Dwarves. Elves. Humans. Halflings. Er… Dark Elves. Light Elves. High Elves. Low Elves. Space Elves (aka “Vulcans”). Elvish Impersonators.
If it’s a fantasy MMO — heck, even if it’s not — chances are you’ll be hit with racial choices that include one or many more of the above. It’s as if creative thought in regards to fantasy races died a brutal early death with J.R.R. Tolkein, and we haven’t been able to move on since.
So I thought I’d dedicate a list to six great non-traditional MMO races that represent ingenuity and imagination on behalf of the developers or the IP (yeah, LOTRO isn’t going to be on this list, FYI):
1. Forsaken (World of Warcraft)
Undead Tim Burton-ish zombies with an attitude? Check! With WoW’s release in 2004, no race captured the immediate mind’s eye of players quite like the Forsaken, intelligent undead creatures who escaped from slavery to rebel against, well, pretty much everyone. They’re dark, they’re edgy, and they do air guitar solos.
The Forsaken sport interesting visuals to underline the decaying nature of their people: brains held in by leather straps, mouths ripped off, spines and joint bones exposed. But don’t tell that to China, which had a problem with the spooky ooky nature of the race and demanded that they get an art overhaul before the game went live.
2. Gibberlings (Allods Online)
Looking something like smaller versions of Snarf from Thundercats, or perhaps the hallucinations following a hard round of paint huffing, Gibberlings not only corner the “cute” market in Allods, but offer players a very unique race to test out. Specifically the fact that Gibberlings come in packs of three, and the player controls all three at once as a single entity made of three little furballs.
3. Warforged (Dungeons & Dragons Online)
DDO is stocked with many of the same racial staples that D&D and Tolkein held dear, with one notable exception: the Warforged, a race of intelligent mechanical golems that were bred for war and then freed for… more war, I guess. It’s just a shame that DDO didn’t utilize the Eberron setting more, as it has even more bizarre races like the Changlings.
4. Ratonga (EverQuest 2)
On paper, EverQuest 2’s races seem to be a concerted effort to drive one Syp as far up the wall as possible. They have no less than four (4!) elf races, as well as the full assortment of furry magnets: tiger-people, lizard-people and frog-people. But there’s something undeniably awesome about the Ratonga, the little rat people who remind me of Reepicheep from Prince Caspian. So I’ll let this game continue operating… for now.
5. Goblins (Warhammer Online)
In a game full of strong personalities and wicked takes on fantasy tropes, WAR’s goblins (or “gobbos”) rose to be the quirky standout face of the game. Like their bigger orc brethren, the goblins come from mushrooms (and hence, have no distinguishable gender to speak of), but the goblins lack the orcs’ height and sheer power. Their answer? Being a crafty little bugger, that’s how. I love their armor designs (throwing pieces of everything together all willy-nilly) and their personality is first-rate (“Not in the face! Not in the face!”)
6. Mon Calamari (Star Wars Galaxies)
Honestly, SWG alone could comprise most of this list, considering that every race outside of the humans are bizarre aliens from George Lucas’ playground. But how could you resist being some bulging-eyed fish-thing that should, in all right, terrify you, but instead makes you smile everytime someone says the phrase “it’s a trap!”?
16 thoughts on “Six Great Non-Traditional MMO Player Races”
7. Gnomes! Especially pink pig-tailed ones! Enuf said!
Was it really the looks of the Forsaken, or the racial abilities that made everyone play it?
The will of the Forsaken is still the best racial in the game.
It has been so long, and I don’t remember if it was in beta, or early launch where Undead could actually understand the Alliance faction, and communicate with them.
Love the Ackbar cereal!
“Your taste buds can’t replel flavor of this magnitude!”
Hmmm… I’m not sure I’d throw WAR’s Goblins on the list, that’s a pretty standard fantasy race. Good list though!
Gobbos should be #1, imho.
No matter what else people say about Mythic… They did at least one thing right. Goblins were awesome!
Remember this? 😉
I really like the Undead in WoW and when they came out they were incredibly original and unique.
Having Mon Calamari on the list is kind of cheating isn’t it, since SWG is a sci-fi game and the over-used character races you’re refering to are from fantasy settings? You could throw in all sorts of things if you go that route.
They’re not a playable race yet (though they will be in Guild Wars 2) but what about the absurdly large noggined magical engineering guys from Guild Wars, the Asura. For flavor text alone they deserve mention :p
:O Syp, where is the banner background from?
I loved being able to play a goblin in Vanguard. That was the first time I can remember seeing that as a playable race. It is pretty standard fantasy fare, but the first I recall being able to play one.
(btw, they also had vulmane (half-man, half wolf, who were all Indian/shaman tribal society types, and Raki, little tiny humanoid fox people, who I thought had broken the cute-till-u-puke meter until I saw Allod’s Gibberlings).
Cool list 🙂
The banner’s from Dreamfall.
What on earth is a Gibberling? It looks like some sort of love child between a gnome and a bird. No sir. That will not stand!
I love ratonga. They’re adorable and their voice acting is hilarious.
I’d still like to see more canine races. I’m glad WoW is doing one but then I’m sad because I don’t play WoW =\
I want to play Allods, just to play a Gibberling.. gibber gibber
Ferrel, a Gibberling is more of a cross between an Ewok and a Gremlin. They look cute, but those little blighters have a mouthful of teeth and have no fear.
…and they come in packs. Maybe they look like anklebiters, but once your ankles are gnawed off, the knees come next…
I had a tough time ever playing the Undead — I could never get comfortable with the creepiness of the characters.
Tauren were the real cool race in WoW, and pretty original in MMOs to that point. I was always sad Taurens weren’t a part of the Alliance. I’d trade humans for Taurens any day of the week =p
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