The 20 Best MMORPGs for Mac
It’s really hard to keep up with MMO games.
It’s tough to stay on top of the new games, pricing changes, abandoned games, etc. But don’t worry, this updated guide will give you a detailed overview of the best MMOs right now and answer the question: What is the best MMORPG for Mac?
As we sometimes want different things from Massive Multiplayer Online games (for example, many hate freemium games, but I think some are excellent), this list will be varied. They are all terrific MMORPGs, but some are paid, some are free-to-play and some require a monthly subscription:
World of Warcraft
Can you even talk about MMOs without mentioning World of Warcraft? I don’t think so.
WoW is simply the most successful MMO ever created. At one point it had over 12 Million subscribers. More than all the other MMOs combined. Not bad right?
To be fair, WoW’s subscribers are decreasing (and fast), but the next expansion, Legion, promises to change that. It has too many good things to mention here, but I can tell you it’s one of 2016’s hottest Mac games.
Coming back to the game itself, you’ll be in for an amazing adventure, especially if you find a guild you like. Everything in WoW works great. The missions are fun, the dungeons are rewarding (yet, accessible) and the raids are just hardcore. The Player versus Player (PvP) is just as good, and there are professions, crafting, and countless other things to do. Leveling up and getting better gear will become your obsession.
But is it the best Mac MMORPG? I once spent 6 months playing it for 10 hours a day… You’ve been warned.
Pricing model: This game requires a monthly subscription to play (although you can play it for free up to level 20).
Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online is the latest big MMO to join the party. It was particularly exciting for Mac users as it was the first Elder Scrolls game to ever come to the Mac.
Sadly, it was a big disappointment. And costing $60, plus a monthly subscription, it was a tough sell. Luckily, things have changed. The game became Tamriel Unlimited, added a ton of good content, and removed the monthly subscription. Thanks to Zenimax‘s change of strategy, the game not only survived, it thrived, easily becoming one of 2015’s best Mac games.
Many call Tamriel Unlimited version 2.0. It includes a new Justice system, more balance between classes (especially during end-game content) and a new Champions system. But this game is unique because it feels a lot like previous Elder Scrolls titles. The gameplay combines quests with random events and encourages you to explore the world.
Tamriel Unlimited will make you feel like an adventurer and that’s enough to create a true World of Warcraft contender.
Pricing model: You only need to buy the base game once to get access to all the content (including Expansions). You can also find it on Steam, but as I’ve said before, the MacGameStore is a great option:
Final Fantasy 14 Online
A year ago, it would have been impossible to recommend Final Fantasy 14 Online. But not because the game was bad. In fact, everyone loved it and many see it as the last truly good Final Fantasy game in years.
The problem was the Mac version. With the release of Heavensward, the latest expansion, the game finally made it to the Mac last summer. This seemed like great news, except the Mac port was a mess. Performance was so terrible, Square Enix had to publicly apologize and offered refunds. It was a disaster.
But things have changed for the better. Performance has improved a lot and it seems Mac gamers can at last experience Final Fantasy 14 Online. The game runs on a new engine and offers good gameplay and a great story. Heavensward features massive areas to explore, raises the level cap from 50 to 60, adds new high-level gear, introduces flying mounts, a new race, and three new job classes. Plenty to keep you busy for weeks.
FF14 had a lot to make up for, but it is finally the MMO Mac users deserved.
Pricing model: This game requires a monthly subscription to play (although only Heavensward is available on Mac).
This MMO is hard to explain. It’s both incredibly complex and tedious at the same time. Some even call it “the most thrilling boring game in the universe”.
But above all, EVE Online is a fascinating space adventure that lets you do whatever you want. You can choose from a variety of professions, including mining, manufacturing, trading, piracy, exploration, and more. Everything happens in real-time, even when you’re not logged in. EVE Online truly feels like a parallel universe that will go on with or without you.
But the best thing about EVE are the impressive space battles. These battles can involve ships as big as entire cities and can literally cost thousands of dollars. In fact, in 2014 a huge war broke out, costing gamers over $300,000!
There are also horror stories about how someone logged off to go to sleep and woke up with her empire destroyed because the bank went under and someone blew up their ship. That’s how crazy this game can get.
Bottom line: EVE is a MMORPG Mac gamers should try (especially space combat fans).
Pricing model: This game requires a monthly subscription to play.
ARK: Survival Evolved
Can we call the hottest Mac shooter of the year an MMORPG?
Ark: Survival Evolved is mainly a survival game. It drops you in an island full of dinosaurs, giant scorpions and other players that may be the biggest danger of all. You can gather, build, and hunt. You can even tame dinosaurs and use them to protect you or gather resources. ARK has so much going for it, it could be a terrific single-player game.
