One of my friends lives about 2000 miles away. We rarely see each other but we keep in touch by playing games together. Several nights during the week we jump on Skype and decide which of the various Free2Play games we’re going to play.
We are both very experienced gamers so our options span the gamut of available genres. FPS, TPS, RTS, MMO or something a little more experimental, we are familiar with the ins-and-outs of most game types.
You and a few friends want to play something different but the plethora of subpar options out there tends to squash the temptation to stray from your CoDs and WoWs.
From the endless cavalcade of braindead deathmatch to “old-ish” school Dawn of War to closed betas we’ve both managed to get into, whenever we try a new game out we always try to choose a character class or team that will compliment eachothers playstyle.
I love to charge into combat with wonton disregard; he’s scary with a sniper rifle. Tanking five mobs and maintaining aggro is my bread and butter; he relishes creating perfectly sequenced, devistating DPS.
I thought to write this article because I realized that there must be millions of people out there in the same situation as us: You and a few friends want to play something different but the plethora of sub par options out there tends to squash the temptation to stray from your CoDs and WoWs.
So I decided to list a few of our more successful endeavors in a long, LONG line of underwhelming experiences in the Free2Play realm. Most of these games are available on Steam and each is either a very unique take on what has otherwise become a stale genre or something just so engrossing it’s hard to believe your playing it for free.
So if you and your crew are looking for something else to play and Chess doesn’t have enough blood or particle physics consider checking out the following:
Imagine a GTA MMO and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from APB Reloaded. If you thought you’ve created massive chaos on the streets of Liberty city, wait until there are 200 other maniacs driving around the streets of APB’s amalgamated metropolis of San Paro.
There is nothing quite like having your pal behind the wheel, driving down the street weaving through traffic while you hang out the passenger window brandishing a fully automatic weapon. The character customization in this game is bar none the most impressive I’ve ever seen. You can create almost anyone real or fictional that you want. I’ve personally seen Chief Wiggum and Waldo
Be forewarned however, the competition in this game is fierce, the keys to surviving are constant situational awareness, liberal usage of the iron sights and carefull leaning around corners.
Why should We play it? Running opposing players over with your car is so much sweeter when you know it’s a real person somewhere out there sitting at their computer cursing you.
What’s the catch? All weapon upgrades expire after 10 days which means you never really own your weapon unless you buy a permanent variant from the Player Shop.
This is a truly gorgeous space sim, it’s flight physics are absolutely spectacular, and the level in which you can customize your ship is impressive. It has a very weird sense of pacing, the first few hours of the game will be spent in a single player campaign, which is indeed entertaining but hardly conducive to cooperative play.
Once you manage to finish the campagin, which is actually a fairly interesting tale, you decide which faction you want to play (Cyborgs & Genetically Engineed). You are then dropped into a quest hub finally able to enjoy the game together, unfortunately the gameplay does have a high degree of grinding.
Why should We play it? Excellent space dog fighting and breathtaking visuals.
What’s the catch? It’s a graveyard, very few players or at least very few players concentrated in a single area.
Dungeons & Dragons Online
My friend and I had actually bought this game as a boxed retail product back when it was first released. Fast forward several years and it has gone Free2Play. DDO has had a truly massive graphical overhaul and impressive inclusion of some Direct X 11 effects. The game has also been stream lined and expanded throughout. DDO differs from simply EVERY other MMO because of it’s strict adherence to mechanics and terminology from the D&D Universe (D20s, Saving Thows, +1 Weapons) and it’s truly unique take on dungeon questing.
Instead of just entering a dungeon and grinding through the mobs and three bosses, in DDO each dungeon you visit is a little self contained adventure complete with voiced narrations, traps, secret passages and the occasional puzzle.
Each character class can provide a variety of services both in combat and out. Rogues can discover and disarm traps before their sprung, stronger melee based characters can force open rusty valves and other characters with highly attuned perception can spot hidden passages and perhaps special loot or rare encounters.
Why should We play it? Awesome teamwork opportunities, original action oriented battle system, cleverly designed and executed dungeons.
What’s the catch? Several races, prestige classes and endgame content must be purchased.
DC Universe Online
This was a surprise gem for me. With an awesome superhero character creation system and the ability to keep your look while still being able to upgrade your equipment and weapons, combined with the ability to navigate the world by flight from the moment you enter it, DCUO is a an excellent MMO with a much more fast paced bombastic battle system than it’s competitors that allows you to look and feel like a complete badass.
There is something just so satisfying about creating your own alter ego, in other MMOs you have your perennial classes: The Warrior, The Mage, The Rogue, etc. But in DCUO you have the ability to mix and match combat styles to create a truly unique avatar.
Want to control deadly vines like Poison Ivy and wield dual pistols like DeadShot? Go for it!
Want to fly like Superman but use gadgetry to subdue foes like Batman? No problem!
A cross section of many of DC Universe’s greatest super power traits are at your disposal.
Why should We play it? Have you ever wanted to be a super hero? Have you ever wanted to fly?
What’s the catch? Certain features (like voice chat) are only available to “premium members”
If a real-money item is something necessary to enjoy the core of the game, then the game itself probably isn’t worth our time to begin with.
These are just a few of the choicest games we have tried together. One of the reasons we play so many Free2Play games is because we tend to consume games in general very quickly. Therefore, playing something that lets us jump in without any cost of admission allows us to have our cake and eat it too.
So far we have both discussed, at varies times, purchasing items from each of these games’ respective shops but neither of us have been so inclined as to make that leap simply because if a real-money item is something necessary to enjoy the core of the game, then the game itself probably isn’t worth our time to begin with.
We are always looking for new games to play so if you have some suggestions please share them with us!