Whether you were around in the first iteration of the game, or only came to it in later versions, RuneScape has been one of the most popular MMORPGs of all time. What started as a simple browser based RPG, with free and paid memberships available, exponentially grew thanks to being playable right in your browser. Players were able to hop on with their friends and role play in ways most paid games didn’t even offer.
Over a decade on, RuneScape is still being supported, including the option to play Old School RuneScape, which is based on the 2007 version of the game, but many players have seen just about everything this game has to offer now. Still, that itch to connect with other players, go on quests, level up characters, and explore new and fantastical worlds never really goes away. If you loved RuneScape, but need a fresh experience, here are 10 games like RuneScape to play right now.
Neverwinter (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Essentially all MMORPGs, at least ones with a fantasy style setting, owe something to the classic pen and paper game Dungeons and Dragons, RuneScape included. Neverwinter is a direct reference to that influential game. You are able to create a class ripped right off the pages of the tabletop game to explore in one of the most active free MMOs on the market. The game first launched way back 2013, but has sustained an active and passionate fanbase thanks to having a more satisfying combat system than most MMOs, deep character progression, and fresh content being added. Players themselves are even able to create and share their own quests.
Aside from just being on PC, Neverwinter is also playable on consoles as well, so you don’t have to just stick to playing on your computer like RuneScape. The overall fantasy themes and world will feel somewhat familiar, but the narrative and combat in Neverwinter is a step above what RuneScape can offer. You even can play it as a primarily single player experience if you want, though that kind of defeats the purpose of playing an MMO. While free, there are some ways the game will try and get you to put some real-world cash into it, but they’re mostly ignorable.
Ultima Online (PC)
If what you liked about RuneScape was the relative simplicity and old-school style systems, why not head back to one of the classics with Ultima Online. Hitting the internet way back in 1997, Ultima Online helped set the standard for what MMOs would be based on — and iterate upon — to this day. Despite its age, you’ll immediately recognize tons of mechanics and systems, such as character creation, guilds to join, and a gigantic world to explore. Ultima Online was the first MMORPG to ever hit 100,000 players back in the day, and while that number is no longer all that impressive, and the player base has dwindled since then, the community that has stuck around is generally welcoming and helpful to new players.
Again, this MMO does show its age, but in some ways that is what makes it such a great change of pace from RuneScape. If you happen to die during PvP, for example, say goodbye to everything you were holding. Graphics are another point that may rub some younger players the wrong way, but its somewhat rough pixel graphics and isometric camera view is just classic PC gaming. Honestly, there’s still nothing quite like Ultima Online, and it still has the power to drain hours of your time if you get invested even over 20 years later.
The Elder Scrolls Online (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC)
The Elder Scrolls Online is almost exactly the same concept as World of Warcraft (more on that below). Bethesda took their established setting of Tamriel, used in five exclusively single player RPGs, and allowed players to finally explore the entire world together in an MMO setting. Unlike WoW, which was originally an RTS, The Elder Scrolls series has always been basically a single-player MMO, making it a much more obvious fit for the format. As one of the most recent releases on this list, the graphics are among the best you can get for an MMO, but also still has a thriving base of active players to make the world feel alive.
Set hundreds of years before Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online gives you the choice of 10 races to pick from, each of which visually and mechanically different from one another, and sets you loose in the world of Tamriel. Thanks to continued support, new zones and content are still being added to the game, making it dwarf even the amount of things there is to see and do in Skyrim. The action is far more dynamic, the stories more involved and with a higher level of production, and overall scale of the game is a natural progression from what RuneScape does.
World of Warcraft (PC)
World of Warcraft is often called the grandfather of the MMO, or just at least of the modern MMO, but RuneScape actually predates this monumental game by three years. Still, it can’t be denied what this juggernaut of a game did to popularize the genre in a way no other game had before. It took a familiar and popular IP and transformed it into one of the most accessible, addicting, and enduring online experiences to this day. The fact that it is still going strong almost two decades later, just like RuneScape, should be proof enough that it hit on something special worth checking out if you haven’t already.
The systems are similar, yet different to RuneScape. WoW is notorious for its hotbar system which, while revolutionary at the time, is a bit more contentious now that so many other games have adapted and iterated on it. If that system clicks for you, though, few games do it better. You also get a much larger world to explore with tons of environments, a wide range of races and classes to choose from, and more ways to team up with friends for meaningful and difficult content. Plus, also like RuneScape, you can even revisit the older version of the game with WoW Classic if you want to see what the game was like in its heyday.
Legends of Aria (PC)
After Ultima Online, some of those same people moved on to form a new team and create a new yet still classic-feeling MMO. The result is Legends of Aria, which only just left early access in 2020. This game, also free to play, mixes the MMORPG formula with sandbox elements that allow for far more player influence in the world than most traditional MMOs. You can build your own home, level up via the skill-based system, earn unique titles for your character, and explore the beautiful isometric world. Visually, it looks like an upgraded version of RuneScape.
PvP also has major similarities to the fun risk versus reward style found in RuneScape, where there are safe zones you can leave where anyone can attack you at any moment. You can fill all the roles you’d expect in a fantasy setting, such as warriors and mages, take on jobs, trade, team up with anyone, face off against mythic creatures, and more. This is a bit more of a hardcore experience, so if you found yourself getting a little bored of RuneScape due to the difficulty, give Legends of Aria a try.
