The best MMOs and MMORPGs to play in 2022

The best MMO and MMORPGs to play in 2022 include classic heavy hitters like World of Warcraft and more than a few lesser-known gems you might be missing out on. Right off the bat, it’s worth clarifying that these are the best MMOs and MMORPGs you can play in 2022, meaning we will be considering how active the playerbase is and whether the games are still being actively supported, or at least maintained. That leaves out legacy MMOs like Ultima Online and Everquest, as much as it hurts our nostalgic hearts. 

You’ll also want to ask yourself what you’re looking for in a massively multiplayer adventure. Some swallow you with their engrossing lore, while others let off-the-cuff social interactions drive the experience. Some of the best MMO and MMORPGs lean into their PvE trappings, sending you deep into the bowels of expertly designed dungeons to do battle with terrifying monsters; while others balance risk and reward in meticulous full-loot PvP systems. 

But whatever it is that floats your boat/airship/dragon/Death Star (delete as applicable), the best MMO and MMORPGs suit the tastes of every budding adventurer. Good luck on your real and virtual life-consuming quest!  

25. Riders of Icarus

Riders of Icarus

(Image credit: Valofe)

Available on: PC

In a post-Pokémon Go world, the idea of a monster collecting MMO seems like a no-brainer, and yet it’s still territory that very few online RPGs have properly broached. Riders of Icarus takes the idea of collecting pocket monsters and gives it an interesting twist, making all the creatures you hoard into mounts that are central to character progression. 

Mounted combat is understandably a central mechanic, and while it can be difficult to master, especially while flying, it also provides some very satisfying and dramatic moments. And Riders of Icarus is flush with gorgeous, rare gear, and quests that often deviate in pleasant ways from the traditional “fetch 15 rat pelts” MMO mold.  

24. Defiance 2050

Defiance / Defiance 2050

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The fact that Defiance (opens in new tab) is any good is practically miraculous. Developing an MMO shooter based on a SyFy original television series sounds like a recipe for disaster, but somehow Trion Worlds was able to deliver an excellent game with a lot of cool hooks. It helps that the world of Defiance is an interesting one, the result of a curious set of circumstances. Earth has been rendered almost unrecognizable by the accidental deployment of alien terraforming technology, and a long war with the aliens responsible has left both sides on the brink of collapse. Factions have splintered off and in many cases aliens and humans have banded together in the desperate struggle for survival. 

While SyFy axed the television show back in 2015, the MMO lives on, continuing to succeed on the strength of its combat mechanics, satisfying character progression, and the its absolutely massive armory of weapons and gear. It’s the first MMO we’ve played that makes shooting guns in PvE feel viable and fun, and it now also includes some surprisingly effective melee weapons. The rebooted version of the game, Defiance 2050, is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, featuring classes and power trees, but the same world and quests – not enough to be considered a wholly new game, but give it a try if you want to see the world of Defiance through fresh eyes.

23. New World

New World player with greataxe attacking another player

(Image credit: Amazon Games)

Available on: PC

Amazon Game’s no-subscription New World spent quite a while in the MMO development oven, which in turn saw its complexion morph and evolve over time. Launched proper on September 28, 2021, one of the PC-exclusive (at least for now) MMO-meets-multiplayer survival game’s defining traits is its massive 100-player PvP territory battles, wherein two teams of 50 players fight to plant their flag on specific portions of the map. Unlike other hotkey combination-driven MMOs, New World’s combat is more action-focused, with melee attacks and well-timed dodges key to survival, all of which lend the game a hybrid, multi-genre feel. New World’s player base has dropped significantly since launch, but it’s far from dead.

22. Revelation Online

Revelation Online

(Image credit: MY.GAMES)

Available on: PC

Speaking of incredibly pretty looking Eastern MMOs, Revelation Online proves that beauty and substance aren’t mutually exclusive. This Chinese offering that recently made its way west has incredible depth in terms of character creation and development, and a vast, intriguing open world to plumb for loot and secrets.

Revelation Online is also one of a current bumper crop of games that provides the option to choose traditional, tab-targeting style MMO combat or more dynamic action combat. It even offers a third option that’s an intriguing (if somewhat clumsy) blend of both. And with the option to respec your character for free at any point, it’s an easy game to commit some time to without feeling shackled by your choices.

