MMORPG 2023: the best online games free to play (and not)

We are only a few days away from the arrival of 2023: as is tradition, between one panettone and another, we at AreaMMO are here to take stock of the year that is drawing to a close and the prospects that lie ahead.
And no, of course we're not talking about the prospects of dieting, going to the gym, and other such plans... no, in this article we're going to look at which MMORPGs we'll be playing in 2023, analyzing both the games that have convinced us the most this year - and thus will continue to keep us company for a long time to come - and the titles in development that we absolutely must keep an eye on, because we trust they will bring us great joys in the new year.

As always, we've had an eye out for all the MMORPGs in Italian - a rare commodity but with a couple of excellent exceptions - but without neglecting, just because of the language, some real masterpieces in the home stretch.
Then there are timeless games that, despite the years, are still among the most populated in the world, and games that, while not really MMORPGs as we usually understand them, we decided to list anyway because of the strong role-playing components they contain within them.

In short, a veritable handbook that, while not claiming to be 100% exhaustive, we are convinced can help you identify your next game to try.To make navigation easier, you can use the table of contents below and jump directly to the category that most catches your attention.
With the hope that you will be able to find exactly the MMORPG you are looking for, we can only wish you a good read (and Happy New Year, if you are among the very first readers of this post)!


  1. Best MMORPG 2023 in Italian " what to play now: the titles we liked best in the year just ended and will be featured in 2023. In Italian, with Italian servers and a large ITA community.
  2. MMORPG coming soon " games in development that we expect to play in 2023.
  3. MMORPG in English " the most successful titles globally.
  4. [bonus] Not just MMORPG " online games not strictly MMORPGs, but with strong components typical of multiplayer role-playing games.

Best MMORPGs 2023 in Italian

True, games translated and dubbed into our language are a rare commodity, but does that mean we have to resign ourselves to playing in English if we want well-populated, triple-A titles? Certainly not!
The exceptions are few, but of the highest caliber, and we can find them both among the milestones of the genre that are still very active and up-to-date today, and among the latest, most emblazoned releases.
Here is our selection for 2023...

Raid: Shadow Legends

Hundreds of different heroes and millions of players: Raid is one of the most played online role-playing games in the world

Publisher: Plarium
Economic Model: Free to Play
Link: Official site | Full review

Description: RAID is a multiplayer online role-playing game based on the collection of heroes and the subsequent creation of unique and creative strategies to overcome the various bosses and dungeons that come our way, all through a deep (yet easy to learn) turn-based combat system.

A fight in the PvP arena of RAID: Shadow Legends

The strong point of Raid: Shadow Legends is its enormous variety: there are hundreds of heroes, hundreds of artifacts, hundreds of masteries, power-ups and blessings that, mixed together, give rise to a multitude of possible combinations that will allow us to deal with the challenges posed by the game in an ever-changing way.
Lovers of strategy and old-fashioned Dungeons&Dragons-style role-playing games will find their bread and butter in RAID, and we can assure you that devising original strategies to enhance the strengths of our heroes is extremely rewarding work.
Moreover, this focus on the player's strategic skills is a godsend for free players, who will have the opportunity to build highly specialized effective teams even in the absence of the hardest-to-get heroes.

Finally, it is worth noting how, from release to the present, RAID has received constant support from the developers: major new content is added on a regular few-monthly basis, and the still-growing user base makes us extremely hopeful for a still-improving 2023 (and beyond).

Are you convinced? You can download RAID on the official Plarium website.

Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter

The years pass, but the appeal of the Forgotten Realms setting remains as high as ever

Publisher: Arc Games
Economic Model: Free to Play
Link: Official site | Full review

Description: Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter has, for years now, been the main reference point for lovers of MMORPGs in Italian... and 2023 will be no exception.
Based on the settings, lore and mechanics of the highly celebrated tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, it is a "pure" and traditional MMORPG, able to stay in step with the times thanks to an impressively-regular pace of updates and expansions.

A combat phase in Neverwinter: the combat system is one of the game's strong points.

One of the game's strengths lies in its combat system, which is strongly action-oriented, and in which the player's manual skills will play almost as crucial a role as the grinding and upgrading work of our alter ego. Targeting opponents, performing combos or parrying blows are actions that are anything but obvious, and the result is that the player actively participates in battles, the outcome of which is no longer just a matter of levels and statistics.

