The main problem I have with majority of F2P MMORPGs is that the economy is fucked up, and the in game currency is completely devalued.
This is because the games require rare/unique gear and items to be competitive during higher levels (even against monsters), and most of said needed items cannot be purchased in npc stores, rather, they'd have to be farmed from high level monsters by high level players, bought through real money transaction, or bought from the high level players who would vend them.
The scenario has a few things that don't add up
- none of the in game currency is being spent on npc stores (or currency deleters), so they just revolve around all the players and accumulate (which results in the currency being devalued over time. Ragnarok Online is the worst offender in this. It used to be that 100k zenny was a huge amount, but nowadays the stuff that players sell for 100k zenny are sold for hundreds of millions of zenny, or not at all as the vendors prefer exchanging them for other high end items or real money/premium points)
- the market place gets manipulated by high level players who have a means of control over prices and will hoard high level items (one nifty trick they do is pepper the market place with vending characters that extremely overprice items, and then have another character sell the same items in slightly less, but still overpriced rates)
- the games eventually become inaccessible to newbies who don't want to use the premium or cheat (through 3rd party bots that let them farm low level items to be sold in bulk).
RE: the above problems, two F2p MMOs I can recommend are Champions Online and DC Universe Online.
Champions Online is perfect if you love character customization and hate grinding.
- The character creation is the best I have encountered in any game so far, I mean, the only game I know that can beat it in terms of what you can create is The Sims. You want your character to look exactly like Superman, Hulk, Iron Man, Adam Warlock, or even Son Goku? You can. Only problem is with the logos/emblems. Naturally, they won't include copyrighted stuff.
- The look of your character is not dependent on the gear you wear, and you can change/modify the costume anytime (for a cost, though - using the in-game currency, there's no need to pay real money.) The gears only improve stats.
- The game is not grindy at all. The max level is only 40, and you don't really need to fight random monsters at all as you can level up through quests, which kind of gives the game a bit more direction.
- you get travel powers at level 5 (immediately, if you skip the tutorial stage), so there's no need to spend money on mounts and warps
- The stories remind me of golden age plots (time travel, superheroes dying, vengeful gods, alien invasions, mobsters, etc.)
The catch with the game is just extra customization content and extra convenient items (like xp modifiers, bundled buffing items, etc)
DC Universe Online is pretty much the same, but with less customization.But you also don't need to depend on gear for your look. Once you get a specific gear, you can change into that look without changing the equipment you are wearing. Also:
- One of the game's "catch" actually works in its favor re economy. The game caps free players' wallet to 2000, when you have 2000, you won't be able to earn anymore and whatever else you earn is thrown to an escrow service, which you can only withdraw through premium purchase or by being a subscriber. The good thing about this is that the game doesn't become dependent on in game currency. And even market sellers acknowledge the cap so they have less of a tendency to overprice (if you price it above the f2p cap, the only people who will be able to buy your stuff are premium/veteran players, who are usually more familiar with market prices and stingy, and therefore, much harder to fleece)
- the game doesn't require you to be competitive against players, since you can disable PK and you won't be targeted. And instead of PVP, you can instead team up with other players for co-op missions.
- Like CO, DC Universe Online is not grindy. You can reach max level (30) without farming. You just go on quests or do instances with other players and you'll level up along the way.
- It's also not gear dependent until you reach end game dungeons/quests or if you want to PVP.
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