If you’re looking for your next big free MMORPG, then we have some good and some bad news. The good news is that you won’t have that much trouble choosing one; the bad news is that there aren’t many in development in this particular genre. This doesn’t mean the genre is in danger, only that most studios are devoting their resources to mobile gaming for a while, and will probably return big time in a year or two to the ‘real games’.
See what we did there?
Moving on, here are our suggestions, most of these MMO games free-to-play, most of them with releases planned for western territories or likely to happen, with a couple of them which still have undisclosed business models. If it’s already been announced as buy-to-play, then it’s not here, keep that in mind. Here our some of the best free MMORPG coming soon.
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10 – ADVENTURE QUEST 3D
We’ll begin this top with a bit of simple, unadulterated cartoon fun. Adventure Quest 3D is the follow up to Adventure Quest Worlds, which you may know was extremely popular. The jump to 3D is an interesting one, but it’s the cross-platform aspect that gives it a broader appeal. It obviously benefits from a simple and effective art style, extremely colorful and even garish, perfect for performance optimization but not suited to those who are looking for top notch visuals. The real time combat has plenty of clipping issues and that is mostly visible with the huge bosses – dragon chickens included – but oddly enough, the technical limitations aren’t enough to hinder what is in fact a fun, little game. It’s more suited for casual players or those who like some silliness with their MMOs, so depending on your personal taste, AdventureQuest 3D could be a great game or one that simply won’t appeal to you.
Skysaga is in alpha for quite a while and it looks like it’s still going to be for some time, as developer Radiant Worlds wants to improve the game a bit more before moving to the next phase. Founded by the Oliver Twins, whom you may know from the golden age of Codemasters and especially as the makers of adventure games starring an egg called Dizzy, the team is working on this PC sandbox MMO where you can make anything, including creating your own island. It’s like Minecraft evolved, or maybe a more complex Trove. You can go on adventures, craft, build and share your creations – you can even create challenges for other players. It also helps that this is one game where voxels actually look good, with a nice color pallete, and the cute limbless characters will probably remind you of Ubisoft’s mascot Rayman.
8 – GLORIA VICTIS
Gloria Victis is the low fantasy medieval cousin of The Elder Scrolls, a huge game with a gritty look and realistic non-target combat that won’t take you by the hand. Skill actually matters in this game and while it still needs improvements in hitboxes and stuff like that, it’s great to see massive town and castle sieges happening in the open world. You can also establish your reputation, try the complex crafting system and shape your character through the equipment and not by being tied to a specific class. Future plans for the game are pretty impressive and include the usual mounts, but also naval combat, building and decorating your house, and enjoying some leisurely activities such as gambling and beer drinking contests. Gloria Victis may be one tough little buggy bastard at the moment, but with a little more polish it will certainly be a massive time sink.
7 – MU LEGEND
This one has been in our radar since it returned from a nice stay in development hell and apparently will be around for a while. MU Legend is the follow-up to the classic MU Online games and it looks much better than it had any right to be. We were expecting bland and outdated and MU Legend is looking slick and fun, not shying away from its Diablo inspiration and trying to do its best impression of hack and slash to please fans of the genre. The timing is great too – going into global beta late 2016 means it will avoid the heavy hitters Lost Ark and Lineage Eternal, two big names that will probably take almost a year before reaching North America and Europe. If you like clicking and looting a lot in an isometric perspective, you can’t go wrong with MU Legend.
6 – LINEAGE ETERNAL
After all these years, Lineage still manages to be the big cash cow for NCSoft, surpassing games such as Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul, Aion or even Lineage 2, not to mention WildStar: Reloaded. It’s understandable why the Korean studio is taking so long to release the new chapter, Lineage Eternal, which was announced in 2011. The Korean closed beta is planned for November 2016 after quite a few delays, and while a simultaneous global release was once teased along with cloud gaming, it looks too good to be true. What Lineage Eternal surely has is dynamic dungeons with randomized layouts and monster spawns, areas that support a few hundred players simultaneously and dynamic event quests, similar to those seen in Guild Wars 2, for example. Gameplay will be similar to other hack and slash games but include mouse gestures to activate skills. 2017 will surely be the year when we’ll get plenty of Lineage Eternal, but there’s one big rival in the way…
5 – BLESS ONLINE
If Bless Online fails, it will be a damn shame. A stunning MMORPG with a world that has so much to see and to marvel at, an architecture that looks so good, so impressive, only rivalled by Black Desert Online. You could spend hours just looking at some of the buildings, such is the attention to detail. But enough about the visuals, Bless Online is more than that – or at least should be much more than that. There’s a robust mount system where you can tame ground and flying mounts, and while it’s surely not of the same diversity and quantity of Riders of Icarus, there are some interesting creatures such as golems and wyverns.