21. Secret Worlds Legends

Secret World Legends

(Image credit: Funcom)

Available on: PC

Another recent convert to the free to play model, Secret World Legends is a game defined in large part by its setting, which reads like every conspiracy theory crackpots dream come true (or their worst nightmare realized). Secret societies, mythological creatures, and evil cults define a world shrouded by mystery and bursting with supernatural horrors. Propping up the setting and story is some killer sound design, which successfully ratchets up tension and gives the game’s events a sense of sweeping drama.

In fact, one of Secret World Legend’s strongest features is its dedication to storytelling. Instead of the standard MMO trope of letting players queue up a practically unlimited number of quests–which leads to lots of mindless fetching and slaying without any sense of overarching purpose–The Secret World focuses on a tight handful of quests at a time, all with clearly defined objectives. This narrow focus helps emphasize narrative and points a spotlight at the games writing and atmosphere, which is of a fairly uniform high quality.

20. Star Conflict

Star Conflict

(Image credit: Gaijin Distribution KFT)

Available on: PC

As a space sim MMO, Star Command has naturally drawn a lot of comparisons to the giant in the niche: EVE Online. Those comparisons aren’t necessarily just, however – while Star Conflict does share some very fundamental DNA with EVE, it stands apart by being much more focused on high-tempo, responsive combat. Star Conflict (opens in new tab) is less spreadsheets and corporate intrigue, and more fast-paced blood baths and massive explosions. 

That said, Star Conflict does boast a robust character progression system and tons of tantalizing loot by way of implants and ship upgrades. Its also a beautiful game, rendering the vastness of space and some fantastic-looking spacecraft in gorgeous detail. When gazing at the lush visuals, you’re likely to forget that its entirely free-to-play. 

19. Age of Wushu

Age of Wushu

(Image credit: Snail Games)

Available on: PC

Age of Wushu (opens in new tab) immediately stands out by virtue of its unique premise: a deep simulation of Chinese martial arts through the lens of classic action films. Age of Wushu is less Bruce Lee and more Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, focusing on spectacular superhuman feats traditionally only possible through the magic of wire-fu. What isn’t immediately apparent from this top-line description, however, is the depth and intricacy of some of Age of Wushu’s systems. 

While combat (especially against other players) is obviously a central focus, crafting disciplines like calligraphy offer a nice distraction by way of simple mini-games. Even the activity of your character while you’re offline can have important effects, like improving your skills, or can lead to being kidnapped and ransomed by other players. Age of Wushu is a beautiful rendering of an age and a setting we so rarely get to see in games, one that’s easy to fall into and want to thoroughly explore. With a sequel is in active development, there’s no better way to whet your appetite than with the charming original. 

18. Worlds Adrift

Worlds Adrift

(Image credit: Bossa Studios)

Available on: PC

The viral popularity of crafting mechanics is making its way into MMOs with unsurprising alacrity, and one of the best examples of that phenomenon is the skyship building, grapple-hooking swinging delight that is Worlds Adrift.

Yes, that’s right, Worlds Adrift gives you not only your own, fully customizable airship, but also a wonderfully physics-reliant grappling hook by which to find inventive ways to swoop across the landscape of its island shards (and fall ignobly to your death hundreds of times). While it’s still in Early Access, it’s persistent, player shaped world, charming watercolor graphics, and emergent gameplay made it impossible to leave off this list.

17. Skyforge

Skyforge

(Image credit: MY.GAMES )

Available on: PlayStation 4, PC

Why play as a lowly minion in a vast world full of other loot-grinding peers when Skyforge (opens in new tab) lets you create your own god? You begin your apotheosis as an immortal warrior, gaining loyal worshipers, and ascending to godhood in a technologically-advanced sci-fi world. Yeah, all those words don’t usually go together, but stick with us, here. 

Skyforge strives to simplify many of the typical MMO systems, allowing players to change the class of their character at any time, in order to make sure matchmaking goes off without a hitch, and does away with classic level progression. Instead of leveling up, characters grow through a prestige system that determines a player’s power level based on general stats. With the changes to the traditional MMO systems, a fascinating sci-fi world, and action-oriented combat, Skyforge offers a nice diversion from other MMOs tedious grind. 

16. Lord of the Rings Online

The Lord of the Rings Online

(Image credit: Standing Stone Games)

Available on: PC

As the granddaddy of fantasy settings, Middle-earth has a storied pedigree and a massive, rabid fan base that must be very intimidating for developers. It’s quite an accomplishment then when a game like Lord of the Rings Online (opens in new tab) manages to encapsulate that setting in a way that appeals to the most hardcore diehards while also being slick and accessible enough to lure in newcomers. LOTRO has been continually expanded on and updated throughout its existence, including a transition to a free-to-play model. 

