I have never played a good free to play MMO. Everyone I have tried has left me pointing at something and thinking “aaah, so that’s why it is free to play!”. Something always rears it’s ugly head and I log off, never to play again.
But recently a couple of FTP MMOs have arisen that has made me rethink that stance. The first one is Dungeons and Dragons Online. Which, though developed as a pay MMO, has recently switched to the free to play model. Kaldeen has a very good impressions post about it over on his blog and I agree with much of what he has to say. Great PvE, that flows very well and plays great and it is a very solid game and one that I could find myself playing more often if I had not found Darkfall.
The second one has just started to grab my attention, Allods Online. This one I had completely written off as a typical free to play MMO, a basic clone that tries to milk money from the player by offering a cash shop, one that you really have to use to be competitive.
However, a few blog entries by Keen (of Keen and Graev) have let it be known that this may not be the case. After reading those impressions, it really sounds like Allods Online may have something to offer. Keen describes a combination of WoW, with a bit of DAoC style PvP mixed in. A few interesting twists also exist to give a bit of innovation to the game:
First of all, there is a form of space-combat in huge ships called Astral Ships. These can be manned by a single group or can be manned by up to 36 people, with each manning a different station. Stations include engineer, gunner, pilot and navigator.
Raid bosses exist in the Astral space and can attack the Astral Ships. In addition, players will often involve themselves in PvP fights over the raid bosses. There are also 24 man raids that are in the more traditional WoW style.
All in all, it sound like Allods Online may be an interesting game. I do have a few worries, chiefly being that it may be just a wee bit too cutesy for me. The hamster/gerbil/teddy bear guys might just push it over the top. I just don’t know if I could handle seeing a couple of hundred of those things running around. It would be worse than gnomes and that’s saying something.
Secondly, I still worry about the cash shop. I dislike a lot of free to play MMOs simply because they require extensive use of the cash shop to be competitive in the game. In a MMO that has such extensive PvP this could be even a bigger requirement.
If they can balance the cash shop and make it a luxury instead of a requirement, I may be giving the game a try on release. That is, if I can stomach the teddy bear things.