What is the best free MMO? Making such a decision is no mean feat. Free-to-play games are increasingly common, meaning the F2P crowd now have a lot more options than they used to. From online war zones to behemoth free MMORPGs, there is something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of what is in their wallet. So to help you out we have put together this list of free online games.
While you're here, how about stopping by the PCGamesN homepage with for the latest news, reviews and more?
We have also included some MMOs with lengthy free trials – games where there is plenty to enjoy without spending a penny.
The best free MMOs are:
Finally, an MMO for sailing aficionados! No, not the sweater-tied-around-neck, regatta and finger sandwich type of sailing. Instead, ArcheAge’s world is full of rum-drinking, Kraken-fearing pirates who traverse the enormous oceanic map completing sidequests and hoarding loot.
Unlike most MMOs, there’s actually stuff to do at sea. And in the air, too - the most recent update introduced dragon mounts, reared by players to become fearsome sky-conquering beasts. If that sounds a little intimidating, you can always try one of ArcheAge’s progression servers - starting with a fresh, launch version of the game and exploring the newer features as they are gradually introduced.
If you have played a whole bunch of MMOs you may be tired of the traditional combat systems that so many of them use. Bucking the trend is TERA, which trades in click-to-attack mechanics for fast and fluid third-person action combat. It is so action focused, in fact, that you can even use a controller. Think Devil May Cry as an MMO and you are halfway there.
That rapid combat does not mean there is no RPG depth, though. Everything you would expect from a massive MMO is right here, from expansive open worlds to intricate skill trees. The Korean heritage shines, too, with detailed character designs and all sorts of monster varieties to get your blades stuck into.
Planes, tanks, and ships battling it out for ever and ever and ever. That is the ultimate goal of War Thunder. It is a F2P title that specialises in vehicular warfare, with three similar but largely separate games under its title: Ground Forces, Aviation, and Naval Battles.
War Thunder’s frankly ridiculous number of vehicles all manage to stay unique thanks to the game’s realistic damage model, which simulates almost every single aspect of ballistics, from shell type and speed to the thickness and angle of the armour it is hitting. Every single shot is calculated, meaning that real-life tactics like staying hull down or angling your armour to deflect shells are essential skills to master in War Thunder.
World of Tanks
There are over 400 tanks in World of Tanks, and if you revisit this page in the next hour that number will likely have grown. Essentially, if you are a fan of military hardware, you are a fan of World of Tanks. Unlike War Thunder however, World of Tanks does not ask you to pour hours of research into learning the armour ratings and layout of every vehicle in the game; instead, World of Tanks takes a more arcade approach.
That is not to say there is a lack of sophistication, but rather that the core of the game has always been its fast-paced, arcade action. Like Call of Duty, World of Tanks is easy to learn, but impossible to master. Clashes are won by fine margins and lightning-quick reflexes, while a compelling XP system and tech tree keep players coming back for more.
World of Warships
World of Warships switches out the twitch shooter elements of World of Tanks for a slowed-down and much more tactical style of play. Warships are leviathans: they crawl and creep across the map, and each one possesses enough power in a single barrage to wipe out anything else.
The change of pace makes for action that is more calculated and nerve-wracking. It can take up to 20 seconds for some shots to meet their targets, which means that every moment is spent trying to avoid incoming fire or anticipating where your foe will have moved to. World of Warships is also more cinematic than its on-tracks sibling thanks to the sheer scale its warfare is conducted on. Oh, and it has got some lovely sunsets too, if that is what you want from a free-to-play war game.
Guild Wars 2
With a storyline that reacts to the player’s actions, Guild Wars 2’s narrative is unique by MMORPG standards. Instead of traditional quests, players encounter dynamic events that pop up around the game world. Likewise, there are multiple paths to completion for each of these encounters, and intentional or not, your actions in Guild Wars 2 will have consequences.
For example, defending a town from a group of rampaging ogres might cause them to return with deadlier weapons or seek out refuge in a nearby cave – you will have to deal with the fallout of these events, whether that means repelling a stronger attack or hunting down and killing the remaining ogres. The result is a free MMO with the questing diversity of a triple-A RPG: what’s not to love?
As varied as it is satisfying, Crossout is a post-apocalyptic MMO action game from Targem Games that gives you the chance to scavenge and craft the materials to build more fearsome vehicles of battle beyond the imagination of any ten-year-old.
In what is essentially a free-to-play Mad Max: The Game, you customise a unique and wide range of vehicles with dozens of bespoke parts and use them to destroy your enemies in high-octane, action-packed skirmishes. You can play in both PvE and PvP modes, even fighting against player-created bosses.
You also have plenty of weapons at your disposal: rocket launchers and machine guns favour the most offensive and in-your-face players, whilst stealth generators and drones give you a greater choice in your approach. All your explosive efforts go toward your choice of five factions, too, earning you new blueprints, missions, parts and, storage space. Shooting and building things has never been so lucrative.
The name and setting of Neverwinter has a long and storied history online, beginning in 1991 with the first graphical MMORPG, before revolutionising the realm of player-made modules under the stewardship of BioWare with Neverwinter Nights. The rather more modern Neverwinter pulls from both – setting groups of D&D characters loose in the famous city, while allowing players to write their own stories. There are some inventive community adventures on offer if you’re willing to dig.
