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href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1303"
target="_blank"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
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target="_blank">Sword of the New World
8. target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
Chronicles of Spellborn href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
10. target="_top">Requiem: Bloodmayne href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_blank"> href="http://heroesofgaia.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.gamersfirst.com/swordofthenewworld/"
target="_blank"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://us.runesofmagic.com/us/index.html"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">
Wow, were already on week 13 of this column at Ten Ton Hammer, and I
guess that proves the point that time flies when youre having fun.
Either that or the fear of rejection and failure makes time accelerate
like a runaway Toyota Prius on an LA freeway. But whatever the cause of
the 1.21 gigawatt at 88 MPH reaction may be, there is no doubt that the
face of free-to-play gaming has changed radically in the last few
months and has accounted for more than its fair share of news stories
and features, not only on this site, but across the gaming universe.
What have been your favorite, or most disappointing, developments in
this sub-genre of MMOGs? Have you found yourself more interested in a
free-to-play recently, or has the explosion of the microtransaction
games turned you off? Let us know in the forums--we want to hear more
from you about free-to-plays (mostly because we are tired of hearing
from Medeor and his elitist views about AAA games).
Personally I have gone from a cynical skeptic to a fanboy convert in
the last few months. My dabbling into these games has shown me that you
can get a great gameplay experience without paying a dime.
One of my favorite publishers has once again found their way into a
controversial position; Gala-Net has forced gPotato to begin
restricting access to non-North American players of their PvP oriented
While all the details havent come to light yet, its safe to say that
no one wants to lose customers and the folks on both sides of the issue
are working toward a resolution.
In honor of the thirteenth week of Microcosms we will be taking a
deeper look at the games that populate our weekly top ten lists, so
keep reading for this weeks feature Lucky 13.
Since the inception of this weekly foray into the world of free-to-play
gaming I have wanted to find a way to get more in-depth with the top
ten lists, and while I have begun to spotlight some of the older games
that frequent the list, something tends to pop up each week that puts
the idea on the back burner. One of the drawbacks to doing the expanded
list is that more than 10 games are regulars in the column and its
always difficult to exclude a title because it may have dipped slightly
in popularity on a given week. Luckily for me the answer to my dilemma
presented itself when I was going over content ideas for this 13th
installment, if I expand the list to 13 titles I could hit most of the
major players and lessen my feelings of neglect. So without further
ado, here is a synopsis of our top 13 free-to-play titles.
Aika brings out the massive in PvP combat.
This Korean import was the second major release for publisher gPotato
this year and while it hasnt been able to escape without some measure
of controversy, it has been a very stable game in the companys lineup.
Featuring a PvP-centric theme wrapped in a surprisingly
uncharacteristic quest-based leveling system that defies the typical
Asian ethos of grinding out levels, style="font-style: italic;">Aika delivers
enough combat to keep
even the most bloodthirsty of players happy. By limiting the number of
classes, and gender locking them, the game is able to feature thousands
of combatants on a single field. Graphics have a distinctly anime feel
and, while not the sparkling high end marvels that some other Asian
MMOGs feature, they are clean and functional, allowing the game to both
perform well with high amounts of rendering going on and to keep your
attention when in youre in pursuit of more mundane endeavors.
#12 Perfect World
This Chinese-based import finds its way into our top 10 list week after
week and its no secret why: with gorgeous graphics and a world that
feels alive, this game is one that draws in players and keeps them
coming back for more. Steeped in Chinese Mythology and lore, the game
has eight classes, four races and many features that add a lot depth.
One of the more interesting features allows players to marry each
other, for a small cash shop fee of course, and grants a special title
that binds the players together. Be warned, though--just like the real
world, divorce is expensive. PWI has flying mounts, large scale PvP,
day and nighttime graphic changes, and plenty of GM events for players
#11 Silkroad Online
Adventuring in the Far East
In what has become a trend in the free-to-play realm,
style="font-style: italic;">Silkroad Online
is a game with a historical background. Set along the appropriately
named Silk Road, an ancient trade route that connected china to Europe,
the game is known mostly for its unique combat system. The system is a
PvP setup with three skillsets that a player can choose between to do
battle with other players in a virtual roshambo. Although widely
derided for its traditional Asian setup of kill grinding and lack of
meaningful quests, the game is a perpetual fan favorite and always
generates a lot of interest.
