There are only a few weeks left in 2017 — something I’m sure most of us aren’t lamenting. For some of us that means wanting to try out new (to you, at least) things. Maybe, like me, some of you got into MMOs a little later in the game and skipped over a lot of the early classics. Sure, you’ve read about them… You’ve heard all the epic stories… You’ve even read about some of them here. But still, you missed the boat.
And then, of course, some of the games were retired. But some of those games live on and it might be fun to give them a try — even if you only spend a week or two.
So, with this in mind, I thought it might be a good idea to offer up some suggestions on games that will allow you to get your “early days of MMOs” cred. Of course, with some of these games having existed for a couple of decades now, there have been some changes made to them to keep them playable. But I believe hopping into them will give you a taste of what things were like.
Now, I should note I did debate adding more recent games to this list. Even EVE Online — which is somewhat free-to-play now — is considered a classic game by many since it launched in 2003. It’s the first MMO I jumped into. But, I remember some of my friends who were really early adopters of MMOs and how crazy they were about them. One friend even took extreme advantage of the college I was attending at the time offering free printer privileges to officers of campus clubs and printed out massive manuals for her game of choice. (I think they did away with the whole free printer access thing after her.) So, instead, I’ve decided to go as far back as possible — provided the game in question is still alive. With that in mind, I give you 5 classic MMOs you can start in 2018.
Anarchy Online — 2001
I know many of you are suspicious of anything Funcom — and I can’t argue with your reasons. That said, I’d probably be remiss to not put this game on the list because it is technically the first sci-fi MMO released.
Actually, it’s a game full of firsts… even being the first to offer in-game advertising. Admittedly, that’s a weird “honor” to carry, but there you are. It also was among the first MMOs to offer dynamic quests and instancing — something standard in today’s MMOs.
That said, it’s well worth grabbing based on the game’s writer alone. Ragnar Tørnquist excels at creating worlds… Even if Funcom did have a habit of coming in and taking them over later.
You can download Anarchy Online via the game’s official site. Just… um. Be careful with account creation. The Funcom account system can get muddled — especially if you already have an account for one of their other games.
Furcadia — 1996
Okay. So, this game doesn’t have the highest of ratings. And it’s probably not something I’d jump into right away. But for those of you looking for something a bit more unique, Furcaida is a thing. Developed by Dragon’s Eye Productions and Catnip Studio, Furcaida is one of the first graphical MMO(SGs… Social Games) to make use of user-created content. It even features world building tools and allows players to help with moderating the game — a choice most companies would probably not make today.
The game also holds a Guinness World Record for being the “longest continuously running social MMORPG” — meaning its managed to keep players around.
If you’d like to check the game out, you can do so on its official site. There’s even a Winter Festival running at the moment.
Meridian 59 — 1995
Meridian 59 bears the honor of being considered the first 3D MMO ever released — a big deal in the days of dial up modems and AOL… Not to mention a lot of people just figuring out the internet was even a thing. I mean, we’re talking about the days when the internet looked like this.
It took actual effort to log onto the net and you’d better hope nobody in your family needed to use the phone, so that makes creating a successful 3D MMO of any kind pretty impressive.
Somehow, Merdian 59 managed to survive all of that and is still alive and well today. Not only is it free-to-play (although they do ask that players donate to help with the costs of running it) it’s also open source — for those of you who’d like to get in there and dig around.
You can check the game out on the Meridian 59 site and even get a short history lesson on its development from the guys who originally conceived the game. Neat!
Priston Tale — 2001
Priston Tale isn’t what it used to be, at least population wise, but it is still there. Considering a lot of the games being released recently don’t make it past six months, I’d say a 16 year run isn’t so bad.
Being an older game, it can be pretty grindy — explaining why it’s dying. However, anyone who’s listened to old-school MMOers telling their “back in the day” stories knows that the grind is part of the deal.
If you’re looking to check out one of those games all the early adopter MMO players tell war stories about — and be abused by the game system while doing it — you can find Priston Tale’s official site here. Or you can just play Priston Tale 2… Whatever makes you happy.
Tibia — 1997
Developed by CipSoft, Tibia was a big deal in its early days and it’s still doing okay. Although its highest consecutive player count is listed as occurring in 2007, it still boasts a lot of game servers spread out between the UK and North America.
If you’re in the mood for a real challenge, the game has a special door that only opens for players who have reached level 999. So far, only two players have managed to open that door and see what’s in the room behind it. Neither have talked….well kind of…
As with other games, you can grab Tibia on its official site.
So there you go, five classic free-to-play MMOS you can give a try in 2018. Go forth, earn your “crotchety old MMO player” badge and start telling kids to get off your lawn.