If you’re looking to delve into the MMO world without paying upfront, there is no better time than now. Check out our choices for the best free MMORPGs on the market, so you can hack, slash, and shoot your way through the next six months of your life.
It’s worth noting before we dive in that most free-to-play games have additional components and unlockables that are only accessible through premium subscriptions and microtransactions. The games we’ve chosen to highlight offer free versions that bring a healthy taste of gameplay sans a hefty economical commitment. We’ve also only included MMOs that continue to receive updates and support from their developers.
You have to give credit to Trion Worlds for its commitment to the Defiance universe. The original MMO — released on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC — launched alongside a companion show on SyFy. It had some great ideas, including the use of traditional third-person shooting and dynamic boss encounters that would later find a home in Destiny. The show was subsequently canceled, however, and most players moved on to play games on the next generation of systems.
Enter Defiance 2050. Rather than scrap the work that had been done on the original game, Trion World reimagined it as a sort of half-sequel, half-relaunched experience that kept the core of Defiance built from the ground-up for free-to-play. The original game began as a premium title, and in balancing and adjusting systems for 2050, character transfers didn’t make the cut, but certain aspects of your original game account will still be applied when you begin Defiance 2050 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC.
Guild Wars 2
With a 90 on Metacritic and a 90.02 percent rating on GameRankings.com — second only to World of Warcraft and three of its expansions — Guild Wars 2 is one of the most critically acclaimed massively multiplayer games of all time. Though it will never unseat Blizzard’s gaming goliath in terms of sheer popularity, Guild Wars 2 does many things better than World of Warcraft, and without charging a monthly fee.
Guild Wars‘ fluid combat system provides an excellent counterpart to the rigid, role-based combat that Blizzard began with the Diablo series and built upon with World of Warcraft. Though it lacks the kind of depth and difficulty that forces players to work together in demanding raid environments, the system in Guild Wars 2 encourages players to team up however they see fit — trying to plow through some difficult PvE content in Guild Wars doesn’t necessarily require a dedicated tank and healer, for instance.
The in-game gem store also allows developer ArenaNet to continue profiting from the game and create new content, while simultaneously allowing for new players to jump in at no cost. Special seasonal events and other content updates have added additional content, as well, such as new mounts, story events, challenges, and weapons, several years after the game originally launched.