But as you probably have heard by now, combat is the Achilles heel in Bless Online – so much that Aeria Games, the German publisher that signed the game for North America and Europe, decided to delay it so that Neowiz actually works on the combat system, making it more responsive and capable of going shoulder to shoulder with the MMO references, which include Black Desert and TERA. So much potential that could fall apart by one game system, but let’s hope it ends well.
Revelation Online is coming west thanks to My.com, Skyforge’s publisher and while there was some belated suspense about the business model, we can finally rest as the game is really going to be free-to-play, just as its original Chinese counterpart. Blade & Soul haters beware; this is another fantasy martial arts MMORPG, so if you’re not into NCSoft’s game, you may not appreciate Revelation. On the other hand, there are enough differences for those in search of an alternative. If you like your housing out of the ordinary, then you have it – your property sits on top of a giant turtle. If you hate limitations, then you should know that there are no restrictions to marriage – you can go male/male or female/female if you want to. And, of course, wings, for you to fly around the world of Nuanor. Going back to more familiar territory, you have the usual dungeons and open world bosses. A very good game.
Not quite a true MMORPG but more of an online action RPG, SoulWorker Online still has a massive multiplayer component that fits with what we’re looking for. For example, the MyRoom System, where players get their own rooms to decorate and have fun. Hang around in the jacuzzi, try the queen-size bed, sit at your desk or try some costumes are just a few of the activities. And you can, of course, take a refreshing shower.
But enough about hanging around. Soul Worker is a third-person action game, sort of an anime Vindictus but faster, with plenty of cool, flashy moves and characters with quite distinct personalities and abilities. This ultimately makes up for the fact that they’re gender-locked, and the costumes that you unlock during your battle with creatures from another dimension, coupled with the customization options provide some level of uniqueness to your avatar. Don’t expect in-depth customization, quite on the contrary, but it should do the trick. To sum it up, Soul Worker charms us by looking like a playable anime but and also has some of the fastest-paced action you’ll ever see in an online RPG.
2 – PERIA CHRONICLES
Peria Chronicles was quickly heading into vaporware territory until Thingsoft finally revealed during 2016 that the team was struggling with a massive challenge, which revolved around building the core architecture of this sandbox anime MMORPG. To the inattentive eye, it may look just like a simple anime version of Minecraft with combat elements, but it is in fact a stunning playable cartoon where players can build their own towns, set their economic and social systems, create their own mechanisms and instruct NPCs, as well as generating quests in towns and dungeons. Heck, you should even be able to create your own user interface. We should also mention the Pokémon-inspired creature collecting that you can use in real-time combat, while you actually fight alongside them.
All this talk about creation and sandbox will probably remind you of this other game which we won’t name, but that was supposed to be the NEXT big thing, if you catch our drift. However, sometimes all it takes is a studio firmly grounded in reality, able to acknowledge its limitations and working on something that they truly believe. Let’s hope this is the case with Peria Chronicles and that we’ll get more news really soon.
1 – LOST ARK
What else is there to say about Lost Ark? This is one of the very few games where the reveal trailer didn’t actually bullshit players in a way that other, extremely hyped games did – No Man’s Sky says hi. The first Korean closed beta was enough to see how Smilegate kept its promises with the cinematic dungeons, impressive guardian raids or a fun combat system. It only lacked WASD movement, but maybe the team will implement that later on. It could use some more open world content, as these places are extremely beautiful to traverse, but even the instanced dungeons are a pleasure to see.
The adventure has a lot of distractions with things such as Hidden Dungeons or Chaos Gate portals, which randomly spawn in the map and are only accessible if enough players are nearby and ready. Then there’s of course PvP, with the Colosseum offering free for all or 3v3 modes. We could go on and on about the classes, the tripod system, the non-linear quests and the professions, but that is just a small sample of what Lost Ark has to offer. Best of all, the developers clearly say they want to stay away from pay-to-win and first impressions seem to confirm that. Lost Ark is rumored to be coming to North America and Europe and an English folder was already found in the beta files, so it should be a matter of time before an official announcement.
We have a couple of doubts lingering in our minds: are Phantasy Star Online 2 and Kingdom Under Fire 2 still happening? As far as we’re concerned, the westernization of Sega’s game is pretty much dead in the water, while there’s still a small, really tiny chance that Kingdom Under Fire 2 gets a proper, official release in North America and Europe during 2017. As for special requests, we would like to see Closers Online coming west, probably the best side-scrolling multiplayer brawler available for a while now, and we wouldn’t mind playing MapleStory 2, if Nexon actually decided to make good on the initial global release announcement. Any other free MMORPGs you’re waiting for? Let us know in the comments and have fun!