Top Ten Free-to-Play Games Week 6

Updated Wed, May 28, 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 played more Dungeon Runners and Mabinogi. I was trying to get a feel for how well these games truly support free players, and I came to differing conclusions on the two games.

In the case of Dungeon Runners, NCSoft does everything in its power to remind gamers that they are free-loading. First, the game places a banner ad at the top of the screen at all times and occasionally displays a full page ad while loading a dungeon. The good news is that the game runs at a smooth 30-40 FPS on maximum graphics for me even with these ads. Also, an icon depicting a warrior with a sword in a wheelchair sits atop your screen. It reminds players to buy a subscription so that developers can eat. A multicolored phrase at the bottom right of the screen encourages players to sign up to turn off the ads. Finally, some of the gear and a good number of potions players loot can only be used by subscribing members. I have yet to level high enough to find out how not being able to use the second tier and higher potions inhibits players. I suspect it will really start to matter at some point.

Mabinogi, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be as over-the-top with trying to get players to spend money. Nevertheless, Nexon really wants you to, and you'll likely end up spending more than a monthly subscription for another title if you do. I checked out the Nexon Shop just to see about increasing inventory space. I found purchasing options that let players increase inventory space. 30 days of increased space would cost a player 9500 NX Cash, the currency of the shop. The player could buy 10,000 NX Cash in the shop for $10. So, just to increase inventory space for the month costs two-thirds of a subscription for a pay-to-play game. It's a good thing you don't have to buy anything.

NeoSteam went into Open Beta last week. I am really enjoying myself in it so far, but it has translation issues. The good news is that it looks pretty good and has fun combat. I'll be publishing my second preview of NeoSteam next week.

Finally, I downloaded and tried Exteel, the mech game from NCSoft. The graphics in Exteel are awesome. just the right blend of rendering and cartoony looks. I was having a ton of fun in the tutorial despite the fact that I could not pause it and some parts were timed. Sadly, when I got stuck on a particular area of the tutorial due to my poor play skill (I could not use the light guns to kill enemies without dying first), I had to skip the rest of the tutorial. There is no option to skip a certain part it would seem. I decided to jump straight to the campaign and have some fun. Only problem was that I could not find the campaign. It looked like the whole game was about PvP on random maps. I could not find a persistent shared land area to make me think of the game as massively-multiplayer. It just felt like Call of Duty online multiplayer mode with mechs. So, Exteel won't make this list even though it looks pretty cool.

The List
Coming up, I will be trying Requiem: Bloodymare and Holic. I'll be playing more Fiesta and NeoSteam, too.

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

Top Ten Free-to-Play Games
May 29, 2008
Rank Previous Game

1

1

Mythos - (www.mythos.com) Flagship Studios, Inc.
Mythos is in a lull while the design team puts the finishing touches on the open overland areas. I think the next update will solidify the game as a terrific choice for anybody.

2

4

Mabinogi - (http://mabinogi.nexon.net) NEXON
I finally got the hang of combat in Mabinogi. I just needed to toggle on auto-attack. This makes the game much easier for me to learn, and I am having a lot of fun interrogating NPCs to learn skills.

3

2

Wakfu - (www.wakfu.com) Ankama
Wakfu is ranked on the laurels of Dofus and the fact that I am a nut for turn-based strategy. I dig  the art style and the classes, which are not the cookie cutter archetypes of most games.

4

5

Dream of Mirror Online - (http://domo.aeriagames.com) Aeria Games & Entertainment
With deep character customization through the class system that lets players mix and match skills and diverse crafting roles, DOMO is a fun game.

5

3

Fiesta - (http://fiesta.outspark.com) Outspark
Fiesta is really fun early when you can solo. By the mid-teens, you start needing a group. Sadly groups can be a real gamble in this game. Players are on for such short bursts and often seem to have no clue what they are doing.

6

6

Magic World Online - (http://mwo.enjoymmo.com) Goldcool Games
It will take a lot of good free-to-play games to knock Magic World Online off of this list. Goldcool did so much right with the story and character development.

7

8

NeoSteam - (www.neosteam.com) Hanbitsoft
NeoSteam is in Open Beta now, so anyone can check it out. If you can overlook some shaky translation here and there, it is a lot of fun.

8

9

Dungeon Runners - (http://www.dungeonrunners.com) NCSoft
Dungeon Runners will bug you incessantly to upgrade to a premium account.It's quirky attitude and solid, polished game play probably make it worth it. I still have reservations about how viable it is to play for free at the upper levels when you can only use Tier 1 potions.

9

7

Warrior Epic - (http://warriorepic.com) Possibility Space
Warrior Epic is running a lot of contests right now to get people into Closed Beta. Maybe the marketing push has begun.

10

N/A

Shaiya - (http://shaiya.aeriagames.com) Aeria Games & Entertainment
Shaiya sits in the ten hole for another week because I did not really try many new games last week. I cannot imagine it will last much longer, though, as the quests are repetitive and the translation is poor.


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