With the rise of online gameplay and games-as-service over the years, the MMO genre, amongst others, has morphed in some ways to provide the experience of RPG gaming without the necessity of paying for it, instead providing the option to do so. Meanwhile, other genres have taken on RPG elements, blending gameplay styles in ways we haven’t seen before. All of this has resulted in some games that feature heavy RPG elements while being available to play for free. On this list, we present you with 10 such games that you might want to try if you’re looking for some free RPG options to play.
Developer: Radon Labs
Following the standalone game from 2008, Drakensang Online gave new life to the pen-and-paper port version of its predecessor. It got a new lease on life as a browser game for a while, before getting a desktop client version as well. Repolished over time, the game is a good blend of the classic style of RPG and a modernized MMO experience, blending the two into a unique amalgamation. Drakensang Online is still going strong and has a dedicated fanbase that motivates the small development team to keep polishing the game. It’s a game that is well worth a try if you’re looking for something different, yet familiar.
Elder Scrolls Online
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Platform: PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox
To the fans of the RPG genre, the Elder Scrolls franchise would be a household name. After all, they are considered to be juggernauts of the genre. But, there is also an MMO version of adventuring in Tamriel within ZeniMax’s ESO. What sets it apart from most other MMOs is that ESO can be played as a full-fledged single-player experience, fully immersive with detailed voiced dialogue and an expansive quest system. It is worth giving it a shot and just treating it as an odd free single-player Elder Scrolls game.
Developer: CCP Games
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Even among other MMO games, EVE Online is a curiosity. It’s equal parts sci-fi space sim and an RPG, in which you can pretty much carve out any sort of career for yourself in the vast expanse of space. While it is free to play, EVE has been known to be a place where people have lost hundreds of dollars worth of pixels during huge galactic conflicts and stock market crashes. For a lot of players, the universe of EVE is a true home away from home. The RPG elements stem from completely deciding what sort of life you want to participate in and letting you mine, trade, explore, privateer, and much more.
Platform: Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch
Starting out as a highly anticipated mobile game, Genshin Impact has taken that and then the gaming world by storm. It is a blend of gacha and action RPG games, set in a vast open world that’s getting regular updates to keep the ravenous fanbase occupied. The game features unique character designs that you can further customize, lending a wide variety of RPG elements to the way you can interact with them and the game’s world. Another popular hallmark of the game is the addictive combat system, ensuring hours of fun for its players.
Developer: SmileGate, Tripod Studio
Lost Ark has started out as a very eastern-style MMO action RPG, and it’s handled its adaptation to the western market in a more unique way than many that have tried previously. Instead of going by the simple ‘port’ route, Lost Ark took its best ‘eastern’ elements and adapted them to what the western audiences expect in their games, creating a deep and unique blend. The game itself is an action RPG with distinct MMO elements and with plenty of systems that are both deep and varied. There truly is something for everyone in this game, just by the sheer number of features it packs.
Path of Exile
Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Platform: PC, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox
What started out as an alternative take on Diablo 2 in 2013, grew into the perhaps deepest and most complex action RPG of all times. Some games feature customization, while PoE is a customization that features a game. If you’re a fan of kitting your character to do exactly what you want, no matter how they start, then Path of Exile might be the game for you. It takes the customization aspect of RPGs and cranks it to 11. Besides that, it features an interesting and dark story, and an endgame that is many times as broad as the campaign it takes to get to it. There are several seasons with new features each year, and with PoE 2 on the horizon, this free game only grows from strength to strength.
The grand-daddy MMORPG of yesteryear, Runescape has been remade and modernized for the modern online gamer. Besides the modernized version, Jagex has also released support for the ‘Old School Runescape’, so you can try whichever flavor you like. If you want to try the game that heavily inspired a juggernaut that was World of Warcraft, and to do it for free, then Runescape is the way to go. It boasts many of the mechanics that it inherited from older RPG games from the ‘90s, but unlike some of the MMO titles from this list, Runescape is one of those games that practically requires group play to fully experience what it has to offer.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Just like its parent franchise, SW:TOR is a game whose popularity has waxed and waned over the years. You can often hear it described as a “single-player game with an unnecessary MMO component” and that is a fairly apt assessment. The game features a very immersive single-player story and systems, that cater perfectly to RPG players looking for a bit of sci-fi adventuring in a galaxy far, far away. Play as a smuggler, bounty hunter, or even a Jedi, and you too can feel what it’s like to be a character in a Star Wars universe. And furthermore, checking out the game and playing through large portions of it is completely free.
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Taking a step back from the ever-present MMOs, we take a look at a rerelease of a classic game that helped spawn one of the most famous RPG franchises of all time. If you’ve ever wondered where games like Skyrim, Morrowind, or even ESO have come from, Daggerfall is here to give you the answer. This game was first released all the way back in 1996 and plays as a real old-school RPG. That means that there is very little hand-holding and the RPG systems are robust and unforgiving. The game has been recently revived on Steam and is available completely for free, which means that a new generation of RPG enthusiasts can play it and see what’s come before games they know and love.
Developer: Trion Worlds, Gamingo US
Platform: PC, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch
A bit of an outlier on our list, Trove is a neat concept that combines elements of open-world games, MMOs, classic RPGs, and Minecraft (of all things). Its voxel-based graphics might not be for everyone, but the game is a mishmash that combines into more than the sum of its parts. For RPG-minded, you can pick from a multitude of classes and take on various adventures to collect loot and materials, only to return them to your base and build out the home of your dreams for you and your friends. It is a neat experience and perhaps the most family-friendly entry on our list. That is further proven by the game’s high approval rating and ever-expanding player base, ever since its release all the way back in 2015. So if you have a younger sibling or cousin that you want to slowly introduce to RPG games, then Trove is a great and free way to do it.