#10 Requiem: Bloodymare
Now known by its newest title Memento
continues to corner
the market on MMOGs of the horror variety. Drawing upon the Havok
physics engine for its distinctive look, this title from developer
Gravity Games immerses players in the fantasy world of Ethergia where
humans are the minority and are hunted by the dark forces that inhabit
the realm. Players can chose from open PK servers or more traditional
ones where they can engage in team-based PvP. Not for the squeamish or
faint of heart, Requiem
is definitely a unique entry in the world of
MMOGs and that distinction is one of the many reasons that this title
is regularly on or near the top ten most popular games.
Originally percieved as an MMOG for teens and tweens, style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi is now
home to kids of all ages. Heavily anime influenced characters and a
world of bright vibrant colors are the hallmarks of this surprisingly
deep game that maintains having fun as priority #1. At first glance it
would be easy to dismiss Mabinogi
as a kids game, but with features
such as a classless skill-based combat system and an intricately
designed aging system this game from Korean developer Nexon has more
layers than Shreks proverbial onion (or parfaits, if you prefer that
analogy). Even the name of the game is something more than one would
expect--instead of being a nonsensical or made up word, its actually
derived from the ancient Welsh stories from which style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi draws its
lore. Yeah, thats right, a Korean game played by Americans thats all
about Welsh lore sounds like a train wreck but it works amazingly
#8 Sword of the New World
A unique world to explore
Another Korean import that offers more than meets the eye--more than
even the famous robots from Cybertron--is style="font-style: italic;">Sword of the New World.
massive title from publisher GamersFirst is set in a fictional world
that is a mirror of colonial America and features a complex maze of
politics, intrigue and fast paced PvP. While most games feature events
only on their anniversary or around a holiday, the rabid fanbase of
for the weekly Saturday events where they battle for
control of the world. These events, besides having some far reaching in
game consequences, are routinely frequented by GMs who like to sneak
around disguised as NPCs and create havoc and fun. While the games
setting and surroundings may not appeal to everyone, those who enjoy it
find that nothing else can quite compare.
#7 The Chronicles of
Amazingly, this is one game that always seems to turn up on our list of
most popular free-to-play titles. Why is this amazing? The game was
essentially canceled and sent back for redevelopment as a
microtransaction game after a poor launch last year. Looking a little
deeper into the game, it becomes more obvious why there would be
continued interestit features aspects of first person shooter
targeting mechanics, elaborate combo attacks, and the amazing Unreal
engine. With so many radical departures from traditional MMOG mechanics
it is easy to see why the gaming public would be skeptical at best and
typical launch issues would be the death knell of a game of its sort.
moves closer to its relaunch as a microtransaction game,
its devout fan base affords the best chance of renewed success for the
Beset by what was described as a premature launch, style="font-style: italic;">Alganon has been
largely a disappointment so far in its young life. Attempting to get a
new lease on that life the games developer and publisher, Quest
Online, has undergone some radical changes at the top and is filtering
these changes into the game. The major knock against the game is that
is widely regarded as a WoW clone. However, while the internal workings
of the game are similar to WoW they are also similar to many other
second generation MMOGs. The main parallel to Blizzards juggernaut is
an almost cut-and-paste copying of the UI. With a complete reworking of
the interface currently in the works, as well as many bug and feature
is targeting an April 25th re-launch in hopes of
recapturing its original audience as well as attempting to bring new
fans into the fold. An overall solid game with interesting classes,
quests and world to explore, Alganon
should be given another chance to
make a first impression.
The first major release of the year from North American publisher
gPotato is this Russian import renowned for its staggeringly large
production budget, one that was unheard of for a free-to-play game.
