone either knows of or has played Ragnarok Online at one point in time, right?
Ragnarok Online is an open world free to play MMORPG that was released back in South Korea in August 2002, North America in June 2003, Europe in April 2004, and Australia in December 2004.
I never played Ragnarok when it was a pay to play MMORPG so I’m unable to specifically comment on it then, but I did have the opportunity to jump into it a few times over the later years, after it went free to play.
“Jobs” are by far the most important aspect of Ragnarok Online. Originally, the job system consisted of 13 classes, but over the course of its life, has expanded to over 50.
Each class specializes in certain skills that correspond to traditional archetypes in RPGs, and characters are capable of leveling both their “player level” and “job level”.
There are three stages of progression for classes, and far, far too many for me to attempt to read out verbally, let alone try and come up with something witty to remark with.
Suffice it to say, there are your traditional melee trees, magic trees, archer trees, thief and assassin trees, healer trees, and crafting trees.
Regarding the three stages of progression, let’s say you begin as a Mage. Mages can either become a Wizard of a Sage upon hitting the level requirement to advance your class.
Upon obtaining a player level of 99 and a job level of 50, players become able to “rebirth” their character, essentially functioning the same way as it does in Mabinogi, resetting your player level and job level back down to level 1.
Reborn characters gain access to a new class upon hitting the requirement once again, in this example, a High Wizard and a Scholar instead of Wizard and Sage, and these transcended job types have a larger selection of skills and stat points to allocate.
Their third advancement, in this case the choice being between a Warlock and Sorcerer provides additional skills and allows players to break through the traditional level cap that of 99.
As you can tell.. there’s a lot to the class system in Ragnarok Online and it’s a lot to comprehend.
Ragnarok Online is the only “point-and-click” MMORPG in this list, allowing players to move through mouse-clicks. Combat is fairly simple tab-target as well, making heavy use of clicking in general.
The world is also very expansive, having new content added all the way back since 2002. It’s just a little difficult navigating with the somewhat frustrating-at-times camera angle and point-and-click controls.
So, what sets it apart? It’s Ragnarok Fucking Online.. what more is there to say?
Finally, we have Nostale Vendetta.. an Anime MMORPG I just tried out. NosTale Vendetta is actually different from the official NosTale game that is very, very dead at this point in time.
I’ve tried out both the official NosTale and NosTale Vendetta, and done honest first impressions of both. I find Vendetta to be much more active which is paramount to having a successful, thriving community.
Now, NosTale was developed by Entwell and published by Gameforge. The game was released in South Korea in 2007, The UK in August 2007, and then Globally in March 2008.
NosTale is a free-to-play fantasy MMORPG that features point-and-click tab-target combat, branching classes, and a lot of content for players.
NosTale has 5 total base classes; the Adventurer, Sorcerer, Archer, Swordsman and Martial Artist.
Every player begins the game as an Adventurer, but upon reaching a combat level of 15 and a job level of 20, players are given the option to change class to either a Magician, Archer or Swordsman.
After obtaining a combat level of 80, players gain access to the unique Martial Artist class that is created at a combat level of 81 and a job level of 1.
After choosing your class, players continue to unlock additional classes as they level through the game, further advancing through use of specialist cards.
Archer unlocks the Ranger, Assassin, Destroyer, Wild Keeper, Fire Cannoneer, Scout, Demon Hunter and Avenging Angel.
Swordsman unlocks the Warrior, Ninja, Crusader, Berserker, Gladiator, Battle Monk, Death Reaper, and Renegade.
Mage unlocks the Red Magician, Holy Mage, Blue Magician, Dark Gunner, Volcano, Tide Lord, Seer, and Archemage.
The Martial Artist unlocks the Draconic Fist.
NosTale is similar to Elsword. You participate in a large amount of dungeon-related content but at the same time there are large open zones you’re capable of leaving the town to explore.
I didn’t make it much past level 30, but from what I could tell the game has a lot to explore and a very, very active community, housing thousands of players online concurrently.. on the Vendetta version of the game. NosTale Vendetta.
The Steam version of NosTale has a mere 300 people playing concurrently.
So, what sets it apart? Its storytelling, unique use of classes, world, community and levels of activity.
Now, that is pretty much every Anime MMO I can honestly say is worth playing in 2018. It is very likely to be the exact same list in a month and a half from now in 2019 as well, lest some huge update hit one of the games and bury them.
As you can tell, to me, Anime MMOs – or what make Anime MMOs worth playing are what they offer the player.
Sure, it’s all well and good to begin the game as a Warrior.. and remain a Warrior for the entire game, but games like that faded into distant memory. Games that survived were the ones that attempted to innovate.
Or, at the very least were newer titles since players were so starved for an Anime-themed game they took what they could get.
Regardless, Burning Soul Worker, MapleStory 2, Void Elsword, Mabinogi, Code Closers, Eden Eternal Vendetta, Ragnarok Online and NosTale Vendetta are probably the only Anime MMORPGs I’d recommend should anyone ever ask me what my opinion is on the genre.
Which admittedly I do get asked to this day, every week.
Hopefully this helps redirect interested fans to the game they’re searching for.
The Anime niche might be in a state of disrepair right now but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy playing the games that stand out. That doesn’t mean something can’t release that reinvigorates the Anime niche.
Until then.. let’s enjoy playing these games together.