Posted in Allods Online, Anarchy Online, Chronicles of Spellborn, Dungeon Runners, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Kingdom of Loathing, Maple Story, Runes of Magic, Runescape, Warhammer Online, Wizard 101

One Year of Free-To-Play Fun

In an exercise designed to satiate a whiff of whimsy, I wanted to plot out an entire year of MMORPG gaming, where each month a player would hypothetically play a different title for free, paying $0 for their year’s experience.   What would I recommend starting with December?  Hang on to my every word, faithful readers, and let’s see:

December 2009 – For the Yuletide season, I’m going to recommend an old favorite of mine, Dungeon Runners, a sort-of snarky Diablo clone that enjoyed exaggerating and mocking RPG conventions while feeding your desire for mayhem and loot frenzy.  Since the title is being shut down on January 1, 2010 (with a nuclear explosion, as a matter of fact), this is the absolute last month to play it, and perhaps the best — they’re really jacking up the loot drops and XP rewards for DR’s final weeks.

January 2010 – Why not use the first month of the new decade to reconnect with a MMO of yore?  Anarchy Online has been running free-to-play for a couple years now (although with certain limitations if you don’t subscribe).  It may not have the glitz and glamour of more modern MMOs, but it’s one of the only “old school” titles that let people tromp around for nothing!

February 2010 – Assuming that Chronicles of Spellborn is still in “redevelopment”, or whatever that means, you can play this recent title for absolutely nothing — and that includes the full game!  Of course, there’s the very real chance that some day they might pull the plug or wipe the servers, but it’s a small price to pay for free fun.

March 2010 – Get your Harry Potter on by signing up for Wizard101, the acclaimed title that mixes together turn-based combat and bright wizardy venues.  They have an unlimited free trial that certainly gives you a nice big chunk of the early game, which took my wife and I a few weeks to run through earlier this year.

April 2010Warhammer Online’s “endless trial” is next up for your gaming pleasure — the full Tier 1 experience, with 24 classes, PvE and PvP is yours for the taking.  If you’re willing to roll up a few alts, then this will more than meet a full month’s worth of fun.

May 2010 – Ever since switching to its hybrid free-to-play/microtransactions/subscription model, Dungeons & Dragons Online has earned the title of the best free MMO you can get your grubby mitts on.  It comes highly recommended from myself, and the free content is quite expansive, certainly more than a month’s worth.

June 2010 – Cute little Asian MMOs that are funded entirely through microtransactions might not be your thing (and they certainly aren’t mine), but Maple Story is one of the best and most beloved if it is.  So enlarge your eyes to 500% of their normal size, color your hair bright blue, and embrace 2D zaniness.

July 2010 – An Adventurer Is You!  Or so proclaims the folks over at the long-running Kingdom of Loathing, one of the wittiest browser-based MMOs in the world.  There’s no catch on the cost (players who want to support the game can purchase special items in the shop), and the wordy game has enraptured many a soul — including mine.

August 2010 – We’ll assume that by next August, Allods Online will have left beta and gone into full launch, in which case you might already have heard the siren’s call to play it.  It’s been getting excellent press so far, and for a free to play title, why not give it a whirl in the dog days of summer?

September 2010 – Many a MMORPG player has cut their teeth on Runescape, the free to play browser MMO that showed how far the limits of Java could go.  It might not be the most polished or good-looking title, but it’s had a number of overhauls and revamps, and hey — it’s light on the wallet.

October 2010 – Speaking of runes, Runes of Magic bowled a lot of people over in 2009 as both a decent WoW clone and an excellent free to play title.  They’ve already released their first expansion (also free), and you could certainly do a lot worse than give this a try, particularly if you are a current or former WoWhead.

November 2010Sword of the New World is one of those odd little MMO cult hits that you know, intellectually, are better than the rest of the pack, but may have yet to ever give it a whirl.  So why not, in this last month of our hypothetical experiment, do just that?

14 thoughts on “One Year of Free-To-Play Fun

  1. Wow, what a fantastic post! I love this idea, a whole year of playing nothing but F2P games – and not being sucked in. Great for those people who don’t mind bouncing around games a bit and want something different to try.

  2. I don’t remember where I discovered Kingdom of Loathing in June. Either on your blog, or on tvtrope.

    Either way, I am having a blast in the game, and have sent them 10$. I just keep finding something new to make me laugh, and ther’s always something else to discover.

    WAR is on my list since the infinite trial.

    Did not have much fun with Maple Story.

    Anarchy online still around? Damn, one more for the list…

  3. It’s fascinating that all the emphasis on microtransactions while alarming many in the blogosphere about how much we players may end up paying does also mean there’s a lot of free or cheap gaming available.

  4. And since you threw in browser/flash games into the mix, I’ll also add the following:

    Dofus – isometric turn-based Flash MMO. Has an unlimited free trial, but with restrictions on where you can go.

    Skyrates – Flash browser game in the spirit of TaleSpin 🙂 Pick an anthropomorphic character, buy a plane, and run trade routes between various sky islands in a persistent world while chatting with other players. Works like EVE in the sense that you can queue up actions (in this case, flight paths and purchases) that the game then carries out while you’re offline.

  5. Puzzle Pirates is great for a casual schedule, and can fit in any gaps you may find in your schedule. 🙂 It’s a different animal from “mainstream” DIKU MMOs, but if you have any interest at all in persistent worlds where you progress primarily via personal skill with puzzle games and/or piratey goodness, it’s something well worth investigating.

  6. Oh man, I totally forgot about Puzzle Pirates. Good times.

    Might as well give Three Rings Design some more props by mentioning “Bang! Howdy”. Quick turn-based tactical cowboy action.

  7. Very true. Bang! Howdy is good gaming fun. It requires significantly more horsepower than PP, though, which is why I tend to forget it. I’ve only been able to get it to run on a machine I’ve not had for almost three years now.

  8. Dungeon Runners was great. Sad to see it shut down. I’ve seen a few upset people about new account creation, seems they are not allowing anymore to be created.

    Great list!

  9. Ha, great ideas. I’ve been doing something similar ever since my full-time jobby went down the crapper. Was messing around with Runes of Magic and Perfect World for a while, then hopped on the DDO train for a bit. Just wrapped up the Fallen Earth 15-day trial and loved that experience. Now, perhaps snag the free 10 days of WoW, or hit up WAR again. I believe the WAR trial works even if you had the full version installed. I really wish Champions had done something better than a weekend trial though…didn’t have time to bother installing only to play for a day or so.

  10. Nice list. You gave me some ideas for games to tryout.

    The odd free multiplayer game that I am playing right now is a snowboarding game named “Project Powder”. Not sure how they can call it an MMO though… since the only time you see anyone else is right before a race. A more appropriate term would be a multiplayer racing game with an online matching service and persistent stats and gear. MMORPG has a review on it if you are interested in reading more.

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