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Top 10 World of Warcraft Alternatives - Explore other worlds than WoW

Updated on September 29, 2009

World of Warcraft has grown to ridiculous proportions and today it's completely dominating the MMORPG field, making it really hard for other, similar, newer and occasionally better games to grab a market share. Sure, WoW is a great game - otherwise it wouldn't have such a huge following, but it's also dated. With this article I'd like to strike a blow for other PC role-playing games that new online gamers should at least consider before committing to an account at Blizzard. Some of them are subscription-based like World of Warcraft, but some are free to play once you've bought the retail game.

1. Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

Before its release, Age of Conan was surrounded by a lot of hype thanks to its detailed game world and much more mature themes than similar games - obviously, this is Conan the Barbarian we're talking about, so of course there will be blood, gore and gratuitous nudity as well.

Instead of taking off right away, Hyborian Adventures ran into some issues, primarily the impenetrable WoW brick wall, but also some technical snags and never really got a chance to grow as fast as it deserved. Most of the game's initial problems have been corrected now with patches and updates--it now has more rewards and a better PvP experience. The graphics in this online RPG are clearly some of the best and most up-to-date so far in the MMORPG genre, although it requires a fair amount of PC horsepower to look its best.

2. Eve Online

Eve Online is a sci-fi/space MMORPG that has been around for quite a while now and besides WoW it's one of the most densely populated games online. It's not just about action and player vs. player battles (although those are common too) but just as much about resource management and cooperation. The game's depth is both its strength and its weakness, as new gamers may have a hard time getting into the game. You need a hefty amount of persistence to carve out your place in the galaxy, but it's bound to be equally rewarding.

3. Guild Wars

Guild Wars is free to play once you've purchased the game, i.e., there are no subscription fees - once you own it you can just hook up to a server and start playing. On the other hand it has quite a few expansions that you probably want to stock up on if you get hooked on it. One reason why you might want to wait, however, is that Guild Wars 2 is around the corner.

4. Perfect World

This is an MMORPG that really shines in the character customization area. If you're one of those RPG gamers who like to tinker with your character down to the smallest detail, this game is for you. It also offers excellent graphics, a massive game world and an equally huge number of quests to complete. On the downside, some players have complained about unresponsive support, arduous downloads and occasional lag.

5. Final Fantasy XI

If you like the Final Fantasy series and Japanese role-playing games in general, then FFIX is a given. Although it has become even more dated than WoW, your choices are really quite limited in the JRPG genre. Square Enix has thrown in most of the components from the FF series and shuffled. You can level up in different jobs, breed Chocobos, and lots of other things you recognize from the Final Fantasy games. The result is an MMORPG with a huge following and a huge fantasy world to explore. On the downside, it feels quite old.

6. City of Heroes/City of Villains

If you want your player character to dress up in tights and play in a city setting instead of the conventional fantasy world, you may want to take a look at City of Heroes or City of Villains. City of Villains/Heroes has been praised for not being too hard on newcomers, and is often labeled a moreĀ  'casual' MMORPG.

7. Pirates of the Burning Sea

Pirates of the Burning Sea really stands out in the MMORPG crowd - not only is it devoid of orcs and elves, but you get to play a pirate, complete with sea battles and swashbuckling fights. This game is so different from the rest that it's probably not for everyone, but those who like the Caribbean setting and the pirate theme seem to enjoy it. Even though it's a few years old, the graphics are very eye-pleasing. There's also more to the game than meets the eye, such as fairly complex resource management and a host of different ship types and upgrades.

8. Lord of the Rings Online

The MMO take on Lord of the Rings is, just like WoW, made to appeal to the mainstream, casual player. It has several other things in common with WoW, but with both pros and cons compared to the "original". You get to play in the Middle Earth setting with all the familiarity that entails, which might be good enough for some gamers, and it offers pretty graphics. On the other hand, lots of players have complained about too shallow and repetitive game play.

9. Runescape

Runescape is another "free" MMORPG with a more undemanding approach to the genre. The graphics aren't all that exciting - even after the upgrade to the 'HD' (High Detail) version - but it gets the job done and works well on older computers and laptops. Some players seem to love it while others hate it, and a decent amount of leveling up is apparently required to beef up your character to a playable level. It's still an alternative for gamers on a budget.

