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Loading... is the premier daily
MMORPG news, coverage, and
commentary newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

Last week we said goodbye to the ugliest MMO cancellations of the '00s. But the new year is a time for building on the past. So today we have a list of the ten most influential MMORPGs of the '00s. It might surprise you to see how ever successful MMO built on those that came before it, and that innovation didn't stop (or start!) with World of Warcraft.


The Pulse

You vote with what you
view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the
result is the Ten Ton Pulse ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/thepulse/" target="_blank">What
is The Pulse?).

are today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. World
    of Warcraft
  2. Dungeons
    and Dragons Online
    (UP 1)
  3. Lord
    of the
    Rings Online
    (down 1)
  4. EverQuest
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/43">EVE

movers today

  1. Legends of Norrath (UP 52 to #19)
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/117">Dragon Age: Origins (UP 2 to #8)
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/115">Age of
    Conan (down 2 to #9)
Recent Releases

  • 1/26 - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2389">Mass
    Effect 2
    (release date)
  • 2/1
    - Global

    (release date)
  • 2/2
    - Star
    Trek Online

    (release date)
  • 2/16
    - href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/expansions/sentinelsfate/index.vm">EverQuest
    2: Sentinel's Fate (expansion)
  • March

    - APB

Loading... Daily

Props to our small staff of highly dedicated warrior poets and writers today, as 2009 saw 2,315 Ten Ton Hammer articles - an average of more than six a day - many of which were exclusive, and all of which were timely and relevant.

On Thursday we took a fairly depressing look at the ugliest MMOG cancellations of the '00s. It's a new year now, a time for optimism and building on the past where we can and starting over where we can't, so let's start 2010 right with a view towards the ten most influential MMORPGs of the 00's.

Dark Age of Camelot (2001) - Attention to DAoC has waned in recent years, which is a pity because many veteran MMO players still view the game's realm vs. realm (RvR) as the best large scale PvP they've ever played. DAoC also introduced experience bonuses for tackling out of the way content and mobs and dynamic zone loading, a largely loading screen free experience that made the game feel like a contiguous world and was later used to perfection by World of Warcraft. Though many were critical of the itemization and faulty gameplay introduced with 2003's "Trials of Atlantis", 2005's "Darkness Falls" expansion is still remembered by many as a hallmark dungeon experience.

EVE Online (2003) - Designed by just a handful of dedicated developers in Iceland of all places, EVE Online released its twelfth free expansion a month ago is still growing in prominence today. Touting innovative features such as a huge, single-shard universe, a largely anything-goes ruleset outside of Empire space, and offline training, the game's fanbase extends far beyond its players, with many tuning in just to catch up on latest happenings in alliance warfare, or maybe the even latest e-bank scandal.

Final Fantasy XI (2003) - FFXI carved its place on this list as one of the first (and certainly the most viable) of all the attempts at a cross-platform (PC and PlayStation 2) MMORPG. Dual classing was virtually unheard of in MMOs prior to FFXI, as was a player-run auctionhouse (abused as it was at the outset) and the now ubiquitous fishing mechanic. FFXI also an art style thatwas an important step in the evolution of stylized realism, which we most closely associate with WoW nowadays.

City of Heroes / City of Villains (2004 / 2005) - When CoH took the stage in 2004, it seemed a godsend - an 3D, third-person perspective MMORPG that tapped the superhero genre rather than an increasingly crowded fantasy category. Their appeal began just game-side of the login screen, with a incredibly fun and versatile costume generator that allowed your character to attain distinction before even entering the game. As characters progressed, flight, super speed, and other superhuman abilities only added to that feeling of distinction and power. While many felt the game became grindy after the early going, 2009's Architect Edition expansion allowed players to create and level up to their own comic-book inspired content. This is also a franchise that continues to re-invent itself, with a graphical revamp and a new game-changing expansion planned for the near future.

EverQuest 2 (2004) - In certain circles, EverQuest 2 is known as the MMOG the developers play. EQ2 is widely considered the most complete MMO experience on the market, at least among co-op titles that largely shun PvP play. Carrying forward many familiar threads from the EverQuest story, offering plenty of uniquely compelling group and solo content in nearly all level ranges, and with the most complete treatment of certain eccentricities such player and guild housing and holiday events, EQ2 deserves its long-held place near the top of the Pulse.

World of Warcraft (2004) - WoW brought the MMORPG to the mainstream market, and Blizzard deserves all the credit and subscription numbers for that and then some. But WoW's genius isn't so much it's MMO innovations (except perhaps its art style) as it is how selectively and wisely the developers adapted features from previous MMOs, tying it all up in a lore package that commands perhaps the biggest following of any continuously evolving storyline that has a computer or video game as its origin.

Guild Wars (2005) - The subscription-free nature of Guild Wars proved that a subscription and ensuing level grind isn't the only way to create a financially viable MMORPG, at least while box copies and expansions are selling well. Featuring highly competitive team-based PvP after a relatively quick level-up process, Guild Wars arguably formed the basis of WoW's battlegrounds and arenas, WAR's scenarios, and the notion of MMOGs as a legitimate eSports progenitor alongside RTS and FPS titles.

