I’ve stated before how perspectives can influence the story-telling of a game. Although I enjoy third-person games now and then, I prefer non-linear games, specifically RPGs in a first-person format.
Let’s face it, games like Half-life or Max Payne wouldn’t quite have the same impact if their perspectives were interchanged.
There’s something about assuming the role of a legendary warrior in the first-person where it ends up feeling like I am in control instead of how the player is more or less along for the ride in third-person.
First-person MMORPGs, in general, provide an excellent first-person experience due to the nature of players interacting with other players.
Well without further ado, here’s a list of the first-person MMOs still active.
1. The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online is one of my favorite experiences, majorly because I have loved The Elder Scrolls series since Morrowind, and ESO hearkens back to those good old RPG days.
ESO is an MMORPG developed by ZeniMax Online Studios and released in 2014. The game offers players the option to play the game in either the first or third person.
The gameplay is more reminiscent of Skyrim than any other TES and allows players to explore the world filled with random events and non-linear quests. There’s plenty of content here for players, even if they wish to play solo without any other MMO elements.
Since its release, the developers have added considerable content, including new zones to explore and quests to accept. It’s always a joy to go and see the world of Morrowind as it was 800 years before Nerverine fought Dagoth Ur.
ESO offers players a very polished MMORPG experience, and the fact that the camera perspective is left to the player only makes it much better.
2. Mortal Online
Mortal Online is an FPS MMORPG developed by Star Vault and released in 2010. Notably, the sequel is in the works and is planned to release in January 2022, so it might be worth keeping your eyes peeled for that.
The game is primarily open-ended and sandbox type, allowing players to experience the world and progress as they see fit. The game emphasizes player exploration and crafting, which is a large part of survival in the game.
Players can construct structures as a base and even tame wild animals mounted for more accessible travel. However, the game is primarily PvP and as such, expect your camp to be attacked and looted. Always be on the lookout for your enemies and never turn your back on them.
Mortal Online has a steep and challenging learning curve. I’d recommend going in with a friend, so you at least have someone watching your back.
3. Darkfall: Rise of Agon
Darkfall: Rise of Agon is a first-person fantasy MMORPG developed by Big Picture Games Ltd. and released in 2017. The game plays very much like Ultima Online or Asheron’s Call; it ditches the traditional MMORPG tropes instead favors a skill-based system.
Like Mortal Online, Darkfall doesn’t pull its punches in PvP. If a player falls in combat to another player, they can have their entire inventory looted, so any unique item or gold you had, consider it gone. This is a feature that most MMORPGs stray away from in the spirit of keeping things fair and the game not too hard.
However, Darkfall offers a more hardcore MMO experience. As rare as it is, players will have to always decide what to keep safe and what to carry on their person, with the risk of losing a PvP battle and all your inventory.
I’ll recommend this to gamers looking for a challenge or otherwise confident in their skill to try this unforgiving title.
4. Neocron Evolution
Neocron is a first-person MMORPG developed by Reakktor Media and released in 2002. It’s attributed as one of the first MMOFPS, but truth be told, it’s more MMORPG than MMOFPS.
Truth be told, I have always found this game sharing its cyberpunk aesthetics and post-apocalyptic setting with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
True to its setting, players are offered three unique classes, with the fourth one being a mix of all three. In addition, players are allowed access to a skill-based system like Darkfall, where players can assign points to specific abilities like construction, hacking, etc.
These abilities come in handy when taking on jobs globally, a convenient way of having an extra income. Neocron, after two decades, is now a community-driven project, so rest assured players are getting into a well-balanced non-grindy experience.
Additionally, the game recently received a graphics overhaul to bring it up to more modern standards.
5. ARK: Survival Evolved
ARK is an MMO title developed by Studio Wildcard and released in 2017. The game is essentially an action-adventure experience with survival elements. Ark can be enjoyed in both first and third-person perspectives and uses a unique pre-historic setting complete with the vegetation and dinosaurs.
While players can enjoy the game in a single-player setting, it also allows players to host various servers complete with rules unique to them; this makes it easy for players to join a server that suits their playstyle and the amount of time they want to dedicate to the game.
While some servers have vanilla rules, others might circumvent grind by dropping more loot to the players or allowing experience boosts.
ARK is not an MMORPG with a persistent world. Therefore, it’s best enjoyed with a group of friends, there’s a lot of content, and the game’s sandbox nature allows players to explore the world at their own pace.
Atlas is another survival centric MMO developed by Grapeshot Games and released in 2018. The game is currently available in Early Access on Steam along with an Xbox One port.
Like Ark, Atlas allows players to choose from a list of servers that change the gameplay entirely, with some servers being PvE focused and others being more PvP.
The gameplay revolves around the players playing as pirates as they voyage on the unknown seas searching for fortune. Players are encouraged to discover the land and claim it, allowing players to build their base on this newly discovered island.
The game is still in development, but it shows promise, and the content existing in the game does justify its price tag. The developers are working on bug fixes and server stability, but if you’re looking for First-person MMOs to enjoy, you can’t go wrong with this one.
7. Destiny 2
Destiny 2 is an MMOFPS developed by Bungie and released in 2017. The game is mainly first-person with elements of MMO and RPG.
The game offers players three distinct character classes, each with unique abilities and upgrade paths. At the same time, the species or race is only a cosmetic option and doesn’t affect the stats of the playable character.
Destiny 2 focuses more on the PvE aspect of MMO; however, there are PvP game modes, including ranked mode as well. Destiny 2 offers one of the most polished and combat-centric FPS experiences in an MMO setting.
If you’re looking to go guns blazing with a stylish movement and a competitive challenge, Destiny 2 is a no-brainer.
8. PlanetSide 2
PlanetSide 2 holds the world record for having the most number of players on a battlefield at the same time. This free-to-play MMOFPS was developed by Rogue Planet Games and released in 2012 for Windows and 2015 for the PS4.
PlanetSide 2 is another title that focuses more on its FPS elements, featuring vast worlds where three player factions fight for an entire planet by capturing enemy territories.
The game essentially plays like a standard MMORPG experience where players earn experience and currency for slaying their enemies; this, in turn, is used to upgrade the player’s stats and abilities along with their equipment and weaponry.
There’s also an overarching mechanic of which fiction holds the most territory as players of that faction are rewarded with currency and experience. Obviously, it’s more favorable to win.
9. Hellgate: London 2038
Hellgate: London is a dark fantasy ARPG developed by Flagship Studios and released in 2007. The game plays in both the first and third person and offers players a unique multiplayer experience.
London 2038 is a reimagination of the multiplayer in an MMO format, and the project is entirely free. The game is being actively developed with the staff listening closely to the community.
What they’ve come up with won’t disappoint players, especially if they enjoyed the original multiplayer experience of Hellgate: London.
There are plenty more first-person MMOs, but they rarely check the box of genuinely being an MMO. The games I’ve mentioned are more or less the best balance between MMOs and FPS games; they offer competent combat with rich RPG elements (especially Ark and ESO).
I, for one, am still waiting for a decent first-person only MMORPG experience that uses the perspective to a reasonable extent, kind of like Half-life that uses the first-person camera and the environment to tell its tale.