10. The Chronicles of Spellborn

The Chronicles of Spellborn also deviates from the fantasy standards by being set in a post-apocalyptic game world--in the 'time of the Enclave' (how's that for a Fallout reference?). It uses the Unreal Engine to provide the graphics, meaning that it looks good. As a matter of fact it puts a lot of effort into the looking-good part; weapons and armor are there mostly for show, as there are no stats associated with them. Naturally there are other skills and abilities you can level up instead. Chronicles of Spellborn is a relatively new MMORPG and it will be interesting to see how it's received.

After that list I'm tempted to say "there you have it!" But obviously there are plenty of other MMORPGs out there waiting to be discovered. The reason I wrote it at all was mainly to point out that there are lots of other interesting, captivating and addictive games than the so very Massively MORPG World of Warcraft. Now go out and explore! If you enjoy a good RPG, also have a look at my related hub: Top 25 Best PC RPGs Ever, all about single player RPGs.


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    • charles chen profile image

      charles chen 

      4 years ago from US

      Like play mmoprg games for 4 years and tried swtor and wow , now i play fifa15 . Best place i like to buy game gold is buy4games .They can let me get in 10 mins every time, persons are nice


      buy4games :

    • SimilarSam profile image


      4 years ago from Australia

      RuneScape has changed a lot since you originally reviewed/picture here it's definitely one of the best alternatives right now in my opinion.

    • Alisha Adkins profile image

      Alisha Adkins 

      4 years ago from New Orleans

      Interesting article - but what about Rift?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Tried all but the last one and NONE of them are worth my time. If you are looking for a good F2P there is STO (star trek online) other than that, anything free just blows. LoTR sucks ass. Everything but the fact that it was Lord of the Rings sucked. WoW is still not beatable. But then again I guess it matters if you are 100% more interested in the lore than great gameplay, social networking, great graphics, interesting people and something that is actually entertaining...then by all means play those. Speaking of social networking, try these: Second Life, Jade Dynasty and once again STO.

    • profile image

      Zygors Guides 

      7 years ago

      Fantastic in depth article. It's great to see what else is out there.

      Thanks for the hub.

    • callisto123 profile image


      7 years ago

      Another good list. It might be worth mentioning that Lord of the Rings Online is F2P these days.

    • Tahamtan profile image


      8 years ago

      A great list of Great MMORPGs. I never looked at them as substitutes for WoW though. Nice perspective.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Guys im sort of a Dsi fan,as you can see,but i am addicted to nearly all of the MMO games out there, =) im thinking about changin the name,but enough of that,im getting WoW and am also planning on playing LOTRO for as long as it takes to fix my addictions on WoW only.anyway its nice to meet you guys and gazook,your hub is great right now,and i feel like i've been typing WAY too much right now,but its good to know there might be just one more MMORPG out there,waiting silently,for someone to discover it and tell the world about it.....its 2010 guys,and i heard there is WoW Catacalysm coming and im goin to check it out A.S.A.P. but for now im on Google,searching...for a game that can possibly be better than WoW,but for now,lets put the Dsi down,and explore the Web until you find your dream game,it has everything that fits you,and everything that you are comfortable with,that is somewhat how i felt when i played WoW for the first time,and im taking WAY too much space,AGAIN,so here i my farewell to you MMO lovers...and MMO haters alike,signing off, DsiGuy

    • Zakmoonbeam profile image

      Michael Murchie 

      8 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Nice hub, bit of info for us addicted MMO players, Lord of the Rings Online has gone free 2 play, as will Pirates of the Burning Seas, future is looking good for a free fix!

    • gazook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jesper Berg 

      8 years ago

      Hi Hashoa, thanks for the comment! I have to admit I haven't checked it for a while so it's getting outdated. Personally I've managed to steer clear of a WoW addiction. As M T Dremer mentions above, The Old Republic will be exciting to see in action.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      gazook... are you still present in this thread? I have been an online gamer since 98, of course I hit WoW in beta 2004 and didn't walk away from the game until September of 09 or what ever month AION released. So in short, the game was a disappointment and I refused to get on WoWcrack again... I quit AION after my 30 free days was expired. I fed my addiction on Vampire Wars/facebook but its lost its appeal now too. What's the latest true fix in June , 2010 :) Yes I played LotR online and Coh/CoV while playing wow... capped multiple characters in both games and looking for something truly new and exciting.

