The era of free video games is in full swing. Many games are released for free or at lower than normal price, earning money from advertisements and in-game pay incentives. There are a few genres of video game, though, that have not made many strides into the free market. Role playing games (RPGs) are one of the most notable. Online multiplayer role playing games are occasionally free, but almost all single player RPGs have high costs. Free RPGs are rare and good ones are even more uncommon. The following are the top ten free role playing games ever released.
10. Torchlight – This game is much better than this ranking suggests, but it was only available for free for a very short time on GoG.com. Now if you want it, the game will cost you $15. That is still rather cheap, but far from free. If you did snag it while it was free, it is essentially a Diablo clone that is a step better in every way than Diablo 2.
9. Fallout – Fallout is generally considered one of the best role playing games ever made and it would top this list for sure, if it were still free. Unfortunately, this was only free for a few days near the end of the contract GoG.com had to sell it. You can still buy it legally from Amazon, but other than that the game is near impossible to find. If you did manage to download it, this post-apocalyptic game is one of the best ever created for giving you near unlimited freedom in character creation and problem solving.
8. King’s Road – Diablo clones are popular, especially this one available to play on most free online gaming sites, including Facebook. This one does not involve dungeon delving, but rather has you fighting your way across the countryside. You can play entirely single player or team up and play multiplayer, depending on your preference. It is a basic game, but it also won’t tax your computer and can be played on just about any platform.
7. Jagged Alliance Online – This is an online version of popular tactical RPG Jagged Alliance. The actual game play is nearly identical to the original game, but it also has online game features of regenerating time units and base building. The latter is rather frustrating as is the fact that you need to play every day in order to maintain a high enough income to pay your mercenaries. If it weren’t for these features, this game would rate a lot higher because it is an almost perfect translation of the original series and has a solid story.
6. Battletech: Crescent Hawk’s Inception – This game is free because it is abandonware. You can acquire it on sites like abandonia.com. The graphics are painfully out of date, but the story is still exciting years later and game play is remarkably true to the source material without being clunky. The digital medium is a much better way to play Battletech and this game proves it.
5. Dungeons & Dragons Online – Otherwise known as DDO, this game is a free-to-play MMORPG. It originally required a paid subscription, but that is no longer the case. Still, it has the professional quality of a subscription game. It is one of the rare MMORPGs where players can block or time their blows to improve performance. This makes it similar to the single player RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The mix of 3rd and 4th edition mechanics is a little awkward, but the game is definitely high quality for what you pay for it.
4. Card Hunter – This game is a mixture of CCG and RPG. You take the role of a new player playing the new game Card Hunter. A fledgling DM, who is almost certainly a playful parody of the late great Gary Gygax, leads you through adventure after adventure. As much of the game is about following the adventures of Gary and his desire to date the pizza delivery girl as it is about following the adventures of your characters. Overall, the game is just a lot of fun and will test your tactical skills while entertaining you immensely.
3. Epic Battle Fantasy 4 – Available on Kongregate.com, this is a surprisingly complex and long RPG for a free-to-play game. It easily takes 20-30 hours to complete and the battle system, while being rather simple, incorporates many modern concepts like switching characters mid-battle and upgrading skill and spells. The writing is silly but interesting and the game has an almost perfect difficulty curve. This is pretty much the gold standard for single player, free-to-play, online RPGs.
2. Marvel Heroes – Most people think of fantasy epics when they think role playing games, but a superhero game can also fit into that genre. Marvel Heroes is also a Diablo clone, but instead of controlling wizards and warriors, you control a Marvel hero. While it is free, a lot of content is hidden behind pay walls. Still, you can play as one of your favorite heroes, upgrade your skills, and even potentially fight side by side with an exact duplicate of yourself. It isn’t quite Marvel Ultimate Alliance, but it is an excellent free multiplayer game.
1. Lord of the Rings Online – Turbine has truly mastered the art of making free-to-play MMORPGs. Dungeons and Dragons Online is good, but this game is just perfect. The world is a nearly perfect replica of the world depicted by J.R.R. Tolkien. Details abound as you travel about the giant map. And the game even encourages you to explore all of those little details by rewarding you for doing so. Amazingly, without violating the precepts of the world, the game has roughly a dozen playable classes. There is essentially a pay wall once you reach a certain point, but you can earn Turbine Points from in-game activities that can be used to get past that point. Playing for free takes more effort than paying, but you can actually explore the entirety game without ever paying a dime.