So, there we were, wondering – maybe it’s that time of the year, the time when we clean all the crap off our desks and begin mulling over what are the best free MMORPGs out there or just around the corner. The end of the year is coming and there are plenty of news every week, so don’t be surprised if in a few days we’re already regretting having this or that game in this particular spot, but that’s just how these top 10 work.
Anyway, here are some of the best MMORPGs for you to play right now, with one or two likely exceptions. Some are new games, others are games that launched a while ago but have stood the test of time or aged so well that they earned the right to become references. Here is our Top 10 Free to Play MMORPG Games 2015~2016.
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10 – DRAGOMON HUNTER
We’ll begin with a fresh little MMORPG from the makers of Aura Kingdom. Dragomon Hunter aka Dragon Slayer is this kind of anime monster hunter game that is more unusual to find than we could usually think. It goes the Dragon’s Prophet way in that you have to find, battle and mount the creatures available, more than 100 at the time of the open beta. It looks really good in its chibi anime style and while the combat isn’t of the true action kind – but then again, in which MMO is it? –, it feels fast, fluid and compelling. The user interface can be a bit too cluttered so be prepared to mess with it and the gameplay may feel a bit overly familiar, but it still ranks as a nice little distraction that anime fans will probably enjoy. Having the original Japanese voiceover cast is a great option, as these fine folk lent their voices to names such as Naruto, Bleach, Sword Art Online and more high-profile shows.
9 – ALBION ONLINE
We’re going on a limb here and we know that Albion Online is in alpha at the time of this top, but what we’ve already played was enough to make it into this list. This is probably the best alternative to RuneScape for players who don’t like RuneScape, as it looks great and is shaping up to have this huge depth and a living and breeding player-driven economy. It also has quite a bit of ArcheAge in it, hopefully with a lot less problems and controversy when it actually releases. And since we’re going with inspiration sources, we couldn’t leave Diablo out, as it looks a lot like Blizzard’s epic saga and combat can be quite exciting too. Albion Online is first and foremost a PvP focused experience, so make sure that you enter the game knowing where it will eventually lead – you can even PvP with your in-game wallet, as you’re able to compete for spots of land with other players and make them curse you when they lose this magnificent place to build a home.
8 – ARCHEAGE
So, ArcheAge. We all know just how messy the western launch was and how unforgivable this experience can be, especially with the continued controversy involving the server merges and the latest update. However, this is a beast of a game that is probably a nightmare for any studio to maintain and you can spend quite a lot of time creating your virtual adventures in this world. There’s a lot to do and most of it requires some kind of grind, so be warned that this is the kind of game where paying players get some clear advantage over free players – however, this is mostly a problem if you’re the impatient type and play your games only with a competitive focus in mind. Keep this in mind, as well as the fact that ArcheAge isn’t a game for casual players, and you should have some good old crafting and building fun with it.
7 – MARVEL HEROES
It’s impressive just how much Marvel Heroes has evolved since it launched a while ago to a lukewarm reception. Now it’s a completely different beast, one of the best superhero games that is finally exploring its Diablo inheritance in the right way. With a very respectable roster to choose from, plenty to do and loot as well as regular updates that significantly add to the available content, Marvel Heroes is a very good game in its 2015 iteration and hopefully will become even better during 2016. Fun, easy to pick up and with plenty of cool moves from our favorite Marvel characters, it has steadily grown into one of the best free-to-play action RPGs available.
6 – PATH OF EXILE
Now it’s time to talk a bit about the best free-to-play alternative to Diablo: Path of Exile. Although there’s some competition coming in the shape of Devilian, it’s not until Lost Ark releases that we’ll probably see how Path of Exile is able to handle it. Coming from a humble studio composed of Diablo fans, Path of Exile is an action online RPG more than a proper MMORPG, but it surely is a multiplayer game to remember. It’s dark, gloomy, quite depressing at times and that is one of its biggest strengths – the accomplished environment, the gritty world and the loot, loot and more loot. It plays really nicely and is widely considered as one of the best examples of a fair and successful use of the free-to-play business model – as in it doesn’t rip you off and you won’t have to open your wallet to keep up with other players if you’re skilled enough. But do buy some cosmetics now and then as that’s the way to keep this game running for a long time.
