The Best Live-Service And Ongoing Games To Play

As one of the most collectively reviled gaming trends in recent memory, gamers everywhere will still have to put up with live-service games for a good while. Continuous updates and a steady stream of content years after launch all sound great on paper, but as is often the case, empty promises and unreachable lofty goals so often lead to disappointment.

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Thankfully, not all live-service games follow the same fate. When done right, live-service games will adapt and evolve to the needs of their player base over time. These games have not only realized the original vision that was laid out by the developers, but they have also more than surpassed them. Here are some of the best live-service games that are still widely enjoyed today.

Updated on October 03, 2023, by Sanyam Jain: With time, various live-service games have been released to gamers across the world. Gacha live-service games have seen a significant rise in popularity ever since Genshin Impact, introducing more variety to the games that you get constant updates and new characters for.

12 Rocket League

Chaotic game of Rocket League with five cars, the ball and an explosion in Rocket League

Rocket League

Platform(s)
PC, PS4, Xbox One, macOS, Linux, Switch

Genre(s)
Sports

When Rocket League was released all the way back in 2015, it was not initially touted as a live-service game – its staggering success and huge concurrent player base saw to that. The base game mode sees you engage in tense matches of 4v4 soccer matches while controlling rocket-powered sports cars.

After its huge success, Psyonix and Epic Games began rolling out the game’s live-service elements to keep its huge community of players satisfied. After several years of significant content drops, car packs, cross-platform support, and a battle pass, Rocket League has become a multiplayer juggernaut that still has a healthy concurrent player base.

11 Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact Battle With Unknown God With Lumine And Aether

Genshin Impact

Platform(s)
Mobile, iOS, Android, PC, PS4, PS5

Genre(s)
RPG, Action, Adventure

The developers at HoYoverse released Genshin Impact on September 28, 2023, and it instantly took the world by storm. This Gacha game became extremely famous worldwide because it had something for everyone. With a giant open world, emotion-filled story, difficult combat, and a variety of characters, there was no way for it to fail.

In Genshin Impact, you embark on a journey as a Traveler searching the seven nations of Teyvat for their lost sibling. It seems like crisis follows wherever you go as you’ll have to solve a major issue whenever you reach a new nation in the main story. The game also gets new characters in almost every update, which keeps the roster fresh.

10 Path Of Exile

Combat in Path of Exile

Path of Exile

Platform(s)
PC, Xbox One, PS4, macOS

Genre(s)
Action RPG

Taking heavy inspiration from the iconic Diablo 2, Path of Exile has evolved into something truly special. This wasn’t always the case, as it took some time for gamers to warm to the new IP when it was released back in 2013.

All they had to do was engage in its fantastic ARPG mechanics and a vast array of engaging character builds to be sold on one of the best games to ever do it. The game has enjoyed a plethora of seasonal events and significant updates to keep players coming back. It also handles its free-to-play entry point amicably, by (fairly) monetizing for cosmetics only.

9 League Of Legends

Multiplayer match in League of Legends

Even if you’re not a MOBA fan, it’d be hard not to at least be aware of the ongoing impact of League of Legends on the general gaming sphere. Over the years, League has added hundreds of Champions to take into the game’s diverse set of tense battle arenas, with more being added on a continuous rolling basis during its popular ranked seasons.

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There’s a reason the game has accrued over 180 million registered players, is a global Esports phenomenon, and has inspired a bunch of high-quality spin-offs. Its longevity and continued relevance in gaming culture pretty much speaks for itself.

8 Honkai: Star Rail

Honkai Star Rail Jing Yuan Fighting Phantylia

Another Gacha game coming from HoYoverse, Honkai: Star Rail had a lot to prove during its release since it was directly competing against the biggest Gacha game from the same developers. This game’s world wasn’t nearly as open or explorable as Genshin Impact, but it still exceeded all expectations with its phenomenal story and character design.

You’ll play as Kafka when you start the game for the first time, but eventually, you’ll start playing the role of the main character who has a Stellaron inside them. As you progress the story, you’ll board the Astral Express to solve the Stellaron Crisis on various planets while meeting various new and intriguing characters. You can also play as most of these characters.

7 Sea Of Thieves

Swordfighting a pirate on a ship in the open sea with two other ships in the background in Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves

Platform(s)
Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC

Genre(s)
Adventure

Despite offering players a deeply compelling pirate multiplayer experience, Sea of Thieves was a little lacking when it launched in 2018. It was incredibly satisfying to take to the seas in a rag-tag group of swashbuckling plunderers, but it was a bit bare bones at launch.

