MMORPGs, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games, are huge in more ways than one. As well as providing a platform for hundreds of gamers to play together at the same time, MMORPGs bring in a whopping amount of money – as much as 10 billion dollars a year, and capture an audience in the tens of millions.

We’ve come a very long way in the world of MMORPGs – gone are the text-based multi-user dungeons of yesteryear, replaced by incredibly intricate and graphically impressive MMORPGs available today.

But while it’s great that the world of MMORPGs has developed, it also offers a problem; with so many great MMORPGs available to play, which should you put your time and effort into? We’ve spent some time playing some of the most infamous MMORPGs around, and here’s our roundup of the best.

You might want to check out our roundup of the best upcoming games of 2017.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

Released back in 2004, World of Warcraft is a genre-defining MMORPG enjoyed by millions of players around the world. While other MMOs may offer features more impressive or complex than what’s available in WoW, no other MMO manages to tie it all together in such a neat and user-friendly way.

Whether your interest be in raiding, PvP, dungeons or simply exploring exotic worlds, World of Warcraft has you covered – and then some. The endgame content is nothing short of superb, featuring a host of bosses and dungeons that’ll keep gamers engaged and entertained time and time again.

Even when the DLC is a little underwhelming, as was the case with Warlords of Draenor, fans can’t get enough of the game and demand more from Blizzard.

Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous

In terms of Space-based MMORPGs, it’ll be hard to find a game more impressive and extensive than Frontier’s Elite Dangerous (and the subsequent Horizons DLC). The game offers the ability to explore the entirety of the Milky Way in impressive 1:1 scale, meaning that planets are planet-sized and the distance between them isn’t a stone-throw like in other Space exploration games.

But it goes way beyond that: it offers granular controls over your ship and its modules, the ability to upgrade your ship for whatever you want to focus on – pirating, trading or exploration – and you can even land on planets in the hope of finding Thargoid ruins. The best part is that you can join a Wing with friends and fly in a squad of three, taking on other online players of NPCs dotted around the galaxy.

If you’re a bit of a space nerd and love the idea of exploring vast and exotic galaxies in incredible detail, Elite Dangerous is for you.

RuneScape

RuneScape

You can’t talk about MMORPGs without mentioning RuneScape, one of the oldest and most infamous MMORPGs around. Starting out way back in 2001, RuneScape still provides users with new and engaging gameplay 16 years on – and in a world where MMOs pop up and disappear with the blink of an eye, that’s impressive.

You’re dropped into the world of RuneScape with a few basic items and a rough sense of where to go, but from that point it’s entirely up to you what happens – and that’s what RuneScape players love, the freedom. The emphasis on choice meaning you can be anything from a professional monster slayer to a lumberjack, and everything in between.

Those that remember the game may remember the questionable 2D sprites in a 3D environment, but that’s no longer an issue – the game looks more vibrant than ever, although the quality will never match the likes of World of Warcraft. That’s okay though, as it meant the developers could spend time on giving the game a little more ‘personality’.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

When Final Fantasy XIV was first released back in 2010, gamers hated it. In fact, they hated it so much that Square Enix rebuilt the entire game with a new team, dubbed Realm Reborn, which was released in 2013. The second iteration of the game was a huge improvement on the first and does a much better job at rekindling the love for the Final Fantasy series.

The key feature of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is the innovative class system. The game lets you swap between classes whenever you like, and there’s even a way to share abilities between classes. It gives you the freedom to find your perfect play style, and keeps the combat fresh.

Combine that with an engaging storyline and you’ve got an impressive Final Fantasy MMORPG.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic

While it wasn’t a very popular MMORPG in its early days, it’s now renowned for its impressive storyline and voice acting. While most MMORPGs offer a single overarching narrative, The Old Republic has eight different class stories to experience, all as exciting and engaging as the rest. From fighting your way across the galaxy as an imperial agent to murdering everybody as a Sith warrior, there’s something for everyone.

The game has expanded on the storytelling element in recent years, offering a series of DLC providing what some call “the best tales ever told in an MMO”. If you want your MMORPG to have an engaging storyline, The Old Republic is for you.

The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online

While The Elder Scrolls Online got off to a rather rocky start when it was first released back in 2014, a number of updates has turned it into one of the best and most popular MMORPGs on the market. It’s mainly due to the impressive PvP system that allows hundreds of online players from three factions go head-to-head in battle to control the continent of Cyrodiil and, of course, the Elder Scrolls. It’s an impressive sight, if nothing else.

Alongside the impressive PvP offering, TESO features a range of quests and dungeons to complete, alongside other standard MMOPRG features. Another great feature of TESO is the ability to change class whenever you like, or even create a hybrid of classes. It’s great fun, and well worth a play.