Fans of MMORPGs, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games, have likely explored their fair share of Azeroth as adventurers in World of Warcraft or at least heard of it at some point or another. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to keep up a subscription to enjoy a massively-immersive online gaming experience. However, does this necessarily mean that there’s no good free-to-play MMO out there?


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As it turns out, players might be able to find a multitude of free-to-play MMOs with a lot of compelling features to actively compete against the likes of World of Warcraft. However, players need to do a bit of digging and trial and error to find the perfect free-to-play MMO that meets their needs.

Updated by Rhenn Taguiam on April 5, 2024: With Final Fatnasy 14: Dawntrail revealing a fresh take on the Final Fantasy MMO with new areas and new Classes, newcomers to the MMO scene might feel like they have to subscribe to these games in order to get immersive experiences. However, beginners to MMOs who want to sink their teeth into free experiences wouldn’t need to go far considering the depth of older titles which managed to stay strong with a dedicated fanbase today. Among these MMOs include a classic sci-fi MMO that focus on space travel, a more brutal take on sword and sorcery thanks to being based on a hit fantasy franchise, an action-packed MMO with in-depth customization, and an old but beloved iteration of what may be the world’s most popular sandbox MMO.

22 Age of Conan Unchained

Metascore: 80%

Age of Conan Unchained

Release Date

May 20, 2008







For a game released in 2008, Age of Conan Unchained remains both nostalgic and refreshing to play due to its unique premise and combat mechanics. Taking place specifically after the events of Robert Howard’s The Hour of the Dragon, the Conan-set game brings players to the Hyborian kingdoms where swords rule and sorcery is feared. The real world-inspired locales filled with harsh deserts and brutal marshes were visually distinct from the likes of World of Warcraft, and the hardcore brutality cemented the more mature take on Unchained compared to most MMOs.

A key aspect of what makes Age of Conan Unchained quite alluring is its Real Combat system, a melee combat mechanic that facilitates not only damage to body parts but also directional combat. This demand for precision and skill-based gameplay was unprecedented at the time, and the option to stay away from tap-target MMOs that were popular back then allowed Unchained to set itself apart from other titles.

21 Eve Online

Metascore: 69%

Eve Online

Despite its transition into an F2P title, Eve Online remains one of the most massive community-built MMOs to date. Since its release in 2003, its expansive fanbase has expanded into player circles that dabble into mining, crafting, exploration, and outright combat. Set in the distant future, Eve Online lets players become the remnants of human civilization lost in a galaxy known only as New Eden, with no way of coming back to the Milky Way after a mysterious wormhole shut down. With settlements scattered and no viable way home, humans have “evolved” into distinct civilizations. After players create their characters, it’s no holds barred – they can explore and enjoy the galaxy to their heart’s content.

The transition of Eve Online into a free to play experience will finally allow players to see firsthand how the immersive space-faring experience managed to capture the hearts of its long-time fans. The MMO having a completely player-driven economy can encourage players to go wild with their preferences in the space exploration sim, be it as a regular miner who competes with both real players and bots for resources, pirates and mercenaries who want to relish in the game’s ship combat PVP, or regular explorers who want to explore the galaxy. Despite its aging interface, the complexity of Eve’s offerings encourages fans to really take their time learning the space sim’s mechanics and maximize its opportunities to make unforgettable experiences.

20 Black Desert Online

Metascore: 73%

Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online
March 3, 2016

Pearl Abyss

Set in a high fantasy world where the nations of Valencia and Calpheon are fighting for the mysterious stones in the vast Black Desert, the story of Black Desert Online is surprisingly quite engaging on top of its focus as an action-heavy title. Unlike other games, Black Desert Online’s combo focus requires manual aiming, allowing their characters to activate their skills in conjunction with combos as well as dashes, dodges, and jumps. Action game fans will easily revel in Black Desert Online’s speedy gameplay, although its sandbox aspect also features dynamic weather effects, mounted combat, and even immersive player housing.

Known for its fast-paced combat and heralding one of the most comprehensive character designers in the MMO scene, Black Desert Online remains appealing from both an aesthetic and an action standpoint. Players who want a breath of fresh air from tap-target combat and mindless rotations can enjoy the flexibility of BDO’s combo-based action sequences, especially since each of its classes offer different pacings, attack sequences, and playstyles for players to sink their teeth into. Visuals-wise, players can also enjoy creating their adventurers in their likeness or even as their dream characters, tailor-fitting how they look based on a player’s preferences.

