What Is The Best MMORPG In 2018?
So with the new year being upon us, I believe it’s as good a time as any to go through the top MMORPGs out at the moment and list my opinions on why I believe you should be playing them.
There are still quite a few good MMORPGs out there, unique MMORPGs even that are just not played, have gone unnoticed, or slowly died.
That’s a shame, because back in the mid to late 2000s, MMORPGs thrived.
People definitely weren’t nearly as picky as they are these days, and most people have since migrated to games like Overwatch, League, or PubG.
All of which are fine games, mind you. It’s just that the MMORPG genre is being abandoned because we don’t have anything to compete with games like these.
The games left that are holding their own – and attempting to fend off the proverbial MMO grim reaper – are so few in number that should they fall.. so does the genre itself.
So with all of this in mind, where are the majority of the playerbase congregated? And why are they playing them? Let’s take a brief look.
Final Fantasy XIV
With arguably one of the largest populations in an MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV is also the only Japanese MMORPG left standing.
As in, with any semblance of a population left at all.
Final Fantasy XIV offers some of the largest story-driven content I have ever seen in an MMORPG.
Every new update Square Enix pushes out has additional content aimed specifically at the story.
The entire premise of the game revolves around the story and the storytelling – being one of the largest attractions for the game: It’s exemplary storytelling.
It is told in a way that completely captivates you. It pushes along the game – it provides each and every area in the game with background and purpose.
I’m surprised this isn’t a more commonly recurring feature in MMORPGs.
Final Fantasy XIV also offers a PvP system – but unlike most MMORPGs that allow you to wear PvP gear in PvE and vice versa, Final Fantasy XIV has gear specifically for both.
There is also no open world PvP. All PvP in Final Fantasy XIV is completely instanced. Meaning those of you that aren’t fond of PvP – and want a PvE centric experience, can sit back and relax knowing you won’t get ganked.
Final Fantasy XIV also has one of the best class systems in an MMORPG: You can level each and every class on the same character. Removing the need to make new characters every time you want to try a new class out.
What this means is that in essence, you’re given the opportunity to swap between what your party needs to complete the task you’re given.
The game also offers various forms of PvE and leveling content, such as:
Main Scenario Quests: The main story for Final Fantasy XIV that offers a large amount of XP as you continue through it.
Side Quests: Low XP quests done in each zone if you want to learn more about the zone you’re in and the inhabitants of each one.
FATEs: Small, open world events that take place in every zone of the game that has groups of players participate in small little skirmishes for a percentage of XP based off of participation.
Palace of the Dead: An instanced tower that gets progressively more difficult the further you climb. You have a character made specifically for this and level it like you would outside of the dungeon.
It’s actually an incredibly unique feature and I think it’s a wonderful addition to the game.
Dungeons and Raids: Essentially what they are in every game.
Primals: Encounters where you face off against monstrous Primals – essentially the summons from the main Final Fantasy games – tackling them through various difficulties.
Clan Hunts: Clan Hunts are tasks players undertake that involve hunting down and slaying specified enemies. Players are awarded XP, gil, and clan marks.
Levequests: This is actually divided into three sub-categories:
Battlecraft Leves have the player kill specific enemies within the designated area.
Tradecraft Leves have the player craft a specific item and turn it in to an NPC.
Fieldcraft Leves have the player harvest specific resources found throughout the world, and hand them over to the Levemete.
The sheer amount of content Final Fantasy XIV offers its playerbase is the reason the game is still such a titan in the MMORPG market and will likely continue to be if they continue to treat it with the care they’ve shown.
Guild Wars 2
Possibly the largest free to play, or at least semi-free to play MMORPG left alive, Guild Wars 2 offers players yet again another story-driven adventure.
Taking a different direction to Final Fantasy XIV – Guild Wars 2 offers quite a bit of story – not nearly as much, but a different form of storytelling.
You’re given the option to make choices during your story that affects the general route your story takes, the NPCs you end up getting, and the shape your story ends up finally leading you down.
