“Grinding” and “classic” would be the main words to describe games like Runescape. The ever-lasting MMO is has been running for over 20 years, and its ever-lasting formula has influenced a lot of games in the process.
There’re currently two versions available for PC, and we need to clarify it. There’s Old School Runescape, a port that mimics the original 2001 game. Then, “Runescape” is the latest version of the game, also known as “Runescape 3.”
The latter is more popular, but it still feels like a niche MMO with about 3K daily concurrently players on Steam.
You may be one of these loyal users looking for similar experiences. Or you may be done with its world after hundreds of playtime hours. Regardless, other games like Runescape should grant you similar feelings – freedom, grinding, or both.
Selecting Games Like Runescape
Selecting games like Runescape requires understanding the elements of the non-casual MMO.
We’re considering Runescape 3, the latest game version, as the core experience to check. Then, we believe fans of the free-to-play RPG would like games featuring a mix or a twist of the following elements:
- Genre: Runescape is a sandbox MMORPG with crafting, a free class system, and an open world.
- Setting: The game happens in medieval fantasy land, with lore as deep as you’d like to explore.
- Sandbox: There’re dozens of skill trees to levels, areas to explore, and quests to complete. You’re free to do whatever.
- Class System: There’re no classes in the game. Instead, you can level any skill tree (like magic or ranged) and use the proper weapons.
- Resource Gathering: A great deal of the game revolves around gathering resources. You mine, hunt, chop, fish, and everything in between.
- Crafting: You can use the resources you gather to craft items you can use or trade. It includes arrows, runes for magic, weapons, armor, and more.
- Utility Skill Trees: Everything you gather or craft also level up a skill tree—for example, fishing levels up your fishing skill, allowing you to catch pricier prey.
- Character Progression: There’re 28 skill trees to master. You develop each tree by specific actions, like shooting a bow for Ranged.
- Building: You own a house, a port, and a farm. You can use the building menu to develop and customize your structures.
- Questing: Runescape features multi-part and engaging main quests and side quests with varied goals. All of it is optional, though.
- Combat: You fight in third-person by selecting your skills from a massive action bar and left-clicking. You also keep an item tooltip nearby.
- PvP: PvP is mostly restricted to PvP areas, zones in the world where you can engage with other monsters and players. There’re PvP servers as well.
- Boss Fights: Bosses are a high-mark in the game. These have “phases,” forcing you to use different classes and skills to defeat.
- Co-op: You can play the entire game solo or co-op. However, no dungeons or raids force you to go to a party.
- In-game Economy: You can sell everything you craft, gather and loot. You can also store your currency and items safely in a bank.
- Servers: You can change servers at any moment without losing progress. That’s significantly different from most MMO games.
- Price Point: Runescape is free, but there’s an optional membership that unlocks extra areas, skills, and quests.
A game with dozens of skill trees, a massive open-world map, and no clear directions is tough. That’s Runescape, a hard title for newcomers that easily becomes addictive.
Other games like Runescape can be more beginner-friendly. However, we intend to keep its core sandbox design, grinding for power, and power for grinding.
So, even though Runescape is a classic MMORPG, we’re looking across various genres to find the best alternatives. Moreover, as Runescape is still relevant, we’re overlooking decaying MMOs like Cabal Online, Wurm Online, or Silkroad Online.
Games Like Runescape
The Elder Scrolls Online
- Developer: Zenimax Online Studios
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Release Date: April 2014
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows, macOS
Your best bet would be trying The Elder Scrolls as a Runescape fan. It’s a first-person MMORPG in Tamriel, setting for Bethesda’s RPG series. It’s a cheap game, but you’d have to buy extra expansions separately.
There’s a strict class system, but everything else is about freedom. You create a character by selecting gender, looks, class, and race. Then, you explore a vast world to explore any area, activities, or one of your dozens of skill trees available.
Some of the skills are specific to class and race, while others come from the weapons and armor you use, the guild you join, the quest lines you complete, PvP events, and companions. Additionally, the game also revolves around gathering resources and crafting items. You can make potions, gear, clothes, and more.
Aside from exploring your skills, the world is vast and full of opportunities. You can explore, battle, steal, go to sieges in PvP, dungeon-crawl, and make your own story. Yet, there’s a plot, a lengthy questline about reclaiming your soul and saving the world from Oblivion. You can do it from any part of the world, in any order.
