The 10 Best Free to Play MMORPGs in 2021!
Finding the perfect free-to-play MMORPG can be difficult. Some of them are heavily pay-to-win. Some of them are so dated it feels like you’re playing a relic. Other times there’s just nobody left in the MMO to play alongside and experience content with–or worse yet, there’s no new content in the works. The developers, the publishers have all but given up on the game and it’s left in maintenance mode. That’s where I come in. Today, we’re going to take a look at 10 of the best free-to-play MMORPGs in 2021. There are free MMOs that you can go right ahead and download and play.
Some are open-world, some are hub-based. Some are action combat, some are tab-target. We got quite the variety here – that should hopefully satiate the thirst you no doubt have and I believe that’s what’s key to a good selection of games: variety. If they’re all the same type of game, then you have no real options, right?
Now, I know some of you might disagree with one of more of these titles, but remember, this is purely subjective. So if you have your own games you’d like to point out, please go ahead and include them in a comment below!
I’d love to know why you think the game deserves to be in a list like this and would love to potentially include it in a list next time!
Guild Wars 2
Let’s start this off with Guild Wars 2. This is by far the #1 free-to-play MMORPG in my opinion and offers more than almost any other free title.
Guild Wars 2 provides players a large, expansive segregated world (connected via small loading screens,) housing hundreds of players per area and hundreds of thousands of active players each month.
It offers a unique hybrid combat system, bridging both the action and tab-target systems into something better than either alone.
There’s a deep story, that is arguably one of the most impressive narratives in the MMO genre.
Overall, this is an MMO that every fan needs to try. The expansion content (end-game) has a cost, but the expansions aren’t in any way necessary to enjoy the game.
Star Wars The Old Republic
Star Wars The Old Republic is a rare MMORPG. It’s one of the few scifi titles out there, and it’s set in the greater Star Wars universe. Yes, movies, TV series, novels. The Old Republic is integrated into the entire Star Wars universe, and that’s an experience you won’t get really anywhere else.
Admittedly the tab-target combat is a little dated, and graphically the character models definitely need some work, but otherwise this is an instance where an older game like this is mostly better than it’s prettier, more mechanically superior competitors.
Like Guild Wars 2, Star Wars The Old Republic has an incredibly detailed narrative – perhaps one of the deepest I’ve ever seen in an MMO outside of Final Fantasy XIV. There are hundreds of hours worth of story, and the story itself diverges depending on choices you make. You can make allies, enemies, and even romantic partners that other players won’t – all based entirely off of the choices you make.
Blade & Soul
Blade & Soul has had its ups and downs over the years. Yes, some players claim the game has some pay-to-win (specifically pertaining to a certain PvP bracket,) but otherwise you won’t find a free-to-play MMORPG as beautiful.
Not only does Blade & Soul have one of the most in-depth character creators in the MMO scene, but it provides some of the most engaging action combat to make use of your avatars animations. There are maybe a handful of other MMOs out there with as good combat as this, and perhaps 2 titles total with combat that is better.
Much like Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR, Blade & Soul makes use of segregated zones, disconnecting the world from itself via large zones with portals allowing travel between them. The story, while definitely a little.. Anime-esque, is definitely well thought out and a lot of fun to play through. If a little slow at times.
While Lost Ark admittedly hasn’t launched in North America or Europe yet, it is currently available in South Korea, Russia and Japan. Each version is accessible and requires a few hoops to jump through but ultimately you’ll find that it isn’t very difficult to get into and play while waiting for Amazon Game Studios to go ahead and release it Globally.
Lost Ark is the only top-down isometric MMO in this list. It’s a unique perspective to play a game from, I’ll admit, but the fact that Path of Exile and Diablo are so popular leads me to believe that many players still enjoy this camera type in games.
Like the aforementioned games, Lost Ark also utilizes segregated zones. However it also makes use of an incredibly fast action combat system that has you mashing your buttons faster than even Black Desert Online.
And don’t even get me started on the graphics. This game is stunning.
While I couldn’t understand the entirety of the story (as the translation at the time was a little buggy,) there’s plenty there and it isn’t half bad.
