10 Best Casual MMOs For Time-limited Players

MMOs have been my jam for a while now. But lately, I feel like it’s become more of a work than an entertaining part of my life. I am wandering on the open world, or roleplaying or strategizing from day and night yet I’m going nowhere.

So I set out to find casual MMOs that particularly target gamers like me who have limited time to spare but want to make the most out of it.

Selecting the Best Casual MMOs

But escaping MMO games with huge time dumps was quite a challenge. Ones where you can go in, do something, have fun, avoid the grind, and possibly get a reward for your efforts.

So here are the elements we’ve devised on our lookout:

  • Easy Mechanics: A couple of hours into the game would be enough to understand what’s going on.
  • Rewarding Systems: The loot, quest rewards, or game rewards are easy to come by. You wouldn’t depend on outside trading to improve.
  • Simple Character Progression: You can easily understand how to improve your character without making game-breaking mistakes.
  • Smaller Areas to Journey: You are not asked to travel too far to actually engage with content like quests.
  • Experience Freedom: You don’t need to chase meta builds, gears, or areas to keep up.
  • Non-grind Experiences: Grind mechanics may be optional, not part of the core game.
  • Non-punishing Systems: You can enjoy the game even if you’re not very skilled.
  • Non-addictive Gameplay Loop: It won’t do any good if you have other responsibilities and hobbies.
  • High Entertainment Values: You’re here to have fun, even if it is just 15 minutes a day.
  • Budget: Because you don’t have much time to play, you’d prefer either free or single-payment games.

Best MMOs for Casual Players

Guild Wars II

guild wars 2
Guild Wars 2′ debuted in 2012. There have been two expansions since.
  • Developer: ArenaNet
  • Publisher: NCSoft
  • Release Date: 2012
  • Platform:  Windows, macOS

Guild Wars 2 is a free MMORPG by ArenaNet. It follows the genre’s classic formula: you pick among five razes and become the center of a series of events that influence the world.

You follow a fantastic story with the familiar genre system: an action bar and a targeting system. Also, there’s a variety of world events, large-scale battles, and a healthy amount of players on servers.

The game features a horizontal progression, the reason why most players consider it the most casual MMO out there. That means there’s no better gear, and you can simply upgrade whatever you like without pressure. Also, everything you do rewards you properly.

Overall, the game offers a light online RPG experience with a full-blown story and zero grind mechanics. It’s also a good game for those of you who like to collect and customize pets and cosmetics. Lastly, it helps that the zones are gorgeous and full of people ready to help you.

The Elder Scrolls Online

the elder scrolls online casual mmo
The Elder Scrolls Online has five expansions (chapters) on top of the base game.
  • Developer: Zenimax Online Studios
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform:  Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One

The Elder Scrolls Online is a multiplayer RPG. Let me rephrase that: it’s Skyrim online. You can play a massive adventure in a persistent world alongside hundreds of players. And your character can still be unique: you choose among ten races, six classes, and three skill trees per race.

If you’re unfamiliar, it offers the core experiences of a classic RPG game. You can gather resources, steal, explore, dungeon-crawl, battle, join guilds, follow questlines, craft gear, and so much more. None of these activities are obligatory: you can do whatever, and it’s always fun and rewarding.

“Skyrim Online” is easy to grasp, it doesn’t punish you, and it’s generous on loot and rewards. Also, there’re new quests, sites to explore, new gear, and things to do everywhere. Lastly, the game allows players to go anywhere in a group without considering level disparity, so your friends won’t leave you behind.

The Elder Scrolls Online is perfect for weekend warriors looking for a quality online RPG experience. The award-winning title is rich, massive, and full of welcoming adventures. Speaking of which, you can play the main story in any order and from any part of the Tamriel world.

