13 best paid & free MMORPGs to play in 2024, from Palia to WoW (2024)

While you likely won't be able to dedicate time to playing multiple MMORPGs all at once, there's a huge world of MMO games out there that can give you hundreds, if not thousands of hours of fun in 2024.

Games like World of Warcraft have dominated the MMO gaming space for many years now, but there are lots of other strong contenders out there across different settings that we'd consider to be the best of the best.

From the vast, inky dangers of outer space to the sun-baked plains of classic high-fantasy, the MMORPG genre really does have something for everyone to enjoy.

Editor Note: Unsure of whether an MMO requires a subscription or is free-to-play? We've detailed the payment structure of a game alongside each entry.

Best MMO games in 2024

#13 - Blade & Soul

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  • Release date: 2012
  • Model: Free, with a premium membership option
  • Platforms: PC (via NCSoft Launcher)
  • Key features:
    • Wuxia-themed gameplay
    • Brilliant character creation system
    • 15 classes and 4 races, one of which is gender-locked

Ah, Blade & Soul. A game I spent many a fond hour with upon its launch. Released in 2012 in Korea and then in 2016 to Western audiences, I was floored back in the day by its impressive action-combat and character creation, and to this day it's received plenty of updates and is still just as fun to dive back into.

With plenty of gameplay to chew over, from dungeons to PvE and PvP content alongside its large selection of classes and a few different races, the world also received a facelift in 2021 with the move over to Unreal Engine 4 (which I was very excited about) - and from checking it out myself, it looks pretty great.

As is the case with many an MMO, the story sets you out from humble beginnings on a tale of revenge, where you're initially a student. From there, though, Blade & Soul has plenty to uncover, and it's worth checking this out if you haven't, especially with a 'NEO Classic' version of the game also in the works and the Musician class which was added late in 2023.

#12 - Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Image via EA

  • Release date: 2011
  • Model: Free, with optional subscription
  • Platforms: PC (via Steam | Old Republic Launcher)
  • Key features:
    • Bringing Star Wars to the MMO space
    • Experience a new original story
    • Play as the Republic or the Sith, with a morality system

If you love Knights of the Old Republic and want to experience that world with your friends, Star Wars: The Old Republic is the MMO for you.

Taking place 300 years after the events of KOTOR, The Old Republic has you side with the Republic or the Sith as new conflicts arise in a familiar galaxy full of strife and intrigue.

One of the key features here is its morality system, which gives complexity to your own narrative outside of the standard good or bad split.

It'll never not be fun to use a lightsabre, and The Old Republic lets you experience and enhance your skills in a multiplayer environment that has never really been seen before. It was the fastest-growing MMO game at launch for a reason, so if you've not tried out Star Wars: The Old Republic yet, 2024 is a great time to dive in.

#11 - Palia

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Image via Singularity 6

  • Release date: 2023
  • Model: Free-to-play
  • Platforms: PC (via Palia and Epic Games launcher), Nintendo Switch
  • Key features:
    • Farm with your friends
    • Solo elements alongside multiplayer
    • Unique cosy gameplay

Palia is rather unique when it comes to MMO games, offering the cosy game experience that so many players love from titles like Stardew Valley and Disney Dreamlight Valley, but in a massively multiplayer world.

You'll be able to do everything that you love like farming, fishing, gardening, and even a little romance with your friends and many other players - making this perfect if you're looking for a relaxing social experience.

Don't worry if you still want your own space though, as you still get your own private home base that you can customise and decorate how you please, giving you the best of both worlds when it comes to the cosy experience.

Available on PC and Nintendo Switch, it's also recently launched on Steam as of March 25, 2024, giving you all the more reason to jump in and give it a try if you're a PC gamer.

#10 - EVE Online

  • Release date: 2003
  • Model: Free-to-play, with a subscription option
  • Platforms: PC (via Steam | EVE Online Launcher)
  • Key features:
    • Significant job variety
    • Large player base
    • Vast space setting

Having passed its 20th birthday last year, EVE Online is one of the longest-running MMO games for a reason. If you love space and its endless frontier, the game is one you don't want to miss out on.

The possibilities are near endless in the world of EVE, allowing players to do pretty much anything they want, from combat to trading, and mining.

Want to run trading routes with your friends through the solar system? You can do just that, or even start your own space pirate network and control outer space if that floats your boat (or spaceship).

The MMO's longevity alone proves that EVE Online is one of the best MMORPGs to play in 2024, and with an unlimited alpha account trial, you can test it for free without the burden of having to start a subscription too.

#9 - Lost Ark

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Image via Smilegate RPG

  • Releasedate: 2022
  • Model: Free-to-play, with microtransactions
  • Platforms: PC (via Steam)
  • Key features:
    • ARPG-esque combat
    • No subscription needed
    • Stunning graphics

Lost Ark is a rare breed when it comes to MMOs, as it's free-to-play with no optional subscriptions or paid expansions to its name. This makes it perhaps the best MMORPG for newcomers to the genre, as there's no additional cost required.

