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List of Sandbox MMORPGs [Updated: December 18, 2012]

LarsaLarsa NurembergPosts: 990Member

So now and then someone is asking about sandbox games and I thought we could use a thread with a list of all currently active sandbox MMORPGs on the forums. Saves me from typing the same information every other week to another poster.

Thus I made the following list and will bookmark this thread as a sort of reference about live sandbox games. I'll promise to keep the list current, please post here or send a PM if I should have missed anything.

 

List of Active Sandbox MMORPGs (in alphabetical order)

 

A Tale in the Desert
First release: February 15, 2003
Link to Website: http://www.atitd.com/
Payment Model: Subscription, free client, free trial available
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Historical (Ancient Egypt)
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Linux, Mac, Windows
 
AfterWorld
First release: April, 2008
Link to Website: http://www.afterworld.ru/
Payment Model: Free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Post-Apocalypse
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
Entropia Universe
First release: January 30, 2003
Payment Model: Free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Various
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
EVE
First release: May 6, 2003
Link to Website: http://www.eveonline.com/
Payment Model: Subscription, commercial client, free trial available
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Sci-Fi
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Mac, Windows

Face of Mankind
First release: August 31, 2006
Payment Model: Free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Sci-Fi
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
Fallen Earth
First release: September 22, 2009
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Post-Apocalypse
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Mac (in beta), Windows
 
Haven & Hearth
First release: Never (the developers call it a continuous alpha)
Payment Model: Free to play, free client
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Survival/Historical (medieval)
Game environment: Isometric view
Client OS: Java
 
Istaria
First release: December 5, 2003
Link to Website: http://www.istaria.com/
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Fantasy
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Mac (in beta), Windows
 
Mabinogi
First release: June 22, 2004
Link to Website: http://mabinogi.nexon.net/
Payment Model: Free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Fantasy
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
Mortal Online
First release: June 9, 2010
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Fantasy
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
Outer Empires
First release: ca. November 2009, Mai 1, 2012 (Relaunch)
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Sci-Fi
Game environment: 2D
Client OS: Browser, Apple iPhone and iPod Touch
 
Perpetuum
First release: September 22, 2011
Payment Model: Subscription, free client, free trial available
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Sci-Fi
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
Runescape
First release: January 4, 2001
Link to Website: http://www.runescape.com/
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Fantasy
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Java
 
Ryzom
First release: September 16, 2004
Link to Website: http://www.ryzom.com/en/
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Fantasy/Sci-Fi blend
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Linux, Mac, Windows
 
Shores of Hazeron
First release: Never (game is open beta)
Link to Website: http://www.hazeron.com/
Payment Model: Free to play, free client (open beta)
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Sci-Fi
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
StarQuest Online
First release: September 21, 2007
Payment Model: Subscription, free client, free trial available
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Sci-Fi
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
Ultima Online
First release: September 24, 1997
Link to Website: http://www.uoherald.com/
Payment Model: Subscription, commercial client, free trial available
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Fantasy
Game environment: Isometric view
Client OS: Windows
 
Uncharted Waters Online
First release: Spring 2005
Link to Website: http://uwo.netmarble.com/
Payment Model: Free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Historical (Age of Sails)
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
Wakfu
First release: February 29, 2012
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Fantasy
Game environment: Isometric view
Client OS: Linux, Mac, Windows
 
Wurm Online
First release: June 6, 2006
Link to Website: http://www.wurmonline.com/
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: Yes
Setting: Survival/Fantasy (low fantasy setting)
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Java
 
Xsyon
First release: February/March 2011
Link to Website: http://www.xsyon.com
Payment Model: Subscription and free to play, free client
Cash Shop: No
Setting: Survival/Post-Apocalypse
Game environment: 3D
Client OS: Windows
 
 

What is a Sandbox Game?

There's no clear-cut definition what a sandbox game is and some people even tend to argue over the topic. I've used my definition and that is that there are sandbox features and the more of those features are implemented in a certain game the more it is a sandbox.
 

