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5 Highly Respected MMORPG Kingpins of 2021

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Whether you're deeply invested in the whole world or not, we can't fault the level of material in MMORPGs. Even if you're more of a solo traveller with very little to offer the surrounding factions — just being involved in the foundations and a minor fraction of the world is still enough to make us feel special. And, to be fair, these ambitious games have been allowing us to shift to another life and feel colossal for decades now. Even if it's only for a few minutes between the daily hustle and bustle of life; MMORPGs can truly give us moments of pure joy between stages of reality as characters of our own design.

We've tucked into plenty of worlds over the years — and we've read enough lore to compile an anthology. And yet, we keep coming back to the shelves in order to create a new character or pursue another endgame entirely. Dungeons, Raids, gear — and everything else that every great MMORPG provides; it's all what brands a true kingpin of the genre. That's why we thought we'd share some of the most respected names in the category. So, are you ready to pay your respects to the franchise favourites?


5. Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online - Official Steam Launch Trailer

Branded to the highest regard due to its innovative design and in-depth character customization, Black Desert shot to fame after its successful 2015 launch. As a sandbox-oriented game, players are encouraged to take the reigns from the very beginning and craft a personal story worth sharing. How that is done, however, is entirely up to the player, and hand-holding is somewhat restricted from the get-go. Of course, there is a wide range of things to explore in Black Desert — but the endgame is something of your own making. And, I mean, that works for us. After all, who doesn't want to be their own boss?

As of September 2020, Black Desert Online has amassed over a billion dollars in revenue. With eighteen million players dropping in since its 2015 launch, this MMORPG stands as one of the all-time greats in the genre. Plus, we think developer Pearl Abyss deserve a round of applause just for being able to port the game onto consoles. With the number of complex features and interface components — it couldn't have been an easy task, that's for sure.


4. Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV Online: Cinematic Trailer

As one of the most notable studios in the fantasy role-playing world, it seemed only right that an online chapter was brought to fulfilment. Of course, we can't forget the eleventh instalment in the series, which also evolved around open-world elements and strong player progression notes. However, Square Enix decided to crank it up a notch when recreating a new and exciting MMORPG.

Boasting crisp worlds filled with wonder and wisdom, Final Fantasy XIV takes almost every element from the franchise and stuffs it all into one suitable package. And, with the addition of nine unique expansion packs, the world around Eorzea manages to home a whole ocean of diverse routes and goals that never become stale. But hey — we expected nothing less from Square Enix. They really know how to draw a crowd and keep them coming back for more.


3. RuneScape

RuneScape Trailer - Adventure Calls

While on the hot topic of long-standing franchise favourites, it seems only right that we include the formidable MMORPG opponent, RuneScape. With its incredibly extensive knowledge and cherished history within the community, it sort of makes sense as to why this classic still homes over a million players. Even after two decades or rolling out new material and trying to stay relevant — gamers are still rediscovering the much-loved classic. It's somewhat timeless, and it's probably one of the most nostalgic works of art in the MMORPG sphere.

While RuneScape doesn't compare to some triple-A games in some respects, it does possess a minor charm that never fails to keep us coming back. Perhaps it's the developer's strong devotion towards the community or the timeless feel to the fleshed-out world. Whatever it is — players seem to love it. And, who are we to turn away something as ambitious as RuneScape Classic? Just take our money already.


2. The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online - The Alliances Cinematic Trailer

The Elder Scrolls has always been a franchise to watch when it comes to strong fantasy role-playing games. Each entry to the mouthwatering platform never fails to provide extensive worlds packed full of mapped out lore and gripping themes that cater to all gamers. So, of course, by introducing an online world where players could meet one another and embark on an epic journey as allies or foes — Elder Scrolls Online was destined to be a sure-fire winner. Admittedly, not as favoured as the following entry — but an overwhelming success on player and developer fronts nonetheless.

The Elder Scrolls Online has been maintaining a healthy few million players since its 2014 launch. In turn, by 2020, the game sold over fifteen million copies based over consoles and PCs. And, with Bethesda looking to evolve the ship by introducing even more meaty expansion packs — it's likely that we'll see that player base surge by 2022.


1. World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft Cinematic Trailer

As one of the longest standing MMORPGs on the market, and hands down the most successful, it'd be criminal not to feature the beloved Blizzard hit at number one. Admittedly, since its decline in players over the past fifteen or so years, World of Warcraft has been looking to find new ways to stay relevant and lure gamers back to their old accounts. With that in mind, the iconic Classic Edition was published a little while back — and fans are finding new reasons to love the grandfather of MMOs now more than ever.

Love it or hate it — it's the most respected kingpin on the MMORPG market. Not only is it ambitious — but also incredibly nostalgic, and millions of players wouldn't dare to disagree over its renowned status, either. That's well over twelve million, by the way. So yes — Blizzard still wear the crown for their iconic World of Warcraft platform. And no — we don't think it'll be taken any time soon, either.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.