If you are a gamer, chances are you too get the “MMO itch” every now and then, so you begin researching the best ones out there. Eventually you discover that the only decent paid MMORPG out there is World of Warcraft, so you start searching for free-to-play alternatives. You find one that looks pretty, perhaps luring you in with promises of “original content” and pictures of semi-naked elves. You download it, excited to play, and once you reach level 10, you discover how pay-to-win the game is: you need to pay to do anything.
Most PC gamers know this feeling, so in order to avoid future displeasure of others, here are the 5 MMO games we consider to be playable without having to spend a dime. Keep in mind that no game on this list is a walk in the park for free players, but you should still be able to play them with minimal grinding.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
With the release of Star Wars Episode VII, many gamers now feel the rush for an interactive Star Wars experience. If you don’t like the lack of content of EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront, your only viable alternative is trying SWTOR out. Developed by Bioware and published by EA, Star Wars: The Old Republic initially launched in 2011 as a subscription-model MMO, but quickly became Free-to-Play due to a low playerbase. If you are a free player, you will encounter a lot of restrictions along the way, such as limited bag space, restricted expansion and raid content and, to the disapproval of many, limited quick-bars and customization features.
However, the game still offers a fantastic free Star Wars experience, with 8 classes accessible to everyone, each with its own unique, non-linear story. If you aren’t a fan of socializing on the Internet, you’ll be pleased to hear that this game is more of a single-player experience, as you will rarely have to interact with others. Free players can have two characters at the same time on a server, and can play the entire story-arc for their class. Additionally, they can earn premium currency (with which they can remove certain restrictions) through adding a mobile authenticator or completing certain achievements.
Players who spend real money at least once or previous subscribers are tagged as “preffered” players, and have less restrictions.
Guild Wars 2
Published by NCSOFT, this MMORPG has gotten a lot of praise from MMO fans due to its fun mechanics and amazing graphics. The game had a pay-to-play model for most of its active period, but has recently gone free-to-play. If you are a free player, you will encounter many harsh restrictions, from limited bag space and not being able to access certain areas to not being able to sell most items on the Trading Post, the game’s auction house. All these restrictions aside, you can still play the game freely and level your characters up to the level cap, even if it will be a bit tougher. After all, there’s no MMORPG without a grind!
Wildstar is another MMORPG recently converted to a free-to-play model. The game was meant to be another WoW-killer, copying the hardcore aspects of vanilla WoW with cartoon graphics and an interesting combat system. Its only problem is that it promised too much, and its playerbase slowly dwindled down, to the point where they had to go free-to-play. If you are a free player, you won’t encounter any harsh restrictions, or at least not worse than the market generally offers. In terms of actual content, the game doesn’t disappoint: you’ve got an impressive housing system, and a crazy universe to explore. If you want a breath of fresh air from the regular MMORPG, you should definitely give Wildstar a try.
Phantasy Star Online 2
The first Phantasy Star Online game revolutionized the MMO genre, using the Dreamcast’s Internet capabilities to create one of the first MMORPGs out there. The game was hard, and it had a wonky story, but it quickly gained a huge following that still keeps it alive through private servers. This popularity also meant that SEGA was able to cash in on numerous sequels, such as Phantasy Star Universe or Phantasy Star Portable. However, the true sequel to the MMO that everyone loved was only released in 2012, as Phantasy Star Online 2.
No English Release?
Although the game released in 2012 for several Asian countries, its Western version has been in a development limbo ever since PAX 2012, when it was last discussed. However, fans all over the world couldn’t accept SEGA’s cold treatment, so they created an English translation patch for the game, making it accessible globally. If you want to check the game out, you should visit this link, as it contains all details and guides required for a “filthy Gaijin” to enjoy SEGA’s glorious Japanese game.