What are Sandbox Features?

A game that has many of these features can be considered a sandbox and a game that has few of these features is not.

  • An open world, not a collection of small maps
  • A non-instanced game world, no private instances for story mode or private dungeons (zones are okay if technically needed)
  • Gameplay features other than combat activities, for example: fishing, harvesting, prospecting, crafting, diplomacy, music, trading
  • Character progression or development outside of combat (see above examples)
  • Open-ended gameplay, no "game starts at level 50" game design
  • Player-driven in-game economy, not a loot-driven economy, no bind-on-equip or bind-on acquire items
  • Character development that can be customised via skills and/or customisations of class roles, not a class system where every level 50 warrior has the exact same skills and attributes
  • Non-linear character development where characters are not limited to developer-defined roles, for example: free skill trees or multi-classing of characters
  • In-depth crafting system. A crafting system is considered in-depth if the majority of items in the game is player-made and when crafted items can be at least as good as dropped items
  • In-depth resource system. A resource system is considered in-depth if items can be made from raw resources that influence the resulting item (either it's stats or it's appearance is okay)
  • Persistent game world. A game where the world (or parts of the world) reset to a known state in regular intervals is not persistent
  • Player's ability to change aspects of the game world, either by being able to modify the physical game world or by being able to take ownership of structures in the game world
  • Some form of customizable player housing/building

 

What about Games that are Sandboxes but not MMORPGs?

They are not listed here. Use your favourite search engine. There are many games out there. Even many sandbox games. Listing all of them is far beyond the scope of this thread. Listing only a few of them would show bias. Therefore they're out.

What about Games in Development?

I list games that are playable by the general public. That means the games are either released or in some open testing stage. I do not list games in development that are in closed testing.

 

Disclaimer: This post is intended to provide a list of released and currently active sandbox MMORPGs. That a game is on this list doesn't necessarily mean that I think it's a good game. You have to decide for yourself whether you think a game is good or not. This game list is in no way an official MMORPG.com list.
 
As always, discussions and corrections welcome.

I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

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Comments

  • Pale_FirePale_Fire San Antonio, TXPosts: 360Member Uncommon

    You're missing Vanguard.  Unless, I'm blind, which is possible.

    Of course, that would make my ability to type this message flawlessly quite remarkable.

  • Pale_FirePale_Fire San Antonio, TXPosts: 360Member Uncommon
    Also, Asheron's Call and Everquest.  I know AC was/is sandbox.
  • MMOExposedMMOExposed lalal land, DCPosts: 6,257Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Larsa


    • A non-instanced game world (zones can be fine)



    I believe you meant "Seamless"

    image

  • MMOExposedMMOExposed lalal land, DCPosts: 6,257Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Pale_Fire

    You're missing Vanguard.  Unless, I'm blind, which is possible.

    Of course, that would make my ability to type this message flawlessly quite remarkable.

    vanguard is themepark. not sandbox

    image

  • astoriaastoria Silver Spring, MDPosts: 1,681Member

    Fallen Earth, granted it has been a year since I played but...

     

     

    "What are Sandbox Features?

    A game that has many of these features can be considered a sandbox and a game that has few of these features is not.



    • An open world yes


    • A non-instanced game world (zones can be fine) yes, largely, and instances are seamless (you only get a pop up)


    • Character progression or development outside of combat yes, you get XP for crafting


    • Gameplay features other than combat activities crafting is a big part of the game


    • Player-driven in-game economy, for materials, inguilds, but def a weak point


    • Character development that can be customised via skills and/or customisations of class roles, open skill system



    • Non-linear character development, not sure I've ever seen this


    • In-depth crafting system, yes


    • In-depth resource system, yes


    • Persistent game world, yes


    • Player's ability to change aspects of the game world, territory control yes. 


    • Some form of customizable player housing/building, tents count?

