Best MMORPGs For Grinding
Sometimes we just want to kick back, turn our brains off, and grind. Despite the term 'grindy" carrying a negative connotation, grinding isn't always bad. In fact some of my favorite MMORPGs have been grind-heavy (MapleStory). So without further adieu here's a list of the best MMORPGs for grinding (Grinding as the primary way to gain experience rather than questing or a game that requires tons of grind to get good drops):
Originally released in 2005 in North America MapleStory has long been viewed as one of the grindiest MMORPGs ever, at least before the Big Bang update which released in 2010. I remember routinely leveling characters to level 30-40 to try out new classes and doing so would take several weeks of hardcore play time. Nowadays players can get from 1 to 150 in a single session (during a burning event) but getting to level 200+ still takes a tremendous amount of grind. What makes the grind in MapleStory fun though is how quickly players can blow up the entire screen and kill 3-4 enemies in a single attack. Something about the grind in MapleStory feels fun and players can look forward to getting stronger and more efficient at killing enemies. While MapleStory does have questing, grinding is the most efficient way to level up in the game.
Black Desert Online is one of the few modern MMORPGs that emphasize grinding over questing. It launched in the Western market in early 2016 and features fast paced action oriented combat. The combat and sheer volume of enemies pulled and killed at once make the core gameplay / progression quite grindy. The game has countless quests too, but like every other MMORPG on this list the fastest way to level is to straight up grind. Fortunately hitting the soft level cap in Black Desert Online can be done in a single day, but leveling beyond the soft cap is incredibly grind heavy. Still, the core combat is fun which makes the grind enjoyable.
Dungeon Fighter Online
Dungeon Fighter Online, or DFO for short, is a side scrolling action MMORPG with persistent towns and instanced dungeons. It's got some very grind heavy gameplay as players will be running the same dungeons over and over again for XP / loot. It's actually the highest revenue generating MMORPG in the world thanks to its success in China (it out-earns World of Warcraft). Despite its grindy nature the game continues to grow in popularity.
Ragnarok Online along with many old school MMORPGs emphasized grinding from the get-go. While the game did have some quests they were relatively few and never rewarded much experience. Players simply moved from map to map finding efficient grind spots for their level range. What made the grind in Ragnarok Online fun though was its varied job system and card drops. Cards were extremely rare drops from enemies which were sometimes incredibly powerful, so not only did players make progress in leveling they could also look forward to that sweet sweet card drop. The Ragnarok Online Soundtrack also helped make the grinding fun as the game features some of the best music I've ever heard in a video game.
The core combat and visuals in Tree of Savior are inspired by Ragnarok Online, so naturally the game would also be grindy. Tree of Savior is an incredibly polished version of Ragnarok Online with great aesthetics and top notch music (SoundTEMP did the Tree of Savior Soundtrack and they're the same people who did the Ragnarok Online music). Unlike Ragnarok though, Tree of Savior actually has a ton of rewarding quests which grant experience. So while the game does having questing, players will find themselves grinding it out quite often.
Despite originally releasing back in 2001, RuneScape remains of the most popular MMORPGs in the world. Many old school MMORPGs were pretty grind heavy and Runescape is no exception. The game has added tons of awesome quests throughout the years but it still remains fairly grind-heavy.
Tibia is an old school top down 2D browser based MMORPG that originally launched back in 1997. Tibia is probably the most grind heavy MMORPG on this list as reaching combat level 999 (max) can take literally years of 24/7 non stop grinding. Despite the game being out for 20+ years and being incredibly popular only a handful of players have ever reached 999 combat level.
Path of Exile is a Diablo style isometric action MMORPG from Grinding Gear Games. Although the game isn't a traditional "grind", players in Path of Exile will often find themselves running through the same dungeons/areas looking for rare drops. The grind in Path of Exile is both an XP grind as well as an item one. What keeps players coming back to Path of Exile is the constant hunt for rare drops / orbs as well as leveling up their skills.
Warframe is a sci-fi shooter with RPG elements and is one of the most popular Western developed free to play MMOs. Although the leveling up process itself isn't too grindy, trying to find rare materials / drops is extremely grindy and involves players running the same maps over and over again. Fortunately the core gameplay in Warframe is fast paced and fun.
Lineage is a top down isometric fantasy MMORPG that launched in 1998 and was one of the first mega popular MMORPGs. Like other oldies on this list, it's VERY grindy. The official English version of Lineage has long since shut down but the game is still incredibly popular in South Korea and there are some private servers for it.
Record of Lodoss War Online is a 2D isometric fantasy MMORPG based on the classic JRPG series. Despite its 2017 release date, the game heavily focuses on grinding. It does have some quests early on for fast leveling, but players need to grind monsters in large parties for efficient leveling.
Did I miss any MMORPGs with good grinding? Let me know in the comments below!