We love a good MMO / MMORPG and collectively we’ve lost far too many hours over the years to them! A big part of just about every MMO(RPG) and often the main focus is the PvP or Player vs Player, but that’s not the only reason people play these games. Whether it’s grinding to save for Manastones on Aion or redoing a dungeon over and over on World of Warcraft to get that item drop you want, PvE or Player vs Environment is also a massive part of it for a lot of players.
There are so many brilliant PvE based MMO & MMORPGs to choose from, so it’s going to be quite hard to narrow down the list, but we’ve done it for you! In this article, we’ll dig into which are the top PvE MMO & MMORPGs giving you a brief description about each, why it’s good for a PvE lover, who it’s developed by, what platform it’s on, what the PvE elements of each game are and whether it’s a paid for model (no one likes a pay to win!).
- What Is An MMO / MMORPG?
- What does PvE mean?
- Finding a good PvE focused MMO
- Our top PvE MMO & MMORPG Picks
So, let’s start with the absolute basics, what exactly is an MMO? Well, simply put, it’s a massive multiplayer online game which covers obviously a wide range of different games. It’s in essence where a large number of people are able to play a game together, online, whether that be a few players or millions.
MMORPG is a type of MMO, and the extra RPG bit stands for Role Playing Game. The difference between the two is that all MMORPG’s are based on MMO’s but not all MMO’s are RPGs.
An MMO can be anything, such as an online strategy game, a popular example of this would be Starcraft, which isn’t a game in which you play a role or character. RPGs are often also based in fantasy realms, but that’s not always true, it’s anything by definition in which you play a role.
PvE stands for player versus environment, which is often in the form of monsters, goblins or fantasy creatures, depending on the game. It’s a term used in single-player games as well as MMO (MMORPGs) as well as several other game modes.
In contrast to the other more popular term is PvP, player versus player, it is actually player versus computer-controlled enemies. The PvE in some games may contain a storyline or narrative and even contain missions or quests.
It’s actually pretty tricky to find a good PvE MMORPG believe it or not, which sounds ridiculous in itself, but it’s because most MMORPG games focus on the PvP aspect of the game which isn’t always what everyone favors and many of which can neglect to develop a challenging and fun PvE environment for the players that favor that side of the game.
It’s not true of all MMORPG’s though, there are still some great PvE MMORPG’s out there that you can play that will still present a great and exciting challenge, without having to get involved in any PvP or at least minimizing it, which is why we’re here to help you pick out the best one!
As we’ve mentioned, we’ve played many hours of every one of these games on the list, perhaps too many hours. That being said, we’ve collated a list of what we consider to be the best MMORPGs for PvE enthusiasts, giving a brief description and an explanation as to why.
Aion is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game that has a combination of PvP and PvE elements. It’s a game in a fantasy environment in which you play a character that has a class, such as cleric or sorcerer as an example, and you perform skill moves in combinations to kill the environment enemies or other players depending on which side you choose Elysea or Asmodae.
The game has a lot of option when it comes to PvE including raids and grinding for PvE specialist gear as well as levelling of course. The only downside if you are planning to play the game from a purely PvE perspective is that in the open world you can be ganked by the other side of what you choose (Elysea or Asmodae) at any given time when rifts open up.
- Developer: NCSoft
- Platform: PC
- PvE Elements: Quests, Dungeons, Flying PvE, Raids, Bosses, Levelling
- Model: Free to Play – Can pay for upgrades
Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy is a massive game, but you might not be aware that they have in fact dipped their toe into the world of MMORPGs with the XIV game. It was released in 2013 on Windows PCs and PS3 and it now also supports MacOS and PS4, it was rumoured over the past few years that it was going to be released on Xbox One, but with new generation consoles shortly coming out, we’re doubtful this will ever happen.
It’s a game based in the fictional land of Eorzea and follows on from the original game, featured in a time where the land needs to recover and rebuild which the players must work on whilst having the threat of being invaded by the Garlean Empire. The original version of the game, in 2010 was a significant failure for the enterprise, but this 2.0 edition was much better received.
Since it’s release it has also had three major expansion packs which include Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbriners, the latter being as recent as 2019. The game is featured in a world where players can interact with their characters in the environment. There’s a large running story to play, so you won’t get bored, and it also features several side quests and dungeons to keep PvE lovers busy.
- Developer: Square Enix
- Platform: PC & PS4
- PvE Elements: Quests, Raids, Bosses, Long story mode
- Model: Subscription format
Word of Warcraft
Now, surely you’ve heard of World of Warcraft right? or WoW as it’s affectionately referred too and yes, it’s still going strong! If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a massive MMORPG that was first released in 2004 by a company called Blizzard Entertainment. It takes place in Azeroth, a fantasy world, it also features several expansion packs which have been released over the years including The Burning Crusade, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Legion, Battle for Azeroth, Shadowlands, Warlords of Draenor and Lich King.