On top of genre standards like crafting and questing, players are able to purchase and decorate homes in one of four districts, all of which provide easy access to banking, healers, bards, and other amenities. LOTRO also includes unique modes like Player vs. Monster Player, which allows gamers to step into the shoes of an orc, warg, or other servant of Sauron. LOTROs diversity of gameplay and high level of polish show its roots as a premium MMO, and it continues to pile on fun new content. 

15. Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online

(Image credit: Perfect World Entertainment)

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Star Trek Online (opens in new tab) continues to be one of the most intriguing MMOs around not only because of the strength of its license but also because of the unique and varied gameplay on offer. One part third-person shooter, one part naval simulator in space, STO is a game that will reel you in with its spaceships and aliens but keep you hooked with consistently fun gameplay. 

Fans of the television series and films will find a wealth of familiar elements that manage to be as fun to encounter and explore as they sound. Battling borg cubes, walking the promenade on Deep Space Nine, or beaming down as part of an away team to exotic planets are all great examples of fan service done right in STO. The latest expansion, launching at the end of January, promises new story content around an unexplored sector of the Alpha Quadrant, and a handful of new limited time events and mini-games.

14. ArcheAge

ArcheAge

(Image credit: Kakao Games Europe )

Available on: PC

If you want to lose yourself in a medieval fantasy world in which you can do pretty much anything, ArcheAge (opens in new tab) is where you want to be. You can be a powerful warrior, wading your way through battles with a giant sword and a group of companions at your back, or you can focus on the economics of the world as you take on the challenges of farming and trade. You can even become a pirate that raids traders and plunders loot. 

ArcheAge also has a huge focus on mounts and travel. Not only can you gallop across it’s massive world astride wild fauna like lions and deer, you can take to the air and sea. Players can call upon everything from rowboats to warships to sail the oceans, and aerial modes of transportation like gliders and airships. Archeage continues to show the dedication (and ample resources) of its developer Trion in its polish and longevity. 

13. Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online

(Image credit: Pearl Abyss)

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4

A Korean MMO that launched in the US behind a lot of fanfare, Black Desert Online (opens in new tab) was able to mostly deliver on the hype with its snappy action combat and interesting property management elements. Alongside the standard leveling and questing, BDO offers players and guilds the opportunity to become medieval slum lords, buying up buildings and setting their function as residences or crafting repositories, or even taking wholesale control of entire cities. 

While some of these mechanics were a bit clumsy or unavailable at launch, BDO is a game that’s taken full advantage of its longevity and has continually, consistently improved over time to become one of the best on offer.

12. Tera

Tera

(Image credit: Gameforge 4D Gmbh)

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Often cited as the pinnacle of action MMOs, Tera (opens in new tab) continues to provide some of the most responsive and dramatic combat anywhere. Underpinning the excellent, skill-based combat is a diverse batch of races and classes, all with different play styles and abilities. One of the strongest aspects of Teras character creation system is the way that all of the classes are universally compatible with all of the races, leading to a remarkable breadth of interesting combinations. 

A big part of the appeal of Teras trademark combat is how gorgeous it looks, backgrounded by beautiful art and with detailed, attractive models and animations. Tera is a lovely game that, most importantly, looks fantastic in motion, especially when groups of players are pitted against some of the giant monsters lurking in its beautifully rendered environments. 

11. Runescape

Runescape

(Image credit: Jagex)

Available on: PC

Recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records (opens in new tab) as the MMO with the longest play time per player, and easily the oldest game on this list (launching four years ahead of World of Warcraft, way back in 2001), Runescape (opens in new tab) deserves mention because it’s one of the most updated and popular games of any kind on the planet. With over 250 million accounts and fresh life since a non-browser version launched last year, Runescape remains the high water mark for MMO endurance and engagement.

A huge part of its lasting appeal is the open-ended approach it takes to standard RPG questing. Instead of a linear story or a blend of main and side quests, Runescape offers players the freedom to choose their own paths to power and success. And because skills are advanced through use, similar to the approach to progression in the Elder Scrolls franchise, it’s possible to build characters who are as laser focused and specialized, or as broadly knowledgeable, as you like.  

10. Planetside 2

Planetside 2

(Image credit: Daybreak)

Available on: PC, PS4

Planetside 2 isn’t like other MMOs. It speaks one language: war. Set across a single universe engaged in ceaseless combat, your soldier doesn’t so much progress by grinding through quests for NPCs, but is dropped right into developer Rogue Planet Games’ eternal battlefields of first-person shooter based warfare, beset by space battles, boots on the grounds skirmishes, and vehicular carnage. 

