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The Best Free MMOs
Best Free MMOs
Massively Multiplayer Online games, or MMOs, are a ton of fun to play. You can group up with your friends to fight monsters, or you join a guild in-game to achieve greater goals. However, MMOs like World of Warcraft can be expensive to play. Playing World of Warcraft for one year will cost $180 just for subscription costs, nevermind the extra fees which apply if you decide to buy extra content or services.
For many, particularly casual players, spending that much money on a MMO isn't an option. Thankfully there are free MMOs which are also great fun. Free MMOs aren't quite as large as World of Warcraft, but they provide an entertaining world which can be enjoyed without paying a dime.
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Released in 2001, Runescape is one of the longest running free MMOs. The game is currently cited as the world's most popular free MMO by Guinness World Records.
Runescape is set in the world of Gielinor, a typical high-fantasy kingdom consisting of numerous cities and regions. The game has no set storyline, and players are encouraged to freely explore the game world while completing quests and setting their own goals. There are many types of monsters to kill, allowing players to increase their level through combat. The social aspects of trading, chatting and participating in mini-games are also popular in the world of Runescape.
Runescape offers three basic classes, those being Warrior, Ranger, and Mage. However, multiple sub-classes are available which allow players to further define their role in the game. Solo play is possible, but group play is encouraged and is more popular. Player versus player combat is possible in specific of areas of the game in normal worlds, and players can choose to enter a full PvP world which allows combat to occur at any time if desired.
Runescape is and has always been a browser-based game, which makes the game easy to launch and use. The graphics are acceptable, but are not the focus of the game. Players who want to try the game out can enter the demo game, which doesn't even require the registration of an account.
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Dungeons and Dragons Online
When it was originally launched in 2006, Dungeons and Dragons Online was a normal subscription based MMO. It never caught on, however, largely because the amount of content which was in the game at launch wasn't very large - hardcore gamers could complete the game rather quickly.
Dungeons and Dragons Online was recently re-launched as a free to play MMO, and since then it has done much better for itself. The biggest advantage to D&D Online is that it started life as a normal MMO. The designers invested heavily into graphics and the game runs through its own client. Compared to most other free MMOs -and even many MMOs which require a subscription - D&D looks incredible.
D&D Online isn't really about open world play. Once the player selects a class they have the chance to take part in numerous "modules" which are essentially stand-alone adventures. Players party up with others to complete these modules, which can generally be beat within a few hours. Solo play is also possible, but generally not as fun.
Gamers who are looking for a free MMO with good graphics and more serious gameplay will absolutely love D&D Online. It isn't a very good free MMO for those who love the social aspects of the genre, but those who enjoy combat the most will find this game pleasing.
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Released in 2009, Free Realms is a free MMO developed by Sony which is targeted towards families. The art style is light and colorful and all of the quests and combat is strictly rated PG. There are parental control options built into the game which can disable certain social features, such as the ability to chat or send and receive photographs. Free Realms players also receive a player profile which they can share with friends, making it easier for friends to connect in-game.
The gameplay of free realms is a bit different from most free MMOs. Combat is part of the game, but isn't really the main focus. Instead the game is a collection of mini-games which take place as part of the larger world. One of the most popular mini-games is a card fighting game similar to Magic: The Gathering, but there are numerous activities including raising pets, cooking and racing against friends.
The graphics in Free Realms aren't jaw-dropping, but they are better than what you'll find in most free-to-play MMOs. There are numerous character customization options including special outfits, and because the game doesn't revolve around classes it is possible to change your character's appearance easily.
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Most free MMOs tend to focus on a open-world play in which a single player character travels the world and either engages in combat or in mini-games in order to progress through the game. These qualities usually result in a game which is essentially a role-playing game. Atlantica Online, on the other hand, is much different. It is a turn-based strategy game set in an MMO universe.
The turn-based strategy does not just focus on the player character. Instead, each character as their own army of units which are placed onto the map when combat begins. Each player takes turns attacking, defending, and using special abilities, with the ultimate goal being the defeat of all enemy units in the battle. This unique combat mechanic gives Atlantica Online a unique appeal which other free MMOs can't match. Anyone who simply finds the combat in most MMOs to be too fast or hectic will appreciate this game.
Besides the combat, Atlantica Online offers the features you'd usually except from a free MMO. Multiple classes are available, and can be leveled up. Gaining levels will give you access to different types of units and special abilities. Both PvE and PvP combat is available.