No More Pay-to-Play MMOs! The Top 10 Best Free to Play MMOs
For years now the Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming (MMO) market has been saturated with pay-as-you-play behemoths like World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and now Rift. But the times are a' changin', as more and more game developers are releasing one time purchase, or free to play MMOs that lighten the load on gamer’s wallets significantly.
But with so many free pixelated Flash junk MMOs out there, what is a poor, avid MMO gamer to do? Luckily you too can use the top 10 best no fee mmo list to navigate the turbulent and choppy internet waters of 2011.
10. Anarchy Online
Anarchy Online was one of the first popular science-fiction MMORPG games, and it continues to have a reputable cult following even 10 years after its release. Set in the world of Rubi-Ka, players are thrown into the midst of a violent technology-fueled war over energy. Players choose a side, a profession, and began slaying their enemies in fast paced gun based RPG gameplay. Rubi-Ka itself is massive, with thousands of unique monstrosities to battle, not to mention several large PVP areas to explore.
Still, the largest draws of Anarchy Online is its deep character customization, skill and gear focused gameplay, and involving backstory. It is almost criminal that Anarchy Online is now completely free to download, register and play. Not only do gamers have full access to the original game, but all three expansion packs of AO are included. If you can stand some outdated design options, such as somewhat choppy graphics and unbalanced gameplay, Anarchy Online is a fantastic example of a successful fee-free MMO.
9. Mount and Blade: Warband cRPG
While Mount and Blade: Warband is definitely not a massively multiplayer online game, there is one mod that changes that for the better. The Warband mod cRPG, released in 2010, has developed a massive following because it takes wonderfully bloody and violent medieval combat and puts it online for the first time. Combatants start out as little more then a human meat shield for your comrades, but that soon changes as you develop your skills, gain access to better weapons and start pwning your friends faces with javelins.
cRPG is primarily a team-based online action lesson in medieval combat, but it does keep permanent track of your character’s progress. As you and your friends level up, you gain access to different maps, challenges and opponents. The game has stable servers, good balance, frequent patches and friendly competition that are always willing to teach a newbie a hard-earned lesson or two. cRPG is a good new no fee MMO for those looking for a violent and twitch based alternative grind.
One game and one game alone is ubiquitous among PC users for its sheer dominance in the browser based game market. Runescape has an active population of over 10 million players, roughly equivalent to the entire country of Sweden. With deep and addictive gameplay, strategic PVP areas, and epic quests, Runescape sucks in first time MMO fans and doesn’t let go. The game was released in 2001, and has experienced rapid growth including 2 graphics overhauls and hundreds of balancing patches. Gamers looking for addictive gameplay and a large community will love the no fee MMO Runescape.
7. Everquest Classic
Another old retread MMO that has been transformed into a no fee MMO is Everquest Classic. For those of us with long memories, Everquest was the prototypical MMORPG that spawned popular successors such as Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft, and the new MMO Rift. Released in 2000, EQ garnered critical acclaim, millions of active gamers and criticism for its incredibly addictive world and gameplay. Nicknamed “Evercrack”, EQ Classic has returned from its current relatively dead state as an emulator project. The server P1999 has actually completely restored the original EQ game code piece by piece, bringing the original iteration of Everquest back to life. The best part? P1999’s Everquest Classic is now a completely free to play MMO.
6. Ragnarok Online
Another browser-based free MMORPG, Ragnarok Online is the prototypical Korean grindfest MMO. So why is it on this list? Because it features fun, whimsical graphics, addictive gameplay, and stop and start quests and combat that make it easy to play on the go. Although the community of RO can be relatively immature, it is possible to make good friends who are using their work breaks to log in a quick session of monster-slaying before the boss comes around. Still, for a completely free, fun and easy grind, Ragnarok Online is a good choice for a fee-free MMO in 2011.
5. Champions Online
Champions Online, much like its powerful competition, City of Heroes, is a fantastic superhero based MMORPG. Unlike CoH though, Champions Online has a much more comic-book like design, with inked graphics, humorous sound and graphical combat effects, and quick and easy gameplay. CO, while difficult to put down, offers well done pick up and play combat that allows casual gamers a route to experience a ton of content quickly without a huge time commitment.
Still, the real draw in Champions Online is the addictively robust character creation system that offers literally thousands of costume design options. Want to make a Barack Obama look alike that blasts his enemies with ray guns? Check. How about a Babe Ruth knock off that smacks around robbers with his oversized bat? Done. For these options alone Champions Online is a fantastic no fee MMO.
4. Star Wars Galaxies
While many gamers can barely wait for the fall of 2011 to arrive and bring with it the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, others have been getting their Star Wars MMO fix from the retread Star Wars Galaxies Emulator program.
Star Wars Galaxies was Sony Online Entertainment’s foray into a science-fiction based MMO, which originally went with critical acclaim before meeting eventual disaster. For those avid Galaxies fans who want to relive the glory days of Taun-taun killing, bar hopping, and speeder cruising, check out the SWGEmu program. This program transports players back to the original SWG, before subsequent patches killed the game as they knew it. Players need only their old SWG Cds and a valid internet connection to begin playing Star Wars Galaxies like its 2004.
3. Dungeons and Dragons Online
Dungeons and Dragons Online is the popular free to play MMO based off of the seminal genre starting board game Dungeons and Dragons. Players start off as a lowlie newbie adventurer, but end as a hulking barbarian brute, a staggeringly devastating wizard or a sublimely smooth rogue. Gameplay is fast, fun, and socially enhanced by good group based combat, while you will receive all of the phat lewtz your heart desires from the depths of dungeons. The graphics in DDO are not fantastic, but what do you want from a free to play MMO? Let your inner nerd out and check out DDO is you want a deep, customizable and addictive MMORPG experience…for free.
2. Guild Wars
The first mainstream MMORPG to capitalize on the no fee MMO market, Guild Wars was released in 2005. Requiring only a small one time purchase fee, Guild Wars waives its monthly fee in order to streamline a deep and fantastically fun gameplay experience to gamers. Instead of focusing on leveling or grinding, Guild Wars is more about PVP gameplay, fast paced combat and fun grouping. Loot comes in all shapes and sizes, the graphics of 2005 still stand up to 2011’s strict standards, and a cult following place Guild Wars near the top in the free MMO market.
1. Lord of the Rings Online
The Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine’s critically acclaimed Game of the Year from 2007, tops this list as the best no fee MMO game available today. First things first, LOTRO is b-e-a-utiful to look upon, as the graphics engine Turbine built from the ground up runs smooth even on older computers, yet runs DX11 capable blur effects and texture maps on newer systems.
It gets even better though, as Turbine has lovingly recreated Middle-Earth as accurately as any imagination can while still remaining faithful to the source material. The gameplay is completely quest driven, with a fantastic epic storyline that follows the Fellowship as they journey all the way into Mordor. You will meet almost every single important character in the LOTR universe, and you will get to fight alongside many of them as well. But the best part about LOTRO is that the community is mature, well respected and favors roleplayers and immersion into the wonderful world of Middle Earth.