Being in front of a computer all day at work can really suck when you like relaxing in front of a computer at home. There is one advantage of such an office job though (depending on your company’s restrictions). Computers connect to the internet via browsers which have games accessible from anywhere. So that means you don’t have to fear “all work and no play” turning you into a dull boy who kills people. Basically, playing games at work prevents murder so tell that to you’re boss if you get caught.
Also, by reading this article and/or playing games at work, you may not hold MMOBro liable for any jobs that you are fired from. While we may think games at work are great, more conventional (i.e. lame) bosses may feel differently.
When writing up blurbs I highlighted what I felt were the most important aspects of a good browser MMO. For one, it needs to be easy to pick up and put back down. Requiring more than 5 minutes to get anything done just doesn’t work for work. Automated progression (either through an included bot or a real time component) is almost essential to fulfilling the sense of advancement. Bonus points if it looks like work in some manner. Finally, some browser MMOs tend to overly sexualize their females. That’s not good for work so I’ll make note of that for any games where I’m aware of it being an issue. But remember – no blaming MMOBro for anything bad. If you’re worried, play it at home first!
Throne: Kingdoms at War
Throne is a new strategy MMO that doesn’t add a lot of new features to the genre, but really improves on what’s already out there. It’s perfect for work because all of the activities in the game resolve automatically but not instantly. That means that while there are strategic considerations like troop composition (look at the variety in the screenshot), players never get bogged down by the minutiae. Additionally, Throne really emphasizes friendly play much more than Plarium’s past titles. While it’s possible to pillage others, there’s a big penalty for attacking someone much weaker. It’s actually more lucrative to raid neutral towns. This creates a cycle where everyone, not just paid players, get to gradually to improve their empire.
There is, of course, a big PvP element but it is completely optional. Players can join orders to take part in guild combat. This lets those who are interested, engage in and coordinate massive assaults on other players. There are still occasional griefers outside of guild play but it just makes more sense not to piss off the neighbors, you know? I will say that players interested in guild wars will probably want to shell out at least some cash to rebuild faster after a war.
Like other strategy MMOs, the core gameplay of “build structures to build units to get resources to build bigger structures” is here in full force. The differences in Throne are the customization options, the fantastic visuals/UI, and bigger rewards for neutral towns.
Forge of Empires
What stuck out to me about Forge of Empires is just how much of a Browser Civilization game this felt like. It’s certainly not as deep as Sid Meier’s PC offerings, but there’s war, technology, diplomacy, and city growth. Since buildings take a long time to construct and technology research can expand well past an 8-hour workday, it’s a breeze to “set it and forget it”. However, there are also enemies who will want to take your land. It’s worth logging back on occasionally to see what’s happening. Interacting with friends also gives bonuses, but that’s a quick few minutes in between real work.
There’s two main downsides to Forge of Empires. One, it’s pretty much a necessity to pay money to progress past a certain point. Two, it looks pretty good for a browser game so it would be obvious that you’re not working. You might be able to get away with saying you’re just looking at screenshots though. It’s worth a try, right? Either way, Forge of Empires is as close to a Civ game at work as one will find.
There are a lot of unofficial anime MMOs. I’m not sure about their legality, but they stick around. They’re also generally poor quality. So when Naruto, an anime I actually care about, went MMO I was skeptical. However, Naruto Online is actually an officially licensed game with a fairly good combat system and tons of Naruto cast members. Combat takes place on a tactical grid reminiscent of Heroes of Might and Magic. Like many other browser MMORPGs, auto combat can tackle the heavy grinding. This leaves only the real interesting combat for you to tend to.
The game is easily accessible for gamers of all skill level. It also includes a fairly long story to read through via questing. While that’s not great for work, it does add more to the game while remaining unnecessary if it’s an issue. Anime fans, Naruto ones especially, should really give this a whirl.
SAO’s Legend is a skinning of Sword Art Online brought to life in MMO browser form. It’s unofficial so it may not last very long. It’s also not super original, but it does provide an unintentionally great feature – “Engrish”. You see, the translations in this game are bad enough that I’d watch Patton Oswalt run a Mystery Science Theater 3K on it. The game is easy to advance in as well because it can be played completely AFK.
For a game that’s easy to play, provides a good laugh, and involves some ties to Sword Art Online, SAO’s Legend is worth a go. There’s not a crazy amount of provocative images but it is anime so just be sure to pay attention. Let the silly times roll!
Elvenar differentiates itself from the slew of other city builders and strategy games on this list because of it’s focus on PvE. Cooperative elements are baked into the very essence of Elvenar and it makes for quite a different experience. Other players’ cities can be discovered which may lead to opening up trade possibilities. Players can also provide ‘neighborly help’ in the form of resources towards a building which also earns the helper some free coins.