Another characteristic aspect of the game is the Foundry, an adventure and dungeon creation system for the community, which allows any player to create new settings, quests and characters and then make it all available to the community, with rewards and rankings of all sorts.
It is clear that such a system gives the title almost infinite longevity, with new content-often of comparable quality to that of the official expansions-at regular intervals.

What makes Neverwinter truly special, however, is the care with which the Forgotten Realms setting has been crafted, the general atmosphere within it, the attention to the plot, the characters, the dialogue... Just as in the tabletop RPGs that Neverwinter is inspired by, immersiveness is a key factor that is often forgotten in modern MMORPGs. In Neverwinter, however, this is not an optional extra.

Are you convinced? You can download Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter at the official website of Arc Games.

Star Stable Online

No, it's not a joke: the mmorpg for aspiring jockeys really exists

Publisher: Star Stable Entertainment
Business model: buy to play with free trial
Link: Official site | Full review

Description: Okay, we're not sure if this game is here seriously or more in jest (maybe the latter), the fact is that as soon as we found out that there is an MMORPG for aspiring jockeys made of horses, bucolic meadows and pink ponies, we couldn't resist.
What can I say, today's gamers often complain about the repetitiveness of today's MMORPGs: well, now you have no more excuses to complain, because you certainly have never experienced an MMORPG like this.

Could there have been a lack of mounts within Star Stable Online?

In Star Stable Online there are only female characters, and everything revolves around one's horse and the quests we will be able to carry out while riding it.
Truth be told, the quests are not particularly exciting or original, and the tedium of grinding is dampened just enough by the NPCs, who are fun and cute in carrying the game's narrative forward.

Having better horses will obviously allow you to accomplish your tasks more quickly, and in the research, collection and upgrading of your mounts lies one of the main reasons for enjoyment, especially for horse enthusiasts.
Another element of originality is then the horse races, where you can put to the test all the jockey skills that we are sure reside in each of you.
The game world is, of course, puckish and colorful, and it is easy to get to know and interact with other players\who we will meet as they gallop here and there within the island of Jorvik.

Overall, an unpretentious game with dated graphics, but undoubtedly unique. And if you love horses, you might actually enjoy it, not just as a joke!

Would you like to try this new experience? You can download Star Stable Online from the official website.

New World

Amazon's MMORPG is one of the few new 2023 MMORPGs also localized in Italian


Publisher: Amazon Studios
Economic model: Buy to Play
Link: Official Site

Description: It took Amazon to offer all gamers in the belpaese a recent and high-quality MMORPG in Italian (New World was released in September 2021). The game adopts a reasonably fair buy-to-play model, in which for a purchase of 40€ (at the time of this writing) you have full access to the entire game with no monthly subscriptions, and no microtransactions capable of affecting gameplay within the cash shop (the only purchasable items are purely aesthetic).

Cooperative PvE is one of the strengths of New World


But what are the reasons to play New World, besides a full Italian localization (including voice acting)? Basically, three.

The first, a crafting system so deep and cutting-edge that it can be considered almost revolutionary: there are players who buy New World just to trade gold and raw materials, improve gathering and workbench skills, and craftable unique items that get better and better.

Second, a varied and well-done PvP and PvE(as well as PvPvE) compartment, with modes ranging from an "intimate" 3vs3 to huge cooperative battles with 50 players.

The third, a convincing and well-crafted open world and lore , made all the more credible by a very recent and up-to-date graphics compartment.

Among the downsides, we must point out the size of the game world (a bit small, at least at the moment, but we trust in the expansions) and the repetitiveness of many quests: there is still work to be done to make grinding less tedious.

Are you convinced? You can purchase New World on Amazon.

Albion Online

Hundreds of different heroes and millions of players: Raid is one of the most played online role-playing games in the world


Publisher: Sandbox Interactive
Economic Model: Free to Play
Link: Official Website

Description: Albion is a sandbox MMORPG in the purest sense of the term. Seeing how the actions of each player, as well as the collective, affect and shape the game world is extremely rewarding, and is what makes the experience extremely immersive and realistic.
There is, for example, an economic system based on players' actions in which, just as in the real world, there will be fluctuations in the costs of raw materials and goods based on various factors. These factors may be elementary, such as supply and demand, but they may also be less obvious, such as transportation costs: if you are in a town perched atop a mountain, with brigands in the valley ready to assault any caravan, the costs of imported goods will be much higher to deal with this risk.

