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The best things in life are free; that’s what they say, right? The smell of fresh cut grass, a warm sunny day by the seaside, a beautiful view on a mountain trail.
They are all great, but let’s make one thing clear, free games top them all without a doubt. There’s something rather lovely about downloading a game and diving into the action without the need to break out your wallet and give up your chance to buy more games later down the line.
I’ve bought so many games that I dare not calculate the tally, just in case my wife ever catches wind of that figure, but strangely enough, some of the richest experiences I have had within gaming have come through engaging with free games, and, more specifically, free RPG games.
While most RPGs tend to be out of reach to all those unwilling to pay their hefty price of admission, some RPGs wave you through the doors with no fee required.
You would think this would lead to a lesser experience, but through this list, I aim to put that misconception to bed. We will be giving you a rundown of the Best Free RPGs To Play in 2023, allowing you to hop into vast, fully realized worlds and immerse yourself without spending a single penny.
It sounds too good to be true, but somehow, it’s not. So join us; this is RPG Informer’s list of the Best Free RPG Games to Play in 2023!
I feel that it’s quite important to make it clear to readers what we define as a free RPG, and what will allow a game of this nature to feature on this list. So, with that in mind, here are the criteria we ran with:
- All games must be completely free to play. So, games on subscription services (Xbox Game Pass, PS Plus, etc.) will not be included.
- All games must fall into the wider category of RPGS; MMORPGs will also be considered.
- We will also consider games that embrace RPG or MMORPG mechanics in a tangible way
- All games listed need to have an aggregate score of 65% or higher on Metacritic (where applicable)
- We will not be considering mobile games unless they have PC or console versions also.
- Only one game per franchise.
Your money’s no good here, so put it away, because it’s time to check out some awesome free-to-play RPGS!
The Top 10 Best Free RPGS To Play In 2023
#1 – Genshin Impact
Metacritic Score: 85%
We begin with a game that is perfect for you Zelda fans who have been waiting for Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom to drop in price. Newsflash folks, never going to happen; Nintendo games hold their value, seemingly forever.
Genshin Impact is a gacha game that takes the open-world exploration blueprint created by BOTW, and then adds its own spin on proceedings to offer a fully fleshed-out, anime-esque world, a batch of larger-than-life playable characters and villains, and a long-running storyline with literally hundreds of hours of content.
Overworld exploration and puzzles are straight out of the Legend of Zelda playbook, but the combat within this game really shakes things up, urging players to think about elemental reactions, combos, and synergies.
It’s a world that you can easily lose yourself in for hundreds of hours, and I speak from experience. So, if you want a traditional RPG with an MMO feel, then Genshin Impact is a top-tier option.
#2 – Runescape (OSRS)
Metacritic Score: 87%
While there are many different iterations of Runescape these days, such as RS3 and the new Runescape App, when I list Runescape here, I specifically mean OSRS, because sometimes the old ways are the best.
This is the legacy edition of the original Runescape created all the way back in 2001 and allows you to hop back into Glienor, build a new character, and get to work raising your skills, completing some memorable quests like Monkey Madness or Desert Treasure, or heading off on Slayer quests to hunt terrifying creatures.
Obviously, in the modern era of gaming, we enjoy today, OSRS is extremely dated, but in that lies the charm and enjoyment, as this is a huge blast of nostalgia for returning players. Plus, even if you are new to OSRS, the RPG systems, quests, and world all still hold up today, even if the visuals don’t.
You can jump in and play this antique treasure without ever parting with a penny, so if this MMORPG classic passed you by, now is the time to jump in.
#3 – Path of Exile
Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Metacritic Score: 86%
If you are someone who absolutely loved the Diablo series, but simply don’t have the cash to fork out for Diablo 4 right now, then Path of Exile is a free alternative that you’ll really get a kick out of.
Path of Exile is a hack-and-slash looter RPG, much like Diablo, but to simply call it a Diablo clone would be pretty reductive as this game has been a consistent port in the storm for Diablo fans who quite rightly have felt short-changed by modern Diablo titles.