19 Old School RuneScape

Metascore: 87%

Old School RuneScape

Old School RuneScape
January 4, 2001
Free-to-Play , RPG , Adventure

Despite its aging graphics and lack of immense MMO features, the sheer nostalgia factor of Old School RuneScape can be enough to drag players back into the game’s simplistic yet profound environments. Players of OSRS can see for themselves the game that heralded the sandbox MMO, especially as Old School RuneScape retains the series’ penchant for comedic quests, vast locales, and activities for players to accomplish in order to immerse themselves in the world of Gielinor.


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Staying true to the definition of a sandbox MMO, players of Old School RuneScape simply have the tutorial as their most “linear” experience. The rest of the world is their oyster. Those who want a change of pace from hyper-realistic graphics and intense gameplay can bask in the calmness of OSRS and its polygonal visuals, with its undemanding requirements making for quite the ideal MMO to pass the time. Players who want to become adventurers can simply tour the world, while those who prefer simulating real-world living could become chefs, fishermen, loggers, and even miners, to name a few. The game’s namesake Runes form the majority of the game’s magic system, where spells require combinations of Runes to work. Even then, players can opt to become archers and melee specialists instead – or even just settle to become roleplayers.

18 Enlisted

Metascore: N/A


April 8, 2021

Darkflow Software

Fans eager to experience a realistic MMOFPS will appreciate the accuracy of both weapons and gameplay in Enlisted, with its premise taking players straight to theaters of war in World War 2. Taking cues from hit FPS franchises such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, gameplay of Enlisted takes things a step further by providing a more accurate take on gameplay. This time around, players as soldiers who are realistically vulnerable to weapons fire, while their arsenal of weapons load, fire, and reload with the same controlled intensity as their real-life counterparts.

Unique to Enlisted is the game’s Squad feature, where players engage in combat as a soldier commanding fellow soldiers via squad commands. Players can freely switch between soldiers in their squad in combat while also having the means to train and equip them with the game’s 400+ weapons. Moreover, the game lets players access Specialists, or soldiers with one of the game’s 14 Specializations that can change the tide of battle.

17 War Thunder

Metascore: 76

War Thunder

War Thunder
November 1, 2012

Gaijin Entertainment

Despite its 2013 release, War Thunder has earned quite the accolades for its realistic take on vehicular simulation, specifically with its premise of letting players use a wide variety of vehicles for combat. In this simulation of combined arms battles, players can use not just powerful tanks and other grond vehicles but also warships and aircraft from eras such as pre-World War 1, World War 2, Vietnam War, and Cold War.

The game’s varied game modes such as more freeform arcade and hardcore simulator and realistic modes give players many options to approach wartime mayhem. Compared to large-scale multiplayer games that often feature players, War Thunder fans may appreciate a nice change of pace with multi-faceted matches across different playing fields.

16 Lost Ark

Metascore: 81

Lost Ark MMO

Lost Ark
December 4, 2019

Smilegate RPG

Perhaps serving as a love letter to both CRPGs and old school MMOs, Lost Ark boasts fast-paced gameplay within an isometric view that combines 90s MMO nostalgia with modern-day RPGs. Set in Arkesia, players take on the role of heroes utilizing the skills of various fantasy and technology-inspired Classes with gameplay that emphasizes rhythmic combo rotations, flashy theatrics, and deep tinkering with one’s toolkit.

Unlike other MMOs, Lost Ark emphasizes a deeper take on player customization, especially with regards to combat. On top of selecting a Class and a playstyle-defining Specialization, Lost Ark players can personalize their gameplay even further with a Tripod System that customizes skills with specific upgrades to transform endgame builds to play exactly how players like.

15 Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis

Steam Score: 7/10

PSO2 New Genesis

Release Date August 5, 2020
Platforms PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
Developer Sega
Genre Sci-Fi

In what appears to be Phantasy Star Online taking a leap in both graphical fidelity and gameplay prowess is Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis, an MMO taking place a thousand years after the events of the first game. Set in Halpha, players become the next generation of ARKS tasked to protect the land designated as humanity’s next home from the threat of DOLLS. The MMO takes into account the series’s core mechanic of flexible builds, with the game’s Class System letting players mix and match available weapons, skills, and spells with Main and Sub Classes.


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Key to the appeal of Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis gameplay is the inclusion of faster-paced fights that border action RPG mechanics instead of the stiffer controls in the base PSO2. Movement prowess, attack rhythm, and times dodges via new Photon Dash and Photon Glide mechanics become paramount in the pursuit of combat excellence in New Genesis, providing some of the most intensive combat mechanics in an MMO.

