Today, storytelling in MMORPGs have become a big thing, as more and more MMOs offer players a narrative driven, theme park gaming experience with lots of lore and NPC characters bundled in a setting, either original or using a popular IP.
Therefore, if you’re wondering which are the best story driven MMORPGs on the market together, look no further. We’ve put together a solid list of some of the best story driven MMOs.
The list is based on multiple factors, such as story immersiveness, quality of cut scenes, dialogues, lore and more. Before we begin dont forget to hit that like button, and subscribe to the channel for more mmorpg top 5s.
#5 Guild Wars 2
Starting off the list at the number 5 position is Arena Net’s Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars 2 has made our previous lists, being one of the best MMOs around in terms of accessibility, thanks to it’s very generous buy to play model. But we have not talked about is the game’s PVE offering, especially it’s narrative driven Personal Stories.
Personal Stories are the game’s main story quest chain, and is character based. They are unlocked every few levels, and will differ based on some of the character creation options that players picked at the beginning. What’s great about the stories are that it takes place in unique dialogue cut scenes, with fully voiced characters and animations. To top it off, the actual story isn’t too shabby for a fantasy MMO. Spoiler alert, you’re discovering things about yourself, and find out that a dragon is becoming a threat to the world, and must spend the later levels uniting the various races of Tyria to fight as one. It may seem cliché, but the story really builds up and it’s hard not to get invested in it, thanks to the world and character building.
But in recent times, Guild Wars 2 has taken it’s story telling content to greater heights. The Heart of Thorns expansion in 2015 raised the bar with it’s narrative, and changed the way how plot is delivered to the player. Cut scenes and dialogue now take place in the actual game world, and is more immersive than ever. The story has also gotten better, and now carries over into the Living World Season stories, which serves as a massive continuation of the game’s main story campaign.
Outside the actual main story, the world itself does a lot of cohesive story telling through world events that ties into the zones that it takes place in. Some of the Personal Stories in the base game will even reflect in changes to the later zones, which is really cool. Overall, if you’re looking for a good MMO with a decent story to play through, look no further than Guild Wars 2.
#4 The Lord of the Rings Online
Up next and at number 4 is Standing Stone Game’s The Lord of the Rings Online. Finally, we get to an MMORPG that’s based on an official licensed IP, and in this case, Tolkien’s world renowned Middle Earth, and Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Make no mistake, the entire game is centered around Frodo’s quest to destroy the one ring. Lotro offers a solid main quest chain called epic quests, that has humble beginnings in the shire, Bree and Ered Luin. Spanning over 10 years worth or main story quests, the adventure takes players around Middle Earth to play a big part behind the scenes in the fellowship’s quest to destroy the ring and foil the dark lord Sauron’s plans.
To their credit, the developers have chosen authenticity over anything else when it comes to the story. It’s very lore appropriate, and if you’re a tolkien fan, you will appreciate the narrative story telling here. There are lots of things in the books and the appendices that Tolkien doesn’t elaborate on, and in most cases, the game takes the opportunity to expand upon it.
As a result, as a Lord of the Rings fan, the stories in LOTRO are hugely satisfying. What the game makes up for it’s lack of cinematics and voiced dialogue, is in it’s authentic writing. Not to mention the feel of the world is great, supported by rich music and themes that just belongs in Middle Earth.
Outside of the main story quests, zone quests also offers a ton of story telling on a platter. Each region in Middle Earth contains a zone story told through a fun quest hub crawl, and more often than not, you’ll learn and experience something that an authentic piece of lore within the books.
So if you’re a hardcore Tolkien fan, LOTRO is a great game to soak your time into for it’s massive storytelling quests that does the lore a great service.
#3 Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
At number three on our list is square enix’s final fantasy 14, a realm reborn. This Japanese MMORPG has a lot going for it, especially considering it’s disastrous start to life under it’s previous iteration, now known as the 1.0 version.
Essentially, Final Fantasy 14 is a story heavy game. The entire MMO design revolves around players needing to progress the main story. Doing so will offer lucrative amounts of experience points. The main story also is required to unlock a majority of the dungeons and other in-game activities. Not a lot of MMORPGs out there actually do this – lock content behind the main story.
While that may seem draconian and traditional, is the story worth playing through at all? The answer is yes. The main quest chains in A Realm Reborn has all the hallmarks of a Final Fantasy game. It has a powerful narrative, featuring likeable characters and a plot that’s worthy of an offline RPG game. On top of that, a lot of the main story quests features long and elaborate cinematic cutscenes that Final Fantasy players are familiar with. It’s almost non MMO in style, but it’s a pure joy if you enjoy a good story.
The writing is decent and while dialogue can be a hit or miss due to translations, it still offers something for everyone. Outside of the main stories, there are class stories for every profession in game too. These can be picked up every five levels and features a lot of backstory on why the class you’ve chosen matters. Overall, there’s a lot of good story locked away in Final Fantasy behind that monthly subscription, if you can afford it.
#2 Star Wars the Old Republic
At number two, we go to a galaxy far, far away with Bioware’s Star Wars the Old Republic. SWTOR may have garnered a reputation for being one of the most restrictive free to play mmos, but it does do one thing very right. And boy do they get their story telling right. SWTOR is an immersive narrative driven game, and right from the get go, players will be sucked in to one of the class stories that lasts all the way to level 50, for absolutely free.
The writing is top notch and typical Bioware. Expect to see loads of cutscenes, and that’s not just for the main class stories. In fact, every side quests large or small has it’s own cutscene and is 100% fully voiced by some of the best in the industry.
What’s great about the game’s use of story in the main class quests is that there are decisions that absolutely matter. Evil choices gain you alignment to the Dark side, while Good hearted decisions do the same for the Light side. The game’s companion system is also fantastic, allowing you to develop relationships with the companions that follow you around.
It’s in the post level 50 class stories that SWTOR truly shines in these days. The latest expansions for example, is chock full of cinematic cutscenes that absolutely brings out the best of Bioware’s storytelling. While you’ll need a subscription to play these, the older class quests are free for all and still excellent. So if you need a star was game fix that has great narratives and plot, then jump into to Star Wars the Old Republic.
#1 The Secret World/Secret World Legends
At number one, is a game you probably didn’t expect. Say hello to Funcom’s The Secret World, or, it’s upcoming free to play Secret World Legends, which is essentially the same game.
This MMORPG is absolutely unique, and it’s entire existence revolves around the game’s immense story telling. The Secret World is set in today’s world. Modern day, contemporary, and what makes it special is that in it, all conspiracy theories, myth and urban legends are true. Players select from one of three secret society factions, the Illuminati, Templars or Dragon.
And right from the beginning, the game pulls no punches in throwing mind bending narratives right at you. The writing is excellent, questioning all that you know regarding the world and what is real and fiction. The dead walk the earth, Cuthulu is alive and well, mummies are cropping up, and somewhere in Europe, Transylvania is a real place. It’s a hot pot of mixed narratives that are combined and delivered in immersive ways. All quest givers engage you in a long cinematic dialogues, and for the most part, say witty things and make references to today’s pop culture.
It’s a unique take on MMOs and it’s a shame that the original game never reached its full potential. However, with the relaunch coming very soon, Secret World Legends will be offering it’s epic story telling for free. If you’ve never heard of played this one, mark your calendars on June 26th. This is one story driven MMORPG you do not want to miss.