However, this does come with a downside, as it can be quite heavy on the grind, featuring an abundance of rather egregious microtransactions that can alleviate the grind.

Don't let these microtransactions get you down too much though, as Lost Ark is still a great game with a free account. Not only does it have a massive and thriving player base, but it's also one of the most graphically impressive MMORPGs out there.

Add on engaging ARPG Diablo-esque combat, and you're onto a winner here, making Lost Ark one of the best free MMO games that you can play. If you're just starting out, make sure to find out how to earn gold in Lost Ark so that you have some money to play with.

#8 - Black Desert Online

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Image via Pearl Abyss

  • Release date: 2014/2016
  • Model: $9.99/£8.99 with optional paid subscription
  • Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Mobile, PC (via Steam)
  • Key features:
    • Complex systems
    • High-fantasy setting
    • Massive open-world

Developed by Pearl Abyss, Black Desert Online is one of the best MMORPGs out there, as it features avast high-fantasy setting that so many will undoubtedly fall in love with.

Its seamless open world really highlights this too, allowing players to move with complete freedom across the massive world, creating an impressive sense of exploration in the MMO.

While some might see it as a negative, Black Desert Online's steep learning curve and relative complexity will absolutely be a draw for players who relish a challenge, enabling them to dive right into the deep end with no tab-targeting.

New classes are being added all the time, too, and they're quite different from what you'd likely expect to see in MMOs, allowing you to become everything from the gravity-manipulating Scholar to the Corsair, who can wield the power of the sea.

#7 - Lord of the Rings Online

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Image via Standing Stone Games

  • Release date: 2007
  • Model: Free with optional paid subscription
  • Platforms: PC (via Steam | LOTR Online)
  • Key features:
    • Explore Middle Earth with your friends
    • Over 15 years of expansions and new content
    • Play across six different races

Lord of the Rings Online (LOTR Online) was one of the first MMORPGs that I was ever aware of, and as a huge fan of Tolkien's fantasy world, it felt like a dream to play. You're able to explore the vast lands of Middle Earth, from The Shire to the deep mines of Moria, and even the vast kingdom of Gondor.

While there have been quite a few successful games based on the Lord of the Rings franchise, an MMO really is the dream setting for a world like this, and the fact that it has nearly reached two decades in age shows how much it means to its dedicated player base.

Its graphics may not be the prettiest of the bunch on this list, but with new content being added regularly (the last of which arrived in November 2023), it's a fantastic adventure to embark upon even without holding any ties to the series.

#6 - RuneScape

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Image via Jagex

  • Release date: 2001
  • Model: Free with optional paid subscription
  • Platforms: PC (via Jagex Launcher)
  • Key features:
    • Very friendly player base
    • Nostalgic for many
    • Satisfying skills system

You can't go wrong with the classics, and while RuneScape (and certainly Old School Runescape) might not stack up graphically to its other contemporaries, it's as brilliant as the nostalgic memories you likely have of it from playing it in the past.

Perhaps the biggest appeal of RuneScape is its community, which is as bustling as ever. It's very welcoming, especially to new players, making the game a joy to jump into if you're fresh to the genre.

Combine this with its free-to-play model alongside an optional subscriptionthat includes more skills, quests, and areas to explore, you really can't say no to giving Runescape a try - especially if you've not picked it up in years.

Runescape was a game I played for hours and hours when I was younger, and being able to return to the classic format that I love shows how great it is, standing firmly amongst the best MMOs despite its age.

#5 - The Elder Scrolls Online

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Image via ZeniMax

  • Release date: 2014
  • Model: $19.99/£15.99 with paid expansions
  • Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC (via Steam)
  • Key features:
    • Explore all of Tamriel in one game
    • Multiplayer Elder Scrolls
    • Lots of developer support
    • Did I mention it's multiplayer Elder Scrolls?

If you're a lover of the Elder Scrolls series, then you're doing yourself a disservice if you've never played The Elder Scrolls Online, as it is one of the best paid MMO games out there.

While multiplayer mods have always been a thing for the various single-player titles in the franchise, nothing comes close to the feeling of the MMO when exploring the realms of Tamriel. In ESO, you can play as all of your favourite classes across so many of the series-famous areas like Cyrodill, Vvardenfell, Skyrim, and more.

As someone who fell in love with the Elder Scrolls from a young age, being able to explore the world with my friends was always a dream. It feels truly magical to be able to traverse between all of the different locales, so if you're a Tamriel lover like me, then you have to give Elder Scrolls Online a try.

Furthermore, being far removed now from its subscription controversy at launch, The Elder Scrolls Online has no additional costs outside of expansions once you purchase the base game, which is excellent news for anyone who feels bogged down by the standard subscription nature of MMOs.

Considering the brand-new Gold Road expansion just launched on June 3, there's no better time this year to jump into ESO and experience the whole of Tamriel.

