10 Free to Play MMORPGs you NEED to Play Before 2021 Ends!
Finding the right MMO is difficult. A lot of them are pay to win, poorly optimized, repetitious messes. Yet day after day, month after month, we’re left with this insatiable thirst for something new to play.
We’re bored with the MMOs we have. And while there have been quite a substantial number of MMOs released this year, with more to come, very few of them have been free.
Locating a free MMO worth actually dedicating time and effort to is like finding the pot of unicorns at the end of the haystack. Yup, it’s really that confusing.
So these MMOs are MMOs that I’ve invested a lot of time into. They’re games that, while they definitely have their issues – I mean they’re free MMOs after all, are some of the games I feel I could dedicate large quantities of time to.
They’re no Final Fantasy XIV or Elder Scrolls Online, but… they’re solid games in their own right.
PSO2 NEW GENESIS
Let’s start this off with one of 2021’s biggest MMO releases first: PSO2 NEW GENESIS.
New Genesis is an open-world Anime MMO that features some sick action combat, deep character customizations, a decent narrative and.. that’s kinda it right now.
I know, I’m not really selling you all on the game. Trust me, I want to, but New Genesis – while it is an absolutely fantastic game in its own right, has a very, very large problem: Its lack of content.
It released in a content-light form and over the few months it’s been online they haven’t introduced much to retain player interest.
Yes, it looks gorgeous, it plays incredibly, and it’s a very fun game to play. And when it has more content, I’m sure it’ll make its way right to the top of the free MMO list. But until then..
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve come back to this game. Seriously, I lost count after I hit double digits.
TERA is an open-world MMORPG that features what is arguably some of the best action combat in the free MMO genre. It has some decent customization options, a lot of costumes for.. fashionistas out there, a narrative that you forget exists after hitting level 10 and… well, a small yet dedicated community of players.
This is a pretty traditional MMO. It’s also been around for over a decade now, and where most MMOs shut down these days a mere year or two after launching, TERA manages to live on… introducing new content regularly on both consoles and PC.
This is one of the few cross-platform MMOs available, making it somewhat of a rarity these days. Well, a cross-platform MMO between PC and console. Cross-platform PC-mobile games are plenty prevalent.
Mrs Stix and I actually met because of TERA, so regardless of how good or bad the game might be to some people, it will forever hold a special place in our hearts for bringing us together.
ALBION ONLINE is actually one of the more recent releases, launching back in 2017. After a difficult first year, and a slightly better second year, ALBION really hit its stride and has since become one of the 10 most populated MMORPGs currently online.
ALBION ONLINE is a sandbox MMO. This is very different to the types of MMOs we’ve featured thus far, and will feature throughout the video given that as a sandbox title, not only is it mostly freeing in how you go about playing, but also in what you end up doing.
Crafting, raiding with your guild. PvPing in the open-world PvP zones. There’s so much to do in this game, and even more to see. And the fact that you’re given an extensive amount of freedom to tackle it at your own pace provides an experience you rarely see in this day and age.
It has much slower combat than what I’m typically used to and also has a much more basic graphical style, a limited amount of customization options in terms of the aesthetic of your character, but this game doesn’t exist to “look good.”
It exists purely as a means to live a life however you want with hundreds of thousands of other players. And do RPG things.
BLADE & SOUL
BLADE & SOUL, TERA and Black Desert Online. These are “the big 3” in terms of action combat, with BLADE & SOUL featuring a much less fantasy, and much more martial arts-inspired theme than the other 2 titles.
BLADE & SOUL features a large, segregated world. Meaning that the world is split by small loading screens, much like you’d find in a game like Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 or the Elder Scrolls Online.
While this game has some intense action combat with even more difficult combos that are admittedly very ping-dependent, it has one of the best character creators out there, a large number of costumes to obtain both in-game and via the cash shop.
It has a narrative that pushes you through the entire game – and unlike Albion and TERA, the narrative is actually pretty compelling. It’s one of the reasons I continued to enjoy the game. Well.. up until a certain point.
I recently did a video on VINDICTUS where I dedicated 2 weeks of my time playing through the game. And if Nexon optimized the game better, I’d probably argue that this is the best hub-MMO out there.
And when I say “hub-MMO,” I mean that it’s an instance-based game. There can be hundreds of players on-screen at a given time, but the only time you see them is around a town “hub.” Yes, you can group up with them and participate in content together, but typically that’s limited to groups of 4 to 5.
While this is an instanced hub-MMO, there are so many varied environments to explore, so many levels to climb through – and thankfully, they’re both aided by quite the deep narrative and a very intuitive, easy action combat system that allows you to directly interact with environmental objects and even monsters themselves.