5 – SKYFORGE
Skyforge is one of the most ambitious MMO games of recent years and as always seems to be the case, it’s getting love from some players and hate from others. We understand how the weekly limit can be a pain in the butt for those who like to speedrun through their MMOs, but on the other hand this is helpful for those who are only able to play for a few hours every week. The class system is also very unusual and we really appreciate the ability to switch between classes on the fly, as we can choose the one which is more suited to each specific situation. Sure, not everyone likes having to play for quite a while to unlock other classes, but see that as a goal and as something that you can show around in game – for now there’s no option to buy advanced classes as we were told and actually, we hope that the developers don’t go down that route. Skyforge also has this sci-fi fantasy theme that is fairly original and some of the dungeons and bosses are quite a sight – this one can be a looker. The future has plenty more coming to Skyforge, the devs have revealed.
4 – TERA
TERA is a big boy now. This game has grown so much during the last year or so and is now a massive beast with a lot of content to go through, plenty of classes to choose from – with more coming really soon, most specifically the Brawler – and overall still one of the best action combat experiences available in MMO games. There’s plenty of fan service if you like that sort of thing and by this we mean fan service for both men, women, loli lovers and cuddly panda fans, so everyone should be catered for. TERA can be quite a grind, of course, but nowadays saying that an MMORPG is grindy is like saying that Katy Perry is hot – it’s obvious, guys, no need to detail if any further. Overall, TERA has plenty of content, looks gorgeous, combat is extremely fun and you can even brag to your friends if you ever become the lucky owner of a Skycastle. That’s not an easy feat, we have to warn you.
Another fugitive from the subscription business model, WildStar is a great game and one that was acclaimed at launch for being a great evolution of the World of Warcraft template. However, good looks and fine-tuned mechanics will only take you so far, as months pass and players are ready to move on to the next big thing. Turning WildStar into a free-to-play game was the logical move and it didn’t stop there – Carbine Studios revamped quite a few things, from the character creation to the Arkship as well as other tiny details that you probably won’t notice but that will make your experience just that little bit better. If you like crazy characters in a somewhat sci-fi Pixar look and some classic gameplay to go along, then WildStar is just the game for you.
2 – BLADE & SOUL
Even if it’s a couple of years late, Blade & Soul is still completely ahead of most of the competition. Go ahead, we’ll make a small break for the “hype has died” or “it looks sooooo bad now” hate comments, so this is your time…! With that out of the way, we’ll go ahead and say that Blade & Soul looks just as good as it did a few years ago. It’s not just the unique art style that makes it so… well, unique, or the way that the combat makes martial arts look so fun and crazy in the best anime style, or the character creation where we can spend hours adjusting every little detail until your fingertips bleed – it’s a combination of these things and more. The storyline is just so cool and filled with cutscenes to make it look like you’re actually inside the story, something that in most other MMOs is just a succession of go there, do this, come back. If there’s a game with both style and substance, Blade & Soul is the one.
And our number one is… Black Desert Online! Oh wait, this one actually turned out buy to play, so scratch that. The real number one is…
1 – GUILD WARS 2
This one caught us completely off guard. We weren’t expecting this free-to-play move from ArenaNet, especially considering that Guild Wars 2 isn’t exactly a game with a low population and that the first Guild Wars is still pretty much buy to play as in the first day that it launched. On the other hand, we appreciate the generosity, as good free-to-play MMORPGs aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. So we get one of the best games in the genre for free except for a few restrictions such as character slots and other things that won’t properly impact the gameplay. The trick is that to repay the kindness, we have to – and should – buy the expansions to keep up with the game and fully enjoy it. It’s more than a fair price for such a game and the first expansion, Heart of Thorns, launched in October 2015. With plenty of classes with very diversified lore, great PvP and an action feel to combat thanks to the continued work with the camera, Guild Wars 2 is a big, bold MMORPG that deserves everyone’s attention.
There it is, our choice of some of the best free-to-play MMORPGs available right now, with a couple of exceptions that you may have already played or not. Of course, as with every other top, we would like to leave a few suggestions that could also make the list but didn’t: Trove, Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic or the upcoming Landmark and H1Z1, two games that are in early access but will be free on release. We’re also betting that Tree of Savior is going to be a badass old-school MMORPG, but we want to see it grow a little more before praising it as we hope to. And don’t get us started on Lost Ark… no, really, don’t get us started as that game is probably only launching in 2017, if we’re lucky.
As always, leave us your opinion on which other games should have made it to this top 10, but most of all, enjoy playing them and support the games that you like!