Hello and welcome to Isarii’s MMO history! If you’re reading this, I’m probably applying to your guild and making an excellent first impression by being too lazy to type this stuff out for each individual guild I apply to. Nothing wrong with being efficient – right guys, right?
Like many of us who have been around for awhile, I’ve gotten into a few too many MMOs in my time on the internet. What can I say? I guess I just have a habit of buying into the hype cycle like a moron.
Many of these were unfortunately short lived while others occupied me for years, but each gave me a little bit of perspective that’s helped to hone my sophistication as an MMO player and consumer. While there are a lot of games on this list, my ultimate objective for the future is still to find the next MMO with real staying power that I can play for years to come.
Oh, and feel free to click around the website while you’re here. I do the odd bit of freelance writing and blogging because I enjoy turning my hobbies into a job like a schmuck.
RuneScape (Circa 2002-2005)
Like a lot of people my age, I got my start in MMOs with RuneScape, the browser based MMO that’s not really a sandbox but doesn’t actually feel a themepark, either. I have a lot of fond memories of the game. Despite its inexplicable reputation as puerile, the game was fairly hardcore and did some things better than many of the MMOs that have followed it.
Star Wars Galaxies (2004 – 2005, 2011)
The sandbox game that I believe to still be the greatest attempt at a virtual world the genre has ever seen. My only real regret here is that I was inexperienced at the time, and wasn’t able to fully take in the game when I played pre-CU to the level that I would have today.
World of Warcraft (2007 – 2012, 2016)
I mean, who hasn’t played this game? A little bit of raiding here, a little bit of instanced PvP there, a whole lot of murdering Alliance scum in Southshore – at least before Cataclysm put the kaibosh on that…
Age of Conan
This game got a lot wrong, but honestly, it got a lot right, too. The wonders of FFA PvP, action combat before its time, fairly interesting and unique class design – kind of shame that its faults overwhelmed its advantages.
One of the most egregious examples of EA releasing an unfinished game that I can think of. It seems appropriate that EA now also stands for Early Access.
I don’t know why I thought I’d enjoy an Eastern MMO. Oh yeah, the flying.
This adventure into the comic book world was short lived. In retrospect, I should have played City of Heroes instead.
A brief foray with the intention of finding out what was so interesting about this title. I guess I’d call this venture a failure then, because I never did figure it out.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
This is why I have trust issues.
Guild Wars 2
I can never figure out if I like this game, or if I think it’s just a cash shop with the illusion of a game built around it. Still, a lot of interesting ideas, many of them good. Useful as an excellent case study on how not to do massive PvP.
The Secret World
The best single player MMO I’ve ever played.
I can’t believe this crappy game outlasted the half-way decent show it was attached to.
Amazing combat feel! That’s the exhaustive listing of things I enjoyed about the game.
Firefall (Tester, circa 2013)
This game was extremely fun and had a lot of promise as a sandbox third-person shooter. The studio naturally decided that this was a horrible idea and redesigned the game as a pay-to-win themepark.
Played for a few months before being cock-blocked with an invitation to TESO‘s exclusive PTS testing. As much as I love what players are able to do in this game (and consider it another of the pinnacles of MMO design, up there with SWG), I don’t particularly enjoy the user experience in terms of interface and controls. I would love to play a game like EVE that’s more fun on a minute-to-minute level.
The Elder Scrolls Online (Closed Alpha Tester)
I was part of the staff at Tamriel Foundry, the premiere fan site for The Elder Scrolls Online, before this game made it to market. I was invited to every beta there was, and played extensively as the game matured towards its launch. I somewhat famously lost faith in the title and the team behind it just before launch, making a wide array of predictions for the game that basically all came true. This game really should have been a sandbox. I mean putting classes in an Elder Scrolls game? You can’t be serious.
To the game’s credit, it has done an excellent job of recovering from its lackluster launch, and is honestly in a pretty good state right now. I returned to the game some time after its launch and have found it really enjoyable as an MMO, even if it still seems to have gone in the wrong direction for an Elder Scrolls game.
ArcheAge (Localization Alpha Tester)
Open PvP on the high seas remains probably the most fun I’ve had in an MMO; this was a fantastic game until the bait and switch pay-to-win patch just before launch. This reaffirmed my trust issues.
A tragic example of a few mistakes sinking an otherwise excellent game. I love the combat; I love the aesthetic; the PvP was fun; housing and character movement were probably both best-in-industry – but meta systems like how progression worked ultimately brought this game down.
This isn’t an MMO. Why are people calling this an MMO?
Albion Online (Closed Beta Tester)
I really enjoy the way Albion brings old school design back in a package that has all the responsiveness we expect in a modern MMO. Hardcore full-loot FFA sandbox PvP with territorial control on a single-shard global server brings this title the closest to being the fabled “EVE on the ground” that so many of us want.
Crowfall (Closed Alpha Tester)
Backer since Kickstarter. I’m pretty excited about how testing for this game has been going. It’s got a long way to go, but the path so far has been promising.
Minimum level backer. Cautiously optimistic for the full-release, though I have concerns about how much an MMO this is actually going to be.
Final Fantasy XIV
I finally checked this one out. It was mostly out of some sense of duty that, when you’re working in the MMO media, you should probably make some effort to at least try the biggest and most beloved games, even if they don’t personally appeal to you all that much. It’s definitely a solid game, even if it isn’t exactly what I usually look for.