The game is fairly easy to get into with only a handful of basic structures. These will form the backbone of your economy. This in turn leads to growing your city bit by bit as you acquire advanced resources like culture and knowledge points. Knowledge unlocks new technologies to build better units or buildings. These units are then used to explore locations, which creates decision based events. These decisions may lead to a turn based, tactical combat between your units and whatever monsters or opposing forces you discover. The tactical combat is especially impressive for a browser based MMO focused primarily on city building. However, an auto combat option exists when real life gets too busy. For a relatively stress free city builder, Elvenar is a great choice.
For the gamer that has 20-30 minutes/day to play an MMO at work, Dragon Blood checks a lot of boxes. Now, it’s not fully automated like some other browser MMORPGs. Players actually need to put in some effort to advance. However, battles are about setup rather than tactical decision making. This makes it easy to put the brunt of the effort into one longer sitting and then play a minute here and there throughout the day. The developers make money by limiting how many dungeons/quests you can do for free in a day. This is actually great for work though as you could play for free without playing enough to get into real trouble.
The core element of Dragon Blood’s advancement is the NPC system. There are a ton of different characters to recruit, but they level up with berries instead of being used in battle like a typical RPG. That means that newer, more desirable characters can be leveled up quickly by holding onto these magical leveling berries. The translation is also pretty good, especially for a full fledged browser MMORPG. Don’t let the generic looks fool you. Dragon Blood is a solid casual MMO to play directly from your browser.
Vikings: War of Clans
In this strategy minded war game, Players take control of a clan of vikings to grow their fiefdom by taking resources from other players. Orders like building and recruiting (or even attacks) are not instantaneous. This gives players at work the chance to input moves throughout the day and do most of their progressing “offline”.
The world map is divided into six zones, which players can freely move between (though moving does have a cooldown). Inner zones hold more resources but are more greatly contested. Hence, It’s pretty easy for free and casual players to stay away from top dogs by just avoiding these highly contested zones.
Players can recruit and train heroes, which is another activity to occupy time. The only NSFW imagery encountered is with certain female heroes in the game, who can be avoided. Alliance discussions can also be pretty time consuming. That’s more of an inner zone activity too though, so if you are happy slowly growing but maybe never reaching elite status then Vikings: War of Clans is a great game to play at work.
League of Angels
The most appealing aspect of League of Angels is building a party of Heroes and Angels to take on more difficult challenges. In order to build the type of party you want, there’s a lot of mindless killing. Luckily, all of this can be handled via automated combat. Unfortunately, combat isn’t super deep for when you want to play manually. However, gradually building a party with powerful abilities is really satisfying. One thing to watch out for: League of Angels has a lot of scantily clad women. If you know what you’re doing you can stay safe, but play this at home first. It’s important to learn how to avoid the NSFW imagery.
Mars Tomorrow is a pretty safe MMO to play at work. There’s no violence or scantily clad women to risk getting in trouble. People who like Railroad Tycoon will find Mars Tomorrow most appealing. This is a transportation simulator on a massive scale. Based on how the players optimize their routes, this will affect the growth of surrounding cities.
Actions rarely take more than 10 minutes at a time and then a several hour counter starts for those actions to resolve. This fits in perfect with work breaks without damaging overall performance. That said, true logistics fans will want to optimize future plans when not playing. Since there’s a good dose of math in that, players can pretend to be working by opening Excel. Are you working on a financial statement or Mars Tomorrow? No one will know but you! There’s also iOS and Android version so public transporters will really like it.
The best part about playing Torn at work is that there’s no graphics. I mean it looks pretty boring from the screenshots so it’s doubtful to cause an issue. While there’s no aesthetics to speak of, don’t mistake this for a shallow game. Torn is a deep crime/real-life simulator. Players can level up in all sorts of physical, criminal, professional, and intellectual stats. The game limits play based on remaining energy and completing tasks can take as short as a few seconds. It’s a very easy game to jump in and out as energy allows.There’s not much strategy per say, but it’s great for actually developing and roleplaying a character.
There is a big social element too that can be important to join in on to reach higher standings. While that’s pretty cool, it’s a detriment to playing at work. At least if productivity really matters. If it doesn’t, you can probably just pretend you’re writing an email.
I’ll try to keep this list updated so check back every once in a while. Hopefully you’ll find a game to play for many months before growing bored though. I know it’s not always easy to find a worthwhile MMO, especially one that can be played at work. When compared against AAA titles like World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online, these games can seem pretty underwhelming. They definitely have their place in the world though.