It wasn’t that many years ago when a paid-for subscription was the only way you could get your hands on a decent MMO experience. World of Warcraft dominated the online gaming landscape, and its success lead many other companies into the same monthly premium path.
The dawn of the free-to-play model slowly started to change this formula, however, with titles such as Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online allowing gamers to play certain areas, and make micro-transactions in order to progress further. Since then, monthly subscriptions are becoming more rare, with companies switching over to free-to-play models.
But now with so many free-to-play MMOs out there, a big problem is deciding which game to choose playing. That’s why we’re here to sort out 16 of the best F2P MMOs!
Do you have a favorite F2P MMO that you would like to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
Age of Conan: Age of Conan is a title that started off as a subscription-based release, but changed to free-to-play a few years later to boost its popularity. The game is based upon Robert E Howard’s famous barbarian warrior of the same name. Even though this is a game that is a few years old now, the graphics are still awesome. Compared to the other games in this list, this is easily the goriest.
Aion: The fantasy MMO market might be a tad overcrowded, but when games are as well made as Aion, we can forgive them for being a tad unoriginal. The overall experience is highly-polished. Combat can be slightly tedious after a while, but the rich content more than makes up for any shortcomings. A cracker of a game, and easily the best F2P PvP MMO out there.
APB Reloaded: Often described as Grand Theft Auto online, APB Reloaded is a reincarnation of the original APB – an MMO that was closed down after developer Realtime Worlds shuttered. Since then, K2 Networks has purchased and re-launched the title while making great strides to improve the game in the process. It’s refreshing to play an MMO that's not sci-fi or fantasy-related and driving around urban environments is fun.
DC Universe Online: While not letting you play as Batman, Superman or any of the other characters from DC’s rich stable, DC Universe does allow you to interact with them from time to time as you quest through the story. In the game you choose whether or not you're the hero or villian, create the costume, and choose your own powers. Granted, not everything is available for freebie players, but there's still plenty to do here for free.
Dragon Nest: The intricate combat is the biggest selling point here, being both fast and frantic, along with granting you more control over your actions compared to other MMOs. This is also a very charming and challenging game to play. You really need to group up in order to progress through. In addition, the game also has a great PVP system.
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Compared to the other MMOs on this list, Dungeons & Dragons Online is a lot harder to get into. For one thing, you don’t gain experience by killing monsters, instead the game rewards you when you complete quest chains. The game is also much slower paced, and while this may suit some, this is definitely not for everyone. Of course, it almost goes without saying that fans of D&D in general should give it a shot.
Everquest II: The original Everquest paved the way for modern MMOs when it first came out in 1999, five years later, Everquest II was released, featuring much improved graphics and refined gameplay. Amazingly, for a title so old, it still features a loyal fanbase and thanks to being free-to-play, this doesn't look likely to change anytime soon. The beauty of being such an old MMO is that there's plenty of content to explore today.
Global Agenda: Global Agenda is an MMO set in a dystopian future pitting you against an oppressive government that has control over the planet. As a player you can choose one of four different classes, join together with other factions, and battle for territory to claim as your own. There's a decent learning curve here, but those dedicated enough to give it time will find a rewarding sci-fi experience.
LOTRO: One of the first MMOs to successfully utilize the free-to-play model, Lord of the Rings Online is an award-winning role playing game that brings Tolkien’s fantasy world to life. Although it was first released way back in 2007, thanks to the new Hobbit movies, interest is still sky high. The game is completely free for the first 20 levels, after which additional quest packs can be purchased.
Neverwinter: Based on the Dungeons & Dragons setting, Neverwinter is the new kid on the block. Released earlier this year, the basic game is free to play, and you can make additional purchases with micro-payments. Using the 4th edition rule set that will be familiar to any seasoned D&Der, this is a graphically rich MMO. Whilst offering standard story-based quests, Neverwinter also scores points for allowing players to create their own quests.
Planetside 2: Ever wondered what a Halo MMO would look like? Chances are, it would end up resembling something like PlanetSide 2. PlanetSide 2 blends the traditional MMO experience with the mechanics of a first-person shooter. The basic principles behind PlanetSide 2 are simple: take control of a territory and defend it against enemy attacks. But be careful; the enemy team has exactly the same goals.
Rift: Much like WoW, Rift is a sword and sorcery inspired fantasy RPG. On the surface, it's a little generic, but Rift isn’t completely devoid of original ideas; the most obvious one being the ‘rifts’ or portals that open up in the game world which spawns monsters and enemy invasions. Battles can range from a dozen or so players to larger invasions made up of hundreds of people.
Runes of Magic: Typical MMO fantasy fayre, Runes of Magic is a game that does everything well. There are multitudes of quests to complete, and a vast world to explore. Whilst you do have the option of purchasing items in the game via micro-transactions, you don’t have to spend any money in order to progress and can simply grind your way through. The game is addictive and good clean fun.
Star Trek Online: When Star Trek Online was first released back in 2009, many critics panned it, citing that it was a bit messy and boring. Thankfully the years have been kind to Star Trek Online, and now, after having made the switch to free-to-play, developers have been hard at work improving it slowly and steadily. The tedious ground combat is still present, but it's much less bothersome now that the game is free.
Star Wars the Old Republic: When SWTOR first went free-to-play last year, it generated much excitement amongst gamers. They signed up in droves, but after creating their character and leveling up a few times, many left disappointed. Why? Well, you do really need to purchase a subscription if you want the full experience and to gain levels faster. Still, those that don’t mind these limitations will have a whale of a time here. This is, after all, Star Wars.
TERA: Also known as The Exiled Realm of Arborea, TERA is a much hyped MMO that was touted by many as a WoW 'killer.' A bold statement to make, considering that WoW is still the world's most popular MMORPG. It did't quite live up to the hype, and has since gone free-to-play, but it's still a good MMO in its own right. Compared to some of the other games in this list, you need a more powerful PC to play the title, but TERA does look good for an MMO.