Blizzard is going through some stuff right now, and people are seeing the writing on the wall— World of Warcraft might not be the best game in which to invest your time at the moment.
Blizzard’s president just departed, content creators are apparently dragging their feet, and World of Warcraft Shadowlands is taking flak like Snowden from Catch-22.
It’s only natural if you start looking for MMORPG games like World of Warcraft to fill the void.
To be fair, the game has always been the subject of loads of criticism and it has weathered every storm to date, but this situation is a little more interesting. Workers and players are upset, lawsuits are flying, and new, quality MMOs are popping up all over the palace.
If you want to find games like WoW in 2021, then the chances are you want some or all of the following:
- A massive open world
- Character creation choices
- The ability to group up with others for questing, dungeons, and raid
- Communications with hundreds or thousands of others around the world
- Large and small-scale PvP
- An engaging story with great lore
- Lots of miscellaneous RPG stuff like gear, loot, rankings, and progression
To that end, I’ve created an updated list of World of Warcraft-like games that will fit the bill and give you incredible gaming experiences.
I tried really hard to pick games that are similar to WoW instead of just listing every MMORPG I know, so you should get a somewhat similar experience with these games.
Also, I put these games in no particular order.
1. Final Fantasy XIV
As far as MMORPG games like World of Warcraft go, Final Fantasy XIV might just be the closest in terms of quality, content, and playing style. The game is similar to WoW in the sense that it’s a fantasy world that you’re tasked with saving, but a lot of the game looks and feels different.
This game is not a WoW clone by any stretch of the imagination. It’s filled with Final Fantasy-esque characters, creatures, and stories that will make fans of the main series fall in love.
Final Fantasy 14 is very active these days since players are leaving WoW to try out something new until Activision Blizzard gets itself together.
WoW players will enjoy FF14 because it has a massive, beautiful open world with raids and dungeons along with some low-end PvP. The game makes up for it with a great player community and somewhat familiar classes and abilities
Sure, you won’t escape having to pay a subscription for this game, but this is probably the first game that you should check out after you get tired of trudging through Azeroth.
2. Black Desert Online
Black Desert Online (BDO) is another high fantasy MMORPG that has the standard fare of hacking and slashing your way through quests.
WoW players will love the fact that the game has such a high population of users, so you’ll never feel alone. You can group up with those people to play through dungeons and the game’s version of raids, or you can start killing other players in the expansive PvP system.
The combat in BDO is not for everyone; some people enjoy the action combat system while others bemoan it.
The game has some interesting features like differences in available content in day or night and a real focus on endgame being PvP-focused.
It’s not a bad game to check out, even though it’s starting to show its age.
3. Sword of Legends Online
Sword of Legends Online (SOLO) is a Chinese MMORPG that was ported to the U.S. in July 2021, and it’s made a bit of a splash, so I’m including it on this list.
You’ll find that this game is similar to World of Warcraft because it uses the same MMO formula of open world, parties of characters to take down dungeons, and raids that advance the rich yet hard-to-discern story.
The game’s combat is flashy, the class system is a clear departure from the western MMO, but the content is very straightforward throughout your leveling experience.
Think about SOLO if you desire a story centered on Chinese culture and action combat that gives the player two options for targeting and exploration. The game has fast, linear leveling and a major emphasis on PvP with unique classes.
More than anything, you’ll get a new MMO experience. Again, this game is very focused on PvP at the end of leveling, but more content is bound to make its way to Western audiences since the game has more content in China right now.
4. New World
Yeah, it’s in beta right now, but it’s coming soon. Why not get in on the ground floor of a new MMO?
New World’s videos show a game that takes place in a typical fantasy world, but it comes with the caveat that a lot of the content seems to be around building a society by taking part in various professions.
The combat requires more input from the player than most MMOs; there is no auto-locking feature. You have to aim your attacks while your enemies start to get smarter as you level.
Presently, the game boasts eight different dungeons for players to fight their way through with others, and that number could increase.
The main draws of this game include a new, player-oriented approach to combat and the chance to start a fresh MMO. New World also has a large world that allows you to build and make a difference in the available landscape.
