Few genres of games encapsulate the promises and potential of the internet age like MMORPGs. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games connect players across continents, they involve broad and evolving new worlds, and they challenge users to coordinate like no others.
Before the turn of the new millennium, there were so few of these titles that offering a list of the best was simple. Today, the exact opposite is true.
Flooded with new and classic options, determining what could be the best MMORPG of 2022 is a challenging task. MMOs are now highly varied, with new titles continuing to expand the genre and blur the lines of how they're defined.
From the old HTML5 games to cutting-edge new experiences, there are far too many games today for any one person to play.
With all that said, there are some standouts for the best MMORPG 2022 offers that are undeniably loved. Taking a look at ten of these, we explore what players can expect.
This title quickly set the gaming world on fire, becoming one of the most influential releases of all time. WoW took what was often an overcomplicated genre and simplified the formula.
Despite this, it was still a deep experience, only with a level of accessibility that few could boast. Undergoing significant redesign since its launch, WoW has seen eight expansions over its lifespan.
Officially, WoW carried the torch after the base Warcraft RTS series. After Warcraft 3 launched in 2002, developer Blizzard wanted to take a new tack. With WoW, they brought MMOs to the masses, creating a global phenomenon.
WoW kept growing as the first expansions continued to roll out. It peaked with the release of Wrath of Lich King in 2008, which many consider the game's high point.
Since then, efforts to rein in ballooning stats have caused some to question its direction, but many still engage happily.
WoW might not be the king it once was, but the game still performs at the top tier. Modern WoW is more approachable than ever, it still plays great, and for this, it's counted as maybe the best MMORPG even in 2022.
When the first version of FF14 launched in 2010, it was a total failure. The game was limited, it performed poorly, and it seemed to ignore many of the lessons of its FF11 predecessor. So bad was the release, that developer Square Enix took the title offline.
Going back to the drawing board, the company then decided that it was time to try again. In the years that followed they redesigned FF14 from the ground up, releasing it in 2013 as FF14: A Realm Reborn.
From what was a complete misfire, the famed Final Fantasy phoenix rose. FF14: ARR wasn't just a good MMO born from a bad one, it was a great game with a promising future.
Finally, players could dominate the landscape with their favorite Final Fantasy classes, competing and cooperating like never before. From the healing White Mage class to the high-jumping Dragoon, this new title was a love letter to fans.
Unlike WoW, which many saw as failing over time, FF14: ARR continued to improve. A big part of this was thanks to the story focus that the title embraced so much. Each expansion built on a strong narrative, into what many consider the best Final Fantasy story ever.
Now hitting shelves with Endwalker, the game has officially overtaken WoW as the most popular and arguably best MMORPG in 2022.
Around the turn of the new millennium, many home computers couldn't play advanced games. Solving this problem were web games, which were simple enough to run on nearly anything.
Some, like the original RuneScape, even let players enjoy MMO games right from their browsers.
As such an old game, the look of RuneScape was limited, to say the least. With updates, the game kept looking better, but some players feared it lost the classic charm. To solve this problem, the developer released Old School RuneScape.
This version adopted the old look but kept performance updates and quality of life changes. It might look 20 years old, but make no mistake, this is still one of the best MMORPG titles around.
Players in Old School RuneScape chase the same goals that made the original a classic. Collect gear, fight monsters, set up shop, and click until your mouse wears out. Easy to run, free, and with low requirements, it's easy to see why this game still holds up.
Taking place on a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean, New World adopts a more realistic theme than most. This is a title that makes the player feel like an explorer of old, setting out to discover uncharted land while competing with a host of yet-unknown dangers.
It's a fresh take, and with some serious quality, it's also among the best MMORPGs in 2022.
In their journeys, players will fight off animals both real and mythical, leveling up and improving their gear as they go. In their downtime, emphasis is on building and maintaining shelter, to show off a mastery of the otherwise hostile landscape.
For the wider story, each player finds themselves caught between the actions of three major factions. Each of these factions fights, schemes, and attempts to carve out as much ownership of the new land as possible.
One of the things that elevate New World to being a contender for one of the top MMORPGs in 2022 is its emphasis on community. You might not care for your faction, but there's still satisfaction in fighting for your human neighbors and community.
As exciting as this can be, players should also be aware that not everything in this new land is as natural as it might seem.
The first Guild Wars marked a point of revolution in the MMORPG industry. It was far more active than most titles and avoided the traditional holy trinity for more varied class options.
The developers carried these ideas over to their sequel, helping making the game one of the best MMORPGs in 2022.
Set in Tyria, Guild Wars 2 marks the return of five Elder Dragons, a devastating species responsible for some of the land's greatest catastrophes.
With such an imminent threat at hand, the different races and guilds must band together in an uneasy alliance to fight for their survival.
Guild War 2 also finds success in how it leans into the idea of the Living Story concept. As the years pass, major story elements have had appreciable repercussions on the explorable space.
Sometimes new areas open up, other times entire zones are left destroyed after intense battles.