#4 - Destiny 2

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Image via Bungie

  • Release date: 2017
  • Model: Free-to-play with paid expansions
  • Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC (via Steam | Epic Games Store)
  • Key features:
    • Engaging multiplayer raids
    • First-person shooter combat
    • Lots of expansions

If you love the idea of MMOs but don't quite gel with the format, then Destiny 2 might be an ideal option for you. Featuring some of the best-feeling first-person shooter action out there, Destiny 2 brings the MMO format to a new setting - and has proven to be wildly successful.

Your time spent in Destiny 2 will be split between PvE raids and PvP deathmatch action, making it ideal for whatever you want to tackle at any point in time. What's more, there's also an expansive narrative in the game that will satisfy any sci-fi fans out there, with a surprising number of emotional moments and plenty of lore to uncover.

Destiny 2 is a completely free-to-play MMO game with no subscriptions at all - but you will need to pick up the various expansions to engage in the latest content and story updates. These are highly rated by the community, and do a lot in making Destiny 2 one of the best MMORPGs out there.

#3 - World of Warcraft

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Image via Blizzard

  • Release date: 2004
  • Model: Paid expansions & subscription required
  • Platforms: PC (via Battle.net)
  • Key features:
    • Archetypal fantasy setting
    • Huge and dedicated player base
    • Lots of tie-in content

World of Warcraft is undoubtedly one of, if not the most well-known MMORPG, and for good reason. While it perhaps doesn't exist in the wider public consciousness as much compared to the mid to late 2000s, the game still holds an incredibly impressive player count.

WoW continues to release top-tier expansions, featuring plenty of stories to dig your teeth into, new races to play, dungeons to complete, and new corners of Azeroth to explore. The latest instalment, Dragonflight, added a new Hero class, the draconic Dracthyr to step into the shoes, sending players off to their homeland in the stunning vistas of The Dragon Isles.

It's the quintessentialarchetype of the fantasy MMO, taking place in a vast and colourful magic-filled land crawling with fantastical beasts, elves, and more. There's so much for you to get up to in-game too, with plenty of jobs to fulfil, skills to grind, and events to take place in.

World of Warcraft is a classic for a reason, and remains by far one of the best paid MMORPGs that you can play as it nears 20 years in age - with many claiming that it sits at the top of the pile too.

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What is the best free-to-play MMO game?

#2 - Guild Wars 2

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Image via ArenaNet

  • Release date: 2012
  • Model: Free with optional paid subscription
  • Platforms: PC (via Steam| ArenaNet Client)
  • Key features:
    • Engaging combat system
    • Fantastic art style and graphics
    • Wonderful fantasy world

Our pick for the best free MMORPG is Guild Wars 2, as it's an incredible experience over ten years after its initial release. While there are some paid elements within the game, you can play it entirely for free, forever, with only minimal restrictions on your account.

This makes it ideal for anyone wanting a new MMO to dive into, or to jump into the genre for the first time in general. Following the fantasy setting that has remained so popular, it has a unique art style that still shines graphically despite its age.

With an engaging combat system and so much for you to get up to in-game, you will find it difficult to become bored of Guild Wars 2. What's more, the community remains incredibly strong to this day, too, so you will have no fears of feeling alone within the vast world of Tyria.

What is the best paid MMORPG?

#1 - Final Fantasy XIV

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Image via Square Enix

  • Release date: 2013
  • Model: Subscription and paid expansions
  • Platforms: PS5, PS4, PC (via Steam | Moogle Launcher)
  • Key features:
    • Incredible narrative
    • Final Fantasy in a multiplayer setting
    • Very forgiving free trial

If you're looking for a paid MMORPG in 2024, we recommend none other than Final Fantasy XIV as the ideal choice. Not only is it one of the best Final Fantasy games according to our ranked list, but it's also arguably the best MMO on the market.

While it's classed under the paid category due to its monthly subscription and paid expansions (which are all must-plays), it does have an incredibly generous free trial that has become a bit of a meme in recent years.

Not only do you get the entirety of the base game for free, but you also get the first and second expansions, which work out to around 200 hours of content, free of any additional charges.

It's within the paid content that the game reaches an even higher level though, with both the Shadowbringers and Endwalker expansions considered true highs of the Final Fantasy series - and the entire MMO genre itself. With the new expansion, Dawntrail on the horizon, there's no better time to start your journey in Eorzea.

As a Final Fantasy fan, XIV perfectly captures the sheer magic of the series and extends the experience beyond the limitations of a linear, single-player experience, letting me be at peace in a fantastical world for as long as I want.

It's an MMO game so popular that it had to limit new sign-ups around the launch of its last expansion and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. There really are few better choices for the best MMORPGs out there, so jump on the free trial if you haven't already and get started.

Check out our lists homepage for more guides like this. We've also covered the best Xbox Game Pass games, the best free-to-play games on PC, the best coop games, and the best games like Skyrim.

13 best paid & free MMORPGs to play in 2024, from Palia to WoW (2024)
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