You can join various factions and do your best to push back against others. PvE lovers will have eight dungeons available on or soon after launch
If you are looking for a good PvE experience, this could be one of the games like WoW you should check out.
5. Elder Scrolls Online
Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) is another major entry on the list of the best MMORPGs available right now, and it is similar to WoW in many respects. I think the greatest similarity is the amount of content between all the expansion packs.
Fans of the main series love that this MMORPG is very story-driven. You’ll find a lot of references to the other games in this one.
You’ll be thrilled to know that this game has a big player base. That means finding people to help you with quests and endgame content should be easy.
The game features 10 races (the same as the series) and six different classes from which you can choose. A lot of the content is made for single players, so the game is wonderful for people that do not want to rely on groups for every little thing.
Give Elder Scrolls Online a shot for the lore of The Elder Scrolls Series (and to slake your thirst for TES: VI). The game is packed with callbacks to Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind, so you’ll feel right at home.
Still, this game is an MMORPG like World of Warcraft with a focus on single-player activity. It also has a beautiful open world and a large player base. ESO continues to impress its player base, so it might be the right game for you.
6. Phantasy Star Online 2
The original Phantasy Star Online launched way back in the days of the Sega Dreamcast. For a while, it didn’t seem like we would get a sequel.
In 2012, Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO 2) launched in Japan, but it did not make its way to the shores of the U.S. until 2020. Now, some people might say “this game is too futuristic to be like World of Warcraft.”
You’re not entirely wrong, but the fact is that PSO 2 features a similar “holy trinity” setup to parties with a tank, healers, and DPS. Also, the overall gameplay, partying, and various quests that you need to complete with others makes this game similar to WoW.
The story is a bit out of the left field, which is par for the course for the larger Phantasy Star Universe. It’s also got a little bit of an anime slant to it, so that can be attractive to some people that are tired of orcs and elves.
This game is great for people that want similar gameplay but a vastly different setting and story. Also, the combat is a bit more action-oriented with attacks that you chain into combos and special powers like Photons or Techniques.
Right now, the game has sold millions of copies around the world, so you’ll have plenty of people to play with along the way.
People that want more action in their MMORPG can try out TERA. Like Sword of Legends Online (a game with Gameforge involved), the combat in TERA requires the player to be quite active and involved in the battles.
Players need to attack an enemy by placing their cursor over them and clicking instead of tabbing to them. It’s also up to the player to dodge incoming attacks from their enemies, too.
The world is a bit of a hodgepodge with some high fantasy along with burgeoning machinery, and that is reflected in the classes. Interestingly, the MMO falls into a more typical holy trinity format that has magic casters and gunners alongside armored warriors with a sword and board.
TERA has a nice open world that is still populated with some people these days, but not as much as other games. You will still find enough people to help you take down Big-Ass Monsters (BAMs) and run dungeons.
8. Guild Wars 2
Although Guild Wars 2 is not as popular as it was in the few years after its release in 2012, it’s still thriving as a free-to-play MMORPG that has a new expansion (End of Dragons) coming in 2022.
This is a very established game, and I can’t get into everything it has to offer. You’ll want to try this game because the combat will feel somewhat familiar to WoW but with some cool additions like environmental damage and active dodging.
The structured and open-world PvP is immensely enjoyable and the event system will keep the game fresh for you.
You’ll choose from five races and then customize them by picking from eight professions. Once you’re settled, you can begin getting involved in professions and making friends with a decent population. I’ve also heard that this game has a great community, so that should be a welcome change if not an outright culture shock for WoW refugees.
9. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic is still around and somewhat thriving today. In fact, a new update was recently announced for the game called Legacy of the Sith, showing that the game is still trying to keep fans around.
The game is similar to WoW in that it has a rich story that is drawn from a wider universe. You develop your character’s class abilities to suit your desires, such as becoming a smuggler or a Jedi knight.
The combat is reminiscent of WoW as well as the Knights of the Old Republic series, so you should have few problems adapting to it.
