More than any other genre of video games, MMOs immerse players into their sprawling worlds and activities for prolonged amounts of time. Players can become anyone they want while slaying mobs and exploring lush worlds.
While the player base of MMOs has only dwindled since the World of Warcraft boom in the first decade of this century, there is still a big niche that still populates the servers of the various MMOs in the market.
Initially popularized by World of Warcraft, several MMO games have put in monthly subscription fees as part of their monetization model. However, as many players will admit, this leaves a significant dent in the players’ pockets over the course of time. This is where free-to-play and one-time purchase MMOs come in. While some of them are freemium games with subscription options for special perks, others offer enough free content to keep players entertained for hours.
Top 7 MMOs you can enjoy without paying a monthly subscription fee
7) The Lord Of The Rings Online
Players can fight for good or choose the side of evil by joining the army of Sauron in Middle Earth based on JRR Tolkien’s works. They can embark on an epic journey through Middle Earth and travel to various mesmerizing locations like the Shire, Misty Mountains, and many more.
While The Lord of The Rings Online has had a subscription model in the past, it switched to a free-to-play system a while back. As of Update 33, which came out in April 2022, F2P players can access almost all of the content the game has to offer.
6) Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic, popularly referred to as SWTOR, is an MMO with one of the highest production values.
Star Wars: The Old Republic used to cost a full game’s price plus a recurring fee after one month of play when it was first released in 2011. However, since late 2012, BioWare and EA have adopted a free-to-play model for it with an optional subscription.
5) EVE Online
EVE Online has the vast outer space as its playing field. If playing a spacefarer and navigating a customizable ship through space sounds like fun, this Multiplayer adventure of an epic scale is ideal. To add to that, EVE Online’s player-driven economy is so enticingly complex that it is often cited as a mirror of the real-world economy.
EVE Online is free-to-play. However, players can opt for an optional monthly subscription that gives them boosted training speed, a bunch of special ships, skills and more.
4) Destiny 2
Destiny 2 does not technically fit the MMORPG mold, but the wide array of squad-based PvE and PvP content cements its slot as a mighty fine action MMO.
While Destiny 2’s base game is free-to-play, players should absolutely buy the expansions as they come out if they are into the game. Right now, the Witch Queen Deluxe Edition is a great one-time purchase option for Destiny 2 enthusiasts.
3) Swords of Legends Online
Swords of Legends Online was released in China in 2019 and Gameforge brought it to the West in 2021. In this traditional Chinese theme park game, players embark on a mostly linear story where they fight as the force of good against evil.
Swords of Legends Online is a free-to-play game with a very fair monetization model. Other than cosmetics, players cannot pay to get their hands on more inventory or character slots.
3) Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is one of the best MMOs in terms of the amount of free content available. Choosing between nine different classes from five races, players can traverse the fantastical game world at their own pace.
While the base game of Guild Wars 2 is entirely free-to-play, its two expansions, Path of Fire and Heart of Thorns, are part of the deluxe edition of the game retailing at $54.99 USD.
1) Elder Scrolls Online
Elder Scrolls Online is arguably one of the most successful MMOs of current times, only second to Final Fantasy XIV. ESO's base game features copious amounts of content for new players to partake in.
While ESO requires a one-time purchase to play the base game, and the expansions are all worth it in their own right, its subscription-free monetization is one of the fairest among other games of this genre.