Path of Exile took the ARPG basics laid down by others in 2011, and has spent the last 12 years refining and maintaining its standout ARPG title, offering seasonal leagues, tacked-on endgame content, and so much more.
It’s a game that embraces old systems, but adds more with each passing update rather than vaulting content never to be seen again, and it’s a refreshing approach to see in the live-service field.
Path of Exile 2 isn’t too far away now, so if you don’t want to be left behind, now is the time to hop into Path of Exile. It’s a tough nut to crack but very rewarding for those who do.
#4 – Final Fantasy XIV
Developer: Square Enix
Metacritic Score: 92% (Based on Endwalker expansion)
In a period where it seemed that Square Enix just couldn’t get anything right at all with flops like Forspoken, Babylon’s Fall, and more, Final Fantasy XIV was the one shining pillar of light holding everything together.
It wasn’t always that way, as Final Fantasy XIV Online was initially vilified as one of the worst things to happen to the series, but after a major overhaul, it’s now part of MMORPG royalty.
It’s a title that takes the quintessential feel of a Final Fantasy title and seamlessly tweaks it to fit an MMO mold, allowing the player to exist in a densely populated world, and build characters who can engage in a variety of different jobs.
Not to mention, complete main quests and side quests that offer rich story content, with Endwalker being a highlight for this MMO, and also, the game has a number of fun side-projects to engage in, like Sanctuary Island, for example.
I won’t sugarcoat it, this game will ask you to learn a lot of systems, and you’ll probably be hundreds of hours deep before you truly feel like you belong in this world without a helping hand. However, if you’re willing to learn, this will offer one of the richest FF experiences on record, we assure you.
#5 – Destiny 2
Metacritic Score: 85%
This one is probably the least RPG-oriented title on this list, but seeing as this game is a healthy blend of ARPG, FPS, and MMO, I would say that it fits the bill quite nicely and offers something a little different.
Destiny 2 is a massive improvement from the original, which has smatterings of inspiration from Bungie’s marquee series Halo, but still has enough of its own stuff going on to stand out in its own right, offering environmental storytelling, rich FPS looter-shooter gameplay, and a wealth of game modes to appease everyone.
If you want to simply engage with getting the best loot and playing this game as an online FPS shooter, you can do that. If you want to get to know the world and those that inhabit it, you can do that too through various expansions, and if you just want to hang out and help your friends complete raids, then the option is there.
It’s a game that champions variety, and while it can be a little hard to jump into due to the vaulted content locking earlier stories away forever, from a gameplay perspective, it’s easily one of the richest FPS experiences out there, and the fact that it remains a free-to-play game is a blessing you should take advantage of.
#6 – Tower of Fantasy
Developer: Level Infinite
Metacritic Score: 65%
While many still see Tower of Fantasy as a Genshin Impact clone that offers very little difference from Hoyoverse’s flagship title, there is still something about ToF that makes it with checking out, especially if you’re looking for a decent Genshin alternative to shake things up.
Tower of Fantasy is an open-world exploration Gacha game, much like Genshin Impact. However, the key differences between the two are that ToF offers a much more futuristic, almost cyberpunk setting; it focuses more on MMO game modes and multiplayer functionality on account of it being a traditional MMO format, unlike Genshin, and it offers more focus on player character builds and customization.
Generally speaking, it does pale in comparison to Genshin, as the story isn’t as compelling, and the progression isn’t quite as streamlined. However, exploration is a blast, the combat is serviceable, and it’s a little more challenging than Genshin if that’s your thing.
It’s a great game to try out if you need a breath of fresh air from Genshin but want more of the same, but if that didn’t float your boat, the next entry just might.
#7 – Honkai: Star Rail
Metacritic Score: 80%
How do you follow up a live-service masterclass like Genshin? By making another one, of course.
Honkai Star Rail takes the strong foundation of Genshin and then builds something on top that definitely resembles the live-service juggernaut but, equally, feels like a completely different beast altogether.