It was one of the worlds most popular MMORPGs and still is one of the top ones to this day. You control a character in the game and can explore the landscape as well as fight several monsters, quest and interact with NPCs, meaning it has a lot of options for those who are interested in PvE.
Each server, or realm, falls into Normal which is a standard type of world that offers PvE and PvP or RP which is more focused on roleplaying in character. This has since however been replaced, by something called “War Mode” which allows people who don’t want to have the PvP elements of the game to essentially turn it off – which is something you can do in two of the capital cities within the game. Realms are also categorised by language, so you can play with people who speak your own language.
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Platform: PC
- PvE Elements: Quests, Dungeons, Bosses and monster hunting
- Model: Free up until level 20, then you need a subscription
Guild Wars 2
This is another well-known MMORPG developed by NCSoft and ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2. It’s again set in a fantasy world named Tyria and it follows something called Destiny’s Edge, it has a consistent story mode throughout the game which allows you to progress through the various environments that are available.
It allows players to approach questing in a slightly different way to most MMORPGs as it follows through a story which responds to the player’s actions, which isn’t particularly common for games of this kind.
The game is a favorite amongst PvE lovers as it revolves mostly around the story, which is that your player is tasked with reuniting the disbanded Destiny Edge members to combine all the player races and combat Zhaitan who is the undead Elder Dragon, or at least that completes the first step of the game!
- Developer: ArenaNet
- Platform: PC
- PvE Elements: Significant story, monster hunting, questing (with a twist), raiding and bosses
- Model: Free to Play
Runescape (Old School)
There are two versions of the Runescape game, the standard one and the Old School one, and personally, we favor the Old School which is why this one has made the list, despite being older graphically, it has a better and cult following in our personal opinion, which makes it a bit more challenging.
It’s a fantasy MMORPG that is developed by a company called Jagex, it was first released in 2001 and is now on its third iteration of the game with the classic version having been shut down in 2018, the old school version actually being version two and the latest being considered as Runescape 3, by some. It’s had over 200 million accounts created and is the largest free MMORPG.
It takes place in a medieval fantasy realm that is divided into different kingdoms in which you can travel between different regions, finding all sorts of monsters, starting and finishing quests, playing Mini-Games, creating your own house and so much more.
The PvE of this game is fantastic, and if you don’t want to, you can completely stay away from the PvE elements as many within the game do as they try to achieve the highest levels and experience in the game.
- Developer: Jagex
- Platform: PC & Mobile
- PvE Elements: Quests, Mini Games (Pest Control, etc), PvE specific skills, Levelling
- Model: Free To Play (Can pay monthly for members zones & expanded areas)
TERA actually stands for the Exilred Realm of Arborea and is a MMORPG, sometimes also referred too as TERA Online. It was developed by Blue Hole and was originally released in 2011.
The idea is that there are two beings, titans, called Arun and Shara and as they slept they began manifesting the Exiled Realm of Arborea and their bodies began to form the two continents. As you may have guessed, it’s a fantasy world where these titans dreams came to life.
The game itself is a typical MMORPG with features like crafting, questions, NPC battling and as most do, it features Player versus Player elements. It has a good combat system with several dungeons to get dug into and you can play on a PvE server meaning you can avoid PvP conflict but there are generally fewer people that play the PvE servers.
- Developer: Bluehole Studio
- Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
- PvE Elements: Questing, Dungeons, Bosses & Levelling vs NPCs
- Model: Free to Play
The Elder Scrolls
This MMORPG is brought to you by Bethesda Softworks and is focused on being a true open-world game with free-form gameplay and is part of a series that includes Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim which are all award-winning games.
It’s part of a fictional universe combining real-world elements like the roman empire with pre-medieval elements and widespread magic use and mythological creatures, all within the same game. The general theme of the game is that there is an incoming threat, for your chosen hero to defeat, essentially.
Set in Tamriel it features gameplay that is full of questing, random scenarios for you to take on and a lot of free roam exploring. It’s a great game with plenty to do from both a PvE and PVP perspective, you can even do several different PvE based builds and mainly focus on that within the game, there’s no need to get involved in the PvP if you don’t want too and the game will still be challenging enough to keep you interested for a long time.
- Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
- Platform: PC
- PvE Elements: Questing, Trails, Instances, Bosses & Arenas
- Model: Pay to Play