The game’s definitely more PvE than PvP, but that doesn’t mean there is no PvP to enjoy. In fact, aside from the standard combat between characters, the game has starfighter combat.
Every Star Wars fan could find something to enjoy about this game.
10. Final Fantasy XI
That’s right, Final Fantasy XI is still around these days. Considering that this game launched in 2002, that’s impressive. Currently, there are about 16 different servers up around the world with several thousand players on each, so the game isn’t dead. Yet.
The main draw for this game is that it’s an old game that people loved in its day and continue to enjoy now. It’s like World of Warcraft Classic, except these servers have been running since the old days.
Final Fantasy XI is a lot like World of Warcraft in terms of the combat, partying system, and dungeons. The speed of combat is certainly slower and the game can be a real grind for people that are just starting out with no friends.
The story is complex, but it pales in comparison to the much larger Final Fantasy XIV. Nonetheless, the game features a wide variety of different classes to play along with a fair few races.
This is a large, old-school MMORPG like pre-Cataclysm WoW, so you might just enjoy it. The chances are you won’t like the UI as much, though.
11. Lost Ark
Anyone looking for a modern take on the MMORPG with a little more emphasis on action than exploration might want to check out Lost Ark.
It’s a Korean MMORPG (I know, they can turn out terrible) that is set for release in the U.S. and other regions in the last quarter of 2021.
I would say this game takes a little more of an action slant than a typical RPG. The combat is fast-paced but not as freestyle as some other MMOs that we’ve put on the list. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the Diablo III style.
The graphics and surroundings are a high point, and so is the depth of the endgame. You’ll have plenty of island excursions, dungeons, and raids to run. If that’s not your thing, then you can try the PvP, which is reminiscent of WoW in that it involves a lot of crowd control.
12. Old School RuneScape
Old School RuneScape ( also known as RuneScape 07) is another MMORPG that fans will enjoy if they liked the vanilla WoW and the first two expansions.
Is RuneScape as pretty as WoW? No. Is the combat as advanced? Nah. But the game requires dedication, coordination, and a willingness to get through a pretty intense grind. Your fighting skills, artisan skills, and gathering skills can take a tremendously long time to master.
People that enjoy Old School RuneScape are similar to those who came back for WoW Classic. They embraced the suck and decided to eschew the modern version of the game that wasn’t as fun or challenging.
If you’re swearing off Activision Blizzard products or you’re already tired of the Burning Crusade Classic, then you should set your sights on this game.
People that like more of a Dungeons & Dragons feel to their MMO will enjoy Neverwinter. This game is a spiritual successor to the Neverwinter Nights series, and anyone that has played those games should have a fair idea of what the game is like.
There is a lot to love about this game if you want to change up your approach to an MMO and go back to a D&D-inspired game. The combat uses the approach where you have to build up various resources that are specific to your class, and that can involve careful use of your hard-hitting attacks.
In other words, the game requires a little thought. You’ll also have to put in a lot of time to optimize your character so that you’re not just rag-dolled at the end of the game.
Running content at the end of the game with friends is very entertaining for people that enjoy that fantasy content.
The map is not as large as WoW or FFXIV, and don’t get your hopes up for some intense PvP— it’s just not there.
A common criticism of the game is that it is continually being made easier to play for new people. Although appealing to casuals is a sin that many MMORPGs like WoW have committed, that might make this game better for newcomers!
14. Albion Online
The makers of the game describe Albion Online as a fantasy sandbox MMO, and that is a pretty apt description. This game is not one of the games like World of Warcraft where you can explore a big, beautiful world, fly around the map, or any of that.
Instead, the game is an MMO but it looks more like Diablo or even Torchlight. Although you don’t have classes as you do in WoW, you can equip weapons and armor that can help you tank, heal, or do damage.
The combat is probably not what you’re expecting from an MMO, but it can be a lot of fun. The game has “corrupted dungeons” that you can explore and level in. The game also has some limited PvP. Don’t expect to see this streamed, though. The PvE vastly outranks the PvP.
All in all, this game doesn’t share too many similarities with WoW, but it could help scratch the itch for an MMO. The game is free to play, so if you’re tired of paying for a subscription, this game can help you out.