Soul Worker Online
Soul Worker Online has always and likely will always be one of my favorite Anime MMOs. Unlike the vast majority of MMOs, this title is one of the few that make use of a main quest-hub where you take quests and proceed to deploy either by yourself, or with a group, and tackle quests in instanced “dungeons.” Meaning that there’s no open world, there’s nothing really to explore. But not every MMO needs a large world to explore.
Thankfully what Soul Worker Online lacks in exploration, it more than makes up for in gameplay. This is one of the few action MMOs that actually blew me away with its combat system, providing me endless hours of fun running instances and grinding to obtain levels to progress.
This is one of the most Anime-esque MMOs you’ll find. There are few that look and feel as Anime-y as this does and if you’re interested in an Anime MMO, I really wouldn’t look any further than this.
Mabinogi is the only MMORPG of its kind. Not only does it offer an aesthetic look that is different to almost any other title out there – but the sheer freedom to tackle the game at your own pace, in your own way is an experience you won’t find elsewhere.
Combat is an interesting rock-paper-scissors type of tab-target combat, where players and enemies use skills that fall under specific categories, and are both stronger and weaker against certain other types of abilities.
Where Mabinogi really shines, though, is the world you inhabit. Yes, the game utilizes segregated zones (split zones via loading screen,) but you’re also capable of exploring the world almost without restriction. You’re able to get a job, craft, and life skill to your hearts content. And that isn’t even mentioning the Rebirth system that allows you to restart from level 1 with a more powerful character.
RuneScape / OSRS
Both RuneScape and Old School RuneScape, much like Mabinogi are very unique MMOs. RuneScape itself has been online for over 2 decades by this point, and is by far one of the oldest, most densely populated MMORPGs on the market. But at the same time that definitely leads to a very dated experience at times, both with regards to the graphics and the gameplay (not that that’s an issue for current players.)
Thankfully, RuneScape provides players a very freeing experience filled with exploration and adventure. Yes, it’s not as freeing as something like Mabinogi (I don’t think any game is,) but there are almost no linear aspects to the game – not even the story.
Both the graphics and the gameplay might be a little more to swallow than you might want, however, if you can get over those minor issues you’ll find yourself enjoying yourself more than you likely ever anticipated.
Secret World Legends
I know Secret World Legends may not be what The Secret World was back in its prime, but that doesn’t make it any less of a fun MMORPG to play – especially if you’ve never dabbled in it before.
This is an MMO that takes place in the modern-age, possessing absolutely no fantasy themes whatsoever – something that is unusual for the MMO genre. As it is set in the modern era, there are cars, normal outfits (jeans and a jacket,) and interestingly enough various types of knives and guns. This makes combat very different to what you’re used to, even though combat is a unique hybrid of both tab-target and action combat.
Like most free MMOs Secret World Legends utilizes segregated zones but the zones themselves are enormous and filled with things to do and explore. And with the story that occupies each zone, you’ll never be at a loss of things to do.
Phantasy Star Online 2
Phantasy Star Online 2 is one of the most popular MMORPGs right now. However, much like Soul Worker, PSO2 isn’t your traditional MMORPG. Instead, it’s a large-scale hub-MMO, where you predominantly take missions from a space center that deploys you to a variety of different worlds, requiring you participate in traditional quests: Fetch, elimination etc.
The action combat in PSO2 is also one of the better action combat styles out there. You’ll often hear players talking about how good it is, and while it definitely is a very fast, very fluid action combat system, it’s also worth noting that the class system is where this game really shines, along with the ability to equip more than a single weapon at any given time (3 total.)
Unfortunately the story is completely separate from the game which often leaves players feeling disconnected from what’s going on, but it’s possible to play through the entirety of it at once without having to concern yourself with the slow, arduous grind that typically happens during story lulls.
TERA, funny enough, is the MMORPG that really got all of this started for me. It was what allowed for me to meet Mrs Stix, my wife of (going on 4 years now!) and is the entire reason the channel took off and has achieved what it has.
This MMO also utilizes one of my favorite action combat systems as well, having a true action style that isn’t often replicated in other action MMOs.
Like most other MMOs in this list the world is segregated, having zones split from one another by small loading screens but the zones in specific are fairly large (albeit a little empty, unfortunately.)
TERA is a fairly traditional MMORPG. It’s about what you’d expect out of one – it just has one of the better combat systems out there raising it significantly above the majority of the competition. If only its story was as good as its gameplay is.