Except it isn’t. Each island can support up to 70 players, and if you’re smart, you’ll join a tribe ASAP. When playing with friends, ARK becomes an even better game. You can tackle biggest dinosaurs, tougher tames, and in some cases, wage war against other clans.
ARK also has an XP and levelling system, group chat, guilds (called tribes), and many more things that make it a damn good MMO. I just spent 50 hours playing it and decided to temporarily erase it or nothing would ever get done around here.
Pricing model: You only need to buy the base game once to get access to all the content. Do keep in mind that the game is still on Steam Early Access and is considered a work in progress.
You can find ARK: Survival Evolved here.
Guild Wars 2
For a long time, Guild of Wars 2 was the only MMO that could compete with World of Warcraft. The Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy 14 changed that, but Guild Wars 2 is still probably the best MMORPG for Mac out there.
What I love the most about Guild Wars 2 is that it does everything it can to limit the “grinding”. You know, killing 500 Level 1 rats to level up. Instead, Guild Wars 2 focuses on group events and worldwide stories to advance.
The other thing that set Guild Wars 2 apart was the fact that it didn’t require a monthly subscription. This was a true World of Warcraft competitor that didn’t ask for more money every month. That was already a big deal, but ArenaNet did even better. Since last year, the core game is free (the Expansion, however, is paid).
If you’re into MMOs, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t try Guild Wars 2. That said, be aware that their Mac client is still in beta and some gamers reported poor performance (it worked fine for me, but it’s still worth mentioning).
Pricing model: The base game is entirely free-to-play. You can purchase the Expansion if you so desire.
You can find Guild Wars 2 here.
Lord of the Rings Online
LotRO is another MMO that started with a subscription-based model, but became free-to-play after seeing the massive success Dungeons & Dragons Online had with the formula.
Developed by Turbine, LotRO follows the story from the movies and gives you full access to almost everything it has to offer for free. The only differences with the paid version are the 2 character slots (as opposed to 5), the fact you cannot send money through the in-game system and the lack of destiny points (high-end points that only VIP members can use).
LotRO was always a good game, but now that it’s free-to-play, the player base is finally big enough to make it great.
Free-to-play MMOs are a dime a dozen, but Lord of the Rings Online truly stands out. I gave it a spot among the Top 10 free Mac games without hesitation because it is the best free MMORPG for Mac.
Pricing model: The base game is entirely free-to-play. Some limitations exist, but they don’t break the base game.
You can find The Lord of the Rings Online here.
Dungeons & Dragons Online
Dungeons & Dragons Online was the first “free” MMO I ever played on Mac.
What I like the most about DDO is the narrator or “dungeon master” that describes the paths and options available to you. This makes DDO feel a lot like a tabletop game and not just a video game. By the way, DDO is based on the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set, which is the foundation of most RPG elements within the game.
When it comes to the graphics, DDO looks a lot like the Lord of the Rings Online. But that’s about the only similarity they share. The storytelling and mechanics are completely different, clearly catering to different audiences. Speaking of audience, DDO’s player base is much more forgiving than your average MMO’s.
DDO is a favorite among Mac Gamer HQ writers and if you like tabletop RPGs, I’m confident you will love it too. And although it’s starting to look old, it can be a great alternative for gamers with older Macs.
Pricing model: The base game is entirely free-to-play. It does offer items for cash, but they are in no way mandatory.
You can find Dungeons & Dragons Online here.
Savage 2 is a combination of real-time strategy, first-person shooter, and role-playing, with MOBA elements sprinkled here and there. That’s a mouthful, but it’s the best way to describe it.
Savage 2 gives you the ability to change the game’s perspective so you can play it the way you want to. You can zoom out and play it like a strategy game or zoom in and play it like an FPS. That said, the strategy components are greatly overpowered compared to the rest.
The learning curve is very high, making the tutorial next to worthless. That said, the sheer amount of fun and the fact players are more helpful than those in DOTA2 make Savage 2 a worthy alternative.
Pricing model: The base game is entirely free-to-play. It does offer items for cash, but they are in no way mandatory.
You can find Savage 2 here.
Ryzom is a sandbox MMORPG, set 2000 years in the future on an alien planet. Overall, Atys is a gorgeous world, where everything can potentially make you stop to admire it, even on a low graphic setting. The first impression I had after installing Ryzom was “this looks like crap.” But after tweaking the graphics settings and making my mouse play nice from the default crap settings, all I can say is: This is an MMO Mac gamers should try.
