When I think of MMOs, a few names come to mind. Of course, World of Warcraft is among the best. However, it doesn’t hold a candle to Guild Wars 2 which might be the single best f2p game on the market right now. Guild Wars 2 has some of the best combat you’ll find in any MMO, and its world feels like an actual place where people stay.
Every time you defeat a boss or complete some quest, it has a ripple effect on the rest of the world. Even when you aren’t logged in, the world keeps transforming on its own. And one quest can lead to a chain of totally new events. The developers constantly add new content and this involves stuff like weapons, armor, storylines, etc.
I decided to make a list of 15 games like Guild Wars 2 that deliver a similar experience. Remember, Guild Wars 2 is actually free if you just play the base version. Expansions do cost money, but it’s still a lot better than paying 15 bucks a month for World of Warcraft.
1. Black Desert Online
This is less of an MMO and more of a sandbox RPG. As a result, you’ll spend several hours doing all sorts of wacky stuff like taming horses or growing farms. And it’s guaranteed to be fun because of how deep the game mechanics are. Exploring areas, crafting items, surviving the harsh world, and building your base are all extremely enjoyable.
In Black Desert Online you’ll spend ages trying to get stuff. Want a horse? You can get one from the stable but it may not be the type of ride you wanted. So you get some food and try to tame your own horse. But the food is of low quality so you get into farming.
And then you delve into the game economy, going to markets for stuff like fertilizer. You see how various systems in the game are interconnected, and getting into one thing reveals an entire world of possibilities.
Combat is fun, sure. But I believe you will have a lot more fun with seemingly mundane activities like fishing or building a house.
2. Final Fantasy XIV
It’s final fantasy, and you know what that means. Turn-based combat with lots of anime melodrama and extremely stylized world design. You’ve got eccentric characters who do and say weird things that often make no sense. However, the themes of friendship and love universal to all forms of storytelling carry final fantasy above its peers.
There’s a sense of involvement you get from this game’s story, and you feel emotionally invested in some of the characters. Combat is extremely colorful with vibrant and crystal clear animations that look flashy. There are plenty of jobs to choose from, each with its own unique collection of skills.
3. The Elder Scrolls Online
The nice thing about Elder Scrolls Online is that it builds upon existing lore and mechanics from previous Elder Scrolls games. So if you’ve played Skyrim, you’ll feel right at home. The game world is persistent so events keep happening whether you’re active or not. And you only need to make a one-time payment, there is no subscription system like in World of Warcraft.
Initially, the game was riddled with graphical glitches and performance issues. However, ESO has improved a lot since then. There are both solo and co-op game modes. You can join other players online to raid dungeons and defeat large monsters.
It’s one of the few MMOs that is set in a futuristic sci-fi universe instead of medieval fantasy with witches and orcs. The game is heavy on both types of action- melee and shooting. Think of it as a space ninja game, there’s plenty of mobility built into each character. And you have a variety of guns/ melee weapons to choose from.
The game is free-to-play but is quite grindy. Towards the late game, you’ll find yourself doing activities like fishing and mining to gain upgrades. That’s a significant departure from the action-oriented core of this game.
But when you do get into combat, there is nothing else that compares. Wall running, sliding, double-jumping, etc. combined with brilliant map design results in tactical and action-packed gameplay.
5. EVE Online
Set in a science-fiction world, EVE Online is a completely open-ended sandbox that doesn’t hold your hand or force you down certain paths. It lets players experiment and rewards them with diverse gameplay options/ quests. You can play EVE Online for months and barely scratch the surface of its mechanics or game systems.
There is a massive learning curve. However, EVE has a huge community of players willing to help newcomers. You are part of an empire, controlling a shared fleet of spaceships. There are large space battles on the scale of Star Wars, and you must cooperate with fellow players to win these fights.
6. Monster Hunter: World
Rarely do game titles describe the content of their gameplay as accurately as this one. Monster Hunter: World puts you in a world filled with giant, extremely dangerous creatures. You’ve got dinosaurs, dragons, giant bird-frog things, and everything in between. To get you immersed in this world there’s a story along with plenty of side-quests.
But people don’t play this game for the mediocre narrative. Instead, they are drawn to it because of the gameplay. You beat monsters, use their bones and hide to make weapons/ armor.
Then you upgrade said gear by beating even tougher monsters. Rinse and repeat, with a few twists. You can combine weapons to create advanced gear with unique effects.
7. Path of Exile
Choice is the name of the game, and Path of Exile gives players the freedom to do whatever they want. From its labyrinthian passive skill tree to action-packed gameplay, there is plenty to love about this action RPG. It’s always changing and throwing new challenges at the player.
You will rarely run into the same boss or monster twice. With hundreds of skills and weapons to wrap your head around, you’ll spend plenty of time fighting your way through dungeons in order to earn upgrades. Character progression in Path of Exile is its main selling point, with a skill tree that adds passive attributes and skills.