Final Fantasy XIV

Final fantasy xiv casual mmo
You have to buy the game and pay a monthly subscription as well. However, purchasing the game grants you a 30-day non-subscription period.
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: 2010
  • Platform:  Windows, PS3, PS4

Final Fantasy XIV is a hugely popular MMORPG. As you’d expect, it’s a Final Fantasy online game. That means JRPG mechanics, gorgeous storytelling, and colorful characters. On top of that, you have 8 aesthetically different classes and 14 classes or “jobs.” Your choice depends on taste rather than meta obligations.

Aside from combat, quest, and exploration, there’re many other optional activities. These include crafting, gearing, leveling, treasure hunting, daily quests, gathering materials, challenges, and cute Chocobos

I would disqualify most subscription-based MMOs, but FFXIV is so good and casual that I had to include it. This game holds your hand and levels you up, step by step, through a linear progression system. Even during a short session, you’ll see how the story and the character move forward.

I heavily recommend it for Final Fantasy fans and people looking for an alternative to heavy games like WoW. If you can afford the extra service fee, it’s absolutely worth the money. FFXIV is fantastic.

Warframe

warframe casual mmo 1
Warframe has kept steady popularity over the years.
  • Developer: Digital Extremes
  • Publisher: Digital Extremes
  • Release Date: 2013
  • Platform:  Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch

Warframe is a free MMO shooter-looter RPG. If you’re a time-limited player, I advise you: Warframe can be addictive. Enter with responsibility.

So, the game is about choosing a mechanical exo-suit (a Warframe) to explore a large galaxy. Rich in lore and sci-fi gadgets, you improve your Warframe, level up, shoot, hack, blow up, and loot everything, everywhere.

Despite its size, it offers pocket-sized missions you can complete in half-hours. There’s always something to do, so you can go in, play during your limited downtime, and enjoy nice rewards.

Also, it’s one of the most popular MMORPGs of all time. Although it’s been going for many years, it’s currently enjoying one of its largest player bases ever. As such, I recommend it for people looking for a casual and yet deep online RPG to play alongside friends. It’s full of options, skills, stories, activities, and aliens to blast.

Neverwinter

Neverwinter casual mmo
Neverwinter is one of the most popular MMOs of all time.
  • Developer: Cryptic Studios
  • Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
  • Release Date: 2013
  • Platform:  Windows, PS4, Xbox One

Neverwinter is a free action MMORPG. It’s based on the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game. As such, it’s a sandbox, classic roleplaying game that allows you to complete its epic story in many ways.

The game is about exploring and defending the realm from evil creatures. Dungeon & Dragons fans will recognize stories, characters, locations, classes, and heroes. Because of this, gameplay revolves around action combat that requires dodges, blocks, attacks, and abilities. Aside from that, there’re no significant grind mechanics.

The game is prone to guide your progress. It clearly showcases its mechanics and takes you to obvious paths and destinations. And even though the game has a lot of depth, gameplay relies on smaller instances you can complete in about 20 minutes.

Dungeons & Dragons fans should definitely pick this free gem. Also, those people looking for a game where they can complete something quickly could enjoy Neverwinter. And if you find yourself with time, there’s actually much more to enjoy and discover than meets the eye.

Star Trek Online

star trek online casual mmo
Star Trek Online offers tons of little mechanics of adventures, but the core game is easy to grasp.
  • Developer: Cryptic Studios
  • Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
  • Release Date: 2010
  • Platform:  Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One

Star Trek Online is a free MMO set in the Star Trek universe. You play as a starship captain to explore a galaxy full of secrets, worlds, life, and civilizations.

STO relies on short, 30-minutes or so missions on pocket areas. Along the way, you’ll meet entertaining stories, locations, and lore information. So, you’ll mostly be exploring and fighting either on your ship or on foot. In particular, foot combat feels like a turn-based game with sci-fi weapons: you stand still, choose your skills, and wait until you can attack again.

We chose it because of the storytelling excellence the game offers. Moreover, you can customize your captain and ship as a member of Star Trek factions. These include the Federation, Romulan Republic, Klingon Defense Force, or Jem’hadar.