     

    "Never met a pack of humans that were any different. Look at the idiots that get elected every couple of years. You really consider those guys more mature than us? The only difference between us and them is, when they gank some noobs and take their stuff, the noobs actually die." - Madimorga

  • MMOExposedMMOExposed lalal land, DCPosts: 6,257Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Pale_Fire

    Also, Asheron's Call and Everquest.  I know AC was/is sandbox.

    EQ is the first major theme park mmo

    image

  • SpiiderSpiider BinzPosts: 474Member Uncommon

    Entropia.

     

    But I would not recommend anyone to play it, it has lost its shine.

    No fate but what we make, so make me a ham sandwich please.

  • astoriaastoria Silver Spring, MDPosts: 1,681Member
    Perpetuum I think, but I don't know the details, I remember reading they were adding terraformign and player built cities, definitely has most of the sandbox features, but I only beta'd it. 

    "Never met a pack of humans that were any different. Look at the idiots that get elected every couple of years. You really consider those guys more mature than us? The only difference between us and them is, when they gank some noobs and take their stuff, the noobs actually die." - Madimorga

  • Pale_FirePale_Fire San Antonio, TXPosts: 360Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by MMOExposed

    Originally posted by Pale_Fire

    Also, Asheron's Call and Everquest.  I know AC was/is sandbox.

    EQ is the first major theme park mmo

    I would disagree with this and with your thought on Vanguard, but, things like this ultimately come down to opinion.

  • Pale_FirePale_Fire San Antonio, TXPosts: 360Member Uncommon
    Anarchy Online, probably.  I've never thought of it as themepark.
  • LarsaLarsa NurembergPosts: 990Member

    Doh, thanks for the replies.

    First, not every game that isn't a sandbox is a themepark. That's especially true for older games - because the distinction between themepark and sandbox didn't even exist at that time. I don't think it's necessary to sort all games into either the themepark or sandbox category, they are hybrids and even amongst the themeparks some games can have sandboxy features (for example music or fishing in LotRO).

    Anyway, I'll have a new look at the games you guys mentioned and will look how far they "tick the boxes" in the sandbox feature list. And the ones that tick the boxes will get onto the list.

    Thanks for the input.

    I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Uncharted Waters Online fits everything on your list, and Puzzle Pirates fits most of it.
  • BigHatLoganBigHatLogan Bellingham, WAPosts: 688Member
    EVE has a free client.

    Are you a Pavlovian Fish Biscuit Addict? Get Help Now!
    image
    I will play no more MMORPGs until somethign good comes out!

  • EnochiEnochi Moorseville, NCPosts: 12Member

    Wouldnt Ragnarok Online fit this as well?

    http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/96/Ragnarok-Online.html



    • A non-instanced game world (zones can be fine) lots of zones but not instanced


    • Character progression or development outside of combat Crafting systems and the like


    • Gameplay features other than combat activities Again lots of crafting, your own shops, and guilds


    • Player-driven in-game economy Oh definately considering no auction house only player shops


    • Character development that can be customised via skills and/or customisations of class roles Yes


    • Non-linear character development Interesting class systems


    • In-depth crafting system Fairly


    • In-depth resource system Not as much


    • Persistent game world Yes


    • Player's ability to change aspects of the game world Guilds can control Castles


    • Some form of customizable player housing/building Above


    Admitedly most of my info is close to 5-6 years out of date lol

  • SuraknarSuraknar Montreal, QCPosts: 824Member

    Originally posted by Pale_Fire

    Originally posted by MMOExposed

    Originally posted by Pale_Fire

    Also, Asheron's Call and Everquest.  I know AC was/is sandbox.

    EQ is the first major theme park mmo

    I would disagree with this and with your thought on Vanguard, but, things like this ultimately come down to opinion.

    I agree that vanguard is a Themepark, and also that EQ is the very first themepark and it actually set the Template for all the rest of themeparks to follow Including WoW and anything more recent, such as AOC, RIFT, TOR etc...

