THE 10 MOST PLAYED MMORPGS IN 2021 - The Best MMOs to Start RIGHT NOW in 2021!
Have you ever found an MMO that just looks so freakin’ good, so you download it, boot it up and see that nobody is playing it? Yeah, we all have.
Finding MMOs that people actually play can be very difficult, and honestly, that’s what we’re here today to remedy. Today, we’re going to cover the 10 most populated MMORPGs as of July 2021. 10 MMOs that you can log in and play right now and have no issue finding people to play with.
These are in no way “the best MMOs” to everyone – so don’t misconstrue the purpose of this video.
Now let’s talk games.
Phantasy Star Online 2
At #10 is Phantasy Star Online 2. This is a hub-based action combat Anime MMO.
It’s also the only MMO of its type in this list as unlike most MMOs that offer a large open world to explore, PSO2 utilizes a central-hub, having players spend the bulk of their time aboard their space station taking and completing missions, upgrading gear, participating in mini games.
This is a game that provides players quite an interesting way of tackling combat. Instead of equipping and utilizing a single weapon, in PSO2 you get 3 weapon slots and have the ability to alternate between which you’re actively using at any given time.
This provides a lot of customization and freedom to play how you want, and is honestly something I feel a lot of other MMOs should take note of.
Again, this is an Anime MMO and I’m aware they don’t appeal to everyone aesthetically, so do take note of that.
PSO2 averages tens of thousands of active players per month.
At #9 is Lost Ark. This game is arguably the most anticipated MMO of 2021. It’s been the most anticipated MMO of the last several years, and there’s no denying why that is.
Lost Ark, much like PSO2, is the only type of MMO like this included. It isn’t a hub-MMO like PSO2, but, rather, is a top-down isometric MMO. You play from a completely different perspective than what players are used to, something akin to Diablo or Path of Exile, and that helps set the game apart.
And while the game provides players quite a large selection of different classes to choose between, each with different paths they can proceed down for additional customization, it’s in its combat that Lost Ark really shines.
This game has some of the most fluid combat animations I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing – add onto that its stunning graphics, its world – both on land on sea. Lost Ark offers more of the world to explore than almost any other MMO out there.
When this launches in a couple months, this is going to absolutely dominate the free MMO market.
Lost Ark has hundreds of thousands of active players monthly in South Korea, and had tens of thousands of players playing at any given minute during its latest Western test phase.
Guild Wars 2
At #8 is Guild Wars 2. Yes, this used to be in the top 5, but with its content drought it’s to be expected.
But just because it’s at #8 doesn’t mean there aren’t still quite a number of players playing it. Quite the contrary. Guild Wars 2 has well over 100,000 players still logging in and playing the game every month, which is quite a substantial sum of loyal players given the last expansion for the game was released back in 2017.
Guild Wars 2 is a fully-fleshed out, narrative driven hybrid action combat MMORPG with a very large focus on exploration. It also has some of the most unique leveling I’ve ever experienced, with players taking advantage of dynamic quests, a plethora of exploration options and more variety than we’re typically given to level with.
You’re given the option of toggling between 2 different types of weapons, with each weapon altering some of your active abilities. Meaning a 1handed sword and shield will provide different abilities to a 1handed sword and mace, or a mace and shield. This provides a lot of customization over your character – something many MMOs don’t concern themselves with.
PSO2 New Genesis
At #7 we have PSO2 New Genesis. And I know what you’re thinking! “Wait, isn’t that the same thing as PSO2?” And, no, no it definitely isn’t. While they’re definitely connected, they are in no way the same game.
Where PSO2 is a hub-based mission MMO, having you move between your hub and instanced missions, New Genesis provides you a much larger open world – segregated of course – but still large, open, and filled with plenty of players to both see out in each zone, party with and play with.
It also has what is arguably the best action combat in an Anime MMO. My abilities are absolutely stunning, and the world itself is probably the best looking Anime-inspired world I’ve ever seen. No joke, if PSO2 New Genesis has anything at all going for it, it’s how gorgeous it is.
The one issue I’ve come across is that right now it’s still fairly void of substance, with players repetitiously grinding the same – highly limited selection of content for the next few months. By the end of the year, New Genesis should have quite a bit to do, but right now players are feeling the burnout.
PSO2 New Genesis has tens of thousands of active players logged in at any given moment, and well over 150,000 players playing over the course of the last month. Although this might change in the future, as the game is still very new, having launched in the last 2 months.
At #6 is RuneScape. And I know, I know. “But Stix, RuneScape has so many bots, it shouldn’t be nearly as high in this list as it is.” And, you’re right, it does have a lot of bots. Nobody is here to argue that. But the fact of the matter is… it still dwarfs every other MMO listed prior to it.
Although I am including both RuneScape and Old School RuneScape for those of you wondering, as I always do. And I’d like to note that Old School RuneScape has quite a few more players than its less popular cousin.
RuneScape is a tab-target MMO released so long ago I don’t believe I was even out of school at the time. Yet it has retained immense popularity over decades of remaining online.
It’s absolutely enormous, both in terms of the world and the content you’ll find within it. Yes, if you’ve never played the game before you’re probably going to assume it looks fairly subpar, but you know what? That’s part of its charm.
This game has so many varied types of content to participate in that playing anything else almost feels like you’re playing a cheap knockoff.
As of this very moment, there are 102,000 players actively logged in, with RuneScape averaging well over 300,000 active players every month.
The Elder Scrolls Online
At #5 is The Elder Scrolls Online. Earlier this year ESO was interestingly in 3rd place, but has dropped down 2 spots due to the absence of.. interest, I guess, for lack of a better word.
