MMO players have been waiting for the next big thing ever since the release of World of Warcraft back in 2004, and by the looks of it, that next big thing might never come.
So why not look to the past rather than to the future for your next MMO experience.
In the list below we have gathered our favorite old-school MMORPGs that still have a healthy population and great gameplay in 2021!
Everquest is the game that paved the way for all future MMOs. That doesn’t mean it was the first MMO but simply that it’s commercial success made studios take the genre seriously.
You can still play the live version of Everquest, or for a more old-school approach, you can head over to P1999 and experience the game as it was back in the day. Both versions have decent populations still going, and you shouldn’t have a problem finding people to play with.
DAoC quickly became a household name in the MMORPG world, mostly because of it’s engaging PvP and RvR (Realm vs Realm) combat which featured PvP on a much larger scale than had been seen before.
As the name suggests it’s set in a world inspired by Arthurian legend where three realms compete for power and glory.
Camelot Unchained, a spiritual successor, designed by Mark Jacobs who also designed DAoC is currently in Beta.
A true pioneer in the MMO space, UO was produced by the legendary game developer and astronaut Richard “Lord British” Garriot and, designed by Raph Koster who also helped design Star Wars Galaxies and Everquest II.
Ultima Online is developed and maintained by Broadsword which also operated DAoC.
The only game on the list with the actual words Old School in the title.
OSRS was released in 2013 but the reason it’s called Old School is that it’s running on a version of the game from 2007.
OSRS is now more popular than Runescape 3, and even has a mobile version.
The one thing that usually puts off new players from joining the fun is the dated graphics, but if you can look past it or even enjoy it, then the gameplay aspects of OSRS more than makes up for it.
DDO came out in 2006, with loads of hype surrounding it since it was the first 3D MMO set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe.
At first, only the Eberron campaign setting was available to explore but has since been expanded to the much more popular Forgotten Realms as well, known to players of most of the other D&D based video games.
The title still has almost 50K active players and is well worth a try if you like Dungeons & Dragons or old school MMOs.
Asheron’s Call was developed by Turbine and released in 1999, making it one of the oldest 3D MMOs. Sadly the official servers closed down in 2017.
An Asheron’s Call emulator has been developed by fans of the game, so you can still play it in 2021.
Lineage II was one of the early big MMOs to come out of Korea and boasted a huge number of players during it’s first few years.
The player base has definitely dwindled over the years, but in 2011 the game switched to a Free to Play model, so if you’ve ever been curious about trying Lineage II you should definitely give it a try.
Eve Online is definitely unique in the MMO space. It was first released in 2003, and has since then kept a decently sized and very dedicated player base.
The game universe is vast with loads of systems and activities to get involved in like mining in space, piracy, and trade.
Eve Online has also seen some of the biggest and most expensive battles in MMO history between players.
Final Fantasy XI
Almost a decade before Final Fantasy XIV came out, Final Fantasy XI was released in 2003 as the first Final Fantasy MMO.
Despite its age, FFXI still maintains a healthy population and is regularly updated with new content.
World of Warcraft has changed a lot over the years, that’s for sure. Thankfully WoW Classic was released to much fanfare in 2019, allowing players once again to experience Azeroth in its original form.
In 2021, classic WoW is moving towards the end and the future is uncertain, but there are rumors out there that the Burning Crusade is right around the corner.
One of the most beloved sandbox MMOs of all time set in one of the most beloved IPs. Star Wars Galaxies has always had a hardcore fanbase of dedicated players.
SWG was shut down in 2011 before the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, but you can still play the game on SWG Legends Emulated server, which even still releases new content to the game.
Guild Wars 2 has long since surpassed the first Guild Wars in popularity, but the original is still going.
Guild Wars was the first MMO without a subscription model, so by buying the game you get to experience everything it has to offer.
No more expansions are being developed for GW but there are still events hosted in the game and it still has a big enough population so that you can find people to play with.
Vanguard Saga of Heroes
The team behind Vanguard included many developers who had previously worked on Everquest, including the legendary Brad Mcquaid.
It was released in 2007 but due to a rough release with many bugs, it never had much mainstream success.
Vanguard eventually turned into a good MMO but it was too late and it was shut down in 2014.
A Vanguard emulator has later been developed by members of the community.
Another fan favorite, LotRO was relased in 2007 by Turbine.
It still has a very healthy population and Turbine regularly releases new expansions for LotRO.
The latest, Minas Morgul came out in 2019 and a new one is set to be released sometime later this year. A visual overhaul of the graphics is also in the works according to the developers.
That was it for our list of old school MMOs that are still worth giving a shot in 2021. If you have any questions or suggestions for the list, let us know in the comments!