With no monthly fee, Guild Wars 2 shows that sometimes the best MMORPGs don't require constant attention. There's always something to come back to and see in this game, and players have shown their appreciation for that fact.
Entering early access in 2021, Starbase has quickly shown itself to be a major competitor for the best MMORPG in 2022 crown. Still in early access, the game has already pulled in critical acclaim from the public.
While space might seem a natural target for an MMO, most efforts have consistently fallen short like Star Citizen.
With a heavy emphasis on sci-fi, players in Starbase control a humanoid robot as their player character. Working alone or with friends, the goal is to gather materials, craft ships and weapons, and ultimately, build a base to call home.
Including combat, flight, mining, and a sense of scale only possible in the void, the appeal of Starbase is easy to understand. Starbase could easily end up one of the greatest games of the decade.
All this, and the game's still in early access, and progressing at a steady rate. Whatever the developers have in store for players next, you can bet we'll be watching Starbase closely.
The Elder Scrolls franchise has always been about exploring an enormous world, so it makes sense that it would suit an online game.
Taking place on Tamriel in the Second Era, TES: Online takes what is essentially the modern Skyrim framework and adapts it into the online space.
Starting as a prisoner, in typical Scrolls fashion, the player has a lot of power over their character's skills and style. From the stealthy Khajiit Warden to a more brutish Orc Dragonknight, this title pulls deep from the series' established lore.
As for what makes it one of the best MMORPGs in 2022, credit has to go to the worldbuilding above all else. Bethesda has spent a long time crafting this world and rarely is that as evident as it is with TES: Online.
From lowly street hustlers to high-level political intrigue, TES: Online gives the player a front-row seat. It might not have the modding potential that sets the other games apart, but in terms of overall quality, this game is still a top performer.
One of the older games on this list, Eve Online has reached legendary status in the online gaming world. Set over 21,000 years in the future, the universe of EO is one where humanity has long forgotten its roots.
Adopting a sort of space-facing tribalism, conflict is eternal over more than 5,000 star systems.
In terms of gameplay, the loop in Eve Online involves piloting space ships and upgrading your financial status. Starting with a small craft, the most successful players can end up with massive capital ships and enough firepower to take down a small fleet on their own.
As for what elevates Eve to one of the best, that has to be the community. Eve Online involves a setting that is very much controlled by human clans and player groups. Guilds claim entire portions of the galaxy, fighting for domination and against oblivion.
A big part of this excitement comes from how the currency in this game has a direct real-life value. Losing big is measurable in an objective sense, with the famed "Massacre at M2-XFE" costing $378,012 on its own.
Easily one of the best free MMORPGs in 2022, Eve Online is a title that hardcore gamers should take very seriously.
After the hype, release, and then the death of 2003's Star Wars Galaxies, gamers were unsure about The Old Republic. Though the first CG trailers were of the highest quality, this was an era where Star Wars video games were in doubt.
When it first hit shelves in 2011, SW: TOR proved it had real legs.
Now finding a place as one of the best free MMORPG experiences, the game, its world, and its story has come a long way. Allowing players to fill the shoes of Jedi, Sith, troopers, bounty hunters, smugglers, and Imperial Agents, choice in TOR is king.
Backed up by the trademark strong BioWare story and systems of morality, it's easy to see why this game has remained popular.
Fans of Star Wars might have lived in a dark age once the license went to EA, but outside of their grasp, games from other developers remain strong. Still one of the best MMORPGs in 2022, TOR has proven its longevity.
Plus, if the last few years have been any indication, there's no risk of this game falling into the same trap that Galaxies did.
For the western market, Swords of Legends Online might seem like it came from nowhere. In reality, it's based on the 2014 Chinese television series Swords of Legends, which is itself based on a 2010 video game called GuJian.
This might seem an unusual origin story, but the quality of the game and its setting has made it the best MMORPG 2022 offers for many players
Set in the Tang Dynasty, the story in Swords of Legends Online follows ancient sealed swords locked away to protect innocent lives. For the player, this means collecting weapons, exploring a vast landscape, and fighting evil.
What sets this game as one of the top MMORPGs in 2022 has to be its variety and unique approach to gameplay. SOLO is a fast-paced and action-heavy title, relying on physical spacing and reflexes far more than most MMORPGs.
It also includes a robust player-housing and customization system. While many MMOs like FF14 try to include this feature, they're usually limited to only the richest players.
Everyone in SOLO gets their own home, and building the perfect abode is rewarding, fun, and easy.
The one caveat we'd point out with Swords of Legends Online is that the translation can be a bit spotty. Turn the dub to its original Chinese, and this becomes less of an issue, though the menu localization still needs a little work.
With these top MMORPG titles, players have a way to engage the full range of possibilities on offer. Whether looking to spend many hours building up a second life, or jumping in now and then to unwind, there should be something on this list for everyone.
Just remember to learn the MMORPG games lingo first, and there's no telling how far your adventures in the virtual world could take you!