A huge world beyond the city gates overflowing with wonders, treasures, mysteries, and the best panoramas for screenshots. That’s what we expect from the Best MMOs for Exploration. We’ve found a bunch of titles that reward those willing to stray off the beaten path.
Guild Wars 2 has this Map Completion system that acts as an incentive for exploration. Map Completion is not just about discovering the entire map. It also encompasses vistas, points of interest, puzzles, waypoints, tasks, and challenges.
Vistas are usually hard-to-reach areas that trigger a zone-connected cinematic. By completing tasks, players gain renown hearts, rewards, and knowledge about what’s happening in that area. Challenges reward hero points.
Players can use gliders and air currents to uncover hidden areas and discover treasures. From climbing trees to getting lost in caves,
GW2 exploration is much more than just wandering around admiring the scenery. The base game is free-to-play so you can give it a go anytime.
ESO has some of the most beautiful MMORPG maps, but they’re not there solely for one’s visual enjoyment. Each zone has unique flora and fauna from which you can harvest resources. You never know where you will find an NPC in dire need of an adventurer.
Dynamic events, world bosses, and delves provide quick and fun rewards.
Level scaling is one of the best ways to encourage exploration. Monsters and regional challenges scale with the character’s level, so you can adventure into any zone you like.
Role-players and TES lore nerds will delight in finding crumbs of knowledge that give NPCs and locations a place in the big picture.
Exploring fantasy worlds is one thing, but the space odyssey has been holding a fascination over humans since the early days of mankind. For the vast majority, MMOs like Elite Dangerous provide the only way to go where no man has gone before.
You can find planets and other celestial bodies where no other players have set foot yet. You can also name them, how cool is that!
Exploration in Elite Dangerous has two stages. First, we must discover the place. Then, we learn more about it using scanning tools. It’s an intricate system that proposes challenges such as engineering a ship for exploration, calculating fuel consumption, and more.
This is probably the best game for peaceful exploration. Black Desert Online has one big seamless map that lets you reach any place within sight. The world is visually stunning, to say the least. Any path you’ll take is a scenic route.
Players find it relaxing to stroll without a particular purpose into an area and just work on life skills such as fishing and gathering. Sailing is a part of the game too. If you decide to take a swim, you are in for a treat. BDO has underwater content and – in the literal sense – there is plenty of fish to catch in the ocean, so bring a friend with you!
Meadow is an experimental social MMO created by Might and Delight, a Swedish game studio. You play as an animal whose sole purpose is to explore a forest.
The game world is not huge – the price accurately reflects the amount of content – but the experience is short and sweet.
The goal of the game is to acquire items from the forest. Teaming with others means running in the same direction hoping to stumble into something good.
You communicate with others using emotes which is hilariously confusing.
Exploring in Star Wars: The Old Republic makes you stronger and wiser. The world is filled with Datacrons. These hidden objects contain a piece of lore and points to increase your character’s attributes. Reaching them is not easy. You will have to fight, jump, climb, and solve puzzles before you can extract the knowledge from a Datacron.
The world of SWTOR is a great visual representation of the most famous Star Wars planets and places. Fans of the franchise will appreciate the attention to detail and the voice-acted Datacrons that add more flavor to the world.
One’s love for Lord of the Rings is enough to keep them going in LOTRO. Who would say no to the opportunity to explore the Shire or Lothlorien? However, Lord of the Rings Online exploration doesn’t rely on fandom alone.
You can learn new things by talking to NPCs, even if they don’t have a quest for you. Speaking of quests, LOTRO has secret landscape missions that pop up when entering an area, killing a mob, or interacting with an object. If you are a lore fan, you will surely enjoy spotting Easter eggs and secrets.
Rift came out in 2011 and introduced innovative features at that time. It was one of the first MMORPGs to have dynamic events. Rifts and invasions have players chasing mobs and bosses across the map for XP and rewards.
Later, carnage quests provided an extra way to get more XP when leveling. But the true exploration features are puzzles, artifacts, and hard-to-reach locations.
The puzzles can be quite demanding, both in terms of getting there and solving. Artifacts are collectible objects that can be found anywhere. Players complete artifact collections and turn them in for rewards.
Exploration in ArcheAge isn’t just a pastime. It’s a way of playing the game and a very lucrative one, that is.
Through the profession system, ArcheAge players can specialize in Exploration. This craft sends adventurers out in the wild and has them returning with treasures. From the top of a mountain to the bottom of the ocean, there’s no place in the world that’s not worth uncovering.
Explorers make use of tools such as gliders and sextants to help them move around. Mounts have traits that make them better suited for unfriendly terrains such as slopes.
EQ2 has a huge world that gives adventurers many places to see and monsters to kill. World events and bosses make sure that your swords never go rusty.
EverQuest 2 has several chain quests that require a bit of legwork. Zones scale with a character’s level, so you are free to wander by your heart’s desire.
Each area has treasures and collectible items. Harvesting nodes from the open world is a good way to obtain raw materials.
The game features exploration achievements that require players to discover regional points of interest.
Before Cataclysm, achievement points and sightseeing were the only kicks we got out of roaming around.
The changes came in slowly. Cataclysm had archaeology, Mists of Pandaria introduced treasures, Draenor had flying restrictions, and Legion came with world quests. The last two expansions build on those features to give adventurers more and more reasons to leave the main hubs.
Compared to other MMOs, WoW exploration is still in its early stages, but it’s heading in the right direction. We believe that the next expansion will bring even more features that make wandering around worthwhile.
FFXIV has a Sightseeing log that has adventurers discovering various locales from Eorzea and beyond. Some are straightforward. Others feature jumping puzzles. The places hide bits of lore and beautiful vistas.
In addition to open-world exploration, Final Fantasy XIV also has dungeon exploration in the form of Explorer Mode. Solo or with a party, players can revisit select dungeons in their completed state. There are no enemies to fight. This is great for RP purposes or just admiring the architecture of villainous sites.
Tibia is an old-school MMORPG that has a lot to offer. If you can stomach the 1997 graphics, that is. Judging by 2022 standards, the visuals are far from eye candy, but the exploration part of the game is totally worth it.
The Measuring Tibia quest requires players to uncover all parts of the world and this is not an easy task. Especially that you need to complete missions to gain access to some areas.
Hidden locations and secrets are revealed by interacting with the game world, so make sure to pull any lever and comb every nook and cranny you find.
The studio behind Meadow brings us one of the most unique MMOs ever created. Book of Travels doesn’t set specific goals, such as reaching a level cap or defeating bosses.
Adventurers of the Braided Shore make their journey into this beautiful hand-drawn world. Random dynamic events ensure that each play session is its own adventure.
As players continue their expedition, they uncover secrets, tricks, and hidden features. Book of Travels is all about finding things on your own.
This tiny multiplayer online RPG – as the creators call it – retains features from other Might and Delight titles. Communication with others through symbols is one of them.