Top 10 Best Free or Paid MMORPGs

MMORPGs are one the most popular video game genres today and have been for a while now. This list is mostly based on personal experience and enjoyment with these titles, but things such as popularity, player base, impact on the genre, economic model and innovation factor were also taken into consideration while compiling the list. I have played all of these games to various degrees and will be giving you an objective opinion regarding them. Without further ado, let’s kick things off shall we?

10. Age of Wushu

A martial arts themed MMORPG is not something you see every day. The game is mainly PVP oriented which makes sense considering that’s where its uniqueness comes from. Age of Wushu is set in Ancient China and is heavily inspired by Chinese legends, if you like movies such Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero and wish you could take part on all the kung fu action, look no further. Not much else to say about it really as my experience with the title is limited, but if you’re looking for a unique, atmospheric setting and have an interest for martial arts then this is the game for you.

Business model: Free to play

9. Vindictus

There is one key feature that sets apart Vindictus from other MMORPGs and you will start noticing it pretty early in the game. I’m talking about the level of interaction with the environment the game offers, which is mainly the reason why it’s on this list. Pretty much everything around you can be used as a weapon, I’ve never see that before. Sure, you can grab things and swing them around or throw them at the enemies in other games, but finding random stuff on the ground, actually equipping them and using them efficiently in battle was a first for me. The game has some really good combat animations which can also lead to some hilarious moments when you’re using something like a broom to slay your foes.

Not much else to recommend it I’m afraid as you’ll be spending most of your time doing the same instances over and over again. I do recommend giving Vindictus a chance though, the fun you’ll be having the first few hours of the game are well worth it.

Business model: Free to Play

8. DC Universe Online

Ever wanted to be a superhero? Or are you more of the villain type? DC Universe Online allows you to become either. The game does a great job of immersing you into the DC Universe where you will get to meet most of your favorite heroes and villains, you also get to choose an iconic mentor after creating your character. Having Superman or the Joker as your mentor is just as cool as it sounds. Combat is enjoyable throughout the game and it does a great job of making you feel powerful. On the other hand, it suffers from being repetitive and predictable after a while. Not a whole lot of content either, and after you reach the level cap things start to go downhill from there. Although DCUO doesn’t necessarily stand out from all the other MMOs, it’s good at what it does and it deserves a chance, especially if you’re a DC Comics fan.

Business model: Free to Play

7. Tera Online

I’ll start off with saying that this game features some of the best combat I’ve ever seen in an MMORPG, similar to Kingdoms of Amalur and Devil May Cry in many ways, highly action focused. The graphics and world design are really beautiful as well but this also means that the game can be a bit too much for older systems to handle. Aside from that though there isn’t anything else particularly interesting about Tera. Sure, you’ve got your child-fetish race and hyper sexualized characters but it’s an Asian game so that’s nothing out of the ordinary. What really bugs me is the quest system, I mean everything looks so good and the combat is so much fun but you’re stuck on run-of-the-mill and generic monster slaying missions, it just seems like they’ve wasted a good opportunity to create something amazing . Still worth taking a look at though.

Business model: Free To Play

6. Elder Scrolls Online

I’ll just be honest here, I didn’t think Bethesda could do it. Although The Elder Scrolls games always managed to impress me and I enjoyed immersing myself in their huge and intricate worlds every time, this project seemed a bit too much. I mean Skyrim was pretty huge and wonderful and now we get to explore all of Tamriel and the game is an MMO? Seemed to good to be true, but here we are a few days after release and it looks like Bethesda delivered.

The problem is that it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. Elder Scrolls fans will likely enjoy it for a while but will probably go back to playing Skyrim or Morrowind after a month or so since they are much better games. But don’t get me wrong, ESO is a solid MMO with lots of content, character customization and variety, it also looks pretty decent and has the same epic music you’ve come to expect from a title like this. If you’re new to MMORPGs this might be one of the best ones to try out, but if you’re a veteran don’t get your hopes up, you’ve seen all of this before.

Business model: Subscription Based

5. Star Wars: The Old Republic

There was a time when many believed this would be the game that could challenge World of Warcraft for the title of most popular MMORPG. While The Old Republic couldn’t quite rise up to the challenge it did not disappoint either. Every game on this list has that special something that sets it apart from the others, in the case of The Old Republic it’s mainly the storyline. While most MMOs have storylines that range from forgettable to barely there, SWTOR delivers it in way that will keep you engaged and entertained throughout the game. Every character including yours is fully voiced, this helps a lot with the immersion factor. Aside from that, the PVP is also worth mentioning as it features some interesting battlegrounds.