    • milksky profile image


      8 years ago

      I can see my comment?!

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 

      8 years ago from United States

      There are some good choices up there. Guild Wars is the one I play when I've either gotten sick of WoW, or I just can't afford it anymore. I'm waiting patiently for the release of The Old Republic; the star wars MMO from Bioware. They have a history of making good games and if they do the star wars universe right (which they accomplished in the first KOTOR) then it stands to be a real contender in the MMO market.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Just a pity that most of these game don't work on Mac OS X. Only PC and Windows for most of them.

    • gazook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jesper Berg 

      8 years ago

      Thanks all for the insightful comments!

      @brandyBachmann: I think you're right, any new mmorpg will have a really rough ride if it wants to compete with WoW, and offer something out of the ordinary.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      well, so far i a m not liking conan. in order to get the game's graphics, i have to buy an expensive ati program that there are no torrents for. shame since it held so much promise and had a 30 day trial (which is better than the 10 wow gives). spellborn may be good though. finally may have found a download that works

    • mmorpgrealm profile image


      8 years ago

      I have experiences of all game of above. I love the World of Warcraft more than them:)

    • brandyBachmann profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for this great hub, I think WOW is one of those games that really pushes the boundary further making it harder for new MMORPGs to take the spotlight. In a sense most MMORPGs borrow some concept from WOW. I think most gamers are waiting for a MMORPG that is unique, creative and has an X factor that will blow them away, but unfortunately none of these MMORPG's have that x factor that can replace WOW as the #1 MMORPG right now.:)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't think spellborn is working anymore though i'd love to play it. Guild Wars was ok, but I think Wow had a better social dimension and felt more interactive. Lord of the rings was ok, but I have to agree on what other players said. Have tried Perfect World. I find it hard to initially get into, but maybe just need to give it more time. I was hoping to not have to get a game with a subscription fee, outside of runescape (not too crazy about it), but it looks like i should try out eve and conan. if anyone knows anything about spellborn, would you please post.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Of course Anarchy Online is operational. :-)

    • gazook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jesper Berg 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, Florida Guy :)

    • Florida Guy profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi :-)

      Loved your Hub .

      Always happy to read about MMORPG.

    • gazook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jesper Berg 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the suggestions! Planeshift is especially interesting since it's completely free and also runs on Linux. Download link:

    • rogerdv profile image


      9 years ago

      is still Anarchy Online operational? I really love this game, but had to stop playing it due to some connection issues.

      Also I would recommend Regnum Online and Planeshift.

    • UltimateGamer profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Perfect I played 8 out of 10 of these games going to have to give the other 2 a shot. Great picks could not agree more

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      What happened to Anarchy Online? that should be on the list.

    • gazook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jesper Berg 

      9 years ago

      Thanks Christopher! I wasn't meaning to flame WoW here, but I have a few friends who are hooked on it and I fail to see the greatness. It's fun that you mention the first couple of games - i also had a lot of fun with those. Then the third one was some jagged attempt at moving it to 3D...

      P.S. Keep us posted on that RPG =)

    • Christopher Dapo profile image

      Christopher Dapo and S. 

      9 years ago from Havelock, NC

      Great article! I might be one of the few who hasn't been much inclined to join the WoW fanclub - Blizzard's take on Warcraft, since the 3rd installment, has irritated me, especially the Warlords Battlecry copying in Warcraft 3 - what a ripoff! I loved the first 2 Warcraft games, too bad they went corrupt after that.

      I'll be coming out with an RPG myself at some point, and I guarantee it'll be better than WoW (I've been designing it for the last 12 years!) L8r!

    • gazook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jesper Berg 

      9 years ago

      Good point! It was written before Aion came out, but it definitely deserves to be added.

    • Suecron profile image


      9 years ago

      Argee! Was hoping Aion Online would be on the list tooo~

    • gazook profile imageAUTHOR

      Jesper Berg 

      9 years ago

      Thanks! :)

    • xaviamage profile image


      9 years ago

      Great article, ps your profile photo rocks!


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