We highly recommend it to Star Trek fans or people with some knowledge about the franchise. It’s easy to play, non-addictive, and has no grind mechanics. It’s the perfect sci-fi casual MMO.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

star wars the old republic mmo
Bioware has re-focused on the game since 2020.
  • Developer: Bioware
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Release Date: 2011
  • Platform:  Windows

Not to be confused with Knights of the Old Republic, The Old Republic is the only Star Wars MMORPG experience. It’s also free and similar to KOTOR. But then, I must say: don’t let the trailers misguide you. The game looks nothing like the promotional materials.

You play the storyline that belongs to the class and faction you pick. Along the way, you make decisions that may or may not affect your friends and general outcomes. As for gameplay, it’s a classic MMORPG with an action bar, levels, and tons of skills.

The Old Republic was an easy pick because of the story it offers. Whenever the game is not asking you to grind, you can complete short missions to behold strong character moments and events. So, it provides single-player greatness, coming from Bioware’s glory days.

Overall, I recommend it for players looking for a great Star Wars story. In particular, KOTOR fans will appreciate the game. Lastly, the free bundle includes the base game plus two expansions, which is plenty of content. Sadly, you’d have to subscribe for three additional DLCs.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Developer: Zenimax Online Studios
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Release Date: 2012
  • Platform:  Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS Vita, Android, iOS

SEGA’s Phantasy Star Online 2 is as casual as MMOs can be. It’s a free online action JRPG offering fun adventures, gorgeous sights, and fast combat. There’s no competitive experience here: it’s all about solo or co-op PvE across raids, dungeons, and quests.

The highly awaited sequel debuted to great success and fan appreciation. It offers a 3D action-adventure experience with anime characters on a magical land.

We included the game because of its simple controls, gorgeous graphics, free price, and superb performance. Also, it offers deep character customization options, a fun skill system, and easy-to-find gear.

PSO 2 is a great choice for those looking to customize their action anime character, even down to character expressions! On top of that, the mechanics are entertaining, the story is engaging, and the combat gameplay is familiar. However, the game has been declining in terms of the player base during 2021.

Trove

trove casual mmo
Trove’s gameplay loop is about gathering, building, exploring, killing, and looting.
  • Developer: Trion Worlds
  • Publisher: Trion Worlds
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Platform:  Windows, macOS, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Trove is a free action sandbox MMO similar to games like Terraria and Minecraft. That means it’s a silly, cube-art game that offers tons of dungeon-crawling adventures.

You pick one of the five “Cubular” classes, master abilities, and gear up. The content relies on exploring infinite realms and dungeons for sweat, sweat loot.

Trove’s dungeon-crawling is fun, entertaining, and simple. These are reasons enough to pick the game, but not the only elements in the game. You can also gather materials and build worlds alongside your friends, from shacks to domes and flying castles.

Overall, Trove feels very much like Minecraft meets Minecraft Dungeons. You can build anything (structures and gear), find ludicrous amounts of loot, and explore vastly different realms. There’s a wide public for these kinds of games, and you may be up for the genre.

MapleStory 2

maplestory 2 casual mmo
MapleStory 2 is a Korean game. It debuted in Korea in 2015.
  • Developer: NSquare
  • Publisher: Nexon
  • Release Date: 2018 (worldwide)
  • Platform:  Windows

MapleStory 2 is the newest title on our list and also the least popular. This is a free MMO JRPG with cartoony graphics and a light-hearted tone.

The game resurfaced recently with its own launcher after leaving Steam in 2020. It offers the same experience as before. You play on a colorful, 3D world as if it were a platformer. As you explore, you gather resources and combat cartoony monsters with a fast-paced combat system.

Even though it has a lot of content, a half-hour playtime can get you pretty far. The game is rewarding, and it’s easy to see what you need to do and where you need to go. Also, the story comes to you in small portions, so the most casual of players could simply skip the plot.

We recommend MapleStory 2 for younger players or players with less experience. It’s a cute entry to the MMO scene.

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