    What is missing from the OP in my opinion is that a Sandbox Game should have OPEN ENDED gameplay...no Guided by the Design Gameplay or "on Rails" as some call it...

    The players Set their own Goals in the World, and engage in various activities there after to attain them, including Social interaction (which does not limit itself to Cyber)...

    This is the biggest eleemnt that distinguishes the two Types, in my opinion.

    If the game tells you you start the game in Area 1 then from this level to that levels is area 2 then area 3 then area 4..it is a themepark...no matter if it may have Housing a player Economy or Full Loot or Open FFA PvP...it is still a themepark if your experience is Guided.

    - Duke Suraknar -
    Order of the Silver Star, OSS

    image
    ESKA, Playing MMORPG's since Ultima Online 1997 - Order of the Silver Serpent, Atlantic Shard

  • LarsaLarsa NurembergPosts: 990Member

    Again thanks for the replies and the input. I'll update the list tomorrow.

    And indeed, the open ended gameplay as suggested by Suraknar is definitely a criterium that's missing on the list.

     

    I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  • MisterpuppyMisterpuppy Verona, MOPosts: 18Member
    Is that new Risen 3 game that just came out sandbox? The reviews are mixed.

    Don't be a Menace to MMORPG While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.

  • mastersomratmastersomrat Saint Charles, MOPosts: 368Member
    WURM Online
  • dstar.dstar. Houston, TXPosts: 474Member
    Perpetuum is pretty sandbox I think.  Would any of you consider Planetside sandbox? 
  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,758Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Pale_Fire

    Anarchy Online, probably.  I've never thought of it as themepark.

          The only knock on it is that it does have classes (professions), but you can spend the points in any way you want.

  • Muerte_XMuerte_X ventura, CAPosts: 104Member
    Actually MMOexposed, Seemless is not the same as instanced. Instanced means players can be in the same zone yet cannot see each other or interact because they are in different instances of the zone. Seemless means a lack of loading screens between zones.

    Often lurking, rarely posting

  • DannyGloverDannyGlover Portland, ORPosts: 1,277Member

    Mabinogi feels pretty sandboxy

    I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back.

  • SuraknarSuraknar Montreal, QCPosts: 824Member

    Originally posted by dstar.

    Perpetuum is pretty sandbox I think.  Would any of you consider Planetside sandbox? 

    I would consider Planetside, RvR and/or Massivelly Online Persistent Battlefield...much like World War II Online. Not a themepark nor a Sandox...the third type in all of this is RvR.

    - Duke Suraknar -
    Order of the Silver Star, OSS

    image
    ESKA, Playing MMORPG's since Ultima Online 1997 - Order of the Silver Serpent, Atlantic Shard

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Larsa

    And indeed, the open ended gameplay as suggested by Suraknar is definitely a criterium that's missing on the list.

     

    Indeed, that's probably the single most important criterion of a sandbox.  If a game pushes you to go to one particular zone from levels 1-10, then another zone for 10-15, then another zone for 15-20, and so forth, with everyone following the same sequence of zones as they level up, that's not a sandbox game at all--even if it fits everything on your original list.  That could almost be taken as the very definition of a theme park.

  • SuraknarSuraknar Montreal, QCPosts: 824Member

    Originally posted by Quizzical

    Originally posted by Larsa

    And indeed, the open ended gameplay as suggested by Suraknar is definitely a criterium that's missing on the list.

     

    Indeed, that's probably the single most important criterion of a sandbox.  If a game pushes you to go to one particular zone from levels 1-10, then another zone for 10-15, then another zone for 15-20, and so forth, with everyone following the same sequence of zones as they level up, that's not a sandbox game at all--even if it fits everything on your original list.  That could almost be taken as the very definition of a theme park.

    And if there is a definition of a Themepark, then maybe we just came a step closer to defining a Sandbox too. ;)

    - Duke Suraknar -
    Order of the Silver Star, OSS

    image
    ESKA, Playing MMORPG's since Ultima Online 1997 - Order of the Silver Serpent, Atlantic Shard

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