This is mainly down to the change in combat systems, moving away from button-mashing in favor of more methodical turn-based combat akin to classics like Final Fantasy and the like. It makes the bigger moments and battles more engaging, and offers a fair challenge rather than a mindless grind.
Not to mention, the characters and storybeats are more mature, offering a much more adult adventure compared to Genshin’s more juvenile approach and tone.
I will concede that Honkai doesn’t even come close to rivaling Genshin for cathartic exploration, but for turn-based RPG lovers, Honkai is hands-down the best option.
#8 – Star Wars: The Old Republic
Metacritic Score: 85%
Not to be mistaken with the single-player RPG masterclass that was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a MMO reimagining of this older title, offering players a chance to jump into a massively multiplayer Star Wars Universe and decide which side of the force they align with. Whether you’re a Sith Lord, a Jedi, or anywhere in between, there’s a role for you to play.
What’s remarkable about this game, with reference to most other MMO titles out there, is the sheer amount of player autonomy on offer here. Most MMOs will funnel you through a nailed-on story, but in The Old Republic, your decisions and interactions with others matter, shaping the world as you progress.
It essentially takes what was so successful from Bioware classics like the Mass Effect series or Dragon Age and then implements that player-driven choice system into an MMO title, which is remarkable when all is said and done.
The game continues to grow and expand with the Legacy of the Sith update adding a treasure trove of content just last year. It’s as close as you will get to a KOTOR remake until Embracer gets their house in order, so best to hop in there and give it a try.
#9 – Grimm’s Hollow
Metacritic Score: 88% (Based on User Score)
It’s rare that you see a stand-alone, non-live-service game available for free to players. Not unless it’s a timed window on the Epic Game Store or something like that. However, ever since its release Grimm’s Hollow has been free for anyone willing to give it a try.
Grimm’s Hollow is a short-and-sweet RPG that practically takes Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel Mort and flips the script. You’ll play as Lavender, a young girl who has been recruited into the ranks of an undead group, but instead, she decides to rebel against these monsters to find her brother and escape her fate.
This leads to a compelling RPG Maker adventure where you must work tirelessly to rescue your brother, and pass on to the true afterlife yourself, avoiding your obligation to serve as a Reaper for all eternity.
It’s right up there with other RPG Maker classics, such as Omori, Oneshot, Rakuen, Ib, and more, making this a great option that won’t cost you a dime!
#10 – Warframe
Developer: Digital Extremes
Metacritic Score: 85%
Then, lastly, we have Warframe, a title that has really grown into itself in recent years and now serves as a wonderful Free-to-Play looter-shooter with just enough RPG mechanics in play to justify a place on this list.
While the game does have a very interesting world, and a storyline that spans over five separate expansions, the real strength of this title is the different Warframes that you can unlock, and the various weapon types and upgrades you can employ, allowing you to engage with a variety of different fun playstyles.
Through maximizing abilities, you’ll able to parkour your way through missions, be a stealthy assassin, or a gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls warrior. Whatever floats your boat. It’s a wonderfully polished title, and it only seems to be getting better with age. So don’t sleep on this one; play it soon!
While we would love to absolutely shower you in free-to-play RPGS until the end of time, we can sadly only stuff ten great games into a top-ten, with the rest falling just short of the mark. But to ensure you aren’t left short-changed, here is a quick list of the best of the rest below:
- Albion Online
- Bless Unleashed
- Lost Ark
- Guild Wars 2
- Phantasy Star Online: New Genesis
- Torchlight: Infinite
So there you have it, ten amazing RPG titles that you can hop into right now without paying through the nose for the privilege. I’ve been in a position in life where I’ve had to be a thrifty gamer, and free-to-play games are the dream ticket for people who want to pinch those pennies in anticipation of a big-budget title you have your eye on.
I hope that this list has helped you tighten those pursestrings while also having fun doing it into the bargain, and as always, thank you for reading RPG Informer.