Top 6 MMOs for Housing
by Tyler Edwards, March 13, 2013
Player housing is an odd topic in MMOs. For a relatively simple feature, it tends to spark a lot of passion from both its fans and its detractors. For some players, it's a meaningless fluff feature that serves no purpose but to waste developer resources. For others, player housing is a criminally underrated feature, adding an incredible level of depth to a game. For these players, in game homes can make or break a game, and when done well, player housing can win their eternal loyalty. If you're one of these people and are looking for a new game to try, this list will provide a sampling of the MMOs with the best player housing systems around.
Aion added player housing with its 3.0 Ascension expansion, which also made the game free to play in North America. Aion's housing system is perhaps a bit more rigid than player housing purists would like, but all in all, it's a solid system that could scratch your itch for a virtual home.
Player housing in Aion comes in a wide variety of formats, from one room instanced apartments to palatial manors in the open world. Players can select their own furniture, floor styles, wallpapers, and more from a mix of player crafting, NPC vendors, and the cash shop.
Aion's homes also come with some practical benefits for their owners. For instance, you can grow plants that will fruit into useful items and consumables. No more forking over your hard earned kinah to those greedy Shugos for your ranger's arrows; you can just grow your own.
Speaking of Shugos, each home in Aion comes with its own Shugo butler, in case you would like your own well-dressed weasel monster to do your bidding. And don't pretend you wouldn't.
Aion's in game houses do have some flaws, though. There are a lot of limitations to how many objects you can have in a given home, as well as where and how you place the items. Housing can also be extremely expensive, in either kinah or real world cash, if you want anything more than a tiny bachelor apartment.
5: Wurm Online:
Maybe you like the idea of having a home in the virtual world, but you don't want to just play dolls in some safe little instance. No, you're a settler at heart. You want to venture into the untamed wilderness, shape the land with your own two hands, construct a home from local resources, and defend it from raiders and thieves.
Wurm Online is the game for you.
Wurm Online is a game made to cater to hardcore crafters and those who want to tame their own virtual world, and the housing system is a key part of that. Building a house is an intensive process not unlike building a real home. You have to clear the land, gather materials, and build your house from the ground up.
Even then, your work is not done. Houses must be regularly maintained, as they suffer damage from the wear of time and potentially attacks by other players.
Wurm Online offers more to virtual architects than just homes, though. Players can build entire towns and settlements featuring towers, monuments, farms, castles, and roads. You and your friends can forge an entire virtual nation in the untamed frontiers of Wurm Online.
4: Ultima Online:
Ultima Online is one of the oldest still operating MMOs. In many ways, it seems positively archaic compared to modern games, but amazingly, there are still some ways in which it clobbers the competition, even games that are far newer and more technically advanced. Player housing is one of these ways.
Unlike many modern games, housing in UO is not instanced. Players can build their own houses at a location of their choosing in the open world - though most of the prime real estate has already been claimed, and heavily populated shards may limit you to build smaller homes.
In the early days, UO's homes came in a few pre-made styles, but these days, the potential for customization is almost endless. Ultima Online also boasts extensive crafting systems, and most anything you could want in your home can be crafted by yourself or other players. It's a paradise for role players and individualists.
The one major downside to homes in UO is that they will eventually decay and disappear from the game world if not regularly maintained. But this is to ensure that the world won't become completely choked by player homes, and some may appreciate the extra degree of "realism."
3: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes:
Vanguard offers an extensive non instanced in game housing system that allows players to construct homes and guild halls in the open world. There are some limitations on where homes can be placed, and each continent has its own style that player houses must adhere to, but aside from these restrictions, it is a system with an incredible degree of freedom.
There are numerous items and types of furniture - crafted by players, bought from NPCs, or earned through the veteran reward system - that can be placed in homes in Vanguard, and there are virtually no limitations to how and where these items can be placed. This makes the imagination of players the primary limitation on housing design.
Tilt rugs sideways to create a unique type of wall. Suspend items in mid-air to create a surreal mystic's sanctum. Stack tables to create a different kind of shelf. Line the walls with fireplaces and create a dark, frightening dungeon. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Vanguard is a game with a shaky history, but it's now free to play, and Sony Online Entertainment is working to rebuild and improve the game. So if you're looking for a game with a solid housing system, Vanguard could be a good choice for you.
Rift is a game that's rapidly made a name for itself by utterly embarrassing the rest of the MMO industry with the sheer volume of new content it's been able to roll out in an amazingly short time. This tradition continued with its first expansion pack, Storm Legion.
In addition to roughly tripling the size of the game world, Storm Legion added one of the most powerful player housing systems around in the form of dimensions.
Dimensions are instanced, but they replicate locations from the greater game world, giving some of the appeal of non-instanced housing without the space concerns.
The chief appeal of dimensions is the freedom they offer. You can place and customize the items in your home in almost any way you can imagine. Lighting and ambient music can be customized. Both players and guilds can own dimensions. Even low level players can own smaller dimensions. If you want some help decorating, you can give a friend build privileges and let them do some work on your in game home.
One could say the sky is the limit, but even that's no limitation. Players can even choose custom sky boxes for their dimensions.
1: EverQuest II:
Whenever there's a discussion of player housing in MMOs, one game always comes up as a paragon of the concept. That game is EverQuest II.
Like Rift and Vanguard, EQ2 offers a high degree of freedom and customization potential for its houses and guild halls. Role players and anyone else who enjoys showing off their creativity are given virtually free reign to create the homes, inns, fortresses, and sanctums of their dreams.
But what really puts EQ2's housing system over the top is how well it's integrated into the rest of the game. One common complaint about player housing is that it's pure fluff that offers no gameplay benefits, but in EQ2, home ownership has real benefits for both the individual and the community.
Homes provide storage space and slots to sell items on the broker. They can even be set up as in game shops for players to sell goods to each other. Crafters can make furniture and other items for people to populate their homes with.
Nearly every aspect of the game ties into housing in some way. Housing items are available from crafters, from NPCs, from completing collections, from the cash shop, and from quests. Your in game home can almost be like a living record of your character's life, displaying trophies and relics from their adventures.
For being so complete and well rounded, EverQuest II's housing system earns the top spot on our list.