All the Best Things in Life Are Free – Three Fun Free-to-Play MMOs

Posted: May 25, 2011 by Raparth in Uncategorized

This week I’d like to talk about three Free-to-Play Massively Multiplayer Online games: Champions Online, Global Agenda, and Hellgate: London.  To start off with, let’s admit that “free-to-play” is sometimes a dirty word.  It’s something that “serious” gamers don’t do.  After all, you get what you pay for, right?  What sort of game could be for free?  Some casual-gamer crap, that’s what!  Well, I’ll freely admit that I’ve been in that group, looking down on Free-to-Play games and, yes, even throwing “casual” around like another dirty word.  It’s time to shape up our perspectives and face the facts: Free-to-Play games can be fun and, in general, just excellent games.  And, as something particularly relevant to the theme of this particular blog, Free-to-Play games have a major leg-up on paid-for-games, especially subscription-based games:  They are easy to try out and are free to play together!  No longer do couples, friends, family members have to worry about buying the same game.  (A $40-$60 game is a considerable purchase for most of us, especially if you have to buy TWO copies.)  The price combined with the fact that it’s  not always easy to find games that you and your gaming-fellow both enjoy gives Free-to-Play MMOs a doubly powerful head-start in the race to recruit players.

The inner cynic in me (Okay, it’s not a very “inner”ly contained cynic.) requires that I point out all of these started as a Pay-to-Play game, before eventually moving to Free-to-Play.  Is this the recipe for the best games?  I couldn’t say.  I’ve yet to have substantial experience with MMOs that start as Free-to-Play.

Champions Online – Super Powers Hooooooo! – http://www.champions-online.com/

I played this shortly after it came out, with a friend who I do believe still plays it (with his significant other, no less!).  It was tons of fun.  I mean, really, who doesn’t have that nostalgic pull towards comic-booky things?  Be a super hero!  A super villain!  The raw customizability of the, well, costumes is amazing.  The powers are increasingly diverse, extremely visually impressive, and just are great at having that quintessential Super feel.  When I played (though it was before the modern Free-to-Play “silver accounts”), I created a master of sorcery named The Quaesitor (Yes, it’s a reference both to the DC hero “The Question” and to the Order of Hermes “House Quaesitor”) that teleported around and threw bolts of raw arcane energy.  I also made a heroine in power armor named Palatine, whose outfit looked nigh-indistinguishable from Warhammer 40,000’s Sisters of Battle.  The “Power Armor” powers (as Champions Online calls them) included a wrist-mounted gun (bolter?), flame throwers (flamers!), and even a slashing sword of energy (power weapons, oh yes!).

In gameplay, it’s much like your familiar MMOs (World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, RIFT, etc.) with an action bar of abilities, targeting, etc.  The fact that it’s free now?  Oh, you can bet I’ll be getting Cynthetic to try this one out.

Global Agenda – Futuristic Team-Based Action!  BAM! – http://www.globalagendagame.com/

This is a First-Person Shooter game in a futuristic, largely post-apocalyptic setting.  You pick one of four classes: Recon (scout/spy), Medic, Assault (heavy weapons soldier), and Robotics (engineer).  You level up throughout the world, both in single-player and group-oriented missions/explorations.  Eventually, you can take over whole sections of the world as part of your guild and engage in large PvP and PvE battles (many even what are effectively FPS “raids”).  If you love a team/class-based shooter game, you’ll probably love playing it like this as you can level up and grow your skills and equipment with your friends.

Hellgate: London – Fighting the Forces of Hell on Earth… Again! – http://hellgate.t3fun.com/

This is a personal favorite of mine.  It is perhaps one of the best and most original game ideas in the last… 10 years.  Instead of the tried-and-true lone soldier fighting waves of hellish (figuratively or literally) enemies invading and threatening Earth…  Well, sorry, kiddo, but we lost that war over 20 years ago.  Humanity has been hiding underground, an endangered species of refugees, as the Forces of Hell control the Earth, even changing it to their needs (in a pyro-forming effort called “the Burn”).  There are only a few factions that have been able to fight back at all, trying to keep humanity and hope alive.  You fight back against the armies of hell, in strategic strikes doing the most you can with your ever-decreasing resources.

There are six classes (the three factions: Templars, Cabalists, and Hunters all have 2 classes with similar but slightly-different playstyles) that gain skills in a way veeery reminiscent to the Diablo and Diablo II games that Hellgate’s makers made as well.  You can play in a first-person perspective or with a third-person over-the-shoulder camera.  Templars are [almost] all about melee, Hunters rely on guns of all sorts (though their Engineer uses drones, too), and Cabalists use sorcery and summoned pets to fight back against the Demons with their own power.  Templars and even Cabalists feel much like a traditional hack-slash RPG, but Hunters have a quite distinct FPS feel to them.  And, I must be honest, Hellgate: London has a superb visual style and some of the best armor/weapons I’ve seen that combine science and sorcery.  If you’ve seen the trailer for Diablo III’s Demon Hunter… Well, let’s just say that anyone who’s seen Hellgate: London notices a huuuuuge amount of similarity between the two’s feel.

Hellgate: London’s Free-to-Play resurrection is going to an open English beta in early June and we will hopefully see it full revealed not to many months after!

Oh, hell, I’ll have to get Cynthia to try all of these.  Luckily, they’re within our budget.  If you plan on trying out any of them or already play them…  Send me a line and we’ll try to wind up with a possibility of playing together.  The more the merrier, especially when it’s free.

Supers, Agents, and Demons, oh my!

~ Mr. Pacman

(William/Raparth)

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Comments
  1. Tristan says:

    Dear Cynth and Raparth.

    We miss you!
    Kiwike wants you to return and hope you have a better time!

    -Tristo… Kiwike moderator and The Kiwike population

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