We’re a couple of months into 2014 and while we wait for the big names like EverQuest Next and Black Desert to come by – something that can still take a while –, we have to keep ourselves busy until then. So while it’s too soon to make a new and proper top 10 with free MMORPGs, we decided to give you some suggestions for the time being. Please know that we’re narrowing it down in 3 categories – MMORPG, Shooter and MOBA – and keeping it limited to 4 games in each one. With a few notable exceptions, we’re choosing recent games, so keep that in mind too. At the end we’ll give you a few more suggestions.
So, in no particular order, here are some of the games that will definitely keep you entertained for quite a few months. It’s our Top Free MMO Games to Play in 2014.
TERA Rising is probably the hottest free to play MMORPG out there for now. The amazing visuals and exciting action combat make for one hell of a game. By now you probably heard about the somewhat generic quests and the grind needed to reach endgame, but you shouldn’t make this turn you away from the unique character classes, impressive bosses and quite a few epic moments no other MMORPG has yet delivered.
Just like Tera, Rift launched with a subscription model but later turned free-to-play, and we’re glad it did. While it can be criticized for apparently taking too much inspiration from World of Warcraft, this is a great game that stands on its own thanks in part to the incredible polish at release, a very rare thing for MMORPGs. And the Rift events were a great addition to a somewhat generic but oh so absorbing and rich MMO.
Neverwinter has suffered a lot from the fact that most diehard fans were expecting a massive, unique open world game. What we got was a very good game that pays good homage to a very rich universe, one that most studios would be afraid to tackle. So while Neverwinter isn’t one of a kind, it’s a damn fine game and one that will keep both fans and newcomers alike entertained for quite some time – even more if they decide to explore the Foundry, the content creation tool that comes with the game.
Finally, our heartfelt recommendation to Dragon Nest, one of the first action combat MMOs and a game that really feels great to play. It all fits perfectly together, from the detailed anime visuals to the action combat that truly changes depending on the character you choose. Some may complain about the gender lock, but we’d rather say that if there’s one thing we would change, would be making it a true open world instead of instance based. Dragon Nest 2 will do that, so we can’t wait!
If you like a lot of fun with your shooters, then the recently released Loadout is a perfect choice. This game has two great things going for it: first we have the comic art style, pretty much unique in a genre so saturated with bland, military shooters; then we have a feature that is extremely original and should appear in most shooters from now on, which is the in-depth weapon customization. By that we don’t mean just adding a scope or changing the clip size, we’re talking about completely changing the way your weapon looks and shoots. This is of major importance in the battlefield, since looks can be deceiving and you’ll regularly be surprised by the effectiveness of the weaponry. Also, Stallone and B.A., but let’s not call them that!
Warframe definitely has a sharp visual identity and a lot going for it. It’s fast paced, stylish and the slogan ‘ninjas in space’ captured the attention of thousands of players. There is a nice quantity and variety for the Warframes and the gameplay is exciting, although it gets a bit repetitive. It’s a good game and it truly shines when you play it just a bit at a time so it never gets boring.
The mech genre was in need of an overhaul and suddenly two games showed up: Mechwarrior Online and Hawken. While the former is more of a tactical combat kind of game, the later is just pure, unrelenting warfare. Some compare Hawken to Call of Duty, but we wouldn’t go there – Hawken offers its own bunch of tactical maneuvers and the gameplay is slightly slower paced but very weighty, with great sensations. Hawken is a different kind of shooter and a thrilling one.
PlanetSide 2 is the sequel to one of the few true MMOFPS games ever created and one that absolutely delivers. The battlefields, spread across a few different continents, is huge and with many ways of approaching the enemy base, vehicles included. When you pass the difficult first hours and become truly involved in the game, this is a real gem; however, such a massive game comes with a few hiccups that need to be solved with time, including balance and optimization issues. PlanetSide 2 is one of those great games that have their share of bugs, but they’re still mind-blowing anyway.
League of Legends is still the colossus that it became a few years ago, with millions of players battling with more than 118 champions to choose from. This is a competitive game as much as they come and the community isn’t said to be very friendly to newcomers, but don’t let that put you off this game. For years it has reigned supreme as the best MOBA, but now it is finally getting fierce competition.
Dota 2 is League of Legends main competition and we’re all expecting Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm to divide the fans of the genre once again. But back to Dota 2, a MOBA game that has an incredible depth and demands a lot of the players to be fully appreciated, but it’s a fantastic experience, polished and balanced like any other game of the genre can only dream of. If you have a lot of time to spend, then Dota 2 can be extremely rewarding.
With Smite, Hi-Rez Studios tried something new to the MOBA genre, choosing a third-person view instead of the overly popular and cloned to exhaustion top down view. But that’s just a part of what makes this one heck of a game, with a cast of powerful characters and truly skill-based gameplay, very different from the kind seen in the two more popular MOBAs. Easy to pick up but with incredible depth, Smite is a lot of fun.
And then we have Prime World, an unsuspecting offer from a Russian developer known for delivering great strategy games. The studio decided to put all their experience in one game, turning in a mix of genres that has rarely been seen before. While a MOBA at its core, Prime World mixes elements of castle-building and collectible card mechanics to spice up the game. It’s far from perfect, sometimes the design decisions seem weird, but it’s worth it because most of it works and could very well be seen in future MOBA games.
There you go, a dozen games to keep you entertained for quite a few months. We wanted to narrow it down, but in case you’ve played most of them, we’ll end with a few more quick suggestions.
SHOOTER: Team Fortress 2