The story itself is shorter – not to mention gated behind large level gaps, granted – but the story is no less a significant part of the game.
Guild Wars 2 also has a PvP system that, once again, is more or less instanced.
Not in the same way as Final Fantasy XIV – I mean, it does offer the traditional arena-style group vs group combat that Final Fantasy XIV does, but Guild Wars 2 also features World vs World battles.
Battles that take you to an entire region sized instance – void of anything but rigorous battles between worlds – or servers, duking it out to show their server has a larger pool of e-peen obsessed teenagers- I mean, pro players.
All attributes, runes, sigils and gear are completely irrelevant in the traditional arena maps.
Instead, all player attributes are normalized, and players must instead select from a pre-established set of runes, sigils, and a PvP-specific amulet, along with a set of specializations in the PvP Build panel.
Guild Wars 2 offers a unique class system as well, utilizing a weapon based skill system – having individual skills that are instead determined by the weapon – or weapons, you choose to use.
The game offers various forms of PvE and leveling content as well, such as:
Personal Story: Essentially Guild Wars 2’s equivalent of the main story that you play through over the course of the game.
Renown Hearts: Fixed areas within each zone that provide players tasks to accomplish that can also lead to chain events taking place and unfolding in the zone you’re in.
Dynamic Events: Replacing the traditional questing system, Dynamic events play out the same way as quests normally would – except you acuire them automatically, and there are no quest NPCs to run in to complete them at.
Dungeons and Raids: Once again, essentially what they are in every game.
Black Desert Online
The second largest buy to play MMORPG, Black Desert Online is the polar opposite of both Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars 2.
See, where both of the aforementioned MMORPGs provide players a linear story to progress through – a narrative that players can sink time into learning about and becoming enthralled with, Black Desert offers players.. well.
The story in Black Desert is what you’d expect from a Korean hack and slash game – a story that – no offense to the playerbase, was translated by running it through Google translate.
Both the story and voice acting in Black Desert are quite poor, which struck me as strange that it remained so popular.
The popularity however comes from different areas to both Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars 2.
Black Desert gives the player a significant amount of control over their character and the overall game. With a lack of story, or a lack of a goal, moreso, you’re left with the ability to play how you want.
Black Desert is open-ended, in so that there is no actual end to the game, and there is, as such, no actual endgame to speak of.
This gives players a sense of freedom that no other MMORPG does. You don’t need to run the same dungeons and raids over and over for years while waiting for new content to be released.
You don’t have to worry about new gear coming out with every new raid tier. You don’t have to learn dungeon and boss mechanics.
You play through what is generally considered the best combat system in an MMORPG to date – mastering various skills and combinations while cutting through both players, and monsters until you log out..
Or, instead, participate in some of what Black Desert has to offer their players outside of combat.
In Black Desert Online, players are given the option to craft, gather resources, trade, capture and breed horses, fish, farm, manage nodes and workers, focus on decorating your home.. and more.
You’re given the freedom to actively participate in whatever you want at whatever time you please. You can spend weeks without even engaging in combat, at all. Which is something no other MMORPG can say!
Black Desert also provides players the ultimate tool kit for creating some of the best characters in MMORPGs. Players spend days crafting perfection that even God would envy.
Finally there is the PvP – the only MMORPG thus far to have open world PvP. Once you hit a certain level, you get marked for PvP, allowing you to go out and fight anyone you see over the required level.
Elder Scrolls Online
The largest buy to play MMORPG, and also harboring one of the three largest populations in an MMORPG currently, Elder Scrolls Online..
Actually offers people an Elder Scrolls game that is the result of an unplanned culmination of both the Elder Scrolls games and Guild Wars 2.
Which is in no way a bad thing at all!
The Elder Scrolls Online – like both Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars 2, has a fairly large emphasis on storytelling. Not in the same way though. Allow me to once again elaborate.
Final Fantasy XIV gives players a large, linear story that you play through over the course of the game.
Guild Wars 2 offers players a smaller story that has the option to diverge into several different paths, shaping a different story each time.
