5 biggest MMO open worlds (and 5 that could benefit from map expansion)

Massive Multiplayer Online or MMO games have been a great way to spend some social time in a simulated game world since Neverwinter Nights launched in 1991. This title showed how a game world can be connected through internet servers and be a platform where people can play and hang out together.

Since then, MMO games have become all the rage, many of which have become some of the most commercially successful in history. Many also tend to include role-playing elements as the vast open world is the main draw.

These worlds are usually very expansive to accommodate the large number of players that need content to enjoy.

However, not all MMO games have a large map for users to traverse as they sometimes fail to meet users’ large-scale expectations for various reasons.

Note: This article reflects the opinion of the writer.


Five open world MMOs that take a long time to explore

1) Elder Scrolls Online

After the overwhelming success of Skyrim, Bethesda released their next project set in the fictional world of Nirn, titled Elder Scrolls Online. It was an MMORPG, initially placed in a handful of playable zones of countries in Tamriel.

Depending on the race selected during character creation, it was determined which country gamers would start in, although all areas were accessible after the tutorial.

Since the title is set to multiple playable sub-regions rather than just one open map, sizing becomes a difficult task. However, it contains most of the locations seen in an Elder Scrolls game, even taking players to previously unseen regions such as Elsweyr, the Summerset Islands, and most recently the Systres Archipelago.

This title initially told the story of a Daedric Prince invasion, where players had to team up with others to stop. Since then, each expansion has introduced newer story beats such as the return of dragons, a vampire lord trying to take over the continent, etc.

The new High Isles expansion takes place during a civil war.


2) World of Warcraft

The most iconic game in this genre, World of Warcraft was first launched in the US in late 2004, while a UK release took place in 2005. Set in the world of Azeroth, this MMO role-playing game lets users participate in various events, mingle with others and even play in co-op.

Since its launch in 2004, the title has seen many expansions, opening the playable world through different maps. At the time of this article being published, the game has ten multi-zone continents and a few single-zone areas. This makes it one of the largest open worlds in a multiplayer game.

World of Warcraft combines many periodic elements, such as fantasy, steampunk and science fiction. Players can be played in a third-first-person perspective, and can undertake quests, explore the land and fight monsters, alone or by partying with one or more individuals online.


3) Lord of the Rings Online

Set in the world of Middle Earth, Lord of the Rings Online is an MMORPG that allows players to fulfill their dream scenario in the world of JRR Tolkien. The game world is quite large, with many expansions leading to the entire map of Middle Earth, as seen in the original LOTR books, being accessible.

LOTR Online comes in as one of the greatest video game maps of all time and has a whopping 77,700 square miles of virtual land for users to explore. This includes all of Arnor and Gondor and areas of Mirkwood, Rohan and Minas Morgul, with a handful more.

Gamers can create characters from any of the four main races of the world, as well as seven classes. The main story in all expansions is set around the story of the books.

The latest expansion tells of the life after the demise of Sauron, which had not yet been fully explored in the films.


4) Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic grew out of the success of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, although this game took an MMO approach to gameplay. Set long ago in a galaxy far, far away, it allowed players to create characters as part of one of eight types of classes with their own story.

Users can choose to play as Republic of Empire and as Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight or Jedi Consular while the other side offers the roles of Bounty Hunter, Imperial Agent, Sith Warrior and Sith Inquisitor. Each class also contains different types of gameplay elements and skill trees.

The title is set in the galaxy in many different worlds that gamers have to travel to; many more are optional. Each planet has a playable area with small storylines/missions of its own. They can visit iconic locations such as Tatooine, Coruscant, Hoth & Alderaan.


5) Minecraft

As the largest MMO sandbox game to grace computers and consoles, Minecraft is at the top in terms of its wide-open expanse of a world, covering a ridiculously large 4 billion square miles. If that’s even hard to imagine, fans needn’t worry, because even in terms of speed of light, it would take nearly six hours to cover that distance when laid end to end.

