With the official announcement of Diablo 3 (what you haven’t heard? What rock you living under?), I have been hard at work trying to satisfy the natural urge for some hack ‘n slash character development. So like everyone else who has caught the Diablo bug, I reinstalled Diablo 2… And was disgusted. I don’t remember the game every looking that terrible. Normally I wouldn’t let something like graphics get in my way, but they are REALLY bad. Characters don’t even have faces! I could have sworn my Druid had a face 10 years ago.
So now what?
Well, I am an avid supporter of free to play MMORPGs. I believe we should have the right to play out our fantasy characters for as little or no cost. Don’t get me wrong, I know developers and programmers deserve to get paid. They work hard to please what is one of the most arrogant, picky, and stubborn demographics in the world, age 13-30 gamers! And those that remain gamers past 30 are even worse! They remember actual quality in relation to the modern standards.
Regardless, something about paying to to use my imagination really bothers me. I even cringed when I bought the Guild Wars software. All this makes it very, VERY hard to find a free game that might even remotely be considered fun. However, with my challenge in perspective, I set out on the journey to discover the best free to play MMORPGs in hopes to suppress my Diablo urges.
The first step on my journey takes us to a game that was actually pay-to-play when World of Warcraft began it quick ascent to king. Needless to say, they have learned from their mistakes and have become completely free with in-game advertisements, which are remarkable relevant to the modern gamer.
The game itself is usually considered terrible. There are no quests to speak of. The entire basis of the game is massive PVP, which is usually nerfed for an MMORPG, and character development is based completely on how much you can pwn other people. So why does it make it to my list? It has Druids that can turn into Werewolves! And I LOVE shapeshifting Werewolf Druids! ‘Nuff said! You don’t even find them in pay-to-play games anymore! For gods sake Dungeons and Dragons Online doesn’t even have Druids!
Our next contestant hails from overseas, as most free-to-plays do. While it doesn’t really give a Diablo taste, it will be very familiar to the Ultima Online veterans.
4. Magic World Online
Bright 2D sub par graphics, character housing, and in-game bot character control (similar to the old RaZor and UOAssist programs) make up this game. Aside from the frequent and hilarious engrish, why would it be worth looking at? Well, it may not be… Yet. The game is still in beta (version .03 at the time of this writing) and it already has a very strong player base, and those that love it, swear by it. So if you get a hankering for an Ultima Online feel, I recommend MWO.
Number three actually hails from the video game giant Acclaim, and uses a similar ad system like Shadowbane.
3. 2 Moons
Using a combination of in-game ads and pay-for game content, 2 Moons is a general quest driven hack ‘n slash, and probably the best substitute for Diabloesque play. It is even rated M (for mature), making the player base a little more mature than what you may find in teen rated games. It has dark over-tones and uses a “all hope is lost” story line. Though it is rated M, the most mature aspects of the game is the cartoony blood splatter, and the occasional censored curse word. Asterisks galore!
Number two was produced by a free-to-play gaming company that has apparently made enough money to make commercials for Cartoon Network and G4.
This game comes from Aeria games, which has apparently grown to be the biggest free-to-play game producer on the market. Shaiya generates revenue from pay-for in game content. It is your generic fantasy RPG, you have knight, fighter, wizard, healer, ranger, and rogue based classes, and you can be a human, elf, dark elf (the Vail) and a giant (the Nordein). The gameplay is quest driven, and the graphics are remarkable, especially for a 100% free game. It has even won MMO gaming awards. Definatly worth looking into if you have the urge for some classic fantasy gameplay.
And now *drumroll* our number one! This game is actually a first in the MMORPG world!
1. Requiem: Bloodymare
The VERY FIRST horror based MMORPG, and it is beautiful. The graphics are amazing, the quest layout is comparible to World of Warcraft, and originality of the story is unmatched. The horrific creatures and gore in this game is actually so extreme that I can only play the game in small increments. This game actually messes with my already jaded psyche, but I think I may just be getting old. Not enough praise can be given to this game for quality. It has even gotten horror fans, who have never touched an MMORPG, playing! This game is not just a new step in MMORPG, it is a massive leap! Naturally it is rated M, and revenue is generated by a completely optional subscription program. When you pay to play you will gain experience faster and have better chances and getting good drops from monsters and mobs.
And that is my top 5. The good thing is that it doesn’t looks like the free-to-play MMO world is going away anytime soon. If anything, it can be considered the step for the online gaming community, and if games like Shaiya and Requiem are what we have to look forward to, things are looking good.