MMORPGs, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, became one of the most popular game genres in the early 2000s. Subsequently, lots of games in the genre were created. A large majority of MMORPGs are also free-to-play, which is another reason they grew so much in popularity. 

Lately, though, MMORPGs have taken a backseat to more popular genres like Battle Royale games (Fortnite), or MOBAs (League of Legends.) This leads many people to think the MMO world is dying, and games worth playing in the genre are sparse. Yet this couldn’t be further from the truth, as there are all kinds of great MMORPGs out there with active fanbases and a great gaming experience awaiting you. 

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    Here are some of the top MMORPGs worth playing in 2021. 

    1. World of Warcraft

    Arguably the most popular MMORPG of all time, World of Warcraft (commonly abbreviated to WoW) has been consistently adding content and new events throughout its lifespan. Today, there are still many active players, most of them being the original fans who are ready to help out any newer players. 

    In the game, you explore an expansive fantasy world with your chosen, customized character who can be a part of one of two opposing factions, the Alliance or Horde. Then you can choose from 14 different races, and the class you want your character to play as. 

    WoW is known for being incredibly addictive, with many quests to complete, battles to engage in, and unique places and characters to discover. World of Warcraft has current game expansions and is always updating, but if you want to experience the older version of WoW, you can also play WoW Classic. 

    2. EVE Online

    If you’re into more sci-fi type worlds and stories, EVE Online takes place in this sort of environment and provides all the adventure and explorative aspects of the genre. The game has a complex story, and you can interact with thousands of other players to participate in any number of activities. 

    When you start, you can choose from four different races and alter their bloodlines to make a unique character. EVE Online, unlike many of its MMO counterparts, doesn’t take place within multiple servers but one large server where every user plays. You can explore over 5000 star systems within this universe. 

    The main portion of the game takes place operating your space ship, exploring these star systems, battling other players, and advancing your skills. If you enjoy games with large worlds, and games focused on discovery, EVE Online is a great MMORPG to play. 

    3. Lord of the Rings Online

    Lord of the Rings is commonly hailed as the basis for the entire genre of fantasy. Since many MMO games are based in fantasy worlds, it makes sense for this series to get its own version. 

    Lord of the Rings Online, or LotRO, launched in 2007 and allows you to choose from four races (Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, or Men) and seven classes. It is a very classic type of MMO, where you complete quests, battles, and earn experience points to increase your level. 

    The game also takes place in the familiar lands of Middle Earth, which you will explore to finish your quests. The game still has a great community of players, and is a very friendly game with few player vs. player aspects. Whether or not you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, this MMORPG packs a lot of great storytelling and gameplay elements that makes for hours of entertainment. 

    4. Star Wars: The Old Republic

    Star Wars: The Old Republic has been one of the top MMORPGs for awhile, namely because of its storyline and interesting gameplay. You can choose to play as one of two factions: the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire. 

    No matter what faction you pick, your character can fall anywhere along a light or dark morality line depending upon what actions you take. 

    Expanding on this, the choices you make in the game are very important and actually impact what storylines become available to you as you progress. It’s this part of the game that makes it very unique among other MMOs. When you play, you also receive your own star ship to explore the different planets within the game universe. 

    SWTOR is an extremely expansive game, and still has an active player base so you can really immerse yourself into the story and world. 

    5. RuneScape

    Another classic among the MMORPG genre, RuneScape has managed to stay relevant throughout the years by continuously adding content and maintaining a loyal user base. In RuneScape, you create your character and then are given a tutorial to learn about different skills within the game. 

    These skills are the main focus of the game. You can level up by completing certain activities. 17 skills are available in the free-to-play version of the game. The game also includes quests and combat, which can increase your combat level, an indicator of your character’s strength. 

    If you’re into grindy MMO games where you do tasks repetitively, RuneScape is the king in this regard. It can be relaxing to spend time crafting, farming or planting. It can also be exciting with the combat aspect and a multitude of dungeons and areas to explore. Much like WoW, RuneScape also has a free Classic version available to play the older release of the game. 

    6. Star Trek Online

    If you’re a fan of the Star Trek series as well as MMORPGs, Star Trek Online is the perfect marriage of the two, recreating the exciting world, characters, and aspects of Star Trek in an interactive way. In the game, you create a character who captains a star ship, allowing you to explore a number of galaxies and planets. 

    There are two main portions of the game. One is controlling your ship, exploring, and attacking enemy ships. Another part focuses on exploring the planets themselves as your character and completing quests. You can upgrade your ship, and own different types of ships to explore the world with. 

    Star Trek Online is both a great sci-fi game and MMO, and fans of the series or MMOs in general should definitely try it out. 

    7. TERA

    TERA is an MMORPG from South Korea, created in 2011. Many players agree it has one of the best, most unique combat systems in any current MMO game. It also has the typical elements of the genre, such as completing quests, developing skills, and crafting. 

    Yet, the action and combat of the game is really the main focal point, creating a much more fast-paced MMO game than what you might normally see. 

    TERA is based in a fantasy world, where you can play as one out of seven different races as part of the Valkyon Federation, attempting to explore the Island of Dawn. However, there are other forces at work also trying to accomplish the same thing.

    The game boasts some eye-catching graphics, as well as large explorable worlds, making for an exciting experience any time you decide to pick the game up. The game still gets updates and has a good sized user base, so you won’t get tired of it very quickly. 

    8. EverQuest II

    EverQuest was an MMORPG created a while ago, but didn’t gain much popularity at the time due to being overshadowed by World of Warcraft. Over time, though, the user base has expanded as players realized how great of a game EverQuest was. 

    The game is based in the fantasy world of Norrath, where a player can choose from one of 18 classes, which are all very unique and include things like frogs, fairies, elves, ogres, and more. There are tons of quests to complete, and you can also collect and create items, and enjoy combat. 

    EverQuest II is the continuation of the first Everquest game, and has many improvements over the first one. In terms of plot, EverQuest II is more like an alternate universe of the first game, so you don’t need to play the first one to understand it. There are tons of unique activities in the game, including the ability to create your own dungeons, or sell your skill abilities for other players to use. There’s so much to do in this game and in terms of the amount of content it’s really one of the best MMORPGs out there.

    Free-to-Play MMORPGs

    MMORPGs are great for exploring fictional worlds, becoming part of an expanding story, and meeting new people. If you enjoy games of this genre, what are some others you have fun playing that are not listed here?