There isn’t really a whole lot to do in terms of content if you’re not interested in running dungeons, but if that seems like your scene… I can’t think of many better titles out there as an alternative.
RUNESCAPE, much like Albion Online, is a sandbox MMO. I mean, heck, you might even notice certain similarities between the two games, and that’s because Albion took some inspiration from RUNESCAPE.
This is a large game that has been running for decades now and has more content than what is likely to be found within any other free MMO out there.
Sure, you might be looking at the game wondering why anyone would play a game that looks like this, and trust me, I’d understand that sentiment. Honestly, the game really doesn’t look like anything special visually, but pretty games aren’t necessarily good games. Look at most of the games released in the last few years as evidence of that.
Likewise, the game utilizes a much slower type of combat. But neither inhibits the success of the game because RUNESCAPE provides players with so much freedom to play the game how you want, at your own pace. Again, much like Albion Online.
There’s a reason this game has lasted as long as it has, with players either loving or hating it.
SOULWORKER is another hub-MMO. And much like Vindictus, the game utilizes a complete segregated world. This is an Anime MMO that I’ve dedicated more time in than any other hub-MMO out there, and is probably one of my most played MMOs of all time.
This is a gorgeous game. Character models are some of the best you’ll come across in the Anime genre, and there are plenty of customization options in-game in terms of outfits and hairstyles. Granted the creator itself is highly limiting, leaving the characters’ faces and bodies looking relatively generic.
SOULWORKER features some of the best action combat in an Anime MMO, maybe with the single exception being PSO2 New Genesis. Again, the world is segregated, meaning there are several unique “town hubs” to come across, but no world to actively explore.
The developers for the game recently acquired rights to publish it globally, opening the game up to a much larger audience, and the game continues to average tens of thousands of active players per day.
PSO2 is “the other hub-MMO.” As in, there exist 2 largely populated games within this sub-category of the MMO genre, and this is one of those 2. However, where games like Vindictus and SoulWorker provide various different town-hubs to explore, PSO2 doesn’t.
PSO2 has you occupy a “ship,” where you take and complete quests, upgrade your gear, skills. Your character overall. You move out into segregated instances as well, but unlike the 2 aforementioned titles, PSO2 allows for much larger group content.
It also has what fans of the game believe is “the best combat of any MMO,” and while it’s definitely got a very high quality combat system for an MMO, I don’t think it’s accurate to make that claim.
The game looks fantastic, and recently had a massive overhaul with the launch of New Genesis. It also has the greatest character creator in an Anime MMO, and one of the best in the entire MMO genre.
And unlike New Genesis, PSO2 has a lot of content to consume.
GUILD WARS 2
What free MMO list would be complete without GUILD WARS 2? GUILD WARS 2 is the second most populated Free to play MMORPG currently out there – with the first being Albion Online.
And although NCSoft have significantly inhibited ArenaNet’s ability to provide us with the experience we desperately need, GUILD WARS 2 remains one of, if not the highest quality free MMO.
It’s massive. Yes, it utilizes segregated zones much like Final Fantasy XIV or Blade & Soul, but its areas are so much larger than almost any other game I’ve come across and every zone is filled with hundreds of players actively moving through and participating in content alongside you.
Its character creator isn’t too extensive, but there are plenty of options both in terms of customizing your character, and altering them via costumes in-game. So much so that endgame is often referred to as “Fashion Wars.”
There’s a lot of very deep customization in terms of builds as well, with the game allowing for you to equip 2 different weapons at once, and combine weapons into something truly unique to your individual playstyle.
The combat is a unique hybrid of action and tab-target, and is honestly one of the more fun systems out there. And the community…. man. Wholesome and helpful is underselling it. And with the End of Dragons expansion right around the corner? Hell yeah.
LOST ARK is the last game on this list. And it’s the only MMO of its kind, interestingly enough.
Not only is it a top-down isometric MMO, so its graphical style is reminiscent of something like Path of Exile or Diablo, but it utilizes one of the faster, more fluid combat systems out there.
It has a very extensive character creator, allowing for players to create some truly remarkable looking characters, but combat and customization is something Korea does exceptionally well so this is no surprise.
The game utilizes a segregated world, and the zones are all fairly unique. Some of them are legitimately stunning to look at.
The only issue is that while Amazon Game Studios have licensed the game for an international release, it has recently been delayed into 2022, meaning to play it, you’re required to jump through a few hoops and play with a fan-translation. Which I have a guide for.. you know, if you guys are interested.
And that’s it. They’re 10 free MMOs I think you guys should definitely look into playing if you’re finding yourself without something to play. Or just waiting for New World, Elyon, Lost Ark or Blue Protocol.