The game is free until you get to level 125 and decide if you want to continue. It’s worth a shot.
Puzzle Pirates (Free-to-Play)
Puzzle Pirates is very different from the other games mentioned so far. This game focuses on a number of puzzles you’ll have to solve. Your character does gain XP and gold, but only by playing small mini-games in the vein of Mario Party against your fellow online pirates. There is more to Puzzle Pirates than just mini-games though. You can captain a ship, recruit a crew of other pirates, go on raiding expeditions and more.
If you want to try a different kind of free MMORPG, you should give this one a try.
Spiral Knights (Free-to-Play)
I was hesitant to include Spiral Knights, but a friend of mine who spent $100 on it convinced me otherwise. You and your party travel through dungeons to find pieces to fix your busted-ass spacecraft and go home. When Spiral Knights first appeared on Steam as a free-to-play game for MacOS, I tried it out hoping for another great game like Regnum.
Instead, I found myself aggravated since it quickly feels more like a quick buck for SEGA than a game to be enjoyed. If I wanted to pay money to play a game, I could log into Facebook.
Planeshift is an odd fantasy MMO built using a graphics engine from 2000. But despite the higher learning curve and outdated engine, this is still a popular game with both newcomers and veterans. Players focus a lot on role-playing and Planeshift still has one of the most extensive crafting systems in any free MMO on the market.
Some players do find it jarring to talk with other players who speak with accents and in “cat tongues”, and some of the graphics and animations leave much to be desired due to the outdated graphics engine.
Regnum Online (Free-to-Play)
Today called Champions of Regnum on Steam, this is the epitome of a Japanese grinding MMORPG. After starting out and getting to level 10 or so, the quests fade out and the only thing left to do is wait for special events like realm vs realm battles, or pay for boosts from the online store to help level-up and grab a mount for traveling speed.
The beauty of Regnum is the singular focus on PvP (player versus player) combat. There is no crafting, no raiding, and almost no high-level content. Learning to battle at end game (level 60+warmaster) is the key to Regnum.
Minions of Mirth (Free-to-Play)
The first MMORPG on Mac to offer a solo mode, which I can honestly understand for those late-night drunken raids, Mirth is often compared to Diablo because at this point it allows players to run on a dedicated server identical to the premium server by themselves.
Dedicated players love Mirth and the developers release regular updates with the last patch coming out the 10th of January. Also, once you level-up, you unlock monster templates, allowing you to play as monsters – something a bit different in the MMO world.
And finally, an homage to sadly defunct MMOs…
- Star Trek Online: The third-person rescue reconnaissance missions, the ship battles, the leveling system, and the redesign of the entire game from that original beta – all great features. Best of all, I never spent a dime, even though I really wanted a Romulan Warbird…Star Trek was a solid MMORPG on Mac, too bad Cryptic decided to discontinue the Mac version on February 2015 (thanks to commentator Rakden for the head ups).
- Warhammer Online: This game was meant to be the best Mac MMORPG. But The last time I tried to log into Warhammer Online, I found out that EA took the servers offline as of December 18th, 2013. I’m always sad to see a great game go, especially when so many people praised the realm versus realm play and unique battle systems. Given the excellent history of Mythic (pre-EA, anyway), I’m curious to see what great things they will come up with next.
- EverQuest: This was a MMORPG Mac gamers loved. Sadly, EQ was discontinued as of November 2013. Sony Online Entertainment took the last servers down (or sunset, as they call it in the MMO business) despite many petitions and online pleas from high-profile fans, including a request from one of the original developers to buy the source code to make it free-to-play.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Pirates Online is another game where the servers were taken down on September 19th, 2013. Various petitions online were ignored at Disney studios, leaving the game empty and the players finding other games. Petitions to turn the servers online or make the game free-to-play are still floating around on Facebook today.
- ToonTown Online: ToonTown Online is another Disney property that ran for almost 10 years before the servers shut down in September 2013. As with many MMO’s that are offline, be wary of any “pirate” server, since many that run illegally run questionable software that may or may not infect or put malware-type software on your system.
With so many MMORPG games for Mac, it looks you don’t have an excuse to not try one anymore.
In fact, practically all major MMOs have a Mac version (excluding of course Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic), proving once more that the Mac can be a great gaming alternative.
With options ranging from the world-class (but paid) World of Warcraft, to the free Star Trek Online or Lord of the Rings Online, the Mac MMO scene has something for everyone.
So what is your favorite MMO? Are you currently playing some on your Mac? Let us know in the comments section, perhaps you’ll even find fellow Mac users to play with!
This guide was written by Chris Tallant and Ric Molina.