It’s jaw dropping stuff; the kind of operatic carnage that Battlefield players can only dream about, and it’s completely free to play. Granted, given that Planetside 2 released all the way back in 2012, the skill threshold is pretty high, so you’re first few hours of the game may feature a lot of merciless fatalities at your expense. But once you’ve found a friendly set of team mates, learned the ropes, and understood its rhythms, this eternal conflict is a bloody good time. 

9. DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online

(Image credit: Daybreak Game Company)

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

While DC Universe Online (opens in new tab) only just hit Xbox One recently, it’s been available on PC now for a staggering six years, and continues to lead the pack of superhero MMOs. Its access to DC Comics massive stable of highly recognizable, iconic characters means players eager to play alongside legendary heroes like Superman and Batman won’t be disappointed, but DCUO wisely allows users to create unique heroes with custom abilities. 

Also distinguishing it from games like (the now defunct) City of Heroes, or Champions Online, DCUO eschewed tab-targeting for action combat, a prescient move that makes battering enemies up feel a lot truer to the source material. Add in an interesting story about an alien invasion and some cool gear and leveling options and DCUO is a winning formula, especially now that it’s free to play. And the 6th year anniversary event just launched, giving players new incentive to jump into this kinetic comic book world. 

8. Neverwinter

Neverwinter

(Image credit: Perfect World Entertainment)

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

One of the most beloved settings in the Dungeons and Dragons catalogue, the Forgotten Realms rest on a foundation of decades of highly embroidered fiction and best-selling novels. A series of events centered on the venerable city of Neverwinter (opens in new tab) have reshaped the world of Faerun, and Cryptic Studios capitalizes on this exciting transitional period in one of this years best new free-to-play MMOs. Neverwinter captures some of the unique flavor of the Forgotten Realms while focusing on fast-paced combat and mechanics borrowed from the tabletop version of Dungeons & Dragons. 

Wizards and priests, long relegated to the back of adventuring parties, now sport the ability to output some impressive damage on top of their buffing and healing abilities. At the same time, bruiser warriors gain the benefit of powerful spell-like abilities, further blurring the lines between classes. Neverwinter does an excellent job of propelling players forward and keeping the action fresh, while ensuring that background systems like invoking and crafting aren’t given short shrift. 

7. EVE Online

Eve online

(Image credit: Frontier)

Available on: PC

Still the preeminent space MMO and source of some of the best anecdotes in gaming, EVE Online (opens in new tab) succeeds by focusing on a handful of elements and doing them exceptionally well. On top of their meticulous simulations and systems, CCP also does a tremendous job of listening to its dedicated community and responding appropriately, to the point that subscribers are often integral to the decision making process. 

Described dismissively as spreadsheets in space by detractors, the criticism points to one of EVEs greatest strengths: its thriving, realistic, player-driven economy. EVEs corporations and alliances take their business very seriously, to the point that in-game intrigue has on occasion spilt over into the real world. For depth, nuance, complicated diplomacy, and sprawling space battles, nothing compares to EVE Online.

6. Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Start Online 2

(Image credit: Sega)

Available on: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

Though it’s been available to play in Asia since 2012, SEGA’s much-beloved sequel to its Phantasy Star series has only arrived in the West in 2020, courtesy of Microsoft, which struck a deal with the publisher to bring the MMO to PC and Xbox One last year. That means, unless you’re in Asia, you can currently only play Phantasy Star Online 2 on those platforms, despite it launching on Nintendo Switch and PS4 years ago in Japan, but it’s well worth the download nonetheless.

With millions of players, a gorgeously rendered sci-fi universe, and some of the best action-focused combat you could from a game of its kind, Phantasy Star Online 2 is a veritable treat of an MMORPG. Newcomers might take some time getting to grips with the franchise’s extensive lore and ongoing story, but there’s plenty to enjoy the moment you set foot in SEGA’s digital space milieu, with regular updates and support to ensure the game only gets better over time.  

5. The Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Available on: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Stadia

Players have explored discrete portions of Tamriel in the other Elder Scrolls games, but The Elder Scrolls Online (opens in new tab) offers up almost the entire continent to explore and plunder, plus more. The new High Isle expansion adds a couple of locations only ever seen as a dot on the map in The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall.