15. Lord of the Rings Online
Who needs Goldshire when you can have THE Shire, am I right? Lord of the Rings Online is one of the games like World of Warcraft that was supposed to be a “WoW Killer” back in the day. The similarities are there in terms of combat, open world, dungeons, raids, and other respects. The game lacks PvP in the sense that you would see in most MMOs.
The biggest difference, of course, is that the game is steeped in that rich Lord of the Rings lore. The game takes place on the heels of the beginning of Frodo’s adventure that leads him to Rivendell. So, you’ll see a lot of familiar faces along the way.
The game has an epic story for you to follow, and you can do that and side quests to make your character stronger. The class system is solid, the combat will feel familiar to any WoW vet, and the ability to obtain a home gives the game a very comfortable quality.
Whether you’re going to famous places from the books and movies or crafting something special for your hobbit-hole, this game is rather peaceful when you’re not cutting down enemies.
Like some of the other games on this list, Lord of the Rings Online has a new expansion planned for 2021, which is interesting since the game has been coasting for a few years.
People that want a story and a world that isn’t rooted in the same sort of fantasy world might want to try this one. Although this is a game like World of Warcraft with very similar questing, UI, world exploration, and factions, Rift has a very unique take on the MMORPG.
Sure, you’ll do a lot of the common MMO things like grinding levels, but you will also run into the titular rifts where monsters spawn and you have to swoop in and save the day.
You’ll do those quests, storyline quests, dungeons, and raids while playing a bunch of different classes that focus on healing, DPS, tanking, and support. The graphics aren’t the best, but the experience of playing this game is fun and smoother than some MMOs on this list.
It’s odd in a way. This is an MMORPG like WoW, but it seems to be struggling to hang on these days despite having very good gameplay. You can still see an active community on Steam, though, so the game is worth checking out.
17. Secret World Legends
Secret World Legends is a game like World of Warcraft in the sense that it’s an MMORPG, but that’s about where the similarities end. This game takes place in the modern day, and it uses a ton of mythological elements that make the game kind of a pastiche of fantasy and realism.
In some ways, the game reminds me vaguely of Parasite Eve.
Players can choose from one of three different factions (Templars, Illuminati, and The Dragon). From there, you’re recruited to a different part of the world like London or Seoul, and your quest to subvert evil forces begins.
The faction and resulting faction-based combat are very interesting about this game, so people looking for that aspect of WoW could find it here. It makes PvP feel a lot more personal.
You can use guns or magic to kill monsters and other player characters, and the casting time of moves is practically nil, so running and gunning is basically all you’ll do.
The story is pretty far out there, but that might just be a welcome change in your gaming lifestyle. You’ll have plenty of quests, dungeons, and mystery-solving to do along your journey, too.
All in all, this game might be a little too modern for some people, but it could also be a welcome departure for others.
Tangentially Similar Games Like World of Warcraft
If you’re still desperate to get that WoW fix, but you need to depart from the fantasy worlds, then you could expand into other games. Take a look at:
- Destiny 2
- C9 Continent of the Ninth Seal (all but dead these days but still there)
- Path of Exile: Lacks the MMO aspects but is fun nonetheless
- Diablo III
- Diablo II: Resurrected (A remake of Diablo II that will release in late 2021).
These games have some of the elements you’ll want from WoW, but they were not similar enough to include on the big list of games like World of Warcraft.
MMORPG Games Like World of Warcraft Are Everywhere
I am happy to report that as of 2021, it seems that MMORPGs are making a comeback. We have a few highly anticipated titles on this list (New World, Lost Ark, and Sword of Legends Online).
In other words, it’s a good time to explore other games on the market and see what you can make of them.
However, some MMORPGs like World of Warcraft are better than others. I have tried to curate a list that offers a wide variety of games that let you play with other people but have something unique to offer.
Did I forget one or two of your favorites? If so, let me know all about it in the comments and I might just steal your idea to lengthen my list.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to look at other content on the site. I’ve written a ton of stuff about World of Warcraft.