MMOs in 2021: What are you playing, and would you recommend anyone start now?

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zimzamfromspace

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I've been a Destiny player since Taken King, but I've begun to fall hard off of it, and have been trying to fill that massively-multiplayer sized hole in my gaming heart for the past few weeks. I created an ESO account and knocked out a couple missions since the base game is on Game Pass, and have been enjoying it so far, even though I have no one to play with as of now. Probably against my better judgement, I've also been eyeing WoW after hearing a lot of praise of the new expansion content, but am hesitant to start on account of the game being over a decade old and the community being miles ahead of what I feel like I could ever be without sacrificing all my free time. My questions to you all are as follows: Are you still playing any MMOs in 2021? Do you recommend people who have never played your MMO of choice, or even MMOs in general, start playing now? What MMOs are you still into?

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1upmuffin

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I still really like Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, and will login randomly to those, but I'm not super active. Beautiful worlds, fun combat, and they feel like they are wasting my time less than some other MMOs. Pretty fun to solo or play casually, especially since no monthly fee.

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aiomon

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In my eyes there are only 2 MMOs worth playing right now: Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2. I think ESO has a lot to offer for players playing a lot, a really good mix of PvE and PvP. GW2 is perfect if you wanna hop in every few months and rip through some fun PvE content (the PvP is bad right now, but apparently they're working on it).

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takayamasama

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I got back into ESO last week, started fresh on my Series X since it was on Gamepass (though I quickly bought Greymoor). It's really my comfort MMO. I've played WoW since Vanilla and still play it but right now it's in the downtime between Shadowland's launch and the next content patch...so really nothing to do.

ESO is probably my favorite MMO "world" to just explore, and the expansions really improve more and more on the formula/writing, which is really really good. I'm also super excited that this year's expansion revolves around our old friend Dagon. It will be fun to dive back into some Oblivion gates!

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Gundato

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#5  Edited By Gundato

Ignoring Destiny and Guild Wars 1 not "really" being MMOs (heavily instanced content with social spaces):

In terms of Live Games, Warframe is still my thang. Recent railjack tweaks have made that viable as a solo activity and its fun to just pop back in for a few hours a week to level up some weapons. Start is rough (strongly encourage hanging out on the gb discord to find some people to help with that) but if you enjoy shooting and slashing, it is fun.

In terms of actual MMOs: I got into Elder Scrolls Online near the start the year but bounced off around the time I wanted to start a second character. As long as you play in third person it is basically guild wars 2 but gamepad friendly. Position and movement matters but it is still cycling through rotations of very stiff animations with cooldowns. Open World has a nice mix of group events and solo oriented quests and dungeons tend to be instanced so there is no worry about loot. Also, Zenimax Online (or whatever they are called now) have done a much better job of not throwing their harassed and abused devs to the wolves and catering to the gamergate shithead demographic (which is what ruined Guild Wars 2 for me).

That being said, it is theoretically free to play but really is not. I cannot imagine playing that with each crafting ingredient counting as an inventory slot since, even with a fully upgraded bag and the premium crafting bag, that is just WAY too limited. Also, needing to grind faction skills (mage, fighter, etc) and pvp skills on each character is just a huge downer. My templar will have the good ultimate just as soon as I murder a few thousand daedra. And if I want to get that on my mage? Another few thousand. Let alone the mage guild books or sitting in a zerg to leech pvp point so I can get the skills that make me viable in pvp.

Suspect I'll pop back in when the NPC companions (think the folk from the final Guild Wars 1 expansion) are a thing. But doubt I'll play much after losing interest in my templar and wanting to check out a new class. But totally worth giving a go since that first-ish class is really fun.

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Efesell

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#6  Edited By Efesell

If anyone ever asks this I’m going to Kool aid man into the room and talk about FFXIV for 3 hours.

You can play up to the end of the first expansion for free which is an absurd amount of content.

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OMGFather

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I still play The Old Republic now and then. That being said I couldn't care less about the core MMORPG parts I guess, like end game raiding, PVP, group content, etc. I just like to go through the stories. If you're into Star Wars and the Knights of the Old Republic games especially it's well worth your time.