Elder Scrolls Online’s narrative is linear, more or less, but it has a large emphasis on zone-storytelling and side-quest storytelling, much like the core Elder Scrolls titles.
This makes each zone you go to and various NPCs you meet hold actual importance; something most MMORPGs are incapable of doing.
Furthermore, ESO expands and goes further into the Elder Scrolls lore in each region, providing more than any official Elder Scrolls title has in the past.
Like the first two titles in this video, The Elder Scrolls Online offers instanced PvP in the shape of realm vs realm. Unlike most MMORPGs that have PvP features, ESO doesn’t actually utilize a small scale PvP system.
Their only form of PvP is roughly the same as Guild Wars 2’s world vs world, just.. with additional features added to it. However at its core, it’s a large server vs server battle.
The game, like always, takes on various forms of PvE and leveling content, such as:
Dark Anchors: Small, open-area events that take place in the zone you’re in that can be completed in groups for XP.
World Bosses: Hulking bosses that appear in the zones you’re in that often require a group to take down but offer some sweet rewards.
Dungeons: Pretty much what you’d expect out of something titled “dungeon”.
Public Dungeons: Essentially dungeons that can be entered publically by other players. Which is a pretty cool feature in all due honesty.
Trials: More or less similar to raids, featuring content that requires more than one small several-man group to tackle and complete.
Arenas: Doable in a group or completely solo, you tackle wave after wave of monster encounter and get rewards based on how well you did.
World of Warcraft
By far the most populated MMORPG – World of Warcraft has been leading the MMO industry since the late 2000s.
Offering what MMORPG after MMORPG have tried to replicate since its release, WoW brings with it one of the largest worlds I’ve ever seen in an MMORPG.
This is, of course, due to the fact that it has been around for so many years, has had so many expansions, and is actively worked on year after year.
So what has kept WoW popular for so long has actually changed over the years. In its original iteration, and well into Wrath of the Lich King, WoW was a very, very difficult beast to tackle.
Encounters were difficult, PvP was fun, you required groups to do everything, and things were much more difficult since you were grounded.
These days, things have changed.
With so, so much content, it’s a little difficult to pin down exactly what keeps people playing, but it’s definitely a combination of the following:
Transmog – or slutmog. Whichever you want to label it as.
Faction reputation that unlocks new gear, items, mounts, and more.
Mount farming, since there are hundreds of unique mounts to farm.
Zone-story quests. Zone-side quests. Both functioning more or less similarly to the games listed earlier.
Main-story quests. More or less functioning as the gateway through to endgame.
Professions, such as mining, herbalism, various forms of crafting and the like, that all give you access to important potions, new mounts, crafted gear and more.
Dungeons and raids, which have always been an important part of the game.
Unique class-specific quests at your class hall.
Strengthening your artifact weapon and unlocking new PvE specific, and PvP specific talents and skills.
There are so many features that people enjoy from different iterations of the game. Since people enjoyed different expansions and that content is still often available.
World of Warcraft also offers both PvE and PvP servers for people that want to participate in open world PvP, and those that prefer it instanced.
PvP takes two forms in WoW. One, open world PvP, has you being able to fight the opposite faction almost right from the get-go!
The other takes the form of instanced Arenas and Battlegrounds where you enter with groups and fight until you either emerge victorious.. or get called a scrub. One of the two.
Now, I am aware that each game offers more than what I went ahead and listed here. I do get that. But I wanted to list, more or less, some of the things that made each game stand out.
As these are some of the most popular MMORPGs on the market now – I figured I should, especially since 2018 is here and we have with us another entire year worth of playing MMORPGs!
So, with all of that being said and done, which MMORPG do I believe is worth investing your time into the most right now?
With Battle for Azeroth and Classic servers on the horizon for World of Warcraft, we could be seeing it break records with the number of players playing it in the future.
So I feel like World of Warcraft is your best bet this year – followed by Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, Black Desert then Elder Scrolls Online.
You’re welcome to disagree – just state your reasoning behind why you do!