Opinion: Top 5 Free-to-Play Games

Some say that Free-to-Play is the future of gaming. Whether or not that’s the case, there’s no denying that cash-strapped consumers can already enjoy terrific MMOs, FPSs and adventures completely free of charge. Having sunk himself into the very best that the current F2P landscape has to offer, Jacques Voller presents his Top 5.

With the Steam Summer sale currently draining our wallets of what little money we have, it’s always nice to know that there are games out there that don’t cost a penny to play and still bring hours of enjoyment. So here is, in my opinion, five of the best F2P games to enjoy when  you’ve run out of money.

 

DC Universe Online

If you’re a fan of DC Comics, you owe it to yourself to try this out. The story itself is not too different to what you would find in the panels of a Justice League book, in which an all-out war between the various heroes and villains results in only one survivor, Lex Luthor, claiming victory until Brianiac starts to invade. Lex then travels back in time and infects the population of Earth with ‘Exobytes’, granting them different powers and abilities inspired by the heroes or villains. The main objective is to stop the war and prevent the invasion force.

While you may not be able to simply pick an already established superhero like Batman to play as, you can design one to have the exact same skillsets as your favourite hero and pick them as your mentor. While you will have to shell out to get additional powers like the Green Lantern power rings, there’s enough customization on the free-to-play side to give you a wealth of choice, and with a comprehensive upgrade system, you can pretty much guarantee that your hero will be unique. Don’t fancy playing the hero? Don’t worry, they got that covered as well. Just pick a villain as your mentor and wreak havoc upon the Earth.

Locations is where DCUO will let you down. Compared to some other F2P MMO’s, DCUO only has three major locations to explore; Gotham City, Metropolis and the Watchtower (if you’re a hero) or Hall of Doom (if you’re a villain). While certain missions take place in other locations, the fact that you can only explore two major citys soon becomes tedious and boring.

 

Realm of the Mad God

If there is any game on this list you should download first, it’s this game. Whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours, Realm of the Mad God is fun and easy to pick up and play. From its retro 8-bit stylings to its classic RPG gameplay, this is a game for people who are left with a sour taste in the mouth from modern games.

With over a dozen unique character classes, ranging from a simple warrior to a powerful wizard, you can pretty much guarantee a different play style each time you log on. Each character has a level 20 cap and is required to reach this level before you can unlock a new character class. Although, be sure to exit to the home screen when you’re low on health, as there is no life system: Permadeath results in you losing your character along with whatever loot you have collected.

Realm of the Mad God is best experienced with a group of friends, and with maps that can accommodate up to 85 players at once, action can become frantic and non-stop. Just join an XP train and the fun really begins.

The enemies is where Realm of the Mad God really shines. With hundreds of different bosses to battle, you’re never short of a challenge and are likely to find a new something new to fight each time.

 

Star Trek Online

If you’ve ever wanted to pilot a Federation Starship and join the ranks of greats such as Picard, Kirk and Sisko, then this is the game for you. With story missions that feel like they were lifted straight from the TV series, an almost unlimited character creation system and easily the best space combat out there, Star Trek Online is the game that offers the most generous package on this list.

Ignoring the universe that was set up in J.J Abrams Star Trek movie (the less said about that, the better), Star Trek Online drops you into the same universe as the TV series and original movies, allowing for connections with all five series in both missions, locations and characters; so if you want to visit Quarks bar for a quick drink or venture through the Badlands there’s always something that even the most casual of Star Trek fans will recognize.

When you first start out on your adventure, you can pick an already established race or create your own hybrid of various traits from different races. Once you’ve picked your race, class and whether you’re going to be a member of the Federation or Klingon Empire, it’s time to venture out among the stars and ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’.  Although you don’t actually unlock the Klingons until you have a Starfleet character at level 22, you’ll still have a lot of fun leveling up your character through the different ranks.

Each mission takes the form of ‘Episodes’, all of which are tied into seasons. So far, five have been released and with number six due to be released sometime later this month, allowing players to create their own starbases for the first time, now’s the time to enter the Star Trek universe. With tropes such as time travel, planet surveillance and rescue missions, each mission feels like classic Trek.

The crowning glory of Star Trek Online has to be its space and – more recently – ground combat. It clearly takes influence from the space combat in Star Wars Battlefront, standing head and shoulders above the competition. Each battle requires the use of tactics in order to defeat your enemy, so don’t expect to simply charge in, all phasers firing if you want to win. Once you reach the higher levels, you’ll be able to store up to eight weapons, allowing for a much more intense battle. You’ll also have access to different powers through the use of bridge officers and ship devices, giving you a greater tactical advantage in each battle.

 

APB Reloaded

Don’t let the fact that this is essentially a reboot of a failed MMO put you off. There is still a lot to be found in this online game of cops and robbers. It doesn’t matter which side you choose, Criminal or Enforcer, the objective is the same: make as much money as possible by completing different missions.

Unlike so many other MMOs out there, it is not how much time you play the game that determines your character’s progression, rather it is up to the skill of the player. Like similar games, such as GTA, there is a notoriety or prestige system, which goes up to level 5, at which point a bounty is placed on your character’s head and you are able to interact with other players on the server. You can increase your level by performing acts that help your factions cause: for example, killing players on the other team.

The action takes place in the fictional city of San Paro, which is split up into three districts. Two of these are distinct parts of the city and the third one acts as a social hub, where you can customize your character’s look and weapons, all of which are purchased through the use of microtransactions. The final two districts take the form of PVP environments called ‘Fight Clubs’.

Missions typically consists of the two sides fighting each other, where one side must complete a series of objectives with the other side attempting to stop them doing so. For example, several Criminal players may rob a convenience store within the game; the game will then seek out one or more Enforcer players of equivalent skills and other criteria and will issue an all-points bulletin for them to stop the robbery and apprehend or eliminate the Criminals. Players earn money for participating in these missions, which can then be used to upgrade weapons, vehicles, and their character appearances, all of which influence the game.

 

Tribes: Ascend

A little different to what I have featured on this list so far, Tribes: Ascend is a first-person multiplayer shooter. Featuring classic competitive modes such as Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, and with influence taken from games early on in the Tribes franchise, it has a simple objective of completing the match in the most ridiculous way possible. With maps that have been revamped from the first two games in the original franchise, there’s something here for both new and old fans, and while they retain the open areas and base structures, others have a more urban feel to them.

The lightening pace of the game has a different feel compared to modern online shooters such as Call of Duty or Battlefield. You zip non-stop across the different maps in search of your team’s objective, while being pursued by members of the opposing team.

Tribes: Ascend features a class-based loadout system, which specifies what armour and weapons you’ll use in each match.  These weapons include two in hand weapons and a set of belt items. Armour sizes are your standard light, medium and heavy types, each of which has three loadout allowing for a total of nine loadouts. These loadouts can be purchased using upfront payment or earned through experience, however, upgrades to armour, weapons and perks can only be purchased through the use of experience points.

 

Honorable Mention –  Star Wars: The Old Republic

Yes, I know this isn’t technically a Free to Play game (yet), but BioWare and EA have made SWTOR Free to Play up to level 15, and I don’t think it will be long before we see the entire game go F2P. If you prefer your MMOs to be more story-based than content-based., then you can’t go far wrong with BioWare’s offering. Having built up fantastic storylines in games such as Mass Effect, BioWare have carried that over with SWTOR. Although it may not be up there with STO when it comes to space combat, give it time and SWTOR could be considered the best out there.

 



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