We’ve always wanted to go to space, but due to our lack of both aerospace training and unlimited funds, we are instead to the confines of Earth. Fortunately, we do have video games to fill the void, letting us escape to the deepest regions of space whenever we wish.
MMOs are not lacking in space-themed adventures, but a few continue to stand out above the rest as worthy of your time and money. These are the 10 best sci-fi themed MMOs to pick up in the coming year.
Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis
The amount of Herculean tasks needed to get Phantasy Star Online 2 where it is today is nothing short of remarkable. It’s a classic MMO reborn for the modern era, with the New Genesis additions giving longtime players a sequel’s worth of content to explore. If you’ve ever heard of PSO2 – even in the Dreamcast days – and are wondering what all the fuss is about, now is the time to jump in.
Considered by many to be the space-themed MMO, EVE Online continues to wow its dedicated fanbase with its deep gameplay and thriving in-game world. Stories have been told for years about the clans that have formed within the game – and more importantly, the epic wars they’ve waged in the process. EVE Online will let you travel to as many galaxies far, far away as you’d like…so long as you don’t make the wrong people your enemies along the way.
Much like EVE Online, the journey of Destiny 2 from its humble roots in 2013 (when it was just called Destiny) to now should be taught in game design school. Multiple expansions and content updates, including the "This Week At Bungie" blog posts you might have heard people calling "TWAB" online, keep a constant flow of new things for players to explore and enjoy, and the fanbase continues to grow even ten years later. Plus, it’s a first-person shooter MMO, and how many of those are even available today? That alone makes Destiny 2 one of the most accessible MMOs ever, but the content is what keeps new players around for years.
We’re not sure how they’ve done it, but Warframe’s consistent success in its decade of existence has somehow flown under a lot of players’ radar. It seems preposterous that a game we’d best describe as "space samurai ninja action MMO" wouldn’t be successful, we get that, but despite its annual conferences, legions of fans, and incredibly fun gameplay, Warframe manages to persist despite not seeing the kind of spotlight other MMOs enjoy. That should change, and that change should start with you making this the year you check it out.
Look, when Fallout 76 launched in 2017, we didn’t think we’d still even be talking about it in 2023, let alone placing it on a list of "best MMOs to play in 2023." And yet here we are, despite those launch woes of yesteryear, because Fallout 76 has righted the ship and become one of the most enjoyable MMO experiences out there. Maybe it’s the nostalgia pop we get in the Power Armor, maybe it’s the over-the-top cool monster battles, or perhaps it’s just something about post-apocalypse West Virginia that keeps us coming back, but whatever it is Fallout 76 is better for it.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic made a tremendous splash when it first launched back in 2011, but a dozen years later BioWare continues to provide its loyal players with fresh content. Its most recent expansion, Legacy Of The Sith, launched just last year, and since the game has continued to be updated with monthly objectives and in-game events for players to hop into. Traveling across the galaxy as a Jedi or a Sith is still fun, each with multiple classes to experiment with as you progress. The galaxy is waiting, so grab your lightsaber – no matter what color it is – and check out The Old Republic.
Star Trek Online
Remember watching Star Trek Voyager as a child, and seeing Vice Admiral Janeway kick all kinds of butt throughout outer space? Last year Star Trek Online gave you the chance to work with her in-game – voice provided by original actress Kate Mulgrew – in one of the most authentic additions to STO the team has ever produced. If you played Star Trek Online before and fell out of it, or if you’ve never played it before at all, jumping in to experience those missions will be enough to keep you playing all throughout the year.
A lot of the games on this list will take you to fictional galaxies, which allows you to explore untold regions in a vast, but made-up, universe. Elite Dangerous eschews that idea, instead placing all of its space flight sim MMO action into a 1:1 representation of our actual Milky Way Galaxy. It’s one thing to present an excellent mix of space dogfighting and – after various updates – first-person shooter mechanics, but to then place it in the real-world universe above our heads? That’s just plain cool.
PlanetSide 2, like Warframe, is another MMO that persists to this day despite being relatively unknown outside of its player base. With tech that can support battles between thousands of human players at once and tight first-person shooter gameplay, it sounds like a game that should be at the top of most players’ "most played" lists, but we’d wager many people simply aren’t familiar with it. That should also change in the coming year, so give Planetside 2 a shot – pun intended.
We’ve mentioned a few games on this list whose legacies go back for years, in some case for even a decade. Anarchy Online has them all beat, however, first releasing in June 2001 and continuing to entertain its loyal fans to this day. There’s not been much in the way of new content for a while now, but the game continues to receive support from the development teams after going free-to-play in 2004 and adding a new engine via a beta in 2015. If you want to try something new by trying something old, Anarchy Online is exactly what you’re looking for.
Jason Fanelli is a tried-and-true Philadelphian, having lived in Delaware County for his entire life. He’s a veteran of the games industry, covering it for over a decade with bylines on The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, IGN, and more. He currently hosts the Cheesesteaks and Controllers podcast on iHeartRadio for Fox Sports Radio in Philadelphia.