The Elder Scrolls Online is a large, open-world action MMORPG. This game easily has some of the most diverse, open class systems I’ve ever experienced. While other games in this list provide you the option of swapping between a few different weapons, ESO goes above and beyond.
You can be a mage running around in heavy armor using 2 1handed daggers to stab people. Yup, and while you wouldn’t really see many people playing that way as it would no doubt put you at a disadvantage, it’s freedom like that that really allows The Elder Scrolls Online to stand out.
Graphically, the game looks really good. The combat is a topic of contention though as there is a lot of very differing opinions pertaining to whether it’s good or bad, but suffice it to say, the game overall makes up for any aspects that are otherwise less than stellar. Including the fantastic narrative.
The Elder Scrolls Online is averaging approximately 300,000-400,000 players every month.
Black Desert Online
At #4 is Black Desert Online. Typically Black Desert Online has always been in the “top 10 most populated MMOs” but it’s never broken the top 5. Until now, that is, as it was confirmed that the MMO has seen a large spike of over 300% in terms of players.
While it’s impossible to get an accurate number from that reveal, it’s worth noting that Pearl Abyss claimed last year that they had upwards of 150,000 active players. Earlier this year they claimed they had seen a “200% increase in active players,” after Pearl Abyss acquired publishing rights back for the game.
If the game lost tens of thousands of active players, then doubled, we’re looking at roughly 200,000 active players earlier this year. And if we lost more of those over the course of 2021, the “300% increase” likely brings us to anywhere between 400,000-500,000 active players per month right now.
This is largely in part due to the fact that they just released the brand new Corsair class and have revealed they’re working on introducing PvE content like dungeons and raids into the game, bringing player excitement for the game to an all new level.
Now Black Desert Online is arguably one of, if not the crowned king of the action combat genre. It is generally considered to have set the standard for action combat, and is probably one of the best looking MMOs on the market – and has been ever since it released years ago.
At #3 is something I bet you never anticipated ever seeing: Albion Online. This is a sandbox MMORPG that took a lot of inspiration from RuneScape, especially with how much emphasis is put on crafting.
As this is a sandbox MMO, you can bet there’s a metric ton of freedom to play how you want. I’ve honestly never dedicated much time to the game as I’d always thought it was going to dry up and players were going to move on relatively quickly, but this is one of the rare instances where I was happy to be proven wrong.
The game utilizes a point-and-click combat style, meaning there’s no way of cycling through enemies with the tab-key and no way of attacking enemies freely with an action system. Honestly, this is the only game in this entire list that utilizes this combat system, making it a rarity.
The game is quite minimalistic, aesthetically. There really isn’t much to set it apart from its competition graphically, but some of the best games are the most basic looking ones, right? Good graphics don’t make a good game. South Korea is proof of that.
As of June 2021, the team behind Albion Online set concurrency records, with over 270,000 players being logged in at any given time, bringing the game up to a total of over 600,000 active players this last month. This was of course largely in part due to the release of Albion Online on mobile devices, so that might lower over time.
World of Warcraft
At #2 is an MMO I know you weren’t expecting: World of Warcraft. This has held the title of “the most played MMORPG” for.. well over a decade. It has been the king of the MMORPG genre ever since it released so many years ago.
But it recently lost its crown, which honestly people saw coming. WoW’s population has been in a state of decline ever since Warlords of Draenor showed players how disconnected ActiBlizz are from their community.
Yes, WoW has what is arguably one of the most fluid tab-target combat systems currently in place, a narrative that spawns more expansions than almost any other MMO and a world larger than almost any other game to date, but they’re very out of touch with what their players want.
WoW will always be one of my favorite MMOs. It’s a game I’ve had an active subscription to since Wrath of the Lich King. It’s a game I always find myself coming back to.
But seeing WoW Classic pulling in approximately 200,000 active players, and the live WoW service struggling to pull in over a million active players per month is a depressing state.
Final Fantasy XIV
Now I know what you WoW fans are thinking. “There’s no way that Final Fantasy XIV is more popular than World of Warcraft!” But, as of the last 3 months I’d argue that it most definitely is.
Final Fantasy XIV is one of the only MMORPGs capable of retaining a pay-to-play business model. It is a stunning tab-target MMO that offers players the best narrative in an MMO. Yes, you’ll hear that the base game is a chore to get through, but like any JRPG, they always are.
This game is absolutely enormous, the zones you move through when following the story are probably larger than they have any need to be. The dungeons, the raids. Everything about this game is stunning.
The fact that you can play every single class on a single character by swapping weapons and soul crystal at any moment provides you so much freedom to play whatever you want, whenever you want to.
But most importantly, there has been a mass exodus of WoW players in part due to a portion of the largest streamers moving from WoW to Final Fantasy XIV that has drastically altered the playerbase.
We’ve seen player numbers hit all-time highs – higher than they were during Shadowbringers’ launch, which were confirmed to have over 1.2 million active players.
With this knowledge, and the knowledge that players can now play the free trial all the way up to the end of Heavensward, you can bet there are well over 1.2 million active monthly players.
And that’s it. They are the 10 most played MMORPGs currently in 2021, in order of least played to most played. Again, just because they are the most played doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the best. Just that more people play them for whatever reason.
This will likely change again towards the end of 2021, where we’ll recap and see where the population is shifting with the release of New World, Elyon, Swords of Legends which actually just launched yesterday, New Genesis’ content updates, Tower of Fantasy, Lost Ark and more. I’ll see you guys then.