Dungeons and Dragons Online (2006) - Despite being one of the first MMORPGs to overcome latency difficulties enough to create combat that felt action-y, DDO may not have made this list were it not for Turbine's 2009 free-to-play revamp of the game. With substantial reinvestment and not a little schmaltz, Turbine reinvigorated a maturing game, turning it into a fun-filled moneymaker that caters exactly to how people play group content these days. We're hoping that DDO Unlimited serves as a model for how to create a compelling MMO experience for MMOGs past their prime.

Lord of the Rings Online (2007) - With apologies to the singularly troubled Star Wars Galaxies franchise and DnD fans, it took Turbine to make an MMORPG that truly capitalized on its IP. But Turbine did more than that, expanding LotRO into a vehicle to explore avenues of lore that Tolkien only touched upon, such as Dol Goldur, former stronghold of Sauron and where Golem was tortured, in LotRO: Siege of Mirkwood. Skillfully dancing around the insuperable plot of the original stories, LotRO and Turbine deserve mention for how to meaningfully augment an cherished, standalone IP.

Note that these are my opinions only, not Ten Ton Hammer's per se. I've left out a lot of more recent titles, many of which seemed to be tech demos for graphics cards, others because it's soon to see their legacy (being that it's easier to see a game's influence years after the fact). But that said, are there MMOGs I should have included? See a title that doesn't belong? Let's carry on the discussion in the Loading... forum!

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our All Points Bulletin (APB) forum

APB - All Points Bulletin

Our forum regulars asked us about opening an All Points Bulletin
forum. We said, "Good idea!" And Beerkeg, one of Ten Ton Hammer's
volunteer Gurus, asked if he could represent the game as part of our
guru program. We said, "You bet!"

What does this mean to you? It
means that we have a new forum for the cops n' criminals MMOG, APB. If
you've yet to hear of the game, or you'd like to join in the chatter
about it, we've got a thread just for you.


Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

supposedly the character creator is so advanced that you will be able
to create your own face in the game. There was a picture in the latest
PC Gamer magazine where the developers only went by a photo of one of
the staff, and created him in game PERFECTLY! Even being able to
custome a kevlar vest with the PC Gamer logo.

- Beerkeg

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell

7 new Ten Ton Hammer
features today! 7 in January! 7 in

Exclusive Features and Original Guides
Today at
Ten Ton Hammer

Reviews & Interviews

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Review

& Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited is the free-to-play
reincarnation of its subscription-based predecessor, Dungeons &
Dragons Online: Stormreach. The game has gone through enough changes
that we felt it was worth reviewing as a new game. How will it stack up
against today's MMOG market?

Champions Online Review Part 3 – End Game

no longer a sidekick or wannabe hero, but a true force of good and
justice in a world filled with villainy. Your hero has begun his final
push to immortality, which means you’re playing the end game content in
Champions Online. How is the game play at this final, critical time? Is
the content in the last stage of the game worth exploring? Your friends
at Ten Ton Hammer are here to provide their impressions of the end game
experience in CO.

Global Agenda Mission Types Interview with Exec. Producer Todd

With less than a month until launch, more and more details about Global Agenda's
gameplay are starting to emerge. Ten Ton Hammer caught up with Exec. Producer
Todd Harris to learn about the match formats and maps that will decide the
victors in both the free-to-play "Mercenary" PvP and in "Conquest," the grand
strategy, agency vs. agency side of the game.

Features & Guides

Aion Weekly Newsletter - Hello 2010!

are you hoping 2010 will bring to Aion and the MMOG scene in general?
Share you gaming wish list and read this week's newsletter for Aion
news that you may have missed over the busy holidays.

WoW - Achieving Everything: Loremaster

you ready to take on the daunting task of achieving Loremaster? This
guide will provide some simple hints, tips, and general information to
make this World of Warcraft achievement a little less painful to

WoW - Guide to Ice Crown Citadel - The Plagueworks

Tuesday WoW's Icecrown Citadel is set to expand as another wing is
opened in the Lich Kings lair--the lab and experimentation area of
Professor Putricide, called the Plagueworks. All of the fights in this
wing are fairly complicated. Arm yourself with all the necessary
knowledge before you head in with our newest guide.

WoW Heirloom Items

you have unanswered questions about Heirloom items? Need to know where
to get them, or how much they cost? This week Mem answers all those
questions and more with this extensive guide.

Hottest Content

  1. Global Agenda Mission Types Interview with Exec. Producer Todd
  2. Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Review
  3. Champions Online Review Part 3 – End Game
  4. WoW - Guide to Ice Crown Citadel - The Plagueworks
  5. WoW - Achieving Everything: Loremaster
  6. The
    Ton Hammer Best
    of 2009
  7. A 2009 World of Warcraft Retrospective
  8. Going
    Klingon -
    href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/78574">Star Trek
    href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/78574"> Q&A
    with Zeke
  9. 2009
    In EVE Online - A Retrospective
  10. Star
    Trek Online
    Klingons and
    PvP Q&A with Cryptic Studios

for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer

- Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer team

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.