14 ArcheAge Unchained

Steam Rating: 6/10

ArcheAge Unchained character riding dragon

Release Date January 15, 2013
Platforms GeForce Now, PC
Developer XLGames
Genre Fantasy

It’s not all the time that a sandbox MMO would impress gamers with its sense of style and fantasy aesthetic, and ArcheAge remains such a title. Despite its 2013 launch, ArcheAge remains a strong contender for a free MMO that one could immerse themselves into, eventually growing into ArcheAge Unchained released in 2019. Set in the conflicting continents of Nuia and Harihara, players can become one of six unique races and up to 364 class combinations to form a character and a story to call their own.

Unique to Unchained is its ArchePass feature, allowing players to do tasks in order to earn in-game items. Not only that, but players have access to unique housing elements, as well as a ship system that enables them to facilitate water-based combat. Another feature is the Bloodstain feature, where hostile players that commit crimes (e.g., killing a co-faction member) can be reported and even await trial facing a jury of other players.

13 Blade & Soul

Metascore: 68

Blade and Soul Online

Release Date June 30, 2012
Platforms PC, iOS, Android
Developer Team Bloodlust, Netmarble Neo, NC Interactive
Genre Wuxia

When Black Desert Online popularized the heavily-detailed martial arts MMO genre, it’s Blade & Soul that aimed to reach its full potential. This time enhanced with anime-eseque graphics and a more fantastical approach to its aesthetic, Blade & Soul is a free MMO that is definitely worth looking into.

Aside from its fast-paced combat and deeply-immersive story, what’s perhaps compelling about Blade & Soul is its sheer sense of style and aesthetic. Aside from being able to fully customize almost all aspect of a character’s appearance, players can farm for various cosmetics in the game that could give FF14 a run for its money.

12 Albion Online

Metascore: 72

Albion Online

Albion Online
July 17, 2017

Sandbox Interactive

Some of the best MMO don’t necessarily have to possess the best graphics – sometimes, it just needs the right approach to gameplay. Such is the case with Albion Online, perhaps the next best thing to a sandbox MMO after RuneScape. Similar to the latter where players may literally never have to fight for survival, Albion Online also allows players to simply explore their surroundings as adventurers or embark on dangerous quests to make a name for themselves.

What’s perhaps interesting about Albion Online is its player-based crafting system, where all items in the game are created by players and can be traded to others. Not only that, but its territorial system actively encourages players to band together in an ever-evolving landscape.

11 Neverwinter Online

Metascore: 74

Neverwinter Online

Players who always wanted to experience the sheer thrill of Dungeons & Dragons combat may look no further than Neverwinter Online. Despite its 2013 release, Neverwinter Online remains an action-packed, real-time take on D&D 4th Edition, finally allowing players to dish out powerful moves against some of the franchise’s most iconic foes.


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Perhaps the most compelling feature of Neverwinter lies in its Foundry content system, allowing players to construct quests and stories for others to enjoy. This is on top of Neverwinter’s already compelling storyline taken from the Forgotten Realms setting of the hit TTRPG.

10 Dungeons And Dragons Online

Metascore: 74

Dungeons and Dragons Online - Best MMO of All Time

Release Date February 28, 2006
Platforms PC, OS X
Developer Turbine, Standing Stone Games
Genre Fantasy

Players who want an alternate take on Dungeons & Dragons outside Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights will appreciate Dungeons and Dragons Online. This MMO enables players not just to play D&D with friends, but have a complete 3D environment for them as well. Granted, the game hasn’t aged well since its 2006 release. Moreover, its usage of the D&D 4e mechanics made raids and skill challenges more dice-reliant. However, fantasy fans will love DDO‘s story-driven dungeons.

As with a D&D campaign, DDO takes place in its iteration of a setting, this time, in Eberron. Characters can play as signature D&D races such as Humans, Dragonborn, and Elves. They can also choose from one of 14 playable Classes, as well as a Multiclass to create a more unique character.

9 Adventure Quest Worlds 7/10

AQ Worlds - Best MMO of All Time

Release Date June 2, 2008
Platforms PC
Developer Artix Entertainment, LLC
Genre Fantasy

Despite its anime-style graphics and rather simplified 2D MMO format, AdventureQuest Worlds expanded what browser-based MMOs can do since its 2008 release. In AQW, players take on the role of the Hero as they join Good and Evil to fight the forces of Chaos. This MMO builds upon Artix Entertainment’s AdventureQuest brand.

Characters also have more freedom in their progression, as unique classes come in the form of armor, allowing players to switch classes (and their abilities) at almost any point in the game. Unlike more serious MMOs, AQW boasts a rather light-hearted take on the Hero’s journey. Players often take part in funny and entertaining questlines while participating in the main story.