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ajamafalous

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FFXIV is currently the best MMO.

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Charongreed

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I've been deep into WOW since Shadowlands came out, playing for free because money is so easy to make, but I probably wouldn't recommenced it completely. I like WOW a lot, there's a staggering amount of content there, but the way they've forced new players through Battle For Azeroth (which, while not being a trash fire, is also not great compared to other expansions which are much more interesting). I'd actually recommend FF14: the community is very friendly (I can count my bad experiences on one hand, after doing maybe hundreds of dungeons) and playing for free through Heavensward is incredible, as it may very well be the best storytelling in any MMO full stop. Just go in knowing you HAVE to do the dungeons, but reading through a guide beforehand (especially if you play tank or healer) and being honest about your first time though, people are almost always accommodating and when they aren't, it's almost always their fault. Warframe is also a good choice, its the most Destiny like thing despite bungo trying to claim the opposite, but if you spend money when you get 75% coupons its actually pretty cheap and you get a lot of stuff.

To address your concern about catching up to the community, its very rarely hard, no matter what MMO you want to try. Some are much rougher than others, but it depends heavily on how much you want to do end game content. As another Destiny refugee, they have some very serious quality of life issues and general design problems that every other MMO has solved. WOW and FF14 have pretty gentle curves into endgame, but do require some grinding, ESO is a little crazy that the difference between 49 and 50 is huge and requires pretty specific build and gear choices, and I fell off of GW2 and TOR before the actual endgames so I can't speak to those.

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Efesell

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Incidentally there is a fun and friendly company of GB folks on Ultros if anyone gives XIV a shot.

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cornbredx

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As a long time player of many many many MMOs (I have a list of the ones I own, and therefore have played, here on Giant Bomb plug plug) I no longer feel the draw to MMOs that I used to. They are boring and repetitive to me now more than ever and as someone who works full time I don't feel I have the time to "waste" that I used to. But it's not even totally that, honestly. I like "wasting" time, but I just don't feel MMOs are fun anymore. The whole design of an MMO is set to literally waste your time so you play it longer and I have just become so tired of that design ideology. The best one, thematically, is Knights of the Old Republic because it has so much story, dialogue and world building that it does better than ANY MMO on that front, but even in that you still end up questioning why it's an MMO and not KOTOR 3? Why does it feel so large and yet so barren? There are nagging problems for me in that game.
I have opinions on almost every single MMO ever. I've played most of them. I'll spare that. I'm just saying, for me personally MMOs are now just a nostalgic novelty. I go back to the ones that still exist (a large number of them have been shut down now- a few even have been changed to something else- sadly which could potentially be a part of the problem) but I always always stop playing after a day or two. I just can't bring myself to play something if it only feels like a grind and nothing else of value anymore.
Honestly it... really bums me out. I played a lot of MMOs for many many years. But, you know. Things change.
I only would recommend an MMO if you really have time and don't mind that you really won't be advancing or seeing anything interesting for a very long time. Unless maybe you play The Old Republic. Although that game is older now. But again- It doesn't feel like it should be an MMO.

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imhungry

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FFXIV is fantastic and I would totally recommend it to people. There's legitimately great storytelling throughout, with a new expansion coming later this year. The free trial goes up to the end of the first expansion, which is a staggering amount of content for free.

You'll definitely have catching up to do since content is locked behind story progression, and there's some real pacing problems during the course of the base game storyline, but on the whole I'd say it's completely worth the time to experience the story. In addition, almost all the content is evergreen so you won't have problems playing with people even as you go through 'old' content.

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Ryuku_Ryosake

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Coming in to echo the FFXIV sentiment. For a new player coming into the game now.

I would firstly caution against getting too caught up in the veteran's player base hype around the game. Hearing people talked in hushed tones about one of the greatest stories every told is going to want to make you rush to catch up and is going to make all the hours it's merely ok or building to a payoff much further away than you a used to feel bad.