This is the closest you’ll get to tabletop RPG gaming in any MMO. Neverwinter lets you create your very own dungeons where you can be the bad guy, hero, boss, etc. It is modeled by taking heavy inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons, with an art style that matches the classic high fantasy setting.
Plus, it’s one of the few MMOs with an actual physics engine that causes objects to move when you hit them. One area where this game falls short is in the looks of your character, it barely changes as you upgrade gear and clothing.
Linear quest design and poor narrative choices bog down what’s otherwise an excellent strategic RPG with lots of tabletop mechanics.
The combat system in TERA is leagues ahead of WoW, at least in terms of innovation. While in most regular MMORPGs you’re reduced to a stationary spell-flinging tower within combat, TERA rewards you for smart positioning and movement. You can use your skill to dodge incoming abilities, and quick reactions let you get spells off before your foes.
In a way, TERA incentivizes player skill such that you can take on higher-level foes and beat them. As long as you are good with your spellcasting and movement, combat in TERA is extremely engaging.
Unfortunately, the quest design and PvP aspects of this game fall behind that of most modern MMORPGs.
10. Star Wars: The Old Republic
The events in this game while based within the Star Wars lore aren’t exactly canon. All the battles are fought in well-recognized locations such as Tatooine, Alderaan, and Hoth. But this is 3600 years before the Skywalker era, and things are slightly different. There is no Yoda, Obi-Wan, or Luke.
You’ve still got the Empire and Republic going at each other, with 4 classes to choose from. Each unit type has 2 subtypes so you can create exactly the type of character that suits your playstyle. There are multiple species to choose from on top of the classes. Combat uses a simple tab targeting system in which you combine skill chaining with auto-attacks.
11. World of Warcraft
While it isn’t the oldest MMORPG, it’s certainly one of the most popular titles in its genre. World of Warcraft captivates players with its rich lore and classic characters. It’s basically the Lord of The Rings equivalent within MMORPGs. While other games have copied or improved a lot of WoW’s mechanics, the original formula still stands strong.
The main gripe most players have with World of Warcraft is its dated combat system and underwhelming endgame. WoW’s endgame has been improved significantly with recent expansions.
Still, you have to pay 15 bucks per month in order to play this game. This is an issue for many people when there are excellent f2p alternatives like Guild Wars, Warframe, etc.
12. Phantasy Star Online 2
It’s another Japanese MMO, this time from SEGA. And one that took all of 8 years to arrive in the United States. Entire games get made in half the time. But I won’t complain too much because the combat and storyline in this game are worth it.
The story is simple, you are an operative in an elite space force whose job it is to explore new planets. You also have an enemy faction called the Falspawn. Dungeon design in this game is quite innovative, and boss fights aren’t just about spamming spells till the bad guy’s HP falls to zero.
13. Genshin Impact
If you’ve played Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before, you’ll immediately notice the similarities in art design between it and Genshin Impact. And Genshin also uses gliding + stamina-based climbing systems for exploration, much like the recent Zelda game. The world is very anime-themed, which is to be expected from a modern f2p action RPG.
The story roams between plot points and you get quests that have nothing to do with the main objective. Sometimes you’ll be picking fruit, other times you’re crafting items. And to space it all out, you’ve got a bunch of fights with some really powerful mythical beings.
Upgrading your character and gaining new weapons is a lot of fun in this game, and it will keep your attention away from the extremely mediocre story.
14. Albion Online
What makes this game unique is its player-driven economy and classless combat system. The medieval fantasy setting has everything you’d expect- orcs, elves, dragons, etc. However, you aren’t restricted to rigid classes. Instead, your abilities and specialties change based on your clothing.
Trading of wares means there are no set prices for items in shops, they are instead only as valuable as what someone is willing to offer for them. Gear can be switched to completely redefine your playstyle. And you can conveniently craft new weapons or armor provided you have the necessary components.
15. PlanetSide 2
A first-person shooter that puts you in wars the scale of which is honestly incomprehensible. You choose from one of 3 rival factions or empires, striving to take control over entire planets in all-out modern sci-fi battle. Each empire has their own technologies, weapons, vehicles, etc.
You have 4 different maps to fight on, each representing a different continent. There are jungles, snow-covered mountains, deserts, and more. You don’t win by capturing a point, instead you have to hold and maintain control over territories.
The goal of this game is to get resource superiority over the enemy, by working as one unit with your squad.
I created this list with games that each resemble Guild Wars 2 in their own unique ways. Some have similar combat while others have a living, breathing world filled with exciting quests.
But if you ask me, no other MMO even comes close to replicating the feel of Guild Wars 2. And it’s free, so if you haven’t tried it I highly recommend downloading the game. You’ll have a blast, especially with friends.
If you want a more action-focused experience, Genshin Impact might be the game for you. It’s extremely popular and has been getting frequent updates that introduce new characters, mechanics, etc. Oh, and Warframe is one of the few shooter MMOs. It’s basically ninjas in space with 3rd person shooting action.