Albion Online (PC)
Aside from the Western fantasy setting, the thing most MMORPGs tend to have in common is online in their name. Be that as it may, Albion Online is anything but just another boring MMO looking to capitalize on the genre’s popularity. This is another sandbox driven game, like Legends of Aria, but the systems players are in control over go far deeper. The entire economy of the game, in terms of currency and gear, is almost exclusively run and dictated by the players themselves. There are still skills to learn in this game, but gear is the primary way to impower and differentiate your character, and the majority of that gear comes from either what you can make yourself or buy off another player.
The art style of Albion Online is simple in a similar way RuneScape is, with slightly blocky characters and solid colors that are easy on the eyes. Don’t let that friendly style fool you, though, because this game is not afraid to rip your character apart if you venture into an area you’re not prepared for. Whether it’s monsters spawned in the game naturally, or more likely other players looking to take down an unsuspecting target, leaving the safety of town is made thrilling again. Another free title, there’s no reason not to at least give it a shot.
Black Desert Online (PS4, Xbox One, PC, IOS, Android)
One of the most popular MMORPGs from Korea, this MMORPG was one us in the West had been waiting for for years before it finally became available here. The most enticing aspect of the game for most was just how gorgeous the game looked compared to its contemporaries, and even years on it still looks visually impressive. Mechanically, all the things you would want in an MMO similar to RuneScape are present. You have freedom to explore, level up, learn new skills, team up with others for special events, but the combat is where Black Desert Online stands out. Unlike most other MMOs, or even RPGs, this game uses similar mechanics to single player games where positioning and aiming your attacks matter. You aren’t just sitting there rolling through your skills one by one here.
The combat alone will make this a bit of a leap from what is offered in RuneScape, but that element of skill in the combat makes ever encounter more exciting, and can lead to some truly memorable moments of accomplishment that you create yourself rather than just getting lucky number rolls. These are especially fun in the incredibly large-scale siege missions and castle battles that feel like actual wars. In addition to being available on PC and all the major consoles, you can even take this MMO on the go via iOS devices so you’re never far from jumping into a quest.
Project: Gorgon (PC)
While it is still in early access, and certainly not going to turn any heads in terms of graphical power, Project: Gorgon is an ambitious game that has a lot of great ideas. Freedom is the main selling point for this game. Seriously, compared to RuneScape, or most other MMOs, the amount of things you can do in Project: Gorgon is ridiculous. You can go the traditional route and play as a normal character, adventure around, level up, gain new skills, of which there are an overwhelming amount including psychology, fishing, dying, lore, and more, and explore the world like any other game. Or, you can play as an animal, merchant, linguist, musician, or just about anything else you can think of.
Those skills mentioned are the heart of Project: Gorgon. Every one has more than one function and interact in logical ways. Increasing your anatomy skills, for example, will let you learn enemy weaknesses, or use psychology to lower their defense. RuneScape may have a lot of options and skills to learn, but compared to this still growing game, you will find far more to sink your time into and experiment with. If that kind of freedom and progression was what drew you to RuneScape, Project: Gorgon is that same concept turned up to 11.
Originally launched on the traditional subscription-based model, Rift has been a free to play experience ever since 2013. While there still is a paid version that grants you bonuses like extra premium currency, login bonuses, and some extra content, it is overall a very easy game to play for free without feeling held back or restricted. Rift is set in the world of Telara, broken up into several continents that each have their own environments, histories, races, quests, and more. You choose one of these races to play as, and customize your character, as well as which of the two main factions of the world to join — the Guardians or the Defiant.
Rift gained most of its attention at launch for the titular rift mechanics in the game. These are events that can occur around the world and offer dynamic challenges you, and anyone else nearby, to take on. Rifts are also where the best loot and most difficult raid content lies. If you don’t have a big group of players, or are even playing alone, the game also has content designed for single or small parties to take on. The world isn’t terribly unique or intriguing, and the skill system does take some getting used to before it clicks, but Rift goes out of its way to make sure you can have a good time no matter how you like to play.
AdventureQuest Worlds (PC)
If you were around during RuneScape’s heyday, odds are you also dabbled in, or at least knew of, AdventureQuest. Another browser-based RPG, though strictly 2D and far less focus on exploration, this game wasn’t as big as RuneScape, but was a decent hit on its own. The follow-up, AdventureQuest Worlds finally brought that art style and gameplay into the MMO playing field to directly compete with others in the genre, but unlike modern RuneScape has managed to remain playable in your browser to this day. There are multiple active servers and thousands of people still logging on to play.
This game is very much a slightly expanded and, of course, multiplayer, version of the original AdventureQuest for better and for worse. You have four classes to pick from that you can eventually level up into a new class with even more skills and abilities to learn, unlike RuneScape where you can basically learn and master everything on a single character. There’s also no real exploration. Instead, you essentially just move between set screens, which certainly makes traveling fast, but won’t appeal to people who play MMOs for that sense of exploration or discovery. Combat is very simple and easy, and while there are plenty of quests, events, and even PvP, the game never really gets complex or difficult. Being a browser game, that can really be the perfect balance, though. It is easy to just jump in and go without having to dedicated a ton of time to learning systems to have a good time.
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