One of the most monumental games ever released, World of Warcraft not only pushed a lagging genre into global prominence but also birthed a cash-printing phenomenon that continues to this day.
Easily boasting one of the largest communities in all of video gaming, World of Warcraft has its roots in the classic Blizzard real-time strategy game Warcraft which is itself a pastiche of Tolkien-esque characters, environs, and narrative tone making WoW itself nothing terribly original in form but truly exceptional in execution.
Introducing many of the conventions with which many MMORPG gamers are now more than familiar, WoW is neither overly complex nor overly simple, giving players a lot of slack in how they choose to play the game.
As time has progressed the team at Blizzard has only added to this cornucopia of features with raids, dungeons, PvP, PvE, and other forms of in-game stuff to do has overwhelmed the original vanilla concept of WoW, making the title more of a platform than anything else. It is probably becoming apparent at this point that WoW is pretty foundational but has also grown so beyond its original scope that true comparisons are tough.
So, instead of going for direct comparisons, we’re going to offer you 10 games that are like World of Warcraft in one way or another. This is for longtime players of WoW who want to play something new as well as those gamers who are slightly intimidated by the sheer volume of WoW’s content and just want a quality MMORPG that is similar in style.
Developed and published by Riot Games and coming out in 2009, League of Legends or “League” is a freemium, competitive multiplayer online multiplayer online battle arena game based on the original real-time strategy game Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients.
As a “summoner” you choose a “champion” before heading into battle on a battlefield that is largely grid in structure and encourages straight line assaults and multi-pronged attacks with your minions.
Centered around a nexus, your goal is to not only protect this area but destroy your opponent’s, injecting a mix of capture the flag and king of the hill into the game mode. Your champion has a range of abilities depending on who you select while the minions are more or less the equivalent of World of Warcraft’s trash mobs found in group dungeons.
They do damage but they’re mainly there to distract and how the champion deploys them as well as bolsters them with other in-game tactics largely determines who destroys the other player’s nexus first.
Highly competitive and gripping in format, League of Legends is not an MMORPG but would probably find a comfortable place on a true PvP fan’s list.
Though it got off to quite a rough start, Final Fantasy XIV from Square Enix is perhaps the most visible contender to WoW’s throne out on the market.
Employing a style that is largely similar to the core gameplay that both adheres to Final Fantasy series’ rules while also adapting to MMORPG conventions, FFXIV is probably the most comfortable game on this list for players of WoW to switch to if they’re looking for something new.
While a familiarity with the Final Fantasy universe might help acclimate the gamer more quickly to this title, it is nonetheless made to appeal to all audiences and does a superb job at that.
Flashy and full of pop, Final Fantasy XIV also places a huge emphasis on story and side quests. You can obtain in-game housing, learn a craft, put multiple classes on one avatar, and a whole range of other things in FFXIV that brings it close to WoW’s breadth of offerings. The only real downside is that, like Blizzard’s masterpiece, this game is a time sink and you will really have to spend some time with it to get to the “good stuff” so to speak.
That said, once you arrive the game is one of the richest experiences in gaming and something not to be missed.
Released in 2011 as an outright WoW clone, RIFT from Trion Worlds is a solid if somewhat aged experience at this point. Like WoW players pick a character and a class to begin questing in the world.
A less spectacular version of Final Fantasy XIV, RIFT offers two tiers of play for current gamers including an events-based “Prime” server that is subscription fueled and a free-to-play version of the game as well.
RIFT is probably best for those gamers that want something exactly like WoW but a little different. Final Fantasy XIV could be jarring with its bombast and over-production – RIFT will not have this issue. And combat is unique enough to be compelling in itself which is always a great thing in an MMORPG.
Released in Korea in 2015, Black Desert Online is a sandbox-style massively multiplayer online role playing game that features huge-scale battles, gorgeous graphics, and a unique combat system for an experience that is alternatively described as incredible and different.
Perhaps the biggest thing that many longtime WoW players will notice about Black Desert Online is the action-oriented combat style the game uses.
Emphasizing pugilistic elements, there is a ingenious combo-based system as well as targeting system that is part-fighting game, part-strategy title.
In addition to the unique martial combat the game also has life simulation elements such as living in a house, growing crops, trading, or fishing. Another big draw for Black Desert Online is the massive PvP battlegrounds and sieges that players can participate in during the course of the game.
Built from the ground up for Black Desert Online, the graphics engine not only handles these epic scenes with aplomb but conveys a kind of cinematic feeling that is unexpected but refreshing nonetheless.
For fans of WoW’s PvP and battlegrounds, Black Desert Online is also great for action gamers that are looking for an MMORPG.
In pre-alpha state since December 2017, this yet-to-be-released MMORPG from Brad McQuaid, co-creator of the legendary Everquest series, promises the world and can probably deliver given the luminaries behind it. Designed in the vein of that classic series, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen will be heavily PvE focused with a particular emphasis on building the in-game community through robust social interaction options.
Guild Wars 2 is another charming experience that hews largely to the formula established by Blizzard in World of Warcraft while still doing its own thing.
Like many of the games on this list, the core features of WoW are also present in Guild Wars 2 but the flavor is a little different and the graphical style somewhat grittier.
That said, the world of Guild Wars 2 is fully realized and has that ageless quality that WoW’s environments have. Guild Wars 2, like WoW, almost exists in a time apart from other games.
Sporting one of the most dedicated communities in gaming, new players should have no problem jumping right in to Guild Wars 2’s action and should enjoy themselves the whole time they are playing.
Though similar in style and content to WoW (both owe JRR Tolkien a check), The Elder Scrolls Online, like many titles on this list, puts a premium on action combat that is less tied to timed attacks and the executable, rote motions of WoW’s battle animations.
Mimicking the first-person shooter RPGs on which it is based, TESO is really made with love for fans of The Elder Scrolls universe and is a must-play for them.
For those WoW players that would like something that is familiar but with updated graphics, TESO should offer them more than enough in terms of content, lore, and game world.
Another combat-heavy title in the vein of Black Desert Online and The Elder Scrolls Online, TERA is renown for being gorgeous upon release and still holds up to this day.
If you love the grind in WoW then TERA has your number and you need to answer the call. Featuring some of the most epic combat in any MMORPG, in the world of TERA you will be faced with all manner of beasts to take down and this forms a lot of the gameplay that people love about the game.
Other MMORPG elements are there, of course, but TERA really shines in its combat. The massive monsters that you chance upon every once and a while in the in-game world provide not only a random element of challenge but are some of the most rewarding action sequences in gaming.
Eerily reminiscent of Capcom’s Monster Hunters series (sans the titular monster hunting), TERA is a great game for people who want action and leveling and little else.
Coming out only months after the title following this one, Dark Age of Camelot is not only one of the founding fathers of the genre but also a uniquely positioned game in the pantheon of MMORPGs with its PvE and “realm versus realm” content. Following the Arthurian legends, Dark Age of Camelot puts the player in a world constantly in flux with one of three factions to choose from and support.
This is the granddaddy of MMORPGs and came out three years before WoW. Archaic is not the word but devoted also doesn’t do the fanbase justice.
A charming title with one of the longest-running MMORPG communities in gaming, Runescape deserves a look for anything if not historical purposes.
The game has undergone a lot of quality of life changes in the past few years so modern gamers shouldn’t be turned off by what is almost a “classic” title at this point.
If anything the game’s viability this long after initial release is a testament to its great gameplay.
I hope you enjoyed this list, it took a lot of time to create and I really love every second of it. If I missed any games them please let me know in the comments below.