Also decidedly varied is the housing system, which not only provides players with the ability to buy and furnish homes: are you tired of warfare and want to hang up your axe? No problem! You can retreat to a remote island, buy a piece of land, build a farm on it and help your guild by supplying its members with farm produce and animals!

All aspects of the game are strongly interconnected, and the impression is that you are in a real-life simulation (fantasy frills aside) rather than just an online role-playing game.
What can I say, Albion is one of the most interesting MMORPGs of the moment, it is in Italian, and despite its years it is about to spend a leading 2023.
Are you convinced? You can download Albion Online from the official website.


Go and collect them all: the monsters of Dauntless are just waiting to be hunted down (... or maybe not)


Publisher: Phoenix Labs
Economic model: Free to Play
Link: Official site | Full review

Description: Do you like Monster Hunter-style MMORPGs? Are you attracted to the idea of hunting huge behemoths and then starting a real time battle against them? Are you looking forward to devising effective hunting strategies customized for each monster based on its characteristics, or the characteristics of the weapons you have at your disposal?

Then Dauntless is the game for you, as you will find within it this and much more... all seasoned with cutting-edge and extremely pleasant graphics.

There's not much more to say: in Dauntless you beat up, you beat up hard, and the player's hands have to fly over the keyboard to take on the challenges of the most hostile behemoths. Few frills, little plot, few NPCs, little lore: just lots of fun and lots of action.

Are you convinced? You can download Dauntless from the official website of Phoenix Labs.

World of Warcraft

His Majesty World of Warcraft: does this game need any introduction?

Publisher: Blizzard
Economic model: Monthly subscription
Link: Official website

Description: Okay, we're really going to expand on this game very little, because you all already know World of Warcraft. Not just any MMORPG, but THE MMORPG par excellence, the one who practically gave birth to an entire genre.
A game from 20 years ago that in 2023 will continue to be among the absolute stars, being today in the top 5 most played MMORPGs in the world.

What more introduction could such a masterpiece possibly need?

Sure, some mechanics are now dated and unrelated to the tastes of contemporary gamers, but if you feel like trying the ultimate old school experience, look no further.

Are you convinced? Takea look at the official website to find out about all the subscriptions.

Upcoming MMORPG

If you're not particularly in a hurry to download your next MMORPG, here are what titles are coming (or at least, hopefully) in 2023 that we can't wait to get our hands on.

Ashes of Creation

Ashes of Creation: the older cousin of Albion Online

Ashes of Creation showed itself in a first Alpha last year, and we trust that 2023 may bring us a second one. The game is really promising: in addition to an excellent technical-graphic compartment based on Unreal Engine 5, there will be a huge map on which players' stories and adventures will unfold in an MMORPG that makes the"sandbox" philosophy not just a feature, but a true vocation.

As in Albion Online which we told you about in the previous paragraph, here players' decisions will have a major bearing on the entire realm, and the developers at Intrepid Studios are doing a great job of introducing realistic and innovative mechanics... will we get this real-life simulation we've been waiting for so long?

Unnamed MMORPG from Riot Games

What do we know about Riot Games' MMORPG? Nothing, except that we want to try it!

Do you know about Riot Games? No? Okay... Does League of Legends ring a bell?
Lo and behold, the developers of one of the most played games of this decade have decided that they want to devote themselves (also) to MMORPGs, and we hope to see in this 2023 at least some first results.
Virtually nothing is known about what they have in mind: all we know is that expectations are very high, because from Riot Games we cannot expect anything else.

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

An MMORPG for true hardcore gamers...are you ready to take up the challenge?

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen aims to be an MMORPG for all those hardcore gamers who want a tough and rewarding experience, far from the more friendly and commercial dynamics of recent times. In other words: difficult combat requiring strategy and manual skills, the need (more than the possibility) for co-op, task splitting and role specialization. No easy difficulty level.
There is a pre-alpha already playable, but the founder pack prices to access it are far from affordable.... Maybe better to wait until the new year?

Ark 2

A cute puppy in Ark 2

Imagine suddenly waking up in a world full of dinosaurs and humans fighting each other, with no idea how you ended up there or why. Cool, right?
Well oh gosh, if you are playing a video game and you are not the unfortunate protagonists in the first person, I would say yes.
Ark 2 has a fantastic setting, an engaging and original storyline and plenty of overgrown lizardmen to - willingly or unwillingly - interface with.
There will be support for mods and unofficial community servers, a state-of-the-art crafting system, fun exploration dynamics and an adrenaline-fueled combat system. Icing on the cake, there is a very good chance it will actually come out in 2023 .
What more could you want?