Lastly, you can complete quests or go to dungeons and raids solo or co-op. Alternatively, you can participate in team-based PvP battles and events with hundreds of players.
- Developer:Sandbox Interactive
- Publisher:Sandbox Interactive
- Release Date:July 2017
- Platform:Android, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, iOS, Classic Mac OS
Albion Online is a sandbox MMORPG within an open-world medieval fantasy setting. It’s all about freedom, gathering, and crafting; no questlines to pursue. Instead, you combat others for resources and loot.
Moreover, nearly every in-game item is player-crafted. Naturally, crafting involves massive grinding. You grind for power, and you need power to explore rich areas like dungeons (solo raids) and hell gates (team-based PvPvE dungeons). Alternatively, PvP events reward loot.
Another key similarity to Runescape is the class system. There’re no classes; rather, you use the skills of the weapons you wear. Also, the game introduces the “Destiny Board” system. It allows you to learn skills by using “Learning Points” or earning fame. Moreover, it showcases the activities you need to unlock skills.
As for the building, you can claim city plots on the island to build a farm and a house full of crafting stations. Here, you can use the building menu for customizing your area. You can even hire NPC workers to keep your home running smoothly.
Lastly, the game heavily relies on playing in small or large groups for resources. Battles reward resource patches, so playing with friends and parties is paramount. Moreover, guilds can claim territories to construct guild halls, personal hideouts, and more.
- Developer:Facepunch Studios, Double Eleven
- Publisher:Facepunch Studios
- Release Date:February 2018
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Xbox One, PS4, Linux
Consider Rust as playing a modern FPS Runescape but without any leveling up. It-s all about the grinding, as you start naked and with a rock and must climb your way upward towards technology. As you craft, gather, shoot, and survive bullets, hunger, thirst, and weather, Rust is a multiplayer survival shooter.
You don’t create a character, though. Instead, the game generates an avatar, and a random world, when you enter a server. Servers can have up to 60 people, and they last from one week to a month. After the server ends, the game wipes your progress, and you have to start over.
In first-person, you gather resources to craft supplies, ammo, and weapons. You can also build structures and defensive structures. And you can combat against other players for their loot or other NPCs. You need better weapons, armor, and supply to raid others, loot from stronger NPCs, and venture further.
So, a typical Rust day would look like this: you enter a server with your friends and go on a supply run. Your friends may chop trees with an ax and gather ore with a pickaxe while you watch their backs. Then, another player arrives on a makeshift bike and starts shooting at you. If you die, you lose the loot you carry.
Then, back at your makeshift base, you’ll slowly develop your tech trees. It requires finding resources and blueprints and crafting workbenches, ovens, etc. You need more resources to pay your base’s upkeep. On top of that, your enemies can raid you, even when you’re offline.
- Developer: CCP Games
- Publisher: CCP Games
- Release Date: May 2003
- Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
EVE Online is the biggest space MMO of all time, it’s free, and it keeps growing in complexity. You enter the game by picking a faction and customizing a character. This gives you some choices regarding the ships you can use and your starting position, technologies, and skills. Yet, the entire game happens within a ship.
You’ll be exploring thousands of systems across over 300 customizable starships. You drive around on solo or co-op adventures for resources, combat, and quests. EVE is an MMO where you manage your ship, empire, system, and battles akin to an RTS game.
Gameplay revolves around exploring, mining, combat, trading, and industry. In essence, you explore and fight to mine resources and then use these resources to develop technologies and upgrades. Moreover, you can build an empire with swarms of NPC ships mining or fighting for you.
As an MMO, all players on the same server share the space. That means you can join other users to capture territories. These open up massive space battles, as EVE holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest multiplayer battle: 8,825 players in a single event.
Lastly, the entire economy is player-driven. You’ll find items others players have made across thousands of space stations. It includes ships, equipment, and upgrades. Overall, EVE Online is the biggest sandbox, allowing you to modify ships as you’d like and explore the space freely.
Black Dessert Online SA
- Developer: Pearl Abyss
- Publisher: Kakao Games
- Release Date: November 2017
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS
Black Desert Online focuses highly on combat, relying on life skills and sandbox mechanics. However, it’s another buy-to-play MMORPG, but it’s quite cheap and doesn’t require a subscription.
