The Best MMOs to Play With Friends in 2022
An integral part of playing an MMO is being presented with content that requires more than a single person to complete. Random strangers out in the wilderness on the same quest as you – or friends. Perhaps friends you began the game with, perhaps friends you made on the journey through the game.
Playing cooperatively with other people – whether for something as simple as a quest, for PvP, Dungeons or Raids – is a core facet of what makes the genre.. “massively multiplayer.” Recently, I’ve noticed a number of MMOs have been pushing solo play as an alternate means of progression, eliminating the necessity for group content.
And while solo play has its place in the genre, I don’t believe we should be losing sight of the multiplayer component that this genre has become so dependent on.
That’s what I want to talk about today. The best MMOs to play with friends – MMOs that have a large focus on playing collectively with other people.
Group content is something that no MMO can do without. And playing with friends provides layers of enjoyment and communication that just cannot be replicated elsewhere.
Guild Wars 2
And I don’t think there’s any better way to start this off than one of the most multiplayer friendly MMOs out there: Guild Wars 2.
Guild Wars 2 allows players to craft their own story. To control the way their individual narrative unfolds. Choices that directly affect the lives of – the very foundations of the world.
Typically you’ll find stories in MMOs tend to be.. relatively linear. Everyone is the “hero,” and choices are largely pre-determined. That is not the case with Guild Wars 2. On the contrary, everyone’s story ultimately ends up being original to an extent.
Where this truly excels, is where players are capable of playing through, and interconencting their stories with one another. You’re capable of developing a story with your friends, that you’re all an active part of, that you all have control over.
Technically you can diverge at points if you want, but you’re still capable of participating in one another’s story instances.
The world itself actively encourages cooperative play between players by scaling each zone down – there is a level limit and power limit manually imposed on every zone. You cannot be max level with the most powerful gear in the game, come in, and 1-shot everything.
Instead, you’re de-powered down to a point where world boss encounters are impossible to tackle solo despite your maximum power – where grouping up with other players is more of a benefit, than a detriment.
Everything about Guild Wars 2 rewards you for playing with other people. For forging new bonds. And their community is one of the kindest, most helpful, wholesome communities in all of the MMO scene.
World of Warcraft
I know what you’re thinking. WoW? Really? Yes really. Mrs Stix and I have been playing Shadowlands for the last week and a half to prepare for the launch of Dragonflight next month. And rarely have we had the opportunity to play together as much as we have.
The entire leveling process is significantly faster with friends. If you have a healer and a tank, queues for dungeons are instant. Scenarios are doable in a group. Typically, kill and interact quests are also counted amongst party members within range.
Journeying through Shadowlands, I think we’ve spent maybe 20 minutes in instanced content. Otherwise, every scenario, every quest, ever story element has been doable together.
Engaging in Arena-based PvP all but requires efficient coordination between friends. I’ve done 3v3 with people I don’t know and it ultimately ends up messier – a lot messier than if I play with people I’ve played with before.
Knowing each others strengths and weaknesses, how each other react under certain conditions makes for a much higher ratio of victory.
Raids – whether LFR, Normal, Heroic, Mythic. Mythic+ Dungeons. Heck, even older, previous expansion content is arguably either better with several people, or requires several people. At times one player needs to retain aggro from a boss while the others do mechanics.
Plus let’s be honest – to maximize rewards in the open-world, you’ll want War Mode enabled. Traveling with a couple friends likely means you’ll never get ganked. It’s an added layer of security that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Mrs Stix and I have had infinitely more fun playing together, and even with my sister Wiggy and Wiggy’s boyfriend. I would never play WoW solo. Trust me, I did with Wrath of the Lich King and.. it’s just an entirely different experience. Especially these days.
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online very rarely makes top lists, and I’m honestly not entirely sure why that is. I guess, comparatively, Final Fantasy XIV has a monopoly on the genre, and if you want a good action MMO to play, players will probably opt for something like Black Desert Online.
