For those of you who don’t know, the MMORPG is my favorite genre of games. MMORPG stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game. MMORPGs focus on creating rich and unique experiences for all players. They are often incredibly large in scope, and offer wonderful gameplay for players to sink their hours into as their virtual avatars. I try to play as many MMORPGs as I can, and I thought this article would be a good idea since I’ve played enough of all these games to subjectively make a top ten list. I say subjectively because NOTE: this is my opinion, and this is not a definitive list. However, I would encourage many of you to play some of these games if you haven’t already done so.
This article is only meant for free to play MMORPGs that do not require purchase to get a true MMORPG experience. This means that World of Warcraft does not make the list because the starter account level 20 cap doesn’t really have anything worth mentioning. I’m also not including MMO shooters or MMOARPGs, so sorry Warframe, Path of Exile, and Realm of the Mad God.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it:
I know this game had huge issues on launch, but WildStar has evolved in to a pretty great MMORPG since. Though it has lost most of its initial players, the ones who remained definitely saw improvement. The first thing anyone would notice about WildStar is its unique art style. Everything looks colorful and almost cartoonish, emphasizing the fun nature of the game. There are some really cool races to chose from, and the Nexus (the main planet) is huge enough to gain the approval of most online explorers. The issue with WildStar that I think many people would agree with is still it’s server problems. However, given that WildStar is now free to play, this issue can be forgiven.
Ah, yes, the first of the nerdgasm-inducing games on this list. Star Trek Online wins points just for being in the Star Trek universe. I’ve always been a huge fan of iconic characters such as Kirk and Spock, and it feels amazing to be able to pilot my own ship through the final frontier. Star Trek Online allows you to lead a crew on your own ship as you explore space and complete quests. While it’s pretty simple when you’re moving your character, my favorite moments playing STO consisted of space battles. While STO feels a bit outdated compared to some of the other games, it’s a delightful addition to the Star Trek franchise.
The second nerdgasm-inducing game on this list stems from the grandfather of all RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons. Based on the 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons rulebook, Neverwinter dives deep into D&D lore as it focuses on rich storytelling. It’s like a D&D game, but with a ton more people and more quests. Though my experience with Neverwinter is mainly on console, I have played the game on PC and found to really like it (though I weirdly enjoy it more on console – thumbs up if you agree). Gameplay wise, it doesn’t really add anything new to the genre that’s worth mentioning, but for a free to play game, it really does live up to its tabletop predecessor.
I’ve only recently played Rift, but I can tell you that I love what I see. The graphics and UI are very similar to those of World of Warcraft, my favorite MMORPG ever. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, Rift makes up for its derivative gameplay with great character models and good old fashioned quests. If you used to play the MMORPGs of the past and want to ease your way into the new stuff, Rift is a good gateway.
Tera is one of the unique parts of the MMORPG genre. Usually, these types of games don’t have the most fun combat, but they make up for it with compelling stories. Rift flips this tradition around and has fantastic action-filled gameplay that makes me think on the spot. Also, since players have greater differentiation in terms of gameplay, I would recommend playing this with a group since everyone can adapt to work with each other. If you want a game that’s more like a shoot-em-up questing MMO, but not an FPS or a 3rd Person Shooter, you would probably love Tera.
Eve Online is probably the most massive game on this list. Spanning across literally entire galaxies, Eve is incredibly ambitious, but VERY esoteric. If it weren’t for its extremely high dosage of item grinding, I would have put EVE at #2 on this list (nothing could have made me dethrone #1). Yeah, Eve Online has a lot of wandering around aimlessly through space. Fortunately for me, I find that enchanting so I really love Eve Online. It’s famous for it’s giant space battles that destroy entire legions of ships that cannot be recovered (Eve has a variation of permadeath in it). If you love to grind for loot and possibly get embroiled in a galaxy wide space feud, Eve Online is the right game for you.
Like Tera, Guild Wars 2 has a fantastic combat system that’s unique from most other MMORPGs. However, Guild Wars 2 actually has an amazing solo story and better quests than typical MMORPGs. While Heart of Thorns (the expansion) has a full price tag, the base game of Guild Wars 2 is completely free to play, and that’s awesome. I personally really like the races and classes you can choose from in Guild Wars 2 because they all balance each other so well. It’s an extremely well crafted world that gets really good as players reach end game content (the game then features zone-wide public events). Guild Wars 2 is one of the best MMORPGs ever made so far, and the top 3 on this list only barely beat it out.
I’m not going to lie, I’m only putting this so high because of pure nostalgia. Yeah, I know RuneScape 3 is a complete makeover, but I actually prefer it to old school RS. RuneScape has over 16 years of experience backing it up. This means that when you get right in, you’re getting into a world with 16 years of story and visual improvements. Out of all the games on this list, this is definitely the most accessible one for new MMORPG players. Also, since it doesn’t rely on good graphics, you can play RuneScape for free on your browser! If that doesn’t sell it, RuneScape has one of the biggest player bases in the MMO market so it’s great for interacting with other players.
The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book series and my favorite movie series next to Star Wars. Naturally, I’m going to put LotRO on here at #2 (I’m guessing you can guess what #1 is). LotRO draws from J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterful world of Middle Earth and every moment in this game breathes awesomeness. It’s a bit old now (it’s nearing its 10 year anniversary), but it’s definitely worth playing. The combat and gameplay is fairly standard, but the story is what keeps me going in this game. Being able to fight Orcs, Goblins, and even Nazgul just brings smiles on my face.
Finally, we have the game that made me and many others move away from World of Warcraft. It doesn’t get more nerdgasmic than Star Wars – my favorite movie series, period. As if drawing on the endless lore of Star Wars, SWTOR uses fast paced combat, gorgeous visuals, and fantastic single player storylines that do the great Star Wars games of the past like KOTOR justice. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to be someone in the Star Wars galaxy – even I was just a smuggler like Han Solo, that would be so cool. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, you get to live out your wildest Star Wars dreams at a time when the Jedi and Sith were arguably at the respective heights of their powers. It’s up to you to create your character, choose a side and a faction, and forge your destiny.
Those are my top 10 free MMORPGs for PC for April of 2017. What do you think about this list? Do you think I should have swapped, added, or taken out anything? If so, feel free to let me know in the comments section! Thanks!