Massively multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs are a perfect way to emerge yourself into a different world and be an elf, Jedi, Klingon or anyone you would like, really. They are a multi-billion dollar part of the already high grossing gaming industry. Today, the non-players know about it mostly thanks to the popularity of World of Warcraft, which has millions of players.
There are many lists out there, so we decided to contribute with the one of our own.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
When you think about games in the Star Wars universe, the last thing that comes to your mind is that there is a free-to-play option. These are highly commercial titles coming from one of the most lucrative franchises in the world. But if anything, over the past few years Star Wars has shown that it can surprise us, sometimes pleasantly, and other times – not so much.
Fortunately, when it comes to Star Wars: The Old Republic, the surprise was more than pleasant. One can say that it was a comforting one. Because, is there anything better than to play an MMORPG set in the Star Wars universe for free? Nope, I would think not.
It’s been 300 years after the storyline we played in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. And if you wonder, some 3,600 years before the movies. Since being responsible for the Sith victory in the Great Galactic War, the Jedi moved to Tython, which was the founding place of the Jedi Order. The Sith returned to Korriban and started their infamous Academy again.
The story revolves around the peace reached between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic. You can join one of the two, and just like in the previous games, you can measure your morality on the light/dark spectrum. The game offers eight classes and each has its unique gameplay.
At first, SW: The Old Republic required a monthly subscription to play, but it also offered discounts if you paid more than one month. However, the number of subscribers from the initial 1.7 million fell to 500.000 by the mid-2013. EA decided to convert the game to free-to-play when the number of subscribers fell below a million, although they tried to maintain the paying mode as long as possible.
Since November 2012, the free-to-play version was launched on all servers and there are more than one million players active in it since then. This MMORPG title was developed by BioWare and released for Microsoft Windows in 2011. Together with Lucas Arts and EA, BioWare created webcomics produced by Dark Horse, which offer a more detailed backstory. Additionally, four novels were published from 2010 to 2012: Revan, Deceived, Fatal Alliance and Annihilation.
Star Trek Online
There is a legend in the world of fandom that Star Wars and Star Trek fans don’t go side by side. Well, we placed them just one beside the other here since they are both great and deserve the attention.
Star Trek Online was developed by Cryptic Studios, and since 2012 it offers a free-to-play tier. Microsoft Windows version was released in 2010, while OS X released in 2014, although its support ended in 2016 due to some technical issues. In 2016, versions for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were launched.
The game is set 30 years from the movie Star Trek: Nemesis, and United Federation of Planets and Klingon Empire are again at war. Romulan Star Empire is still at a loss and dealing with the destruction of their homeworld. On the other hand, Dominion is rebuilding its forces, while Borg Collective became a threat again.
You start the game as the captain of your own starship who explores the worlds, beams down on planets, and has a specific set of skills. There are two combat options: one on the ground, which is fast and more dynamic, and the other with starships, which requires a more tactical approach.
Free-to-play Star Trek Online doesn’t let you access all the items, and you may need more time to level up, but it a game well worth playing. It had several expansions over the years.
The Legacy of Romulus (2013) with Denise Crosby reprising her role as Tasha Yar’s daughter Sela and offering Romulan or Reman characters to players.
Delta Rising (2014) is set in the Delta Quadrant, familiar to the fans from the TV show Star Trek: Voyager. Some actors from the show reprise their roles here, as well as some races from the Voyager universe.
Agents of Yesterday (2016) appeared on the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise. This expansion offers you to play characters from the original series. It’s also tied to the Temporal Cold War from the Enterprise TV show. Walter Koenig is Pavel Chekov once again, while Scotty is played by Chris Doohan, the son of the original actor James Doohan who sadly passed away. Agents of Yesterday also respects the timeline from the J.J. Abrams reboot movies which started in 2009.
Victory is Life was released on June 5th this year, and is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Deep Space Nine TV show. It’s set in the Gamma Quadrant and features Dominion as the new faction. Actors from the show also reprise their roles, like Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys and René Auberjonois as Odo.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 revolves around the Destiny’s Edge, a guild destined to fight against the Elder Dragons which took control of the fantasy world of Tyria. The storyline depends on the player’s actions, which is not so commonly seen in multiplayer games.
You can create your character from five races and eight professions. Those races include Prophecies, humans, charr, asura, norn, and sylvari, which appeared in Guild Wars 2 for the first time. The eight professions also include three which we didn’t see in the original Guild Wars. However, there are no healers since, and rightfully so, the developers found them to be restrictive to the team play.
Free-to-play option is present here from the start, just like in the first game, but until 2015 you had to buy the game installation in order to be able to play. And until that period, the game sold in over five million copies.
If you like space, then playing a game that includes almost 8,000 star systems is the right one for you. Eve Online allows you to be a miner, space pirate, or trader, and explore these worlds while fighting against other players or the environment.
What makes Eve Online great is the fact that player interactions are complex and don’t depend on the script. This means that players engage in combat, political and economic relations based on their own strategies and plans. The video of the largest battle in the gaming industry, the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, involved thousands of players and was made part of the permanent exhibit at the New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
The story is about humanity some 21,000 years in the future when all resources have been depleted and humans colonized the Milky Way. After the discovery of a wormhole to the uncharted galaxy New Eden, people were less concentrated on fighting and built colonies around it. They built a gateway named EVE that connected the colonies beyond it with the world they left behind. Ultimately, the wormhole collapsed and the New Eden colonies were cut off from Earth. After a millennium, some colonies survived and created their own societies, forgetting the Earth and their origins. Five societies developed spaceflight and rose above all others, which are the major factions in the game.
The game was released in 2003 through Simon & Shuster Interactive, although the developer CCP Games later became self-publishers. In 2009, Eve Online was available in stores as the Atari, Inc release. And, since 2016 you can play it for free although it has its limitations, of course.
Gamers are familiar with the name Neverwinter because of the Neverwinter Nights game series, but the MMORPG we are about to present is completely unrelated. Neverwinter the game is actually based on the Dungeons & Dragons’ city Neverwinter, which is a part of Forgotten Realms campaign.
Developed by Cryptic Studios, this free-to-play game tells a tale of the Neverwinter which is left in chaos when one of its lords disappeared. After almost being destroyed, the remaining citizens of Neverwinter face another danger from the dead who are rising and attacking the city.
The game offers players to build their own locations, although those based on the novels are also available. When in game, you will be notified if you’re using the official or user-generated content. Neverwinter was well received among fans and reviewers, earning the game a 74/100 score on the Metacritic website.
In 2013, Perfect World Entertainment released the game for Microsoft Windows, while the PlayStation 4 players had to wait until 2016.
Get ready for interactive fights
Before you start playing an MMORPG, take a look at your schedule and see where you can fit it in. If you commit to these games without a plan, you may spend most of your time playing a game and forgetting about everything else. While that sounds great, it is also the reason these amazing games are under a bad rep.
Also, these are interactive games that connect you with other players all over the world. You may be fighting against each other for resources, but leave that for the game and don’t transfer the hostility into the real world. There are certain rules on how to behave in MMORPGs, and if you don’t respect that, they may ban you for life. Other than that, may the best player win the most of… well… whatever you are fighting for.