Image via Digital Extremes

Top 10 Best Free MMORPGs in 2023

Play without breaking the bank using this list of the best free MMORPGs of 2023!

Many MMOs require a monthly subscription to play, which just isn’t an option for every player. If you’d rather stay on the F2P side of things, our list of the Top 10 best free MMORPGs in 2023 is sure to have something for you. Unfortunately, even free-to-play games have a tendency to implement pay-to-win models in some fashion, encouraging you to spend money for advantages in-game. For the purpose of this best free MMOs list, F2P means that the game doesn’t need an active subscription.

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Top 10 Best Free MMORPGs in 2023

Final Fantasy XIV Online Trial

Image via Square Enix

Calling this a trial is a disservice. The completely free trial for FFXIV lets you play the entire base game and the Heavensward expansion without unlimited playtime. Plus, the trial will include the Stormblood expansion soon, offering even more content that you can access without paying a cent.

I won’t lie: FFXIV is one of my favorite games, and I don’t want to go into my playtime, okay? I might have started with the free trial as well, but the story drove me to go ahead and get the full game because I needed to know what happened next. However, if you have the patience, it might be a matter of time until Shadowbringers is also added to the trial, too.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Image via Electronic Arts

Initially released in 2011, SWTOR still receives new content updates regularly, and that looks like it will continue to be the case under the game’s new developer, Broadsword. Unlike FFXIV, this isn’t a trial, and the full game is available for free. However, it is a pay-to-win Star Wars game, so spending money in the shop will give you advantages.

Despite this, SWTOR is among the best Sci-fi (technically fantasy in a sci-fi world) MMORPGs that you can play for free. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you get to visit iconic locations like Alderaan, Corellia, Rishi, Nar Shadaa, Korriban, and, of course, Tattooine (Yay! More sand!).

Warframe

Image via Digital Extremes

Warframe is another Sci-fi MMORPG, and it also has an in-game shop where you can use money to gain advantages, making it pay-to-win. However, there’s a heavy focus on action in Warframe that makes the combat system complex and a lot of fun. I was a little overwhelmed when I first tried it, but as you learn and get deeper into the world and its story, it starts to suck you in. Nicely, I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage — even though I didn’t make real money purchases in Warframe. So it’s plenty enjoyable for free-to-play players.

Guild Wars 2

Image via NCSOFT

Guild Wars is a classic MMORPG, and the second one follows up with another solid experience for players who want a traditional fantasy experience without spending money. The expansions for Guild Wars 2 give more content and smooth out issues in the base game, but they cost money (whomp, whomp). But it’s been one of the best MMOs for a long time, making our best list way back in 2019.

Plenty of players still enjoy the base game, though, and if you spend enough time in it and decide that you want more content, you at least only need to purchase the expansions once without worrying about any subscriptions. You can buy Expansions 1&2 (Path of Fire and Heart of Thorns) for $29.99, Expansion 3 (End of Dragons) for $29.99, and Expansion 4 (Secrets of the Obscure) for $24.99.

EVE Online

Image via CCP

EVE Online is huge, with a vast galaxy to explore. It’s also daunting with how complex it is and the steep learning curve it has. From exploration in space to huge PvP battles, EVE Online offers a lot of content that appeals to many different players. However, its in-game economy might be its most famous feature, and it was even mentioned in one of my lectures in college because it’s a shockingly great learning tool and accurate to real-world socio-politics.

The downside is that EVE Online does keep content behind a subscription paywall, and the price of that paywall has increased over the years. While you can still play for free, it can get expensive if you want to access everything the game has to offer.

Old School RuneScape

Image via Jagex Ltd

For many of us, RuneScape was our introduction to MMORPGs. While it might not hold up when compared to more modern games, the nostalgia factor alone is enough to keep players returning to it. Yes, there are recent versions of RuneScape, but it just isn’t the same to play without the memories (of that time that somebody tried to scam you out of your gold by claiming they could get you banned if you didn’t comply).

Nostalgia is powerful, and Old School RuneScape isn’t the same quality as others on this list, but it holds its own by returning a lot of us to memories of our childhood.

Rift

Image via gamingo US Inc.

Rift was advertised, like many MMOs, as the WoW-killer set in a world where rifts can open up and let enemies through at any time. While Rift didn’t kill WoW, it’s a fun experience for players who don’t want to spend money on an MMORPG and still be able to get lost for hours. Rift does have an in-game store that you’re encouraged to buy items from for real money, but you can fully enjoy the game without doing so.

Rift’s future, however, seems uncertain since it’s now in the hands of Gamingo, a company that’s suffered layoffs as recently as the end of 2022. This makes it unclear how the company will move forward, especially with free-to-play games.

Neverwinter

Image via Gearbox Publishing

Neverwinter is an MMORPG based on Dungeons & Dragons, which means that you’ll see familiar places and enemies if you play D&D or Baldur’s Gate. The game is a bit dated now, but you’re able to play it without spending any money, so that’s a plus. Even though you can make purchases from the in-game shop for additional power, it isn’t enough of a difference to put free-to-play players at much of a disadvantage.

Despite its age, Neverwinter does receive new content, and unlike games such as EVE Online, it’s approachable if you haven’t played a lot of MMOs. The learning curve isn’t steep, and you don’t need knowledge of D&D to understand the world.

Lord of the Rings Online

Image via Standing Shore Games LLC

Lord of the Rings Online isn’t as modern as it used to be, and that age is showing in the graphics and gameplay. However, it lets you access most of its content for free, and that’s enough for you to step into the world of Middle Earth. If you aren’t a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, that’s okay! The world is still beautiful, and the game has great writing. Anyone who enjoys fantasy games can easily lose hours to this MMO.

Elder Scrolls Online

Image via Bethesda Softworks

I know, I know. Elder Scrolls Online is free-to-play in the sense that you don’t need a subscription, but you do have to purchase the base game. Since it’s a one-time purchase with an optional subscription, I felt that it was worthwhile to include. You can explore Tamriel with friends, and you don’t have to be into PvP or endgame content to enjoy the world and stories it has to tell. Elder Scrolls is such a rich universe, why not have fun with friends in it?

It’s difficult to find a great game that’s free, but I hope our list of the Top 10 best free MMORPGs in 2023 has provided something for you, whether you want to play something new, or return to an old favorite that you wanted to double-check hasn’t gone to a subscription model. If you need me, I’ll be in my Ishgardian home, writing more FFXIV content in preparation for patch 6.5.


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Author
Melissa Sarnowski
Melissa Sarnowski has been working as a gaming writer professionally for two years, having been at GameSkinny for over a year now as a horror beat writer. She has an English degree from University of Wisconsin - Madison. While she focuses on all things horror, she also enjoys cozy games, MMOs like FFXIV and WoW, and any and everything in between.