As a sandbox, Minecraft offers players a variety of options to play the game. For some, it is simply a way to express their creativity by building large monuments or accurate replicas of famous structures. For others, it’s an exploratory title, going out into the country and discovering its secrets.

In multiplayer mode, the game becomes a fun social simulator, which allows users to have fun at their discretion by playing games like Pictionary, hide and seek, tag, etc. The title also offers RPG elements to explore, although these are completely optional and does not require completion to enjoy its full potential.


Five open MMO worlds that left a lot to be desired

1) Black desert online

Black Desert Online, a Korean production from developer Pearl Abyss, was originally released for Windows PC in 2015, but was ported to Xbox One and PS4 in 2019. It takes place in a fantasy world during the conflict between two nations, the Republic of Calpheon and the Kingdom of Valencia. , gamers must participate in major PvP conflicts in the form of siege events and castle battles.

This MMO title features a third-person perspective mode, which requires manual aiming and precision to link combos and attacks, as well as dodging to dodge enemy attacks. Additional features include a taming and mounting system, dynamic weather, and a day-night cycle.

The game’s entire open world spans approximately 397 square miles, which is still a significant size, but only double the original World of Warcraft map before any expansions. However, a new expansion has just been added in April 2022, with more to come.


2) Vanguard Saga of Heroes

Created by Sigil Games Entertainment and published by Sony, Vanguard Saga of Heroes is a highly fantasy-themed MMO set in the fictional world of Telon. It featured three continents where players could be located.

This game can be played solo or in multiplayer groups of up to 6 people and was released in 2007.

Unlike most MMORPGs of its day, Vanguard’s open world was not split into several playable areas that could be accessed separately, instead the entire world was generated at once. Even traveling to another continent had to be done manually, via sea or air travel in-game, rather than through a prompt and loading screen.

This required the title to be more compact than others, leading to a raw size of 290 square kilometers of the game map. Although Vanguard has been discontinued, a revival via a remake or reboot in new hardware could be a great way to bring back longtime fans of the game.

Adding a few extensions to boot for some new content would be a huge success.


3) New world

New World, a relatively recent MMO role-playing game, was developed and published by Amazon Games on September 28, 2021. This new open-world title is set on a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean known as Aeternum Island.

It instructs users to explore the open world, go on quests, craft and collect items, and play together or against other players and NPCs in a medieval setting.

The combat in this game is quite simple, although it does not have an auto-targeting system, which requires gamers to have a good aim. It offers a selection of weapons including classic melee weapons, muskets, magic wands and ice gloves.

This game’s map is approximately 50 square kilometers in size, which while large for an open-world offering, is relatively small compared to other large-scale MMOs, making it smaller. Since it’s still new, readers can expect new expansions to further expand the explorable areas and add new campaigns.


4) Dark and light

Dark and Light, a fantasy open-world MMORPG game, was developed and published by Snail Games in July 2017 as early access for PCs. And it’s currently still in early access, with no news of its release.

Structured around survival elements, players must find a way to carry out their lives in the world of Archos.

While it may include a larger world in release, Dark and Light currently only has 40 square miles of land to play in. This is relatively small for an MMO game and should be much more extensive for a full release, but if that ever will happen is still a mystery.

Despite its early entry status, Dark and Light is an excellent title to try. With some excellent gameplay elements, mystical creatures, magical combat, and an emphasis on exploration, it’s pretty good.

Players must learn to tame new creatures and build a home for themselves as greater darkness looms over the planet.


5) Lost Ark

Lost Ark is a fantasy online MMO action-adventure RPG game, which was initially a Korean exclusive for three years since its release in 2019. It was not released on Steam until February 11, 2022 for American and European audiences. It then became one of the most played games on the platform within 24 hours.

Users can access the main story, with similar gameplay to that of World of Warcraft. They can level up their characters by progressing and completing the campaign, with the highest level being 50. The title focuses mainly on the PvE element, although PvP is also an option.

While the world map is quite large, the actual playable instances are somewhat compact, with small hub areas in some while others are explorable environments.

As such, the title may be a bit small, though future expansions could offer larger areas to adventure around.


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