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Top 5 Free-to-Play MMO Games

FEATURE | ? Comments |

Author: Laura Hardgrave  

There are a ton of free-to-play (F2P) massively multiplayer online (MMO) games out there these days. So many games, in fact, that picking the quality games out of the mix can be a bit daunting. That's why we're here to help. Here's a list of five of the best ones to check out.

As a note, we'll only be listing the ones that are completely free-to-play and don't require an initial digital or box purchase. We'll go over the basics of each and then attempt to answer some of the questions that really matter when it comes to choosing a new MMO home. We'll talk about the game's longevity, community, fun factor, decide how free it really is, and answer that age-old question: How do I know this game's really for me?

1. League of Legends (MOBA)

Top 5 Free-to-Play MMOs

Anyone who's ever tried an MMO has probably given League of Legends (LoL) a whirl by now, but just in case you haven't—do so. It's not a game for everybody, but it has one of the largest competitive communities out there, a solid development team, and a fantastic microtransaction system that more games should really take note of. Chances are, you'll either love it or hate it, but it's definitely worth a download.

Is it really free?

The variety of free champions available every week is fairly broad, and luckily, by playing games, you'll collect currency that can be used to purchase champions and other ways to improve your gameplay--no money needed. You can pay real money, of course, but it isn't required.

How long does the fun last?

The fact that the weekly free champions keep rotating helps keep the game fun, but there's also the fact that LoL is arena-based and most games are played between actual players and not against static NPCs. Games are dynamic, and thanks to the game's matchmaking system, even the newest of players can roll right into a PvP match and do fairly well after a bit of practice.

How's the community?

Active. Extremely active. LoL's one of the hottest MMOs out there right now, and some players get paid to compete in professional matches that are popular worldwide. This also means, of course, that the game has its fair share of obnoxious trolls and idiotic players. To do well in LoL, thick skin is recommended.

What type of gamer enjoys this stuff?

League of Legends is aimed toward gamers who enjoy a competitive playground. The game's focused on strategizing, theorycrafting, action-based combat, twitch-style gameplay, and teamwork. Veteran players often say that the game is easy to learn and difficult to master. It's one of those games that players easily become obsessed over and spend hours a day honing skills and trolling noobs, but it's also a great game for just popping on a couple times a week with your buddies and chilling with a game or two.

2. RIFT (Fantasy MMORPG)

Top 5 Free-to-Play MMOs

RIFT is still getting its feet wet in the wild world of free-to-play MMOs, but so far the game's F2P model is extremely solid. The development team produces content at an awesomely-fast pace, and thanks to the game's semi-recent switch to F2P, the community's more active than ever.

Is it really free?  

There are a few minor account restrictions that you may want to shell out $5 or so to unlock, but you can level all the way to the level cap and explore all of the game's content without paying anything. Almost all of the cash shop items are completely optional and there are very few restrictions hidden behind closed doors. It's pretty much one of the best MMORPG F2P models out there currently.

How long does the fun last?

It all depends on what type of gamer you are. If you love rushing towards endgame to find a raid to sink your teeth into, RIFT can be a great game. If you often find yourself bored once the raids are cleared, however, boredom may settle in. If you enjoy taking your time leveling and doing lots of exploring, the longevity of the game may be more in your favor.

How's the community?

It's fairly active these days. Some shards (servers) are a little more niche than others, but character transfers are free which makes searching for that perfect guild a whole lot easier. There are a few idiots, but for the most part RIFT sports a decent, respectable community.

What type of gamer enjoys this stuff?

RIFT is fairly evenly tailored toward raiders, endgame PvEers, PvPers, achievement hounds, explorers, and socializers. The game's housing system is in-depth and there are plenty of achievements. It is, however, one of those MMORPGs that's very similar to World of Warcraft. Very similar. If you loved WoW but got tired of paying for it, RIFT's an awesome option. If you're kind of tired of the same ol' leveling/currency-farming formula, you may want to look elsewhere.

3. Star Wars: The Old Republic (Science fiction MMORPG)

Top 5 Free-to-Play MMOs

Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) has gone through a lot of ups and downs since its launch, but the game's development has settled into a comfortable spot and the game is doing well in its F2P model. If you haven't given it a shot yet, now is the perfect time.

