By Danny "Ralsu" Gourley
This Top Ten list
will now sport a new format. Instead of pasting my standard spiels
about the list not being exhaustive and how to get a game on the list,
I'll just link to the portal with that same information in my About
This List section. Then I'll review the week (or month
when applicable). I'll let you know what games I tried and which games
made big moves (up or down) in the rankings. In The List, I'll let you
know what else I tried and what I plan to try soon.
About This List
Please refer to the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/Top10F2P">Top Ten
Free-to-Play Games Portal to find out how to get a game you
make or like on this list.
Month in Review
This month, I investigated around fifteen free-to-play games. I tried
each game a minimum of an hour before passing any judgment. After that,
I committed to playing each game at least 3 hours per week until I had
a good feel for it. I researched many other games but did not play most
of them. Some went on my list to check out in the future. Others just
left my desk.
started strong for me at #1 and stayed that way. I think this
free-to-play game is better than several pay-to-play games on the
market so long as you enjoy the Diablo-style
action clickfest (and I do).
Magic World Online is the likely one of the best
free-to-play games that won't get the attention it deserves. The story
is well-written and deep. The class system provides more options than
can be seen at first glance. Ultimately, the game's low graphical
quality will put off many people, though. It started at #2 for me and
dipped to #6.
growing on me (debuted at #8 and climbed to #4), and as long as I can
enjoy most of the game without paying a penny, it will remain high on
my list. I don't like games that advertise as free-to-play but are
essentially demos until you pay some cash.
The sentiment of the "demo" that claims to be a free-to-play game
brings me to Wakfu.
I like so many things about this game: the turn-based strategy combat,
the art, the concept of an ecosystem that can be altered by the
players, and the unique classes (well, we've seen them in style="font-style: italic;">Dofus, but they
still differ from the norm). This explains why the game started at #4
and ascended to #2. Still, I'm also scared about a couple of aspects of
the game, the chief of those concerns being that style="font-style: italic;">Wakfu's
is one of those demos than claims to be a free-to-play game.
Finally, I have to mention Fiesta.
Billed as a game for young teens, this title has surprised me with its
depth and fun factor. It broke onto the list at #3 and held there to
the end of the month. Now that I have over a dozen hours with style="font-style: italic;">Fiesta, will my
perceptions of it change? We'll find out as we move forward.
I tried PoxNora,
but this game really isn't intended to be free-to-play. Like the table
top collectible games that inspired it, the whole design is centered
around getting you to buy the pieces you need to upgrade your attack
force. I also tried half a dozen browser-based games, but none of them
was good enough to mention. They were all grinders with a ton of fetch
was on the list early and fell. It has solid player-vs.-player, but
it's just not my game with its steep grind. style="font-style: italic;">Puzzle Pirates is
another that was in the first Top Ten ranking but dropped off the list.
It's still fun, but it is a game I can walk away from and not miss. I
need a game to make me wish I could play it while I am busy waiting in
the doctor's office or in line at the grocer.
Coming up, I will be trying Dungeon
Runners, Exteel, and Dream
of Mirror Online (DOMO). "Crickette," NCSoft's Community
Manager for Dungeon
Runners, was kind enough to use the link on the Top Ten
portal page to send me an email and challenge me to play style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon Runners and
response to our
DOMO Giveaway has been so large that I felt I style="font-style: italic;">had to give the
game a go.
I only had a few good games to rank in the first month. Expect some
more movement in the coming weeks!
May 15, 2008
- ( href="http://www.mythos.com/">www.mythos.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Flagship Studios,
upcoming change to replace the instanced overworld areas in style="font-style: italic;">Mythos with
permanent open maps is a good call from where I sit. As the game gets
ready for open beta, I still think it is the best free-to-play game I
have seen. It provides an enjoyable experience for hardcore item
hunters and casual enthusiasts.
target="_blank">www.wakfu.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
I have one nagging concern about this strategy title;
does not really qualify as a true free-to-play game in my mind. It's
more like a free trial where you have to pay to get the full game. On
the bright side, I recently read an interview where the style="font-style: italic;">Wakfu team that
noted that you can't just tack on extra levels and an item mall for a
good free-to-play game. Maybe this means Ankama has learned a lesson?
( href="http://fiesta.outspark.com/" target="_blank">http://fiesta.outspark.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Fiesta holds the #3 spot for one more week, but as I head into my
teens, the grind may start to wear down my enthusiasm. I have started
encountering a few faults in the grouping system as well, but the game
is high on fun and low on cost.
I've barely gotten into Mabinogi,
and I am very impressed. Before I become a permanent fan, I want a
little more time to investigate the pay upgrade features. See my
comments about Dofus
( href="http://warriorepic.com/">http://warriorepic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
is in a closed beta with non-disclosure agreement. This means that even
if I were
in the beta, I couldn't tell you. And I also couldn't let what I have
seen in that hypothetical closed beta affect my ranking. The public
information on this game is promising. Let's hope it can stand up to
- ( href="http://mwo.enjoymmo.com/" target="_blank">http://mwo.enjoymmo.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
I want to like this game more than a #6 ranking. The problem is how I
can rank it higher than any of the ones above it. They all beat it
hands-down graphically. Let's just settle for saying that style="font-style: italic;">Magic World Online
has a great story with a rich class system and leave it at that, okay?
of the Caribbean Online - ( href="http://www.piratesonline.com/" target="_blank">http://www.piratesonline.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Disney's game based on the movie based on the ride (huh?) survives to
stay on the list for another week. The sad thing about this game is its
laggy performance in the free mode. Reread my href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/15902"> style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Caribbean Online
review for some of the difference in game play experience
between my wife (who played for free) and me (who had a paid version).
( href="http://www.neosteam.com/">www.neosteam.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
I missed out on the second round of Closed Beta testing, but
style="font-style: italic;">NeoSteam has some
pretty good visuals for a free-to-play title. Sadly, the
translation is shaky. Not the "what did that NPC just say?" kind but
still easily noticed.
Online - ( target="_blank" href="http://wl.igg.com/">http://wl.igg.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Skyunion Co., Ltd.
I appreciate the adventurous spirit fostered by
style="font-style: italic;">Wonderland Online,
and the people from IGG are great to work with, too. I even dig the
fully turn-based combat a little. The big fault I find in this title is
the weak translation.
Admittedly, I am still a little miffed about
style="font-style: italic;">Age of Armor
promising me the ability to transform my awesome mech but then made it
so hard to do that it is next to impossible. I mean, imagine if you
never got to fight a dragon in fantasy-based games. It's just not right.
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