Things have looked way up since then, as Rare has been hard at work in the years since. The developers have added many fan-requested features, huge seasonal content drops, and persistent world-altering events. It has become the pirate simulator it always intended to be, and there’s never been a better time to get a group together for a bout of adventure-filled pirate treasure hunting.

6 Grand Theft Auto Online

Two players in vehicle combat blowing up a fighter jet with rockets in Grand Theft Auto Online

Grand Theft Auto Online

Platform(s)
PS5, PS4, PS3, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC

Genre(s)
Open-World, Action

What started as a multiplayer offshoot of GTA 5, Grand Theft Auto Online is the culmination of Rockstar’s efforts to include multiplayer since GTA 4 introduced it to the series back in 2008.

Set in GTA 5’s same detailed setting of Los Santos (and beyond), GTA Online allows up to 30 players to roam around the open world, participate in missions, and play against each other in tense multiplayer races and gunfights. Though lacking a lot of features at launch, GTA Online is now a content-filled ongoing multiplayer experience, with a huge variety of updates, activities, and heists to mess about with.

5 No Man’s Sky

Ship overlooking an exploding Freighter in space in No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky

Platform(s)
Switch, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5

Genre(s)
Adventure, Action, Survival

Most live-service games mentioned so far have a particular focus on multiplayer – this is not the case with No Man’s Sky. It features a staggeringly large, fully explorable procedurally generated universe where you can walk along the surface of countless planets and hop in your ship to take to the impossibly large depths of outer space.

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The game suffered a disappointing launch in 2016, but after a huge amount of effort from Hello Games, No Man’s Sky has become one of the best space games ever made. There have been an incredible amount of updates that have added significantly to the game, including introducing base-building mechanics, more vehicles and ships, a dedicated VR mode, and the inclusion of 32-player multiplayer. It’s one of gaming’s greatest comeback stories.

4 Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn

Black Mage standing in front of rock formation in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy 14 was another game that was considered a failure at launch. It had a myriad of technical issues and was riddled with poor design choices that disappointed fans of the series. Thankfully, Square Enix listened to feedback and worked tirelessly to right the wrongs in a complete overhaul: A Realm Reborn.

The efforts were rewarded and then some, as it is one of the most persistently played MMORPG games that has been at the top for over a decade. Not only has Square Enix learned from its past mistakes, but it has also built upon them with a constant stream of massive expansions, patches, and updates that will keep players coming back for years to come.

3 Apex Legends

Bangalore running away in Apex Legends

Apex Legends

Platform(s)
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC, iOS, Android, Switch

Genre(s)
Battle Royale, First-Person Shooter

Apex Legends has maintained its huge level of success ever since it was shadow-dropped by EA and Respawn Entertainment back in 2019. It’s easy to see why, with its blend of the battle royale formula made popular by Fortnite and PUBG, with the class system based on hero shooters inspired by the likes of Overwatch.

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The game has benefited from Respawn’s first-person shooter pedigree and utilizes a fluid movement system that feels great to play while taking control of its ever-expanding list of playable characters. Apex Legends has received countless updates and seasons over the years and has amassed a dedicated ongoing fanbase.

2 Warframe

A variety of eight different frames in Warframe

Warframe

Platform(s)
PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Switch

Genre(s)
Third-Person Shooter

Ten years on and still going strong, Warframe hooks players in with its slick movement, awesome gunplay, and captivating space setting, and gets them to stick around with its engaging rotation of multiplayer PvE missions, a tantalizing array of cool weapons, and a vast selection of ‘Frames’ that really change up the gameplay.

Warframe was one of the first to get the whole looter-shooter thing right, and features a fair free-to-play model – it should be used as an example for any other game that wants to follow suit. It has had some huge updates over the years, including new locations, new story content, a whole host of different classes, and the ability to explore open-world locations.

1 Destiny 2

Warlock, Hunter and Titan looking out at spaceship battle above The Last City with The Traveller in the background in Destiny 2

Destiny 2

Platform(s)
PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC, Stadia

Genre(s)
FPS

The original Destiny that was released in 2014 was touted as Bungie’s magnum opus, with the lofty goal of pushing out a hefty ten years of content. Destiny 2 continued Bungie’s efforts with its release in 2017 and is a live-service game that has amassed a staggeringly large player base.

Since Bungie distanced itself from Activision, Destiny 2 became free-to-play and has become closer to what was originally envisioned for the series – a persistent multiplayer experience that has been built upon with continual updates, major story expansions, and newly added multiplayer content. The game is still enjoyed by a passionate and dedicated community and is one of the most successful live-service games ever made.

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