The Best 10 Free MMORPGs Coming Out In 2010
Goodbye 2009, hello 2010 (pronounced twenty-ten for those of you who haven’t heard.) The past year was a tremendous one for the free to play gaming scene. We saw the release of retail quality titles in almost every genre. From sports games (MLB Dugout Heroes) to shooters (Battlefield Heroes.) EA even released a free to play fantasy RTS called BattleForge. As for traditional f2p MMORPGs, 2009 was the year of WoW clones like Runes of Magic and Gates of Andaron but a few original titles including Dragonica Online and Grand Fantasia also saw release.
If 2009 proved one thing it was that ‘free’ is no longer a bad word. Both the quantity and quality of free online games have improved exponentially with even major Western studios realizing the market can’t be ignored. As more and more developers and publishers move into the f2p space in 2010, we gamers will be the largest beneficiaries.
Below are the top 10 free games I’m looking forward to in 2010:
10. Priston Tale 2
The original Priston Tale was released way back in 2001 and has garnered a massive following in Asia. The game has had a smaller impact in the West but with a growing market for free to play games, SubaGames is in the process of publishing the sequel in North America. Priston Tale 2 has already been released in Korea and is in beta testing in Europe. Expect a NA beta and eventually release sometime in 2010. If Asian users are anything to go by, Priston Tale 2 is sure to cause a splash. Concurrent users have been reported at over 40,000 in Korea.
Action-RPG fans may be discouraged to hear that Diablo 3 won’t be released this year. Fortunately, a new action RPG with similar visuals and gameplay style is currently in the world by a new f2p studio. TrueGames has already released Warrior Epic and is hard at work on their next title, Mytheon. The game will include a mix of instanced and persistent zones and be equally accessible by casual and hardcore players. Three classes will be available at release but more will likely be added in future updates.
Why so serious? Most MMORPGs take themselves too seriously which makes it all the more refreshing when a game like Kung Foo! is announced. It is being developed by PWI, the same Chinese studio behind a slew of Asian MMORPGs including Perfect World, Jade Dynasty, and Ether Saga Online. Kung Foo! promises to be different, the game parodies everything from Kung-Fu movies to game shows and allows players to chose from many disciples (classes) to play as.
Korean developers have spearheaded the free to play MMORPG genre and while many of the early games coming out of Asia were repetitive grinder fests, newer titles like Prius Online ooze with quality. Prius has a traditional animated fantasy setting but with several unique twists. Players are escorted by a young girl and must foster an emotional relationship with the mas they progress through the game. Netmarble has already released one game in America, Mini Fighter Online, and many other have been announced. Of their entire line up, Prius Online looks the most exciting though Ys Online is also worth watching.
Dance Dance Revolution really did spark a revolution. Musical rhythm based games have exploded from guitars to drums to singing and eventually the whole ensemble. Several music based MMOs that mix classic DDR style gameplay with the online social experience have already been released including Nexon’s Audition Online, Snail Game’s 5street and Acclaim’s Dance Online. With so many alternatives, how does Dance Groove Online hope to compete? The fact that it was developed by a Korean studio owned by Electronic Arts means it has the funding needed to produce high quality visuals, gameplay, and offer a huge list of music tracks from day one.
The massive success of Nexon’s MapleStory hasn’t gone unnoticed by the folks at nDoors. There’s just something about brightly colored 2D side-scrollers that attracts gamers worldwide. Other MS imitators like Ghost Online and Wind Slayer have come and gone but WonderKing promises to be different. The game has gone through four beta tests which have honed the PvP and crafting systems in WonderKing. Plenty of quests await players when the final release becomes available some time in 2010.
Meaning ‘prepare for War’ in Latin, Parabellum is a first-person shooter MMO designed by the German developer Acony. Parabellum is powered by the U3 engine and has a strong emphasis on character customization. Players will fight on maps based on real life locations such as New York City. K2 Network, the company behind the GamersFirst portal, is publishing the game in North America. As of early 2010, the game is still in closed beta testing but the open beta should start within a few months.
Cartoon style graphics have their appeal but many players prefer a more realistic look. Aika mixes a more mature visual style with PvP heavy gameplay. Players in this Korean MMORPG will look forward to large scale Realm vs Realm battles involving up to 1000 characters per side. The game is already popular in Korea and is heading our way later in 2010, look for it on Gala-Net’s gPotato gaming portal.
2. Mabinogi Heroes
Released in Korea in 2009, Western gamer will finally get their hands on the long awaited Mabinogi Heroes. While the game shares its name with the already available animated fantasy MMORPG, Heroes promises to be a totally different experience. Developed on Valve’s Source engine, Mabinogi Heroes is a fast paced action MMO with realistic graphics. Player will hack & slash their way through hordes of monster, dodge obstacles, throw barrels and other objects and take on huge boss monsters in real-time. While no specific release date is yet set, look for closed beta testing to begin shortly.
1. Allods Online
Publisher: Gala-Net – gPotato
WoW clones have sprung up like mushrooms over the years but the latest World of Warcraft inspired fantasy MMORPG by the Russian studio Astrum Nival promises a totally new experience. With elements of sci-fi and steampunk mixed in, players will explore a lush world from land, sea, and the skies above. Unique playable races such as robotic undead make an appearance in Allods Online. The game will be published in North America and Europe by Gala-Net’s gPotato gaming portal.
Well that’s it for now. I’m sure dozens more games will be announced and released in the months ahead so this is in no way a comprehensive list. Please share your opinions on the most exciting free games slated for 2010 and thanks for reading!
By, Erhan Altay