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.
We've reached the halfway point in our rankings, and we're on the cusp of the top 20. This is where you'll find games that are more than just niche titles that appeal to a few hardcore fans. We've got the biggest MMO in the world on the list, a few decade-old games, and some newer titles that have impressed.
30. EverQuest 2
Launching the same month as World of Warcraft all but secured EQ2's fate. Still, it's aged better than its world-famous predecessor, and sees new content as much as any 11-year-old MMO can expect. It's adapted well to the changing times and shows little sign of slowing down as it enters its second decade.
It's easy to forget how huge RuneScape is; over 200 million players have tried the game, more than World of Warcraft and League of Legends combined. Jagex continues to innovate, implementing a hardcore-rules “DarkScape” server and creating a card game based on the MMO.
One of the most modern MMOs on our list, Skyforge brings all the pretty and has a combat system that blends traditional tab-targeting with action controls. The repetitive nature of the game and subpar voice acting, however, have prevented it from being the true breakout hit many were looking for.
When it was first announced – a few weeks after the preview of EverQuest Next and Landmark – it didn't seem like Trove could stand up to SOE's shinier concepts. But it came to market quickly and sports a bunch of innovative gameplay that's converted skeptics into happy players.
Like RuneScape, MapleStory is a game that was free-to-play before free-to-play was a big deal, and it's huge on a worldwide scale but hasn't drawn nearly as much attention in North America. A 3-D sequel is in the works, and it'll be interesting to see if it can even approach the overall success of the original.
At the midway point we have, appropriately, Defiance. It's never quite gotten the press – good or bad – that other Trion games have, but it still does a good job as an open-world MMO with a quality story and free-to-play implementation. It might not be spectacular, but it's a solid game.
Perfect World Entertainment's take on the Dungeons & Dragons world is more traditional, MMO-wise, than Turbine's attempt, and that's helped it to draw in a large pool of semi-casual players. The Foundry lets amateur dungeon masters create their own content, keeping things fresh during down times between official releases.
Nosgoth is sort of the herald of all the “battle arena” games coming out soon, like Overwatch, Gigantic, LawBreakers, Paladins, and so on. Don't let the grim visuals put you off; it's got that same kind of competitive gameplay, and, unlike those other games, it's available right now.
22. World of Warplanes
Wargaming's second entry into the combat arena hasn't fared quite as well as its first, due in part to another plane-fighting game that you'll see later. Still, it has that polish and shine you expect from the company, making it highly accessible.
21. DC Universe Online
After a hasty F2P transition on PC, DCUO found a huge audience as one of the few free-to-play MMOs available on the PS3 and PS4. SOE/Daybreak is constantly adding new content and refining the mechanics, and the roster of familiar characters doesn't hurt either.
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