The second point is getting caught up should not be your goal if you are coming to the game. The game is really not just endgame or bust. The game is designed in such away to give veterans plenty of reasons to play old content all the time. You'll basically be fully integrated the community, your friends, and your guild during the entire catching up process. This is maybe a large reason why the community is generally so chill. It is really the best place to get group game play anxiety. Also catching up will take you along time.

The last point is prepare for it to be a bit dull at the beginning. I think FFFXIV is easily the most fun and best designed global cooldown combat. But the biggest difference for a new player versus someone who played since launch is that was true for every stage that I played the game. The base game leveling dungeons and class gameplay were equally as fun as the stuff I'm doing in current endgame. This is simply not true anymore. As in the course of keeping that level of quality for each expansion it diminished the earlier experiences. Class skills got spread out over more levels and gear acquisition got more consistent. So in earlier dungeons you will be playing with much less of a rotation and with a full party with maxed out gear in dungeon tuned to expect more minimal equipment spread. It's chill but dull and you'll miss out on a lot of the really cool mechanical teaching design in those early dungeons.

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FinalDasa

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#14 FinalDasa  Moderator  Online

I still play The Old Republic now and then. That being said I couldn't care less about the core MMORPG parts I guess, like end game raiding, PVP, group content, etc. I just like to go through the stories. If you're into Star Wars and the Knights of the Old Republic games especially it's well worth your time.

From what I remember from a LONG time ago when I tried to get into TOR it was really slow to start, is that still the case? Is it worth it to push through that stuff?

I've always wanted to dig deeper into that game and just get through the story stuff but I don't want to experience a 20 hour RPG spread over a 40+ MMO.

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Efesell

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@finaldasa: It's very fast these days since at some point they went in and dramatically increased the experience you get from priority quests, IE all of the ones with unique story chains that people actually liked doing, which means you can skip all of the generic MMO fetch quests and really mainline the good parts of that game.

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Mister_V

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Another vote for FFXIV, It's probably my favourite MMO ever at this point. The combat is great the job system is the best in class and in terms of story it puts every other MMO to shame, and I say that as someone who generally has no interest in Final Fantasy.

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Cubecubed

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#17  Edited By Cubecubed

I'm playing WoW classic, and while it has its issues, you can see why WoW was the dominant force it was for so long. If you didn't come up with those old MMO's, its probably going to be a hard sell, but its relative simplicity is one of its selling points in my opinion, especially in comparison to what it ended up mutating into in its current form.

I'd recommend anyone who wants to get into it waits until the Burning Crusade pre-patch, as that should have a massive influx of players back into it, and TBC is in my opinion probably the gold standard of Classic WoW design, with a ton of the rough edges sanded off of vanilla WoW, but not dumbed down to the point of current WoW. The next expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, is considered by many the best Blizzard ever made, so i'll probably be playing this on and off for the next few years, but i'm never truly going to no-life it like i did last year. The whole pandemic thing made it way easier, as it was probably the closest thing i had to a social life.

I've thought about giving FF14 a shot for a few years now, but never did. Just not a fan of FF character design in general, i've always preferred WoW's kinda cartoony/stylized designs. Say what you will about current Blizz, but they still bring it in the art design department. Some of the zones in Shadowlands were stunning.

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OMGFather

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@finaldasa said:

@omgfather said:

I still play The Old Republic now and then. That being said I couldn't care less about the core MMORPG parts I guess, like end game raiding, PVP, group content, etc. I just like to go through the stories. If you're into Star Wars and the Knights of the Old Republic games especially it's well worth your time.

From what I remember from a LONG time ago when I tried to get into TOR it was really slow to start, is that still the case? Is it worth it to push through that stuff?

I've always wanted to dig deeper into that game and just get through the story stuff but I don't want to experience a 20 hour RPG spread over a 40+ MMO.

@efesell said:

@finaldasa: It's very fast these days since at some point they went in and dramatically increased the experience you get from priority quests, IE all of the ones with unique story chains that people actually liked doing, which means you can skip all of the generic MMO fetch quests and really mainline the good parts of that game.