Neither of which, I want to add, provide a surplus of content to consume with friends. The Elder Scrolls Online, though? Provides opportunities just like Guild Wars 2 does.
ESO is, interestingly enough, built first and foremost as an RPG, much like Final Fantasy XIV. And where Final Fantasy XIV feels like a single-player game with cooperative dungeons and raids, ESO allows players to experience the entire game together.
Very rarely are players forced into solo instances. Questing allows for players to be within each others’ unique instances. To complete their own quests simultaneously with your own.
The last time I played ESO, the game scaled leveling, similarly to how Guild Wars 2 imposes level limitations.
What this means is that if you’re level 10, and your friend is level 20, you’ll both be able to engage in the same content without worrying about one person being overpowered. There is no “overpowered,” as level scaling will continue to scale content to the level of the player.
A lot of content also caters to groups of players. Delves are targeted towards solo play or small groups. Group Delves typically require.. well groups.
Public Dungeons are shared instances. Meaning you can do them with friends. You can do them with complete strangers. You don’t even need to be partied with anyone to participate in one with other people. Group Dungeons are dungeons that require 4 people. And Trials which require 12.
There is so much PvE content that is built around playing with other people – grouped or not, that it’s almost pointless not working together with other people. Especially since you’ll complete content that much faster.
And that’s disregarding the PvP you’ll get to experience while engaging other players in Cyrodiil, which is so much easier and more fun when coordinating attacks with other people.
Star Wars The Old Republic
Much like The Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars The Old Republic very rarely makes any lists. It’s an older game that was largely mishandled by EA, and it never truly recovered.
But that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t excel at multiplayer compatibility. On the contrary, everything in this game is multiplayer compatible. You begin the game by choosing your class and your alignment. Every class has their own campaigns with which to follow, which you can share with other players, or tackle solo.
I don’t recall whether each person’s respective quests progress independently of one another or whether they can be completed as a singular instance. I think the former rather than the latter. Every class campaign allows a full group of players to join you and help you complete it.
The main campaign is completely cooperative as well. Other players are capable of joining you for the story – I don’t believe all of it, like every game there are scenarios where you’re required to go in solo.
But a large portion of the game, including its story can be shared amongst other people. The best part of this is that other players can choose different options than you, allowing you to see the outcome of different responses, ultimately affecting the game and resulting in a world different than your own.
Unfortunately, the only drawback to leveling and playing through quests together is that if you’ve outleveled your friends, you’re typically barred from participating in specific quest content if you’ve completed it in the past. The game does have a level sync feature to keep things fair, though.
Story isn’t the only area that Star Wars The Old Republic excels in with regards to multiplayer content, though. There are 4-person Flashpoints, 8-person operations. These function like dungeons and raids – and work significantly better when you have a coordinated team.
Friends in PvP are all but a requirement, as they always are. I cannot imagine participating in PvP by myself. There’s something.. relaxing, comforting about having other players to rely on, and Star Wars The Old Republic is no exception.
And honestly.. that’s about it. I know I’m probably going to find some people arguing “Why didn’t you include x MMO” – and that’s because I don’t believe it offers the cooperative multiplayer experience that these games do.
As an example: Final Fantasy XIV. Incredible MMO. Arguably one of the best MMOs in the entire genre. But you spend hundreds of hours grinding through solo story and solo content – that is NOT multiplayer friendly.
Black Desert Online. Also a great MMO. Yet you’re forced to grind monsters 24/7 – often by yourself.
Blade & Soul. Every dungeon, every instance while leveling is done pretty much by yourself.
None of these “MMOs” encourage players playing alongside one another. A lot of them aren’t even very multiplayer compatible, with the exception of dungeons and at times raids.
The 4 MMOs listed here allow for so much content to be consumed together that there’s really no other MMOs capable of competing. None that I’d recommend. If you can’t enjoy these games with a friend, with a significant other.. then it might be better to play a game built for multiplayer.