Many of the good things in life are made better when you have your friends along for the ride, and gaming is no exception. Whether you're exploring a dank dungeon, participating in a massive combined arms battle, or carving out an interstellar empire, massively multiplayer games allow you to make gaming a cooperative and social experience, as well as a competitive one. Read on for a list of some of our favorite free to play MMOs.
Blizzard's World of Warcraft is probably the first thing that comes to mind when somebody says the word MMO. Going strong since 2004 with millions of subscribers, World of Warcraft (aka WoW) features quest-driven gameplay, a strong player community and a massive world filled with Warcraft characters and lore to explore. While it might be starting to feel its age, and isn't quite as cutting edge as modern competitors, WoW is still an iconic MMORPG and is almost the standard by which many fantasy MMOs are measured against.
Replacing traditional quest chains with dynamic events and branching personalized story arcs emphasizing exploration over grinding, Guild Wars 2 is one of the most enjoyable MMORPGs of its kind mostly because it ignores staid elements of MMORPGs to blaze its own trail. Best of all, it does all this without demanding a monthly fee. Previously a 'buy once, play free' game, Guild Wars 2 has since made its core game free, with paid expansions adding new content to the world of Tyria. Extremely accommodating gameplay plus great art direction make for a ridiculous bargain of an MMO.
EVE Online is a unique MMO experience like no other MMO out there. The game casts you as a sort of interstellar entrepreneur who must complete missions and trade goods to advance. However, stick with the game and you’ll discover its true wonders as a universe with a complex economy and emergent politics based on the interaction of thousands of players across the EVE Online universe. A unique interstellar flavor and compelling interactions (both hostile and friendly) within the community make EVE Online a landmark game, even if it is a bit of an acquired taste. The game is still growing strong, with the newest update, Citadel, introducing massive space stations that players and factions can build, develop and destroy.
Dungeons & Dragons returns to the Forgotten Realms with Neverwinter, as players defend the storied city from its many enemies. Mixing classic MMO elements with rules from D&D's 4th Edition, Neverwinter provides players with a solid mix of classic action combat and the lore rich world that the Forgotten Realms is known for. Players will battle against foes such as the Lich-Queen Valindra, thwart the summoning of the dragon godess Tiamat, and with the latest expansion, The Maze Engine, pit their might against infamous demon lords such as Orcus, Prince of Death, and Baphomet, the Lord of Beasts.
Now that City of Heroes has finally signed off, DC Universe has become the undisputed king of superhero MMOs. Action-based combat makes your heroics feel genuinely super, plus there’s the unbeatable draw of a license in which you fight alongside the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Fun twitch combat and attractive superhero aesthetic makes this a blast to play, though parts of the game can still be a grind.
The MMO successor to the Knights of the Old Republic series of role-playing games, SW: TOR is notable for its class storylines, which feature the same fully-voiced, choice-driven plots that are the trademark of developer BioWare. Originally released as a paid plus subscription MMO, the game eventually switched to a free-to-play model, allowing free players to go through the original class storylines, while premium content (and quality of life perks) are available to paying subscribers.
Action MMO gameplay gets a sci-fi cartoon vibe in WildStar: Reloaded. Players fly the flag for the imperialist Dominion, or the rag-tag Exiles who oppose them as both factions explore the mysteries of the world known as Nexus. Featuring extremely mobile gameplay and telegraphed combat moves, WildStar encourages players to mix it up while battling monsters and other players, making for a frenetic combat experience. Initially a subscription-based RPG, WildStar went free-to-play with the Reloaded content update.