The game world is massive, giving you plenty of dungeons to spelunk, enemies to defeat, and characters to meet, but what may be of most interest to you is how much ESO feels like you’re playing an Elder Scrolls game. ESO has all of the MMO tropes to suck up your time like crafting, loot hoarding, and raiding, but the action-oriented combat system, an optional first-person camera perspective, and classic Elder Scrolls stories give the game that mainline feel. If you’ve done everything in Skyrim and are looking for more until The Elder Scrolls 6 (opens in new tab) comes out, Elder Scrolls Online is definitely what you’re looking for. 

4. Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic

(Image credit: EA)

Available on: PC

Coming from the veteran storytellers at BioWare, it’s no surprise that the focus in Star Wars: The Old Republic (opens in new tab) is on narrative. Fully voiced cut-scenes, fleshed-out characters, and plots-within-plots have led some critics to laud the stories in The Old Republic as better than anything in the prequel trilogy of films (and, as a bonus, there’s nary a Jar Jar to be found). The Old Republic lets players engage in their favorite Star Wars power fantasies as noble Jedi or treacherous Sith, unrepentant smugglers, or ruthless bounty hunters. 

There are few things as satisfying as building a badass lightsaber or a lethal blaster and then cutting a swath through the alien races of the Star Wars universe. A steady stream of updates adding new stories, pets, weapons, and other top-notch content have made The Old Republic one of the most attractive games to delve back into, even if, like us, you’d taken a break since launch. 

3. Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2

(Image credit: NCSOFT)

Available on: PC

Unlike so many entries in the MMO genre, Guild Wars 2 (opens in new tab) doesn’t try to best World of Warcraft at its own game, instead striking out in interesting new directions with divergent ideas about how online games should play. It freshens tired MMO conventions in novel ways, and eliminates the subscription model in lieu of a free to play model that never feels suffocating. Guild Wars 2 also benefits from dynamic events that give weight to players’ actions: a town you’ve ridden of its ogre persecutors might later find those same ogres regrouping in nearby caves or constructing siege equipment to retake it. 

Actions in Guild Wars 2 have consequences that are reflected in meaningful ways in the game world, which gives developers the opportunity to reflect events as they might in a single-player game – an almost unheard of luxury in MMOs. The result is a game world that feels reactive and alive, and makes leveling and questing feel more like an adventure and less like a grind. 

2. Final Fantasy 14

Final Fantasy 14

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Available on: PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One

In its original state, Final Fantasy 14 (opens in new tab) was a disaster. Its interface was impossible to navigate, it had a weird fatigue system that punished you for playing for more than an hour at a time, and even if you were willing to look past its glaring problems, it was a buggy, glitchy mess that was practically unplayable. Unwilling to let the 14th entry in its storied franchise go down as the worst in gaming’s history, Square Enix spent two years rebuilding FF14 from the ground up. 

The result – version 2.0, aka A Realm Reborn – is utterly beautiful. Gone are many of the issues that plagued FF14 at launch. Its world is gorgeous, its quests fun, and it’s jam packed with nostalgic references to Final Fantasy games. It also boasts one of the deepest class systems around thanks to the ability to level every class and crafting profession on a single character, and enjoyable public quests promote teamwork. With its sizable expansions and tight design, it’s impossible not to love. 

1. World of Warcraft

WoW Classic

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Available on: PC

Though many have tried, none have yet succeeded in toppling the king. World of Warcraft (opens in new tab) continues to succeed in large part because Blizzard is never content to rest on their (cash-padded) laurels. New features are constantly being introduced to the world’s largest MMO, and with the practically unlimited funding that millions upon millions of subscribers provide, it’s difficult for even the scrappiest competitor to keep pace. 

Farming (of the agricultural rather than loot variety, though the latter is certainly present as well), match-three puzzle games, pet battles, a Plants vs. Zombies mini-game, and an unbelievable wealth of other content in iterative patches and full-blown expansions continues to ensure WoWs place at the top of the heap. Every time subscription numbers start to slip, a new expansion, fully laden with new delights, shuffles onto the stage and sucks all of the addicts back into WoWs orbit. Legion perpetuated this trend earlier this year, with its massive new areas, class-specific questlines, and brilliant evolution of daily quests, the world quests system. Until something both revolutionary and remarkably polished steps, the end of WoW’s reign is nowhere in sight.

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info.

About Fox

Check Also

UK government concerned by Microsofts Activision Blizzard acquisition

The UK government has indicated the Activision Blizzard acquisition by Microsoft could lead to “competition concerns.” That’s according to a new statement (opens in new tab), published earlier today on September 1 by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, the government agency said it’s “concerned that Microsoft’s anticipated purchase of Activision Blizzard could substantially lessen …

Leave a Reply