RuneScape is one of the most well-known MMORPGs of all time, regardless of whether you played it from the beginning or only in subsequent iterations.
The fact that this browser-based role-playing game could now be played by both free and paid members has allowed it to grow rapidly. Players may join in with friends and role-play in ways that most purchased games didn’t even provide.
Neverwinter (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Almost all MMORPGs, at least those with a fantasy-themed setting, including RuneScape, have some connection to the well-known pen and paper RPG Dungeons and Dragons. Neverwinter makes reference to that significant game directly.
In one of the busiest free MMOs available, you can design a class straight out of the pages of the tabletop game to play around with.
Due to its more gratifying combat system than most MMOs, extensive character development, and ongoing addition of new content, the game has maintained an active and dedicated community since its 2013 launch. Even the players themselves have the ability to design and distribute their own quests.
You may play Neverwinter on consoles in addition to only the PC, unlike RuneScape, so you are not limited to playing it only online. The environment and general fantasy concepts will seem somewhat familiar, but Neverwinter’s story and combat go beyond what RuneScape can provide.
Even while it kind of contradicts the point of playing an MMO, you can play it as a game that is largely for single players. The game will make certain attempts to convince you to pay real money even though it is free, but they are often unnoticeable.
Ultima Online (PC)
Why not return to a classic with Ultima Online if what you enjoyed about RuneScape were the relative simplicity and old-school type mechanisms? When Ultima Online first appeared online in 1997, it helped establish the model upon which MMOs would be developed and improved.
You’ll quickly recognize a tonne of concepts and systems, including character creation, guilds to join, and a vast globe to explore, despite the game’s age. Although the player base has decreased since then and Ultima Online was once the first MMORPG to reach 100,000 players, the community that has remained is still typically kind and supportive of new players.
Even though this MMO is getting on in years, it nevertheless offers a refreshing change of pace from RuneScape in several areas. Say goodbye to anything you were holding, for instance, if you were to pass away during a PvP match.
Another aspect of the game that may offend younger players is the graphics, which feature rather a shaky pixel art and an isometric camera angle. Sincerely, even after more than 20 years, there is still nothing that compares to Ultima Online, and if you become hooked, it can still eat up hours of your time.
The Elder Scrolls Online (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC)
The Elder Scrolls Online and World of Warcraft have essentially identical gameplay mechanics (more on that below). The land of Tamriel, which Bethesda had previously only permitted players to explore individually in five single-player RPGs, could now be fully explored by all players simultaneously in an MMO.
The Elder Scrolls series is a much more obvious fit for the format than WoW, which was initially an RTS. The Elder Scrolls series has always been essentially a single-player MMO. One of the newest releases on this list, it features some of the best graphics you can get for an MMO with a strong player base that keeps the world feeling vibrant.
The Elder Scrolls Online, which takes place hundreds of years before Skyrim, offers you the chance to choose one of ten races, each of which is artistically and mechanically unique, and then lets you loose across Tamriel.
The quantity of new zones and content being added to the game as a result of ongoing support dwarfs even the amount of things to see and do in Skyrim. In comparison to RuneScape, the action is far more dynamic, the stories are more complex and produced to a higher standard, and the game’s total scope is a logical development.
World of Warcraft (PC)
RuneScape is three years older than World of Warcraft, which is frequently referred to as the father of the MMO or at least the modern MMO. Nevertheless, it is undeniable what this titan of a game did to make the genre popular in a way that no other game has previously.
It took a well-known and well-liked IP and turned it into one of the most approachable, compelling, and long-lasting online experiences available today. Its continued success nearly two decades later, similar to RuneScape, should be sufficient evidence that it struck on something unique and worthwhile to check out if you haven’t already.
RuneScape’s mechanics are comparable yet distinct from these ones. Because so many other games have adopted and improved upon WoW’s Hotbar concept, which was groundbreaking at the time, it has gained notoriety. But there aren’t many games that do it better if that method works for you.
Additionally, you gain access to a much broader universe with a variety of environments, races, and classes to pick from, as well as more opportunities to collaborate with others on challenging and meaningful content. Additionally, just with RuneScape, if you want to go back and play the game when it was new, you may do so using WoW Classic.
Legends of Aria (PC)
After Ultima Online, some of those same individuals left to start a new team and make an MMO that is both fresh and nostalgic. Legends of Aria, which just recently left early access in 2020, is the outcome.
This game, which is also free to play, combines the MMORPG premise with sandbox components that give players much greater influence over the environment than they would typically have in standard MMOs.
Building your own house, using the skill-based system to level up, obtaining special titles for your character, and exploring the lovely isometric world are all possible. It has an improved appearance that resembles RuneScape.
PvP also shares a lot of similarities with the enjoyable risk versus reward gameplay featured in RuneScape, where you can enter safe zones where you could be attacked at any time. You may play every position you’d expect in a fantasy world, including that of warriors and mages.
You can also take on occupations, trade, form alliances with anyone, engage in combat with mythical monsters, and more. Give Legends of Aria a try if you find RuneScape a touch monotonous owing to the difficulties because it is a bit more challenging.
