The unique modal characteristics of ring core fibers (RCFs) potentially enable the implementation of mode-division multiplexing (MDM) schemes that can increase optical data transmission capacity with either low-complexity modular multi-input multi-output (MIMO) equalization or no MIMO equalization. This paper attempts to present a comprehensive review of recent research on the key aspects of RCF-based MDM transmission. Starting from fundamental fiber modal structures, a theoretical comparison between RCFs and conventional step-index and graded-index multi-mode fibers in terms of their MDM capacity and the associated MIMO complexity is given first as the underlining rationale behind RCF-MDM. This is followed by a discussion of RCF design considerations for achieving high-mode channel count and low crosstalk performances in either MIMO-free or modular MIMO transmission schemes. The principles and implementations of RCF mode (de-)multiplexing devices are discussed in detail, followed by RCF-based optical amplifiers culminating in MIMO-free or modular-MIMO RCF-MDM data transmission schemes. A discussion on further research directions is also given.