Not that you will have to reach for those if you do not want to – expansions have taken Neverwinter players to some of the most beloved corners of the Forgotten Realms, including the Underdark and Icewind Dale.
Star Trek Online
Character creation tools in MMOs let you shape everything from your avatar’s jawline and eyelash length to the exact density of their chest hair, but even they have got nothing on the options available in Star Trek Online. Tired of playing as a human? Great, here you can be a Gorn, Rigellian, Romulan, Klingon, or any other of the 30 race variations available.
Questing and progressing in Star Trek Online plays out like episodes from the TV series: one moment you are wandering through space, the next you are having to do deals with, or shoot lasers at, one of the many franchise belligerents. Be it in spaceship battles or on the ground where gameplay takes the form of a third-person shooter, Star Trek Online does a brilliant job of bringing the storylines and tone of the TV shows into an F2P MMO.
Free MMOs are rarely as pretty on the eye as buy-to-play, triple-A titles. Skyforge is the exception. Wander through the sci fi fantasy-themed planet of Aelion – admiring the beams of sunlight that poke through the foliage or the crisp fidelity of the lightning that is shooting from your character’s hands – and it is easy to forget you are playing a game that cost you exactly nothing.
But Skyforge is more than just a pretty face in an otherwise ungainly genre. Few games do as much to actively encourage experimentation across different classes as Skyforge does, allowing the player to switch between classes in an instant, opening up all of the game’s combat styles for experimentation and mastery.
Star Conflict dumps players in the role of an elite space pilot on a quest to track down and fight for alien treasures scattered throughout its expansive sandbox. Essentially, the game’s progression is all about acquiring a bigger and bigger collection of ships, from agile fighters to floating behemoths, before finally handing you control of your own fleet.
PvE quests and raids see you and your friends facing off against squadrons of aliens or space pirates, while PvP is a looming threat wherever you venture. An impressive tech tree and catalogue of ships means there’s always reason to keep playing, as you’re never far off a new weapon type or ship module.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Making an MMO out of the beloved Final Fantasy series was never going to be easy. As if to prove that point, Square Enix made a royal mess of the game and had to take another swing at it, eventually turning one of their worst games into one of the best free MMOs on PC.
Unlike other MMOs, Final Fantasy XIV doesn’t force players down the route of having to grind endlessly with multiple characters in order to see which combat class they want to play as. Instead you just need to make it to level ten and the ability to switch between the game’s eight combat classes is magically unlocked. It is also one of very few cross-play MMOs, which means you can inhabit the same world as PlayStation users. You lucky thing.
Blade & Soul
Blade & Soul is a Korean fantasy martial arts MMORPG. And, if that’s not enough to pique your interest, frankly, we don’t know what will. Perhaps the game’s intricately designed world - inspired by the visual style of artist Hyung Tae Kim - and four unique races and ten compelling classes will sway you.
Whether you choose to play as the mighty Gon, the versatile Jin, master of the natural world, Yun, the mystical Lyn, or any of the many other roles, doing battle using the fast, high-octane combat system is always a joy. Rapid counters and combo chains are essential, whether you team up with friends to tackle a wide range of dungeons or you want to do your virtual scrapping in PvP.
A free-to-play MMO with some extensive creative tools that let players make pretty much whatever they like, Trove is essentially the culmination of all good things: Minecraft’s versatile crafting, RPG-style questing, and a good measure of multiplayer madness.
Trove is not tied down to a specific theme or setting either, which is why you are able to play as practically any class you can dream up, from a dual-wielding gunslinger to a dino tamer. Similarly, most of Trove’s landscapes are procedurally generated, ensuring you never run of out of places to explore.
A first-person shooter game with cartoon visuals and champions: Paladins might have a lot in common with Blizzard’s Overwatch, but it is worth seeking out for more than the fact that it is free. Developed by Hi-Rez Studios, who made the massively popular MOBA Smite, Paladins is built upon a simple class system that categorises its champions by their main strategy on the battlefield.
Damage, Support, Flank and Front Line are the champion types players can choose from, which makes deciphering their strengths and weaknesses dead easy. Playing as a Flank champion like Skye will mean you are best suited to attacking key objectives from behind enemy lines, whereas a Front Line champion excels at holding the line and stopping enemies from getting through. Ultimate meters for each hero also mean that the action never results in a stalemate by ensuring every player has an ace up their sleeve that can potentially turn the tide of the match.
Combine these core elements with constant updates that bring additions such as the battle royale Battlegrounds mode, and you have a shooter that will keep you entertained for years.
What makes Smite different? Switching out the favoured top-down view of most MOBAs for a third-person, over the shoulder view that brings players closer to the action. It is a small tweak, but it is one that adds a lot to the flavour and pace. The result is that Smite feels more like an action game, but all the MOBA fundamentals are in place: roles, creeps, towers, and lanes.
Like Dota 2 and League of Legends, Smite’s main mode features two teams of five gods engaging in a gladiatorial-themed bout for dominance of the arena. Unlike those MOBA behemoths, Smite boasts a glut of other game mode variants like Joust, which reduces the number of lanes to just one, and Assault, which randomly allocates a god to every player. So if you are not chasing the eSports prize pools, there is enough gameplay variety to keep players coming back for more.
Head on over to page two for more free MMORPGs and other F2P games…