Top Free to Play WoW Clones

by Tyler Edwards, April 3, 2012

So you love World of Warcraft, but you're a bit hard up for cash and that monthly subscription is starting to hurt. There's no shame in that. These are tough times for everyone. But maybe you're starting to wonder if a game without a monthly subscription is better for you right now. Don't worry; we've got your back. We've compiled a list of some of the best and most popular free to play massively multiplayer games that closely resemble WoW. They're not exactly the same thing, but they may scratch your WoW itch, and you might even find you like them better than Warcrack.

four story

4: 4story:

If you're a hopeless addict and just need a WoW fix any way you can get it, 4story - also known as Gates of Andaron in some markets - may be for you. It goes so far into the territory of "clone" that it starts to border on "rip-off."

Forget the fact that the game mechanics are the same. Forget the nearly identical quest design, two-faction system, talent points, death mechanics, and combat. Even in terms of art and style, the game looks eerily similar to Blizzard Entertainment's mega-hit MMO, to the point where, if you didn't look too closely, you might be able to convince yourself it really is Warcraft.

About the only thing unique about 4story is its realm versus realm PvP, in which entire guilds can duke it out against each other. Those guilds that do well have the chance to siege another guild's castle, and if they succeed in taking it, they can use it as their base of operations for the following week.

4story does have a few limitations: both factions share the same race choices and character customization is extremely minimal, but it also manages to offer a surprisingly large amount of content for a free to play game.

Of course, nothing's perfect. 4story does feature some ridiculously bad translations into English, to the point where NPC dialogue and spell descriptions are sometimes completely nonsensical - "Blow of Silence: Silently approach the opponent and deliver a blow for no reason whatsoever" - but this could also be taken as a positive, depending on your perspective. It's a good source of amusement, if nothing else.

rift lite shopped

3: Just play WoW ... or Rift:

Did you know that World of Warcraft is now free to play?

Well, sort of. Whereas once a free trial of the game was a temporary offer, expiring after a few days, the new WoW starter edition can be played indefinitely.

Naturally, the starter edition is very limited. Most notably, characters are level capped at level twenty. Still, you'd be surprised at how much you can do in WoW below the level cap. Between the various races and factions, there are hundreds of quests available, and you're also free to participate in the first few dungeons and PvP battlegrounds. Barring raids, it's essentially the entire WoW experience in miniature. As long as you're not determined to raid or be an endgame junkie, the starter edition could be a good choice.

Rift: Planes of Telara has also come up with something very similar in the form of Rift Lite. Much like WoW's starter edition, Rift Lite allows you play for free, with no time limit, but prevents you from leveling any farther than level twenty, and like the starter edition, it also includes much of the same options as the full version, including some early dungeons, PvP, and the game's titular rift invasions.

Rift is as much a WoW clone as any other game on this list, so the "lite" version may be just the thing if you've exhausted your options in WoW's starter edition or just want something different... but not too different.

goblinoball allods online

2: Allods Online:

A common strategy for makers of World of Warcraft clones is to copy nearly everything from WoW verbatim, but then include one or two highly innovative new features to give the game a little freshness and prevent the feeling of complete rip-off. Allods Online is one such game.

In the case of Allods, the unique feature is the Astral, a realm of space separating the shattered remnants - or allods - of Sarnout, the destroyed planet upon which the game's story centers. Players can acquire massive sailing ships to traverse the Astral. While there, they can travel to special zones accessible only through the Astral or engage in ship-to-ship combat.

Although a player can also battle NPCs aboard their ship, the ship combat gets especially interesting and risky when it's against other players. Teams of players can board an enemy ship and if they succeed in defeating the ship's owner and their allies, they can then rob the ship's hold of its loot.

Allods also has a somewhat different take on classes where each class morphs into a different "archetype" based on their race. For example, a human scout is a ranger, but an Orcish scout is a marauder. The differences are largely cosmetic, but it's a nice touch.

Finally, Allods is notable for one other thing: Goblinoball. This is an obvious reference to WoWÕs famed "Gnome punting," but unlike Gnome punting, Goblinoball is actually a playable mini-game.

Allods was initially criticized for the high prices and utter necessity of the items in its cash shop, but since then, prices have been lowered and the more essential items have been made available for free, so its micro-transactions are not nearly as onerous as they once were.

runes of magic red hat

1: Runes of Magic:

Free to play games often have a bad reputation, and understandably so. The saying goes that there's no such thing as a free lunch, and often, this proves true of free MMOs. But some still manage to rise above the pack and earn praise from critics and players alike, and Runes of Magic is one such game.

As you probably have guessed by the fact it's on this list, Runes of Magic is definitely in the genre of "WoW clone," borrowing much of its gameplay and mechanics from the more famous MMO. Heck, even some class skills have the same names. But on the plus side, it also has almost all the amenities of Warcarft including dungeons, hundreds of quests, epic PvP battlegrounds, and raid content.

But RoM does have some unique features as well. Most notable of this is a class system vaguely similar to Rift's in which a single character can have up to three classes at once: a primary which determines most of your skills and capabilities, a secondary which provides supplementary abilities and bonuses, and a third which one of the other two can be swapped out for. This allows for an extremely high level of customization as you literally build your own class.

Other features include player housing and a free-for-all take on PvP in which anyone can kill anyone at any time - though they then risk others killing them and stealing their gear if they do.

RoM has been well received by both fans and critics. It has won numerous awards, including Massively's Reader's Choice award for best new MMO of 2009. It also has a robust player base estimated to be in the millions, so you won't be hard up to find people to group with.

Runes of Magic is not just a worthy substitute for penny-pinching World of Warcraft addicts. ItÕs a solid game unto itself. For that reason, it earns the top spot on our list of free to play WoW clones.