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The first free MMORPG worth mentioning in list of most popular free MMORPGs has to be Runescape, noted to be the most popular game of its kind by Guinness World Records. One of the reasons for the game’s popularity is its “Choose Your Own Adventure” format – because players get to pick their own endgame, the possibilities for game play paths are virtually endless.
Runescape has nearly nine million players worldwide and offers nearly as much player connectivity as fee-based MMORPGs, just in a slightly different format. Players connect through chatting and trading and can work together (or fight together) in minigames. Much like the bigger MMORPGs, the main word (Geilinor) is split into several kingdoms, each of which feature smaller regions and cities within, which again allows for a variety in game play that a linear storyline cannot provide.
For those addicted to action and not just RP-exploration, Runescape recently added specific worlds that allow players to enter combat just about everywhere, a feature that is bound to keep the more bloodthirsty among us happy.
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For role playing, Threshold is the most popular free MMO. It has been in operation since 1996, and is the only professional role play required MMO on the market. It is a text based game, which might surprise you at first. That also means the learning curve might be a bit steeper if you are used to playing only graphical MMOs. But this game is more than worth the hour or so it takes to get accustomed. It has one of the deepest and richest worlds of all online games, and the quality of interaction with other players is top notch. Threshold RPG received a glowing review here on Bright Hub. Frogdice, the company that makes Threshold RPG, has a new game coming out later in 2009 called Primordiax. We will be keeping an eye out for it.
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Though Guild Wars doesn’t quite fit the profile of an entirely free MMO, or even really an MMO, it still ranks as one of the most popular, cheaper online games to play. Neither one nor the other, Guild Wars acts like something of a hybrid between an online RPG and an MMORPG and is something of a hybrid between a typical MMORPG like World of Warcraft, which charges for the purchase of the initial game and also charges for monthly game play, and an entirely free MMORPG which charges for neither.
The winner of several Editor’s Choice awards, this game includes high quality graphics and provides two different modes of game play that make it a little less like a typical, highly-interactive MMORPG and more akin to something like an instance dungeon. Hardcore PvPers can jump right into the game and ignore the role-playing aspects if they so choose, but the RPG side of the game is not forgotten – Guild Wars has an extremely active community as well. High customization of character aspects as well as a great battle system are what makes this one of the most popular fee-free MMORPGs out there.
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The free MMORPG Shaiya has a wonderful lore behind it that bears similar parallels to the lore behind the Alliance and Horde factions in World of Warcraft. Through the destruction of the Goddess Etain (who presumably played a part in the creation of Teos) two factions arose and have lived in constant conflict for eons. Players choose to join either the Alliance of Light or the Union of Fury and wage war upon each other.
The game is played in Easy, Normal, Hard or Ultimate mode depending on skill, which increases playability over time. Players choose to be a Defender/Guardian, a Mage/Pagan, an Archer/Hunter, a Ranger/Assassin, a Fighter/Warrior or a Priest/Oracle, receive quests from NPCs, battle mobs and explore the world free from a limiting linear storyline.