Currently, the hottest trend in MMORPG gaming appears to be appears to be struggling, high-profile MMOs making the switch from subscription-based to free to play models. Several popular titles including Lord of the Rings Online and Champions Online have made this transition in recent months.
Now that so many MMOs have become F2P, it can be hard to keep track of what each one exactly offers its free players and what kinds of items and upgrades are available for microtransaction purchase. Our directory covers five formerly subscription, now free to play MMOs, with detailed info on each.
Age of Conan: Unchained
Featuring a unique, action-oriented combat system and some of the most mature content of any MMO, Age of Conan is definitely worth checking out now that you can do so for free.
Age of Conan, like many of the now free to play games on the list, offers both a free and a “premium,” subscription account. For former players of the game, continuing your subscription gives you full access to game content, as well as 60 Funcom Points deposited into your account every month. The premium account will cost you $14.99 a month.
Free accounts carry several restrictions:
Access to only four character classes.
- Limited access to Rise of the Godslayer expansion content.
- Non-premium dungeons only.
- 2 raids available.
- Sieges are unavailable to free players.
- Personal bank space is 50% smaller.
- Only 2 character slots.
- No access to alternative advancement, offline leveling, or veteran points.
- All item shop items are full price. Premium accounts receive a 10% discount.
All in-game item shop items are available to all account types. Players much pay for Funcom Points in order to make purchases.
Champions Online: Free for All
Champions Online is the first of two superhero MMOs on the list. Featuring customizable powers and an amazing costume creator, Free for All allows wannabe superheroes to strap on their tights for free.
Champions Online also offers two different membership tiers. Gold players have full access to all power archetypes, special costumes, additional character slots, and the ability to change the tint of various powers.
Silver accounts carry several restrictions, including:
- Base archetypes only, no customizable powersets.
- 2 character slots.
- 1 costume slot.
- 1 inventory bag slot.
- No access to special travel powers.
- No power tinting.
- Limited chat options.
- Limited forum posting.
- No access to live support.
Many of these restrictions can be overcome with purchases from the in-game C-store. Additional character slots, premium costume pieces, and premium archetypes can all be purchased in-game.
City of Heroes: Freedom
The free to play version of City of Heroes actually has three different tiers of membership: free, premium, and VIP. This superhero MMO extends additional benefits to those who have ever had a paid CoH account.
Called the “premium” tier, these accounts retain access to anything they’ve ever purchased for the account and any veteran’s rewards they had previously earned.
VIP players receive several additional benefits:
VIP Players will also have access to an exclusive, VIP-only game server.
- Access to 14 different character archetypes.
- The ability to join and form supergroups.
- Access to all in-game chat channels, including the ability to create channels.
- Full access to the in-game auction system.
- Access to the Mission Architect and Inventions systems.
- Everything that Free and Premium Players have access to.
- 12 Character Slots per server, plus any additional character slots that were previously unlocked or purchased.
- 400 Paragon Points to use in the in-game store each month.
- VIP Players will have access to exclusive VIP content, including new monthly Signature Story Arcs and the Going Rogue expansion.
- One free character transfer per month.
- Priority in any login queues.
- Live, in-game customer support.
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited
DDO uses a three tier system similar to City of Heroes. Free players can upgrade to a premium account simply by making any purchase from the DDO store. Premium players enjoy benefits like two additional character slots and full forum access.
Players who want the complete Dungeons and Dragons Online experience can pay a monthly fee and upgrade to a VIP account. Benefits of a VIP account include:
500 Turbine points per month to spend in the DDO store.
- Access to premium character classes and races.
- Access to all game content.
- 10 character slots.
- Login queue priority.
- Full guild creation access.
- Live, in-game support.
Lord of the Rings Online
Lord of the Rings Online also utilizes the three tier system. Like DDO, LOTRO players can upgrade from a free to a premium account by making a single purchase from the LOTRO store. The benefits of a premium account include an additional character slot and priority access over free players in login queues.
The top tier of LOTRO account types is VIP. In exchange for a monthly fee, players get:
Unlimited access to all in-game areas. Free and premium players only have access to Erid Luin, The Shire, and Bree-land.
- The ability to fight as a monster in PvP.
- Special perks like no gold cap, expanded traits, additional character slots, rested experience, and priority over free players in login queues.
- 500 Turbine points per month to be spent in the LOTRO store.
- Depending on how much content you’re looking to access and how you feel about microtransaction purchases, free to play MMOs can be a viable alternative to today’s hottest online games.
If you think about free to play as a sort of unlimited demo, you can really get a lot of mileage out of these games before you decide to invest any money into your play experience.
- All images and references from Age of Conan: Unchained, Champions Online Free for All, City of Heroes Freedom, Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, and Lord of the Rings Online