With stylized graphics (which allow for low system requirements), a
standardized UI and a robust quest system, style="font-style: italic;">Allods Online feels
like a pay-to-play than possibly any other game on the market today.
Allods is a
faction-based game that pits players against each other for
the control of the space between the two realms. Players can pilot
large starships to explore and enter the fray. While the game suffered
some initial controversy over its harsh death penalty and the steep
item shop costs needed to negate it, the publisher and developer were
able to work together to find common ground to resolve the issues.
#4 Runes of Magic
With a third expansion on the way,
RoM has a ton of available content.
German publisher Frogster Interactive knew they had a winner on their
hands when they scored the rights to bring this Korean import to the
European and North American markets. Prior to style="font-style: italic;">Allods, style="font-style: italic;">Runes of Magic
held the unofficial free-to-play record for development cost and
production value, rivaling subscription games with its size and
content. Packed with many features only found in the aforementioned AAA
titles, RoM tackles such mechanics as player and guild housing, dual
class abilities, cross server siege wars and a robust crafting system.
Even though the game has been dismissed as a WoW clone, it stands up
well on its own due to its surprising depth.
#3 Atlantica Online
has one of the more robust communities among
free-to-plays and its developer, NDOORS Interactive, is also the
publisher of the game, which makes for quick response to player
concerns and rapid deployment of new features. Players will never have
to solo in style="font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline;">Atlantica
Online as the game uses a mercenary system that
allows you to hire powerful companions to assist you in your journey
across the alternate Earth game realm. While there may not be a
plethora of races-- there is only one playable race in fact--and the
classes may not follow the traditional pattern of fantasy MMOGs (they
are mostly defined by the main weapon they use such as the Axe class or
the Sword class) Atlantica
Online has created a deep and enjoyable
world that will keep you coming back for more.
is the lone browser-based entry that frequents our top 10
lists, but its no surprise that this big budget game from SOE
typically occupies one of the top three spots. Although style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms is
primarily targeted to younger players, this MMOG equivalent of a
gateway drug has actually hooked its fair share of older players and
MMOG veterans alike. The real power of style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms is the
diversity found within; you really can find just about anything you
want to do here and, with over 10 million registered users, you will
always have someone to play with.
Dungeons and Dragons
Online: Eberron Unlimited
and Chronicles of
Spellborn both wonder if they can come
back from disastrous first launches, style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons and Dragons Online
reveling in its miraculous rebirth. Originally launched as a
pay-to-play AAA title with a seemingly unbeatable pedigree, DDO
received a lukewarm reception and never found its footing among the
other major games. Facing the very real possibility of pulling the plug
or allowing the game to atrophy with no real support, Turbine took a
huge gamble and restructured it with a modified free-to-play and
microtransaction model. The gamble has paid off in spades as DDO
continues to attract new players and recapture its core audience,
allowing the team to add tons of new content in a truly remarkable
win-win situation. Not only has the experiment resulted in a turn
around for DDO, it has allowed free-to-play gaming to gain a wider
acceptance among North American audiences.
While no list can ever be complete, this represents some of the most
consistent performers in terms of fan interest here at Ten Ton Hammer.
Let us know which of these games strike a chord with you by replying
here in our forums. Until next week, have fun gaming and make sure to
keep it free.
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Dungeons and Dragons Online
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style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(255, 204, 51);">Hot
off the Press!
Update 4 Trailer and Screens Released
The newest content is set to go live, and it looks wicked.
Korea to Impose Midnight Kerfew on MMOGs
Ministry of Culture looks to curtail what it feels are inherent dangers
to underage gamers. There will also be a "slowdown" system that will
throttle connection speeds of players who stay online too many hours.
And you thought Cinderella had it bad with her carriage turning into a
of Magic Adds More Guild Features
Enhancements coming to the game will be implemented over the next few
weeks in anticipation of the Elder Kingdoms expansion.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Game Page.