Another year is coming to a close. 2010 has been a great year for free to play gaming. We’ve seen the launch of dozens of high quality titles, and the conversion of previously pay to play MMORPGs to the free to play model. There are far too many to name here, but lets take a look at some of my favorites. This list will only include games that were released or were converted to F2P this year.
10. Company of Heroes Online
Developer: Relic Entertainment
Like several other games that made this list, Company of Heroes Online didn’t technically come out in 2010. Its a slightly upgraded version of the WW2 themed real time strategy (RTS) game that originally released in 2006. The game earned great ratings here, but when THQ wanted to release the game in Asia they had to contend with the fact that practically every video game over there uses to f2p model. With the help of Shanda, an MMO version was tailored for the Asian audience. That MMO version received further updates and is now publicly available here in the USA. Like the Warhammer 40k RTS, Company of Heroes Online focuses more on getting straight to the action, and less on resource/building management. There’s still a pretty steep learning curve involved, especially when playing against other players. Luckily, the original single-player campaign missions are included which gives beginners a chance to train against the AI before facing off against veterans.
9. Pirates of the Burning Sea
Developer: Flying Lab Software
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Free to play games tend to be simple. They usually a very linear progression path, both in terms of geography and character development. For its depth alone, Pirates of the Burning Sea is a welcome addition to the F2P market. It started life as a subscription game, but made the switch on November 22, 2010. Set in the 18th century Caribbean, Pirates of the Burning Sea includes hand-to-hand swashbuckling combat and naval battles. But its most original feature is the deep, player-driven economy. The only game I’ve played that rivals PotBS in terms of economic depth is EVE Online. Anyone looking for an immersive MMORPG that they can invest months into should check out Pirates of the Burning Sea.
8. Genesis A.D
Developer: Queen’s Soft
IJJI publishes a lot of shooters, and Genesis A.D is their latest. Unlike their previous games, this isn’t a modern era tactical shooter. Genesis A.D has a sci-fi theme and a variety of original features like the ability to boost around on jet packs, and perform wall jumps. The guns are also futuristic which is a breath of fresh air. The interface and controls are very similar to those in Alliance of Valiant Arms. That makes this MMOFPS both easily accessible and original. That’s difficult to pull off in the crowded FPS genre.
7. Battle of the Immortals
Developer: Perfect World Entertainment
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Perfect World released several games this year, and it has several in the pipeline that are currently in closed beta. Many of PWE’s games have been faulted for being too similar to one another, but that’s not the case with Battle of the Immortals. BOI plays like one of those old school action-RPGs with an isometric camera view. Its point-and-click, but combat is fast paced. Battle of the Immortals has a pretty linear progression path, and auto-navigation makes finding quests & monsters very easy. That makes the game casual-friendly, and very accessible. Some key features include instanced dungeons, an in-depth pet system, and a unique equipment system.
6. Iris Online
Eyasoft is a prolific Korean MMORPG developer, and many of their games have hit US shores in 2010. The best of the bunch in my humble opinion is Iris Online. It’s a 3D fantasy MMORPG with anime inspired graphics, but with a slight twist. It has a Gypsy theme! Plenty of free MMORPGs have added monster transformation features, but Iris Online incorporates them in a more innovative way — through Tarot Cards! The game world will feel familiar to gaming veterans, but the Tarot card themed dungeons and other small touches help it feel a bit distinct. The game has three playable races, each with two base classes to chose from. The varied class and skill specialization features help make Iris Online a solid MMORPG that’s well worth checking out.
5. Allods Online
Developer: Astrum Nival
The graphic style and user interface in Allods Online is undoubtedly inspired by WoW, but the addition of steampunk elements, an original game world, and the overall high production value help it stand out from the typical f2p grindfest. Allods is developed by a Russian studio, and perhaps that explains the some of its uniqueness. The game has slower, but more steady pacing than most Asian developed games. Allods has two warring factions, but the action isn’t limited to terrestrial combat. Players can take to the air and fight it out on air ships. When the game was first launched in North America, it caused a scene with its cash shop. Most of those problems have been ironed out by successive patches, so anyone whose held off on the game should use their holiday downtime to give it a spin.
4. EverQuest 2: Extended
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
in 2010 SOE has followed Turbine’s move into the free to play market. First with animated games like Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures, but most importantly, with a total f2p conversion of their EverQuest 2 title. EverQuest 2: Extended exists in parallel to the subscription based service which is still up and running. This arrangement means current subscribers are kept happy while a whole mass of new gamers are allowed to experience the world of Norrath with no up-front costs. EQ2 has years of development behind it, and is truly ‘massive.’ There’s a huge world to explore, plenty of races and classes to chose from, and deep character customization options to tinker with. Expect many other MMORPGs in SOE’s portfolio to make the F2P switch in 2011.
3. Need for Speed World
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Many of the games on this list are MMORPGs, but Need for Speed World didn’t make the list simply for diversity’s sake. It offers top-notch graphics comparable with what you’d find in retail games today. Its also easily accessible and is part of EA’s larger push into the free to play market. As a well known racing franchise, Need for Speed World has broad appeal, and gameplay that gamers of all ages are familiar with. It doesn’t have as many RPG elements as a game like Drift City, but it still has a large persistent-world city to explore combined with instanced races. Customize cars, race on urban tracks, and experience the future of PC gaming.
2. The Lord of the Rings Online
With the success of Dungeons and Dragons Online F2P conversion, we here at MMOHut suspected that it was only a matter of time before many other subscription based games made the switch. Still, LOTRO was in much better shape than the distressed DDO. Turbine decided to make the switch purely to boost revenue, it wasn’t an act of desperation. Their second bet on F2P paid off and now The Lord of the Rings Online is more popular than ever. But LOTRO isn’t just notable for its p2p-f2p conversion, it also has the advantage of being tied to a very popular franchise. There’s a lot of lore to draw from, and Turbine has a done a great job making LOTRO more immersive and story-driven than most other MMORPGs.
Vindictus was originally known as Mabinogi Heroes since it was set in the same Celtic themed world as Mabinogi. But the name change made sense since the two games are vastly different. Vindictus is powered by the Source engine and has high end graphics, realistic physics, and fast paced action oriented gameplay. The game has persistent world towns, but players head off into instanced adventures via longboat. Vindictus stands out both for its quality, and originality. Its a fun game and well worth checking out, especially for gamers looking for something different.
Credit goes to Free Online MMORPG and MMO Games List - MMO Hut