Free games aren't new to the PC gaming scene by any means, but in recent years they have continued to grow more and more popular. With Steam's whole-hearted acceptance of the genre, especially in the free-to-play space, it's no surprise that 2013 is looking to be one of the best years for lovers of MMORPGs. Whether it be some of the top-tier formerly pay-to-play games going the F2P route, or new comers to the scene, there are nearly endless options for gamers of all types and skill levels. Check out my (extremely brief) list of the top 5 free PC MMORPGs that you should be playing in 2013!
5) Star Wars: The Old Republic
It's no secret at this point that Bioware's flagship MMORPG and the latest one based in the Star Wars universe did not exactly do well as a subscription based game and despite the massive hype, quickly died off after release. I tried a weekend trial period that they had and was not a huge fan of the game (as far as paying a monthly fee is concerned) but its seeing a breath of new life with its new business model. However, unlike a lot of other free-to-play games, their free version is actually severely limited. With that being said, even if you don't devote a ton of time to the game, it's still definitely worth playing just to check out how Bioware was able to create such an engaging story in an online game. Check out the base site for the latest information on the game.
4) C9:Continent of the Ninth Seal
This game is a more traditional fantasy-themed MMORPG with a unique selling point: fast paced action style combat. C9 is a renowned MMORPG in Korea and is often praised for its non-targeting based combat that plays more like an action game. The game also allows you to combine skills together in creative ways to create your own unique combos. C9 also has a very strong focus on PvP and it pays off very well. It just came to Steam in September of 2012 and is most definitely worth checking out and keeping an eye on as the year progresses. Here is the Steam page for more information on the game.
3) The Repopulation
This game might be a bit of an anomaly to a lot of you as it is not exactly well known. It seeks to satisfy lovers of sandbox (go anywhere, do anything) style games with tons of combat and non-combat related activities. The premise of the game involves a barren planet with the players acting as the last surviving humans trying to survive. Everything is up to the players with factions, player-created structures and cities, political mechanisms, player-created missions and skill-based progression. Check out the site for more details, there is no set release date, but gamers should be able to get wider access to the game in a more playable form in 2013.
TERA makes it so high on the list for two reasons: it's unique action-focused gameplay and the fact that it is one of the latest previously subscription based games to get the free-to-play treatment. This doesn't mean it was failing, necessarily, and the game is one of the best looking MMORPGs on the market with super tight controls and gameplay. Similar to C9, the game employs a more action-focused gameplay style. With its high-production values and solid foundation, expect this to be one of the better free-to-play games going into 2013. Check out their full game site for the latest details.
Before you get the wrong idea, this has nothing to do with Bioware, Obsidian or the Neverwinter Nights franchise. For those unfamiliar, Neverwinter is simply a region in the Forgotten Realms of the Dungeons & Dragons universe - it is not necessarily tied to that one franchise. With that being said, this game is shaping up to not just be one of the best free-to-play MMORPGs, but one of the best MMORPGs of 2013 period. Once again, with action-focused combat (notice a trend here? the genre is evolving,) wonderful visuals, deep character progression and The Foundry (that allows for player-created content) Neverwinter looks like the game to play for PC gamers once it finally is ready for the public. Keep an eye on their main site for all future updates.
I'm sure I missed some of your most anticipated and favorite MMORPGs in this list, so please comment below with your picks. If playing free games on PC has taught me anything, it's that you can never have too many amazing games to play!