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The best -- or the worst -- of the WoW clones

You've probably heard the term "WoW clone" applied to nearly every MMO out there, because as WoW borrowed ideas from older games like EverQuest, so newer games borrow from WoW. And any game with WoW-like features -- by which we mean nearly any MMO -- might get branded with the label "clone," no matter how good it is. However, some of these myriad WoW clones strike us as particularly... well, let's call it familiar.

Now don't get us wrong -- these aren't bad games, and every game builds on its predecessors in an attempt to make something better. But if you're looking for something that's distinctly different from WoW, none of these are going to fit the bill. However, any of them may be an entertaining change of pace or just an amusing venture into what some of the other MMOs on the market are doing.

The best  or the worst  of the WoW clones
Runes of Magic
Runes of Magic is a free-to-play (with micro-transactions), fantasy-themed MMO by Taiwanese developer Runewaker Entertainment. And it's by no means a bad game, but as you can see in the screenshots, the game has a fairly similar aesthetic to WoW. Players can choose to between the standard fantasy races of humans, elves, or dwarves and have a choice of 10 different character classes, which are a bit more out of the box: warden, druid, knight, rogue, mage, priest, warrior, scout, champion, and warlock. The game world of Taborea features over 20 dynamically generated instances and over 4,000 quests.

Interesting, to be sure, but there's nothing there to make a WoW player feel totally to of their depth. So how is Runes of Magic different? For one, it lets you multi-class, selecting up to 3 classes for your character, with special elite skills for each combination. The game also features player and guild housing, and even siege wars between guilds, in which opposing PvP guilds lay siege to one another's castles. If that sounds like fun, it's easy to create an account -- just don't blame us when you wind up spending a fortune buying in-game diamonds.

The best  or the worst  of the WoW clones
Allods Online
Allods is another free-to-play (with micro-transactions), fantasy-themed MMO with art that reminds us a bit of WoW. It launched in North America in 2010 where it is operated by Gala-Net. But once you get past its familiar fantasy setting, the game offers more variety than the norm, as characters get to choose from two factions (league and empire) and six races: the kanians, elves, and gibberlings of the alliance-like league or the xadaganians, arisen, or orcs of the horde-like empire. From there, a new character can choose one of 8 archetypes -- warrior, paladin, scout, healer, warden, mage, summoner, or psionicist -- which will be a slightly different class depending on your race.

So beyond a rather interesting mix of races and classes, what makes this more than just another fantasy MMO? Players can build their own flying ships to sail through the Astral to explore new places or engage in ship-to-ship combat. There's also Goblinball, an in-game activity which is very much what it sounds like. (And, no, we still cannot encourage gnome-punting or other such activities in WoW. Gnomes are people, too, you know!)

The best  or the worst  of the WoW clones
The Lost Titans
The Lost Titans artwork reminds us more of WoW than any of the rest... right down to the distinctive for they used in the game's logo. But if you look past that, it's a potentially interesting game with a unique selling proposition: it's entirely browser-based. However, for all that it may sound like a downside, The Lost Titans certainly strives to be a real MMO. Like the other games we've mentioned, The Lost Titans is free-to-play and features micro-transactions.

The game itself is fairly standard fantasy fare, but with some unique features. It features three great houses (or factions), which you must choose amongst when you reach level 15 -- and, of course, there's faction vs. faction combat. While this makes PvP interesting, the character creation system is simple, only giving players the choice between warriors, ranges, and mages, with human the only available race. But, still, if you want a simple WoW-esque experience that doesn't require a huge client download, why not take The Lost Titans for a spin? It's currently in open beta.

The best  or the worst  of the WoW clones
Order & Chaos Online
Have you ever considered playing an MMO on your mobile device? No? Well, perhaps Order & Chaos Online will change your mind. This WoW-like MMO by Gameloft is playable on iOS and Android devices and, unlike the other games on this list, it has an initial purchase price -- though $6.99 is a lot less than you'd expect to pay for a full-scale game.

Despite the small-scale platform, though, it's not a small-scale game, featuring fully 3D art and a huge game world to play in. It features PvP and PvE content, 70 levels, mounts and pets, and, really, anything you'd expect in a fantasy-based MMO. New characters have the choice of two factions -- order or chaos -- and four races -- elves and humans for order and orcs and undead for chaos. And the latest patch has added a new race, the neutral mendels, for play. So why not try taking your MMO on the go?

Hopefully we haven't soured you on WoW by pointing out some of the many alternatives -- and hopefully we haven't soured you on these games by pointing out how they're just a bit similar to the World of Warcraft we all know and love. Happy gaming!

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