Is it really free?

For the most part you can level all the way to 50 without having to fork over much cash, but it's honestly better to hand over at least $10 to unlock a few account restrictions if you plan to make a serious go of the game. BioWare decided to gate a few user interface options such as additional ability hotbars, unfortunately.

How long does the fun last?

The story while leveling in SWTOR is great and one of the best available in an MMORPG if you're a Star Wars nerd and/or love BioWare RPGs. After you're finished leveling you may find the fun level to die down considerably unless you enjoy raiding, tons of dailies, or PvP.

How's the community?

Solid since the introduction of F2P. If you want a truly immersive leveling experience, the roleplaying servers have pretty awesome communities.

What type of gamer enjoys this stuff?

Besides science fiction gamers and Star Wars fans, anyone who loves a good story should enjoy SWTOR. That said, if you're not much into story-based MMOs or patiently waiting through long conversations with NPCs, this one may not be the best to check out.

4. World of Tanks (Tank-based Shooter MMO)

Top 5 Free-to-Play MMOs

World of Tanks is one of the best free MMOs to pick up when you've got a bit of time and want to shoot stuff. It has a solid progression system, doesn't require any cash, and the community's still going fairly strong. As a bonus, blowing stuff up is always fun.

Is it really free?

Yep. You can grab extra tanks and improve/customize your current tanks with real cash as well as recruit extra crew members, but all of this is optional. The progression system in World of Tanks works similar to League of Legends and cash doesn't lock you out of gameplay options whatsoever.

How long does the fun last?

Since World of Tanks is a match-based game, the fun factor lasts as long as you want it to. This makes it a great game to get in, blow stuff up, and get right back out again. It's more fun in small amounts than larger amounts probably, but don't let this stop you from giving it a shot.

How's the community?

As with most match-based PvP games, the World of Tanks community can admittedly seem a little harsh at times and may take thick skin. It is nice and active, however.

What type of gamer enjoys this stuff?

World of Tanks is a great shooter MMO for fans of war games and tanks, but it's also great for shooter fans who are looking for something a little different. The game's extremely easy to pick up and learn but difficult to master. This makes it a solid choice for shooter fans at all skill levels.

5. The Lord of the Rings Online (Fantasy MMORPG)

Top 5 Free-to-Play MMOs

Lord of the Rings Online is an older MMORPG, but it's still worth a download due to how immersive the world is. It has an enjoyable story and is a world ripe for roleplayers and socializers. It also sports a solid F2P model that won't strip your budget despite the fact that there are a ton of expansions now.

Is it really free?

For the most part you can level without having to pay any money. There will be areas of the game where you'll be very tempted to pick up a few account unlocks, however. There are also areas of the world that are gated by expansion upgrades, but most of these areas are optional. Most cash shop items are cosmetic.

How long does the fun last?

While leveling, you'll be given plenty of options to speed up your leveling journey and make it as quick as you'd like it to be. The most fun part of the game is probably the leveling experience, but for endgame players there is still quite a bit to do. The game also offers a lot of socialization options (like the game's awesome music system) if you're into that sort of thing.

How's the community?

These days, the community for Lord of the Rings Online is quite small and very niche. If you've ever wanted to try your hand at roleplaying, this will give you the perfect chance. The community tends to be extremely friendly as a result of being smaller.

What type of gamer enjoys this stuff?

Lord of the Rings Online is a story-based MMORPG that's really ideal for players who enjoy immersive leveling adventures and quests where story is brought to the forefront. If you happen to be a huge Lord of the Rings fan and/or love a classic fantasy setting (and Hobbits!), this game's also right up your alley.

Posted on: 08/14/2013 | ? Comments
Tags: Star Wars, The Old Republic, Lord of the Rings Online, LOTR Online, World of Tanks, MMOs, League of Legends, LOL, Rift, top 5, free to play
Laura Hardgrave

Laura is a freelance video game journalist and sci-fi/fantasy LGBT author who's equally passionate about the games she loves and the stoof she writes about. Stoof is a word, right?

The views of GameDynamo's writers are not necessarily the views of the website as a whole. However, we support freedom of speech and enjoy diverse opinions about video games. Hopefully you do too!


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