8 Champions Online

Metascore: 72

Champions Online - Best MMO of All Time

Release Date September 1, 2009
Platforms PC
Developer Cryptic Studios
Genre Superhero

With Champions Online, players can live their superhero dreams. In this MMO, can explore a huge open world of various cities and towns with unique heroes, villains, and organizations. Players can partake in questlines that expand the world’s lore or even save random people they meet in the streets.

Interestingly, perhaps what makes Champions Online so appealing has to do with the sheer customization it offers to players. While players can only choose from around 24 powersets (called Frameworks), players will love the sheer amount of customization with costumes. Not only do players have multiple costume slots, but they can add and customize bits and pieces such as cowls and capes.

7 Secret World Legends

Metascore: 76

Secret World Online - Best MMO of All Time

Release Date July 3, 2012
Platforms PC
Developer Funcom
Genre Survival Horror

Players who want a more grounded MMORPG will appreciate the modern horror feel of Secret World Legends. This MMO brings players to a version of the real world where sinister monsters lie in dark corners, with various organizations having a stake in their impact in modern society.


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Moreover, despite the game’s tab-target setup, Legends has a unique take on its specialization system. Instead of traditional character classes, Legends has a weapon specialization system. In turn, players can forego the traditional sword, stave, and wand with revolvers, assault rifles, and SMGs. Players who want a mix between being Nero in Devil May Cry and becoming a member of the Illuminati will love Legends.

6 Star Trek Online

Metascore: 66

Star Trek Online - Best MMO of All Time

Star Trek Online
February 2, 2010

Sci-fi fans who want to boldly go where no man has gone before will enjoy Star Trek Online. Interestingly, the MMO also has an official storyline that takes place 30 years after the Star Trek: Nemesis film. In it, the Klingon Empire officially declare war with the United Federation of Planets. Meanwhile, the Dominion and the Romulan Star Empire has begun to regroup, and the Borg Collective has re-established itself as a major threat.

However, players will probably enjoy the fact that they play as a captain of their very own ship. Moreover, the game features both ship management and combat as well as player missions. In turn, players always have the opportunity to experience ship combat and actually going into planets – sometimes both! – in the MMO.

5 Lord Of The Rings Online

Metascore: 86

LOTR Online - Best MMO of All Time

Lord of the Rings Online
April 24, 2007

Standing Stone Games

Fans who want a more accurate iteration of Middle-earth will appreciate Lord of the Rings Online and its approach to both its visuals and overall themes. Essentially, players can partake in a unique storyline via Epic Quest Line that further expands Middle-earth affairs during Frodo’s journey. Meanwhile, players can expand their knowledge on Middle-earth with questlines specific to a particular region.

Gameplay-wise, character races hail from franchise classics such as Men, Hobbits, Elves, and Dwarves. Even classes have a Tolkien flavor to them, such as Minstrel, Lore-master, Hunter, Guardian, Champion, Captain, and Burglar. In turn, players who want a relatively familiar MMO experience with a Tolkien twist will love LOTRO.

4 Star Wars: The Old Republic

Metascore: 94

SWTOR - Best MMO of All Time

Release Date December 13, 2011
Platforms PC
Developer BioWare, Electronic Arts, Broadsword Online Games, Inc., Bioware Austin LLC
Genre Sci-Fi

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away lies the Old Republic, a time of representative democracy before Supreme Chancellor Palpatine established his Galactic Empire in the main Star Wars series. In Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), players take the role of a warrior in either the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire.

However, players of the game don’t just become Jedi and Sith, as they can play the MMO’s 1,600 hours’ worth of content as classes such as a smuggler, a bounty hunter, a Republic Trooper, or an Imperial Agent as well. It also has a morality system that allows Sith-aligned individuals to make “good” decisions and Jedi-aligned players to make “bad” decisions.


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Despite its rather dated graphics, SWTOR boasts an experience rich with Star Wars lore that further expands the non-canon Legends side of the hit franchise. Franchise fans will love the level of depth the MMO takes in terms of questlines and lore in general.

3 Guild Wars 2

Metascore: 90

Guild Wars 2 - Best MMO of All Time

While not totally “free” in the strictest sense, Guild Wars 2 does boast one of the most expansive free content for an MMO. In Guild Wars 2, players need to reunite the members of an adventuring guild called Destiny’s Edge in the world’s fight against the undead Elder Dragon Zhaitan. Despite its tab-target combat system, Guild Wars 2 boast a dynamic leveling system with deep lore that will hook fans for hours.

Unlike other freemium MMOs, Guild Wars 2 gives free players full access to most of its content. This means that players can level up to maximum and experience a majority of the game’s story free of charge. If they opt to pay, players gain access to expansion content, something they should do if they enjoyed the story available so far.


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