Top 5 Best Multiplayer MMORPG Games Online of 2010
Multiplayer MMORPG Games are special! Unlike single player games the link that’s formed between the player and the game becomes so strong that after a while the former will be inclined to turn a blind eye towards the latter’s flaws and to defend it against any kind of criticism. There is also the matter of subscription: paying one for several months only to have some game critic show up and tell you that you’ve been wasting your money on something that’s not even worth remembering in a couple of years is a sure way to get a gamer stirred into a frenzy. So here I am, poking the bee hive with a short stick, giving you my Top 5 Best Multiplayer MMORPG Games, and bracing myself for a rotten eggs shower. Fire away!
5th – Anarchy Online
The last place is always the hardest one to pick because it means you are condemning so many other games to oblivion. So I guess it comes down to: who really doesn’t deserve it? And the answer to that question is quite simple: Anarchy Online.
Released in 2001, Funcom’s Anarchy Online was the first online multiplayer mmorpg to use a science-fiction setting so I guess it’s safe to call it the father of the Sci-Fi MMORPG genre. The online universe was huge and it took months to fully discover, the graphics were great for that time and the whole gameplay experience was immersive, sophisticated and rewarding. The game gave the player an unprecedented freedom to create and customize, mostly reflected in the section of the game that dealt with character development and progression. This might not sound much now, but back then MMORPGs had the “next-gen” tag attached to them, there was no standard to follow, there wasn’t much to borrow (cough: copy) from other games because not many of this type were released. So Anarchy actually introduced many of the design ideas we now see in mmorpg games and generally take for granted. For that Anarchy Online is a game worth remembering.
4th – Guild Wars
Beautiful, action-packed, well designed – the first words that come to mind when thinking of Guild Wars. It’s been years since I first played this story-driven role-playing fantasy MMO game and I’m still fond of the memories its name sparks in my mind. The graphics were exquisite: luxuriant and lavish landscapes stretched out in front of your eyes inviting you to explore the world, colorful characters and monsters made you gawk and impressive abilities and animations literally took your breath away.
But it was more to Guild War than just the outer layer and once you started digging into its extremely rich content you felt like you could no longer stop. It didn’t really matter if you enjoyed soloing or if cooperative gameplay seemed more appealing to you, Guild Wars had the ways and means to keep up with your PVE expectations. Yes, it did lose focus from time to time, it had some bugs here and there, but that was never enough to disappoint. And if PVE was not your thing, there was always PVP – the place where you could make your class combination truly shine.
Remembering Guild War almost makes me feel old and grumpy, almost makes me start saying things like “They don’t make them as they used to!” Almost…
3rd – EVE Online
A Sci-Fi MMORPG in which players can build their own ships and scour the vast expanse of space in search of adventure. A single server, player driven universe, EVE does not fit the criteria of a friendly MMO. On the contrary: lacking meaningful PVE, comprehensive tutorials and introducing a PVP system in which death is severely punished, EVE is certainly not the game you want to start your MMO experience with. But it is exactly this harsh approach that has appealed to many of its players and has managed to transform the game into favorite for many veteran gamers.
EVE is as open-ended as one can possible hope. Players can organize themselves in corporations and then together pursue common goals which most of the time will be territorial in nature. Since space sectors can be player controlled it will most of the time involve fighting players from other corporations, thus making PVP a regular and meaningful experience. Other more peaceful approaches are also available, and for those more interested in the financial aspects of an mmorpg game, the game offers a powerful player-driven economy. Based on continuous political and territorial struggle for supremacy, EVE is a constantly changing living universe in which every player counts.
It would be unfair not to mention that the Sci-Fi sector has been approached by fewer developers than the fantasy one, making EVE a winner in race with no serious competitors. But it would be equally unfair not to acknowledge it merits as an online multiplayer mmorpg in general and not give him a well deserved third place.
2nd – World of Warcraft
Based on the rich fantasy lore of the Warcraft RTS series developed by Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft offers an immersive, high quality PVE experience based on highly detailed quests and challenging dungeons. Blending consecrated design elements borrowed from earlier MMOs together with an extremely user friendly approach, WoW has managed in over six years to become the favorite game of millions. In all this time its flame has kept burning by a series of powerful expansion packs (The Burning Crusade, Wrath of The Lich King and the soon to be released Cataclysm) coupled with constant hot fixes and updates that have polished the game up to a level unsurpassed by any other MMO game. However, gear driven, lacking serious massive PVP and set in a universe on which player actions have little or no impact whatsoever, WoW tends to become boring and repetitive after a certain amount of time.
Only second best in my opinion because, even though it set new standards for all multiplayer mmo games developers, even though it still has the power to mesmerize new players, the recipe on which it was built is old and has lost it appeal. As new massive multiplayer games came out, the design boundaries that define the genre have been pushed further and further away from what WoW actually is.
1st – Warhammer Online – Age of Reckoning
My first choice when it comes to MMORPG Multiplayer Games by far, Warhammer Online has come a long way in its two years of existence and still offers a form of entertainment not matched by any other MMO currently on the market. Driven by a constant conflict between the two main factions, Order and Destruction, and pitting against each other in open spaces large amounts of players in an ongoing PVP campaign, WAR resets the definition of MMO PVP in a fantasy setting.
The PVE aspects of the game on the other hand have been seriously and maybe intentionally neglected. Warhammer Online has only what could be called an embryo of a dungeon system which feels included into the game only to offer the player the ability to break away from PVP for a short amount of time. The economy, although quite rich and player driven, holds little purpose as in-game currency is never an issue for an active player and thus discourages farming and gold selling (finally!).
Warhammer shines when it comes to the ability of bringing people together. From public quests to PVP scenarios and epic keep/city sieges, WAR has a knack for concentrating players into one area and have them working together even when they are not organized in parties, guilds or alliances. Constant and meaningful player interaction is what every Multiplayer MMORPG Game should strive to achieve and from this point of view WAR is one step ahead of everyone else.