Albion Online (PC)
Apart from the Western fantasy theme, the word “online” appears in the names of the majority of MMORPGs. Albion Online, however, is anything but a drab MMO trying to cash in on the popularity of the genre. Similar to Legends of Aria, this game is sandbox-driven, but the mechanisms that players can influence are much more complex.
Players virtually entirely control and direct the game’s whole economy, including the cash and equipment. Even though there are still talents to master in this game, your character’s power and differentiation come primarily from their gear, much of which you can either craft yourself or purchase from other players.
Similar to RuneScape, Albion Online has a straightforward graphic style with blocky characters and eye-pleasing solid colors. But don’t be fooled by the game’s seeming friendliness; if you enter an area you’re unprepared for, it won’t hesitate to destroy your character.
Leaving the safety of town is exciting once more, whether it’s due to monsters that naturally spawn in the game or, more likely, other players attempting to take down unsuspecting prey. There is no excuse not to at least try this additional free title.
Black Desert Online (PS4, Xbox One, PC, IOS, Android)
We in the West had been waiting for this MMORPG, one of the most well-known ones from Korea, for years before it was finally made available here. For the majority, the game’s superior graphic quality compared to its contemporaries—which is still evident even today—was its most alluring feature. Mechanically speaking, RuneScape-style MMOs have all you could ask for.
While Black Desert Online offers flexibility to explore, level up, acquire new talents, and collaborate with others for special events, combat is where it really shines. This game uses similar concepts to single-player games where placement and aiming your attacks count, unlike the majority of other MMOs or even RPGs. It’s not like you’re just sitting there listing off your abilities one by one.
The fighting alone will make this a little different from what RuneScape has to offer, but the skill component adds excitement to every battle and can result in some very memorable moments of achievement that you create yourself rather than relying just on luck.
These are notably entertaining in the colossally expansive siege missions and the castle battles that resemble real-life conflicts. You can play this MMO on the go using iOS devices in addition to PC and all the major consoles, so you’re never far from starting a mission.
Project: Gorgon (PC)
Project: Gorgon is a game that has a lot of intriguing concepts, but it is ambitious and in early access, so its graphics won’t exactly turn any heads. The primary selling point of this game is freedom. The number of things you can accomplish in Project: Gorgon is absurd when compared to RuneScape or the majority of other MMOs.
You can choose to play as a typical character, go on adventures, advance in levels, learn new skills—of which there is an astonishing number, such as psychology, fishing, dying, and lore—and explore the world like you would in any other video game. Alternatively, you can pretend to be anything you like, like an animal, a merchant, a singer, or a linguist.
Project: Gorgon’s core competencies are those already mentioned. Each person serves multiple purposes and communicates with others in rational ways. Developing your knowledge of anatomy, for instance, will enable you to identify adversary weaknesses and apply psychology to weaken their defense.
Although RuneScape has a lot of options and skills to master, you will find much more to spend time on and experiment with in this still-evolving game. Project: Gorgon is the same idea taken to the next level as RuneScape if freedom and advancement were what initially drew you to the game.
Rift was initially released using the conventional subscription-based model, but it has been available for free to play since 2013. Although there is still a paid version available that gives you bonuses like more premium cash, login incentives, and some extra material, playing the game for free often doesn’t feel too difficult or constrained.
The globe of Telara, where Rift is located, is divided into multiple continents, each of which has its own environment, history, races, missions, and other characteristics. You decide which of these races to play as, how to customize your character, and whether to join the Guardians or the Defiant, the two major world factions.
The game’s namesake rift features are what garnered the most of Rift’s initial attention. These are things that can happen anywhere in the world and present interesting problems for those nearby, including you. The best loot and hardest raid content may be found in rifts.
The game also features material made for solo players or small groups to tackle if you don’t have a large group of gamers online. Rift goes out of its way to make sure you can have a nice time no matter how you want to play, even though the environment isn’t very distinctive or exciting and the skill system does take some getting accustomed to before it clicks.
AdventureQuest Worlds (PC)
Chances are if you were alive during RuneScape’s prime, you played AdventureQuest as well—or at the very least, you were aware of it. Although entirely 2D and with far less emphasis on the adventure than RuneScape, this second browser-based RPG was still a respectable success on its own.
Unlike modern RuneScape, the sequel AdventureQuest Worlds has managed to be playable in your browser to this day. It finally pushed that art style and gameplay into the MMO playing field to directly compete with others in the genre. Numerous servers are still up and running, and thousands of players are still checking in.
For better or worse, this game is essentially an enlarged, multiplayer version of the original AdventureQuest. Unlike RuneScape, where you can essentially learn and master everything on a single character, you have a choice of four classes from which you can eventually level up into a new class with even more skills and abilities to learn.
There isn’t any actual exploring either. Instead, you effectively merely switch between preset displays, which makes moving quickly, but is unattractive to MMO players who want the sensation of adventure and discovery.
Although there are many tasks, events, and even PvP, the combat is extremely straightforward and basic, and the game never truly becomes challenging or difficult. That can actually be the ideal balance for a browser game, though. It is simple to get right in and start having fun without spending a lot of time studying the processes.
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