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The humble MMORPG isn’t as popular as it once was, but there are still plenty of awesome MMORPGs out there that are still kicking and waiting for you to sign up so you can start sinking hours into them.
Sadly, as with most game genres, Mac players have a limited selection of quality options; nearly all MMORPGs are available on Windows, but fewer than half are natively playable on Mac. Of the ones that are playable, only a few are actually worth your time.
Here are the best Mac MMORPGs that are natively playable, active with significant playerbases, complete with fun gameplay, and ultimately worth playing even now.
Upon its release in 2004, World of Warcraft made it clear that for any other MMORPG to compete with it, that game would have to be groundbreaking. Sixteen years later, it’s hard to argue that any game has done so to date.
While the Battle for Azeroth expansion pack was not popular with players, the following Shadowlands expansion has been quite popular so far. On top of that, World of Warcraft Classic—a separate service that reverts the game back to what it was at initial release—has proven to be very popular with players as well.
Even if you’ve never played WoW before, there has never been a better time to start. It’s not just one of the best Mac MMORPGs; it’s still one of the best MMORPGs, period.
While Blizzard’s World of Warcraft behemoth is undeniably the biggest MMORPG in the world, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV isn’t far behind. This would have been impossible to foresee in 2010 when the game was first released.
Famously a major flop, the original Final Fantasy XIV shut its servers down in 2012, only to be re-released a year later as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. This revamped edition of the game did much better, attracting a large playerbase and pulling in some serious money for Square Enix.
Now? The game is bigger than ever, having seen three major expansion packs released since Reborn was released. It’s still going strong, and it’s still worth jumping in as a newbie.
When it was first released, it appeared that The Elder Scrolls Online might suffer the same fate as Final Fantasy XIV did after its initial release: a negative reception that threatened to slay the game before it could pick up traction. Fortunately, ZeniMax Online Studios was able to make several key changes in a timely fashion, and eventually the game started gaining real popularity.
Playing somewhat like a mix of a traditional Elder Scrolls game in an MMORPG format, The Elder Scrolls Online is perfect if you’ve ever dreamed of a multiplayer Skyrim. Unlike subscription-based MMORPGs, The Elder Scrolls Online is a buy-once title with optional expansions that are also unlocked via one-time payments. (If you prefer a subscription model, ESO Plus provides several perks for $15/mo.)
You might have forgotten about it—or maybe never even knew about it—but Lord of the Rings Online has been rolling along since its initial release back in 2007. This game started off subscription-based, only to move to a free-to-play model in 2010 and subsequently gaining a significant number of players in the process.
The game has seen several expansions released over the years, with the most recent being Minas Morgul in 2019. Another expansion is said to be in the works for 2021, so there will continue to be new content for players to explore—and there’s plenty of existing content to enjoy if you hop in now as a first-time player.
5. Guild Wars 2
The original Guild Wars was a unique game, landing somewhere between action-RPGs like Diablo and more traditional MMORPGs. It was heavily instanced, with only hub areas containing large numbers of players. Guild Wars 2 took a more traditional MMORPG approach to gameplay, but still brings a lot of its own flavor to the mix.
Unlike most other online games, developer ArenaNet says that Guild Wars 2‘s storyline (Living World) is influenced by player actions, making players feel like they have more of a stake in the happenings of the game. Originally following a buy-once model similar to The Elder Scrolls Online, publisher NCSoft eventually switched Guild Wars 2 over to a free-to-play approach in 2015.
FOR A LIMITED TIME: Get the Deluxe edition of Guild Wars 2, which includes the Path of Fire and Heart of Thorns expansions, an extra character slot, a max-level boost, and other goodies.
6. EVE Online
I’m sure there are some fans of EVE Online who are outraged that it took five other games in this article before this game saw its due. I’m also sure that others are outraged that the game is here at all! Because EVE Online isn’t “just” an MMORPG.
Unlike the other games on this list, EVE Online is part MMO, part space sim, part I’m-not-even-sure. It’s 100% PVE and 100% PVP. It’s more than just hunting enemies and completing quests; there’s an entire universe with a player-driven economy, shifting control of various stations throughout space, and lots of cutthroat politics between corporations (EVE’s version of guilds).
It’s intense and requires more than casual commitment—not to mention the steep learning curve. That said, it’s one of the most rewarding MMORPG experiences. There are stories of players getting the power shut off for other players (in real life!) just to win key battles over resources in space. For good or for bad, no other MMORPG is this “real.”
RuneScape is actually the oldest game on this list, even beating out World of Warcraft in seniority. (World of Warcraft came out in 2004, whereas RuneScape launched in January 2001.) That’s a long time to still be going strong.
Of course, the game has had multiple iterations at this point, so much so that you could really refer to it as RuneScape 3. If your machine has terrible specs, or if you prefer a more truly old-school experience, you can always play Old School RuneScape. Yes, it’s literally called that.
Offline Games That Feel Like MMOs
Whether you’ve got a dodgy internet connection or just don’t like the possibility of other players ruining your game, MMORPGs aren’t for everyone. And what a shame that is, since the sheer sense of exploration in a good MMORPG is tough to beat.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t get these same experiences in single player games. If you’re looking for the same sense of scale without any other players, take a look at our list of offline games that will scratch your MMO itch.