Over the past few years MMORPG‘s have gone through a bit of a change regarding the way they are funded. More and more of them are turning to a free-to-play model to sustain a player base. However, free-to-play MMO no longer means some browser-based 2D cutesy import from Japan. Some serious hard hitters of the MMO genre are now turning free-to-play. Here’s our list of the top 5.
5. Age of Conan
Age of Conan had a bit of a rough ride on release. The first 20 levels were brilliantly stitched together, whilst the rest of the game was somewhat in disarray. Thankfully it’s survived its turbulent birth and worked hard to patch out its rough edges, to become one of the most brutal MMO’s available today.
Their F2P model restricts some of the character classes and slots, but there is still enough in there to keep most casual MMO players occupied. And most importantly, you can still behead your enemies with a few swift blows of your broadsword.
4. City of Heroes
City of Heroes maybe one of the older MMOs out there, but that by no means limits it’s fun factor. Recent updates have seen some restructuring to the opening zones making them much less of a grind, and a switch so you get your ‘travel powers’ much earlier.
Because of it’s age, there is a huge amount of content and customisation in-game. Couple that with the lack of restrictions NCSoft have put on free players (no level cap restriction, loads of costume parts, most zones available at no extra cost) and it makes CoH well worth a look.
3. DC Universe Online
More superheroes, but this time some names your more likely to be familiar with. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash, to mention but a few. There is also a host of villains to work for, from Joker to Lex Luther, to Talia al Ghul, pretty much every major hero and villain from DC’s universe is represented here.
SOE do place some restrictions on Free Players (limited character slots, inventory & bank slots, trading etc…), but if you fancy checking out DCU, it’s possible to play through 30 levels of superhero/villain goodness. Also, you only need to spend $5 in the online store to gain access to the mid-level ‘Premium’ account which raises the level of most of the restrictions to most casual players would be comfortable with.
2. Star Trek Online
STO is a game that has come along in leaps and bounds since it’s release in 2010. Issues with the lack of ‘Trekkiness’ were solved. Lots more content was added, both by developers Cryptic, and by players themselves through the brilliant Foundry feature. A combat overhaul was done, to improve the phaser firing aspect of the game, plus more customisation to costumes, interiors to player ships, and various pets and other ‘fluff’ items were added.
Overall it’s a hugely improved game from it’s rather rushed release. Once again F2P players will have some limits on their account. Less character slots, limits on money and inventory storage, chat and mail restrictions, and they’ll be locked out of the Foundry Creator. However, the level cap will still be achievable, and all sector and missions are accessible on a F2P account, so you won’t be short of things to do! STO doesn’t actually go free-to-play till Jan 17th 2012 – But when it does, I urge you to take a journey into the final frontier.
1. Lord of the Rings Online
As huge Tolkien fans, LotRO was a MMO all the gamers here in GeekTown fell in love with when it was first released. From those early quests avoiding hungry hobbits delivering pies in the Shire, to battling trolls and even a Balrog in the later game, it’s extremely easy to lose yourself in the massive world Turbine have created.
There are restrictions on F2P players. The amount of cash you can carry is limited, and you can’t auction items. Your also only allowed 1 character slot per server (with more purchasable), and some of the higher level areas need to be purchased. You can however level your hobbit, dwarf, elf or human up to the game’s level cap, and it’s a great way to test out a superb MMO without having to outlay a penny. If you’re a fan of Tolkien, it’s worth installing even if it’s just to wander around the Shire.