Here, you customize a character with an in-depth character creation screen. Then, you enter a massive open-world where you can combat, chop trees, fish, cook, pursue quests, slay monsters, and go to PvP wars.
Combat is fast-paced and akin to a single-player action-adventure game. You dodge, aim, and use your skills with a strategy on a combat system that requires player skill. However, you have to choose a class, so your abilities are bound to your initial pick.
That said, there’s a story to follow with multi-part epic quests. Most players would say it’s not the best part of the title. Instead, BDO excels at combat and blending life skills where you gather resources to craft your gear.
Lastly, you can have a personal stable and a house. With the alchemy system, you can easily craft and create potions in your home. However, you can’t trade with other players, only with NPCs – it’s still a complex system, as it includes transporting your goods from one city to another.
Mortal Online 2
- Developer: Star Vault
- Publisher: Star Vault
- Release Date: November 2021
- Platform: Windows
Mortal Online 2 offers a hardcore sandbox experience as the original title. The setting is a medieval fantasy MMORPG sandbox with a full PvP open-world map. It makes the title dangerous, as death means losing your gear.
So, the game encourages playing alongside party members or as part of a guild. Moreover, the game features skill-based first-person combat where you need to aim, dodge, parry, and counter.
The skill system is massive, with over 600 abilities to learn. You develop these by leveling up, and you have the freedom to pursue any skill you want. In other words, the game allows you to build complex character builds and combinations.
There’s a comprehensive crafting system as well. Every in-game equipment is player crafted. Moreover, your progress on various non-combat skill trees allows you to create an astonishing amount of gear combinations.
Lastly, the open world has various biomes, from cold mountains to deserts. Every area is full of resources, dungeons to explore, and monsters to loot. There’re no quests, though, rather tutorial-like tasks that may reward you with resources. As a downside, all of this comes for a base price, plus a monthly subscription.
STAR WARS: The Old Republic
- Developer: Bioware
- Publisher: Electronic Arts, LucasArts
- Release Date: December 2011
- Platform: Windows
The main appeal The Old Republic would have for you, a Runescape fan, is its classic gameplay and combat design. Like Jagex’s title, you combat by using your left-click, plus a massive action bar and items tooltip.
Aside from that, we’re looking at a classic MMO old-school fans would love. It’s also a free-to-play game, although further expansions are behind a paywall. Regardless, the base content is lengthy and highly repayable.
First, you pick a class out of eight factions, like a Bounty Hunter, a Jedi, or a Sith. Then, you complete a lengthy questline with instanced choices and consequences. It makes the journey personal, closer to a single-player experience as you decide your character’s actions.
There are eight unique campaigns and 16 different gameplay styles, like lightsabers, blasters, and explosives. Then, further expansions introduce extra Advanced Classes, customization options, weapons, armors, and options.
Lastly, the game has been running for 10 years. Although it’s a shorter life than Runescape, the title has grown tremendously since its debut. There’re six expansions on top of regular updates.
- Developer: Tripod Studio, Smilegate RPG
- Publisher: Smilegate, Amazon Games
- Release Date: December 2019 (Korea), February 2022 (worldwide)
- Platform: Windows
Lost Ark is the newer action RPG in the business, a free-to-play title competing against the likes of Diablo and Path of Exile. It’s also an MMORPG introducing resource gathering and crafting into the genre’s formula.
You play across Lost Ark, an open world with seven distinct continents. The main quests are about finding a special item in each area, and, as usual, you will level up, find better gear, and develop your skills.
First, the skills. You pick a class, and each class has subclasses. Then, you level up your characters, customize your skills, and mix and match weapons. Naturally, combat is akin to a hack&slash title. You click and select your abilities from the taskbar to defeat mob hordes.
Then, there’s the crafting system. Aside from a massive journey and evolving combat, you can gather resources on the land. Multiple non-combat skill trees allow you to craft items like potions, armor, and weapons to sell. Also, you have a personal stronghold, an area you can customize for all of your characters. Here’s where you can craft, trade, and relax.
Lastly, as an MMO, you can explore the world alone or together in a co-op. There’re also PvP raids, team-based dungeons, PvP events, and large battles to test your character builds.
- Developer: Amazon Game Studios
- Publisher: Amazon Game Studios
- Release Date: September 2021
- Platform: Windows
New World has a bigger budget, publisher, and player base than most games on the list. However, said player base is losing numbers every month due to various problems. That includes lack of end-game content, server instability, unstable player-driven economy, and slow leveling of resource-gathering skills.