Yeah, you can only do your class story missions and still get enough experience to get through the game.

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jepsen1977

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ESO is pretty fun and worth subbing to. It's a chill experience if you're into Elder Scrolls universe.

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ValorianEndymion

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Because I decided to write a series of blog post about, for a long while I have been playing Granado Espada (aka Sword of the New World) (SEA version), which is both an old and unusual mmo. Would I recommend? I have to say that I don't know.

Since I am trying for the blog post series, going beyond which I made in previous attempts, I have played way more but also making small progress and getting stuck a lot.

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Big_Denim

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My wife and I enjoy ESO. Idk if I'd be super into it solo, but it's been a lot of fun playing with someone.

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Zelyre

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I enjoyed playing ESO along side my wife. When we were newish, I remember we used to duo large public dungeons and it was an exciting and rewarding experience.

There is a staggering difference between someone that animation cancels and someone that does not. While you do not need it for overworld or some normal dungeons, expect toxic behavior coming your way if you join a random group and don't. Same exact gear and target, and it's like a 10-30x difference in damage. You either play it casually or you give yourself carpel tunnel and break mice left and right making your templar look like a glorified shake weight, I don't think there's much of an inbetween.

ESO has fairly horizontal progression, though they just revamped their champion point system. If you want to hit up end game, I think the biggest thing holding you back would be learning how to shake weight your character.

GW2 also has fairly horizontal progression. Hit 60 and if you have the gold, you can snag a decent max level starter set from the auction house. From there though, it's a pretty long grind to start clawing at gains. But the trip to max level is fun and if you don't feel like you need ascended gear, there's lots to see and do. Maybe it's changed, but I loved 2h sword necromancer or minion necromancer because you're pretty sturdy.

Every few months, I get an urge to hop back into Old Republic, just to play through Sith Warrior, Inquisitor, and Agent again. Have yet to finish any Republic classes. Just thinking of what they're called is putting me to sleep. But eesh, zone chat. It's so bad, I turn zone chat off and THEN invert my mouse. Seriously though, the worst zone chat out of any of these games.

Last actual MMO I got back in to was WoW for Shadowlands. Having taken a hiatus, I spent time unlocking new races. By the time I got one of the two races I actually wanted, I was burnt out before stepping foot into the new expansion.

If you have a partner or group to play with, playing Valheim along side my wife was giving me OG 2004 WoW vibes. Exploring, finding new things, getting chased around. The game is front loaded with what I used to love about MMOs and this lasted until we went through the polished content and got to the early access portion of the game. It was like playing a 3d Ultima Online, cept people would say more than "Corp por" to me.

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noblenerf

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It's always a good time to get into Final Fantasy XIV. A new expansion is coming this year, you can play for free through the base game and first expansion (this year's is the third) and it's got a pretty lovely community compared to other MMOs, in my experience. Really hard not to recommend, it's awesome.

As far as MMOs go, FFXIV has been one of the best for a while now.

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Kyary

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So I never played Destiny 1 and sort of waffled between playing and not playing D2, but between the pandemic and the new expansion I have logged about 900 hours since the game moved to steam. It's just fun to load up the game and shoot stuff, man! I've been a little more casual this season, we do our raids a few times a month and I've played a little bit of the seasonal content, but I went really hard last season and I wanted to get some personal projects done before I started going out again.

Would I recommend someone start now? Well, I would if they wanted to play with me. I love guiding people through raids, talking loadouts and builds, running nightfalls, etc. And while I think it is possible to have fun solo, the numbers go up faster with friends. We have a fairly active group of newer and extremely veteran players which is neat. I think the game is in an excellent spot in general.

I just can't ever seem to find one of those server-based MMOs where all the people I know that play are on the same server - like that is just such a dated way of doing things and it really makes it harder to get people together. Like I thought 14 was...fine? The cooldown gameplay just does not grab me like shooting stuff does, but it is at least a very content-dense game. At this point though, I would never start any MMO that fragmented its playerbase into servers.