Top Ten Free-to-Play Games Week 5

Posted Wed, May 21, 2008 by Ralsu

By Danny "Ralsu" Gourley

About This List
Please refer to the Top Ten Free-to-Play Games Portal to find out how to get a game you make or like on this list.

Week in Review
This week, I tested three free-to-play games for the first time: Dream of Mirror Online (DOMO), Dungeon Runners, and Shaiya. DOMO sucked me in, and I played it the most. Because I tried so many new games, I did not get to explore the online mall for Mabinogi or find out if Fiesta becomes too much of a grind in the mid-teens. I'll look into them both more next week.

DOMO impressed me enough to crack the list in the #5 slot. The hundreds of people who flooded our forums to get free DOMO gifts the last two weeks were there for a reason. The game is fun. The graphics are a bit cartoony--the enemies look like something a five year old might see on Cartoon Network--but the game is pretty serious. It has some decent depth, or so it seems. I have played around with adventuring to level 10 and taken alchemy to level 3. I have yet to explore the love system. The classes seem interesting, and the game is designed to let you mix and match the skills of different classes to suit your needs. I'll keep playing this one.

I tried Dungeon Runners at the behest of Crickette, the Community Manager for the game over at NCSoft. Like a few of the top games on this list, it is immediately playable. It feels like a finished game and runs smoothly (I was getting roughly 40 FPS even with FRAPS running). Dungeon Runners pokes fun at a few of the tired conventions of the genre, too. My biggest concern with the game is the way it seems to try to force me to stop playing for free and pay some money. Granted that the fee is only $5 per month, this list is about free games. I will examine this one more closely in the next week.

Shaiya wasn't really on my radar, but I wanted to try a game with an edge after logging so many hours in the cutesy world of DOMO. Shaiya is in beta and feels like it. The translation is fairly weak in places as many phrases are just fragments. The fragments there are enough to clearly explain what is going on but absolutely crush any hope for immersion. I hit level eight this week and will play more soon.

All three of the above games made their way onto the Top Ten list this week because I believe I would rather play them than the three I dropped off to make room for them: Age of Armor, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Wonderland Online. Let's see if I still feel that way after another week of testing.

The List
Coming up, I will be trying Exteel and continuing my exploration of the three new games from this week. I'll also take one more look at Mabinogi and Fiesta. Finally, Open Beta for NeoSteam began this week. I'll be all over that.

Enough chatter. Here are my Top Ten Free-to-Play Games for this week!

Top Ten Free-to-Play Games
May 22, 2008
Rank Previous Game

1

1

Mythos - (www.mythos.com) Flagship Studios, Inc.
Mythos lets me solo when I have a small amount of time to play. That means a lot to me. And the structure of the game feels episodic because each mission usually sends me to a single dungeon. This helps players feel like they have progressed if they can complete even just one quest.

2

2

2. Wakfu - (www.wakfu.com) Ankama
I need Wakfu to be a great turn-based strategy game. This category of online game is very thin, and Ankama has enough experience to get it right. The fundation is there.

3

3

Fiesta - (http://fiesta.outspark.com) Outspark
Fiesta players have to learn to ignore gold spammers in-game or mentally from an early level. Man, they are aggressive in this game! The game itself is great fun so far.

4

4

Mabinogi - (http://mabinogi.nexon.net) NEXON
I haven't quite mastered combat in Mabinogi. I sometimes get caught in enemy combos and don't know if I can trust auto-attack or not. It's weird to describe, but I'll work on it.

5

N/A

Dream of Mirror Online - (http://domo.aeriagames.com) Aeria Games & Entertainment
DOMO is typical of so many free-to-play games in that it has cutesy graphics. It's different in that the translation is very good and the quests attempt to weave in the lore of ancient China. The result is a game that feels like it is complete and not just a bunch of marketable parts thrown together.

6

6

Magic World Online - (http://mwo.enjoymmo.com) Goldcool Games
I am big fan of stories and lore. That is exactly Magic World Online delivers.

7

5

Warrior Epic - (http://warriorepic.com) Possibility Space
Warrior Epic remains somewhat a mystery to the folks not in Closed Beta. It's time for Possibility Space to ramp up the marketing on this one. If they think it is even close to where they want it, they're gonna need people to have heard of it.

8

8

NeoSteam - (www.neosteam.com) Hanbitsoft
Open Beta for NeoSteam began on 5/20/08. My Closed Beta Test experience was positive enough to make me want to come back.

9

N/A

Dungeon Runners - (http://www.dungeonrunners.com) NCSoft
I only just started Dungeon Runners, and I already love the quirky attitude the game showcases. It seems solid and polished, but I found a major drawback in my early play sessions: the game does everything in its power to remind you that you are playing the free version and that you should really upgrade to the paid version to fully enjoy the experience.

10

N/A

Shaiya - (http://shaiya.aeriagames.com) Aeria Games & Entertainment
Shaiya is an M-rated offering that needs some polish. The translation is not quite right, and all the quests are kill quests. Through 8 character levels, I have not seen anything really mature about the game--just some splattering blood that doesn't look real. Still, the game uses familiar elements and looks to have some engaging realm-vs.-realm action.


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