Either way, there’s time to fix its issues and make it better. You customize a character’s looks and enter Aeternum, a fictional land. Here, you’ll level up, gather resources, craft, trade, and combat. Naturally, you can craft weapons, armor, potions, and more.
Combat requires you to aim, counter, parry, block, dodge, and swing. You can use melee arms, bows, crossbows, firearms, etc. Then, as you level, you earn a skill point for your stats. On top of that, the skills come from the weapons you carry, and using a weapon type levels up its weapon mastery to develop its skill tree.
Then, you develop your non-combat skills by gathering and crafting in the land. New World is a massive open-world, so gameplay takes hours, and grinding takes most of the playtime. You wander around searching for your quest goal and stop every second to chop a tree, gather a herb, or chop a stone.
Lastly, as an MMORPG, you can join others for powerful raids and siege battles. You can also join your friends for co-op questing. More importantly, you can join guilds to claim territories plus their settlements and crafting stations.
- Developer: Pugstorm
- Publisher:Fireshine Games
- Release Date: March 2022 (Early Access)
- Platform: Windows
Core Keeper is a 2D action platformer that adds a crafting system as its core mechanic. It’s also an indie family-friendly game that feels like a crossover between Runescape and Terraria.
There’re two core gameplay in the game. First, you explore caves to mine relics and resources. Second, you use these resources to build a base, craft equipment, plant crops, cook, etc.
The game’s goal is powering up the Core, deep beneath the surface. The journey means defeating monsters, discovering secrets, and looting. The worlds are procedurally generated, so you won’t see the same thing twice.
This is also a co-op game. You can go solo or travel in a party with up to 8 players. The underground caves grow in difficulty the more players in the party. Moreover, the resources are endless, but you need to grind them to build increasingly complex structures and gear.
Lastly, you need the proper tools to gather materials. For example, you have to craft a pickaxe to mine walls or build bridges to cross lakes and fish in deeper waters. Then, you can reap the rewards of all of your efforts by cooking and crafting phenomenal recipes.
- Developer: Re-Logic
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Release Date: May 2011
- Platform:Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One
Terraria is a 2D single-player open-world action sandbox game. It adds a hefty crafting system, old-school graphics, and OST. Its massive freedom comes from its lack of obligatory questlines; instead, you dig, fight, and explore at your will.
There’s a plot, though. On Terraria, you can rescue NPCs from monsters and then build a place where they can live. The crafting system allows you to create structures, weapons, armor, potions, etc.
So, the gameplay is about exploring far away into the land and deep into the ground for treasures and raw material. Then, using these materials to craft ever-evolving gear and machinery.
That said, skills depend on the weapons and armor you carry. Even magic skills come from items you can find or craft. Moreover, you can only improve your character with gear or find collectibles that raise key stats like HP.
Overall, Terraria blends classic action games with sandbox survival craft. The result is an experience you’re free to craft, with the requisite of grinding (in the form of exploration) to progress your character.
- Developer: Mojang Studios
- Publisher: Mojang Studios
- Release Date: November 2011
- Platform: Android, iOS, Apple TV, tvOS, Fire OS, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Windows, macOS, Linux
Minecraft takes the Runescape crafting formula, plus its open-world, but nothing else. There’s no combat, no character progression, no skills, and no “massive” to use the MMO tag.
Instead, it’s a single-player open-world crafting game. So if you like the grinding of gathering resources to build farms, structures, and gear, this could be your next home. In essence, everything in the game is a block, and you can mine every block with the proper tool, to make mining tools, structures, and gear.
Here, you customize a character and enter a randomized, massive world. You can play in three distinct game modes. Also, you can join in online co-op, local co-op, solo, or on multiplayer servers with dozens or even hundreds of players online.
The main game mode, Survival, forces you to build a shelter before the night comes. Evil creatures like spiders and monsters can attack you at night and kill you. However, you need to gather resources like wood from trees. Then, you can build your hideout to store your loot, raise cattle, and explore your creativity.
Lastly, there’s a character progression system as well. It relies on finding special collectibles to improve HP or crafting better gear. Nevertheless, the game has a complex technological system that includes thousands of items and formulas, ranging from lead to honey.