A long time ago, I dabbled in something completely new for me while I was still playing World of Warcraft. An activity, which I did not expect to enjoy, but one that led me to discover a brand new world. With it, also came a lot of new friends. That activity was roleplaying in a digital MMO.
With MMORPG games being based on tabletop franchises roleplaying games, it was only natural for players to start using this new media to enhance their RP experience. And so they did, across various digital titles, both free and paid, and in various ways and forms. The setting didn’t matter as much as the imagination.
However, it appears that in recent years the RP communities in nearly all titles have been on a decline. Newcomers to digital RPG games usually do not remember the glory days of tabletop roleplay, so they do not even know what they’re missing. Pillars of the RP community, on the other hand, start families, take on more responsibilities at work, and have even less time to play than before. At the end of the day, roleplayers nowadays can be a bit hard to find.
However, if you are looking for a new title to try roleplaying in, or you are just curious to try it for the first time, I am here to help. Here’s a list of 5 of the best free MMOs for roleplaying, complete with healthy communities and plenty of adventure.
The Lord of the Rings: Online
LOTRO is a title that managed to retain its popularity among roleplayers for much longer than anyone anticipated. Currently, the game is not as popular with PvE and PvP players, but the RP community is as healthy as ever. In fact, it is probably the main reason this MMO is still afloat.
The game comes with plenty of mechanics that allow for more immersive experience, from musical instruments that you can play your own songs on, through a detailed outfit system, all the way to the huge catalogue of expertly-animated emotes.
Of course, being a free-to-play title, the game might ask of you to pay for some of the cosmetic goodies. However, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the RP atmosphere and the friendly community without paying a single cent. What’s more, if you are willing to grind a bit, the premium currencies can actually be obtained through gameplay.
DC Universe Online
In case you are not a big fan of the fantasy setting most MMOs provide, you still have plenty of options. One of those is DC Universe Online, the hero-villain semi-action title that takes place in Batman’s world.
The game itself is nothing too special and as far as MMOs go, DCUO is somewhat average. Yet, the game does feature a pretty dedicated roleplaying community. That being said, do not expect to find many RPers on console. Instead, download the game on your PC and have a go there.
You might be wondering why I prefer DCUO over Champions Online when it comes to roleplay. It’s because of the community. The Champions Online RP community is bigger, but also not as high-quality as the small one in DC Universe Online.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
There is no better sci-fi MMO for roleplayers than Star Wars: The Old Republic. This title is not only fueled by deep and complex lore that spans over several decades of multimedia, but it also comes with some of the most dedicated roleplayers I have ever seen. A lot of these guys come from Star Wars Galaxies, the older Star Wars MMO that shut down in 2011.
Let me tell you, Star Wars Galaxies had some of the best roleplaying communities in existence. Those same people are the backbone of what SWTOR RP is all about, so despite being a relatively new game, it offers decades of RP experience between its players.
Also, who doesn’t want to be a Jedi, even if it’s only for a day?
Guild Wars 2
So far, all the games I have offered come with decades of history behind their setting. This is not the case with Guild Wars 2, however. This title is not based on any external media, which allows its developers to do whatever they wish with the lore and the world.
Therefore, both the original Guild Wars from 2005 and the latest expansions of the sequel, Guild Wars 2 come with a unique feel for the setting that cannot be found in any other MMO. When you combine this with the relatively early release of the original (compared to the majority of the MMOs out there), it’s only natural that GW2 has attracted a very large and dedicated roleplaying community.
There is something for everyone there, from casual RPers to lore-heavy roleplaying guilds. The only MMO that can rival it in any way is World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft
Speaking of the king, he still reigns supreme in all things MMO. After over 13 years, World of Warcraft remains the most well-known online game out there and this is not changing anytime soon. So, it is only natural for it to have the biggest roleplaying community in existence as well. Some of the WoW RPers have been there for many, many years. Others entered the scene only recently. Either way, there is a place for everyone in the roleplaying community.
That being said, finding a mature guild that actually runs proper adventures might take some time. You will run into a lot of questionable characters until you find the right group, but if you do not give up, you might even find a substitute for your old D&D group that you haven’t seen for ages.
Wait, wasn’t this list about free-to-play MMOs? Well, yes. And with the introduction of Tokens, WoW technically is free-to-play, if you can make enough gold before your subscription ends.