Bioware have created a well-rounded game that does an excellent job of making you feel like you really are part of the Star Wars universe. A real weakness of the game though, is that it doesn’t seem to have much lasting value as the end game is lacking in content compared to other titles. There is a reason the game isn’t higher on this list and that’s the Free To Play model they’ve adopted, which is a complete waste of time because of the ridiculous amount of restrictions they’ve imposed. Worth it only if you plan to subscribe.

Business model: Subscription Based and Free to Play

4. Guild Wars 2

What’s special about GW2 is the dynamic approach it took, from storytelling to large open world events, everything you do feels like a consequence of your own actions rather that an inevitability of the game itself. The traditional questing system has been replaced by hearts, you come across one of these and receive a list of possible activities that need to be completed in order to progress.  While going about your business you are likely to come across dynamic events that you can choose to take part in. Once an event is triggered, it will develop whether or not the player attends it.

The great thing about the system is that you are notified every time a nearby event starts and you can jump right in without the need to form a party. As a consequence, the game feels more spontaneous and it also rewards cooperation, you’ll want to take part in the events and help people out as you’ll receive 100% of the experience so it’s well worth the trouble.

The game is not without its weaknesses though as the voice acting can feel really flat which makes you lose interest in the story after a while. If you’re tired of grinding and want an interesting and dynamic experience then be sure to give GW2 a try, it will not disappoint.

Business model: One Time Purchase

3. World of Warcraft

The famous World of Warcraft has dropped in popularity in recent years and it’s no surprise considering the game is not that impressive anymore by today’s standards. Uninteresting story, repetitive quests, dated graphics, dumbed down talent trees and the list goes on.  Still, the fun factor is there and you always have lots of people to play with so that’s a plus. Currently there are  a total of 11 classes and 13 playable races divided into two factions, Horde and Alliance, with Pandaren being the only race that can choose which faction to join.

Although I’ve mentioned the game is not as popular as it used to be, technically speaking it still is the most played subscription MMORPG out there. The criticism comes from the fact that it could be so much better and Blizzard seems intend on simplifying it which I don’t like. Maybe the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion will bring the game back to its former glory, let’s hope for the best.

Business model: Subscription Based

2. EVE Online

A truly open-world game, EVE Online offers its players the chance to create their own story. Whether you want to become a pirate or a trader, a miner or an explorer, it’s all up to you. This is not a game for people who need to be told where to go next and what their next objective is, you make your own decisions and have to deal with the consequences. With over 7.5000 star systems to explore there is a lot to do in EVE and pretty much everything that goes on is player driven. I recommend this title for anyone who likes space simulators, sci-fi settings or just persistent open-world MMORPGs in general.

Business model: Subscription based

1. The Secret World

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first heard about this game. The idea behind it sounds incredible, a modern-day setting where mythology and urban legends have become reality. There are a few things that set it apart from other MMOs, the skill system is what I liked the most. In The Secret World you play as one of three factions and there are no levels or classes, there is however a huge ability wheel and you get to choose what kind of class you want to play as you progress. Imagine firing an Uzi with one hand while casting fire spells with the other while fighting Cthulhu dressed in shorts and sandals, that’s just so you can get an idea on the variety the game has to offer.

Don’t even get me started on the questing system, doing missions is really fun and that’s a rare thing for an MMO. Many of them are actually challenging in the sense that you have to do a lot of investigating to figure them out, and while it can give you a headache at times I’ve found the system to be highly rewarding. There are however a few problems with The Secret World, the combat in particular I found to be rather boring and while it’s clear that a lot of effort has been put into the initial parts of the game, the same can’t be said about the later portions. For now this is just a great game with lots of good ideas but I think it has the potential to become one of the best, if not THE best MMO around. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for something unique.

Business model: One Time Purchase

I’m well aware that there are other great games that didn’t make the list, this is either because I didn’t feel they offered anything special or I simply haven’t played them yet. So what MMORPGs do you play? If you would like to tell us about other games that you think should have made the list please use the comment section below.