It’s that time of the year again! It’s the time where we update our list of most anticipated free MMORPGs due to many requests. By now you should probably know that some of these games may actually end up as buy to play or pay to play, but right now there’s no business model revealed, so bear with us. You’ll probably notice a few newcomers and some good old friends on this list, so let’s give a big welcome to them all!
* This list will be updated regularly. Last update: November 23, 2013
10 – PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2
Yes, we’re still expecting Phantasy Star Online 2 in the West. Sure, we’re pretty disappointed at the lack of news and the likelihood of Sega just canceling the release altogether, but it’s not over until the fat, anime lady sings. Even if this Japanese sci-fi epic is far from groundbreaking and there are some complaints about the weight of payments to properly enjoy the game, it is fun, combat is fast-paced and it should appeal to plenty of players here. But it’s either 2014 or we’re taking it out of the equation entirely!
9 – LINEAGE ETERNAL: TWILIGHT RESISTANCE
A new Lineage is always something to keep an eye out for, even more when NCsoft is going the Diablo way on Lineage Eternal: Twilight Resistance. This means an online action RPG that happens to look really good and offers massive scale battles, mouse gestures to perform special skills and some awesome bosses. We’re also promised a camera that places itself in the best view in all situations, something that we have to see to believe. In 2015 most likely, and we’re talking about Korea only…
8 – MABINOGI 2: ARENA
We’ve covered this one before so if you’re still wondering why it’s called Mabinogi but looks like Vindictus, then you’re probably not aware that Vindictus is originally called Mabinogi Heroes. Now we’re not too sure about calling Mabinogi 2: Arena a sequel or a spin-off to Vindictus, but we know a bit about the gameplay. Combat is akin to a fighting game with moves such as countering, blocking, grabbing, throwing enemies and even slapping. The idea is to make the game more skill based and less button spammy. The arena aspect is due to the fact that players can watch others play and interact in ways such as giving an item and vice-versa. It’s definitely an interesting feature and the game is shaping up to be one of the best action combat MMOs ever.
7 – ARCHEAGE
ArcheAge is part of a group of Asian MMOs that seem to be unsure about showing up in the West, even if Trion Worlds is supposedly working on it for quite some time. Despite an underwhelming Korean performance, ArcheAge is still one of the most ambitious sandbox MMO games ever created. One time you’re tending to your farm animals and the next you’re in the high sea, battling other players while a Kraken is waiting to destroy your boat. There’s just so much to do and explore in this game that it may have scared some players that like to be taken by the hand. As for us, we love the freedom it offers.
6 - MONSTER HUNTER ONLINE
Let’s give this some thought: the Monster Hunter series is hugely popular in Japan and has a very loyal following in the United States. And yet Capcom decided to develop the second Monster Hunter Online exclusively for China. Go figure, right? Anyway, while we still have some admittedly very thin hope of seeing this game in our shores, we’re most likely stuck to watching Chinese players going at those amazing, CryEngine 3-powered creatures on Youtube. But hey, by now we all should know how life is unfair.
5 – BLESS
Apparently, Neowiz decided to pause development of Ein: Epicus Incognitus to focus on Bless. Judging by the potential of both games, they had a tough decision to make but apparently they chose wisely. Bless isn’t about revolutionizing the genre; it’s about delivering a grand epic, with an amazing world that is bound to make many jaws drop. The game has a nice Final Fantasy feel to it, a cinematic presentation and 10 races with personal stories and motivations. Oh, and Thundercats.
4 – DRAGON NEST 2
If the anime style was something that you loved in Dragon Nest then let me break the news to you: you’ve been screwed. Yeah, Nexon decided to abandon the colorful visuals and go for a more grounded, realistic, Vindictus look. But we’re OK with that too, especially since they’re going the open world way. As for the rest, we’re told it will be easier to control and more intuitive. We can’t wait to see the first footage on this one!
3 – BLADE & SOUL
Ah, Blade and Soul. One of those games that could probably bring a lot of cash to NCsoft and yet they haven’t announced anything for an entire year as far as the North American and European versions are concerned. Which makes us wonder if the English version will in fact be released in 2014 as mentioned in one interview. As for the rest, you know the deal – it’s an over the top martial arts MMORPG with semi-action combat and an art style that is just absolutely amazing and different enough from most MMOs. It also features one of the best character creation systems ever.
2 – BLACK DESERT ONLINE
After the first Korean closed beta, we dare to say that Black Desert didn’t fail us. It’s as beautiful as the trailers promised and includes a boatload of features that will make this one of the most exciting MMORPGs of recent years. Without going into detail, we’ll have action combat, mounted combat, castle sieges, parkour, a seamless sandbox game world, weather system, housing system, open world PvP, a trade system and more. Hopefully Pearl Abyss will begin looking for a Western publisher in the first quarter of 2014.
1 – EVERQUEST NEXT
Only a revolution in the making such as Everquest Next could knock Black Desert off our number one spot. Sony Online is aiming to deliver a new kind of MMORPG, with a game world where players have a real influence and things are shaped according to your actions. Everquest Next is a reimagining of the franchise and is divided in two parts, with Landmark coming first. In Landmark players will be able to make objects and buildings that may be featured in Everquest Next, but are also able to explore the world and other players’ creations. But the final game will be all that and more; there’s the promised full destructibility, and the idea of an MMO world in permanent change is breathtaking. Then there’s a class system with more than 40 classes to mix and artificial intelligence that is said to react based on the motivations of an NPC. Combat is still a bit of a mystery but at this point we would say it’s a mix of tab-targeting and action combat. And while some may be against it, we just love the art style, which tries to be cartoony and realistic at the same time. Everquest Next has to be the most promising free MMORPG of the last decade.
And it’s the end of our first update to this list. We hope we managed to give you some insight into these games and, better still, to have introduced you to some of them. Now sit tight, stock on some food and hope that the months go by really fast.