From wizards to ninjas, starships to battleships, there’s a free-to-play game for just about everyone out there. Some are better than others, though, whether it’s due to gameplay, the cash shop, or just that special “something” you can’t quite quantify.
But quantify we will do over the next few weeks, as the staff of MMOBomb takes a crack at ranking the top 50 free-to-play games in existence as of the end of 2015!
To qualify for the list, a game had to be “effectively launched” in North America. That did count games in beta, as long as they were fully free and didn’t require any selection process (like a typical closed beta) to get in. That’s why you’ll see Brawlhalla on the list, which is in open beta and anyone can play right now, but not H1Z1, which requires payment at this time, or Total War: Arena, which requires a beta key to play.
The four of us – Mike, Jason, Zach, and Quintlyn – rated our top 50 choices to create this list, which we’ll reveal to you, 10 games at a time, every Monday for five weeks. Our selections were averaged out and tweaked slightly if one person was way far off from everyone else’s choices to develop the final rankings.
This week’s theme seems to be “MMOs that stumbled out of the gates.” Some have recovered better than others, but early missteps have kept them in these lower ranks. Do you agree? And have they redeemed themselves enough to be worth even this high a ranking?
40. Lineage II
It’s easy to sleep on Lineage II, which seems “too Korean” for a North American audience. It’s not as big here as it (and the first Lineage) are in the East, but regular expansions and addictive gameplay keep it a favored choice for many players.
Hawken’s looked amazing from the moment we laid eyes on its first preview videos. The post-apocalyptic landscape is perfect for ‘mech-battling action, and the visual treats are a perfect complement to the smooth and responsive gameplay.
38. Age of Wushu/Wulin
A sandbox MMO set in ancient China is about as niche as it gets. AoW won’t ever be a huge hit, but for those devoted enough to unearth its treasures, it’s a great game.
37. Age of Conan
(Two “Age of” games in a row? We promise, this wasn’t intentional!) Age of Conan stormed the gates of MMO-land back in 2008, but the experience after the first few levels was widely panned. The game’s recovered a bit since then, with lots of new content and a revamped late-game experience, but those early stumbles cost them dearly.
Oh, how the mighty have… not done too poorly, all things considered. There’s little point dwelling on what EverQuest used to be; for now, Daybreak keeps innovating with the current form of the game, with progression and “old school” servers to keep its fans interested in its 16-year-old game.
35. Perfect World International
It’s a game so nice, they named the company after it! Or was it the other way around? In any case, Perfect World Entertainment’s flagship title. With features like aerial combat and territory wars, there’s plenty to enjoy.
34. Dungeons & Dragons Online
DDO was the first major Western MMO to convert from a subscription to free-to-play, heralding a new age of gaming (and making this website possible). Its adherence to the Dungeons & Dragons rules set makes it a little tough to get into, but once you do, it’s an experience like no other.
If Age of Conan had a rocky start, ArcheAge’s start was like the Himalayas. There’s still a good sandbox game to be found here, but you need a subscription to unlock it, and early bad feelings still linger.
32. Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online never quite found the mass-market audience its creators were hoping for. But after nearly six years, it’s been tuned to create a more “Trekkie” experience, so if you tried it during its early days and were disappointed, it’s worth a second look now.
31. Ragnarok Online
Lots of gamers still have good memories of Ragnarok Online, with current games like Tree of Savior evoking that same kind of feeling. With extensive character customization and an emphasis on social interaction, it’s a fondly remembered title for many.