English-language MMORPG

If the language barrier is not a problem, hold on to your hats: there are plenty of MMORPGs we can play in 2023, and some of them really innovative, with an excellent technical level. Let's look at some of them...

Lineage II

Lineage II is one of the most classic fantasy MMORPGs on the market

Publisher: NCSoft
Economic Model: Free to Play
Lineage II is one of the longest-running and most classic fantasy MMORPGs on the market, comparable to World of Warcraft in both age, mechanics, setting and importance of lore, although it never reached the heights of popularity of the Blizzard masterpiece.
At its core you can find all the traditional features of an old-school MMORPG: numerous classes with unique abilities, a crafting and trading system among players, guilds, action-oriented real-time combat, pet system and, of course, a vast open world full of adventures, dangers and NPCs.
The recent redesign, named Lineage II Essence, has added not only various improvements to every aspect of the game, but also a ton of new content as well as an extremely fast-paced levelling system: the tedium of grinding is reduced and the focus is shifted to the endgame, which players will be able to get to much faster.
A real godsend for the most impatient players, while old school veterans, used to sweating every single XP, will be able to continue playing the classic version.

Lineage II is the only free-to-play in this section devoted to English MMORPGs 2023: some of the mechanics are a bit dated, but it's still a title that made history and, thanks to constant updates, is still up to date today. It is free, and definitely worth a try.

Star Citizen

Want a really Cool (with a capital F) and innovative MMORPG? Try Star Citizen.

Publisher: Cloud Imperium Games
Economic model: Buy to Play

Star Citizen is an ambitious and innovative space simulation game, capable of raising about $300 million through crowdfunding.
In fact, despite its large budget, the game has (for years) been in a kind of perennial alpha phase, in which players can participate in crowdfunding while for all intents and purposes gaining access to an extremely playable alpha, as (or nearly so) if they had purchased a buy-to-play MMORPG.

But what makes Star Citizen so unique, aside from stunning graphics, beautifully crafted dreamlike environments, a huge game universe, and all the best features one would expect from a mainstream MMORPG?
Well, probably its wide range of gameplay options, including a realistic, physics-based space flight mode that makes Star Citizen not just a run-of-the-mill MMORPG, but also a flight simulator and a shooter in one. There is also the ability to explore planets and moons, each with its own climatic and environmental peculiarities, engage in interstellar trading, customize your own spaceship, and much more.
A very deep simulation of life in space more than just an MMORPG. And when it is complete, it will be quite a spectacle. Maybe it won't happen in 2023, but in the meantime we're happy to be able to enjoy a damn fun alpha as it is.

The Elder Scrolls Online

From offline role-playing games to MMORPGs: The Elder Scrolls series has made history in every area.

Publisher: Bethesda
Business model: monthly subscription
That of The Elder Scrolls is a saga that PC role-players have been familiar with for at least 20 years, back when MMORPGs did not exist and the Internet was barely in the home of a few lucky pioneers. Many of you will certainly remember (or at least have heard of) Morrowind, the celebrated GdR that had set the standard and influenced much of the offline games released since then. Well, from this same legacy came The Elder Scrolls Online, Bethesda's MMORPG that has set the standard as much as its predecessors.

ESO will not only be one of the most played MMORPGs in 2023, but also one of the most recommended: for years it has been the game of choice for fans of the genre, and although there are many innovative projects on the horizon that promise a much-needed breath of fresh air, the engaging storyline, immersive atmosphere, compelling narrative, and award-winning soundtrack make it a title still worth buying a monthly subscription for.
Yes, even if you are a fresh, new player: there are tons of fun quests to complete, and ESO is not a product for nostalgics only.

Final Fantasy XIV

Huge numbers, prestige lore and an engaging narrative (for real). Do we need more reasons to want to play FFXIV?

Publisher: Square Enix
Economic model: buy to play + monthly subscription

Final Fantasy XIV is probably the MMORPG of the moment, on the crest of a wave-the perfect balance between popularity and freshness. Then again, of the two MMORPGs reported just now, one is brand new and cool but still sparsely populated (and I believe it, it's still in alpha), the other... as constantly updated as it is, it's still years old.

FFXIV represents an excellent middle ground, and stands out for its engaging and multifaceted story. The plot weaves together classic fantasy elements drawn from Final Fantasy lore and intertwines them with deeply characterized characters enriched by entertaining dialogue. In this respect, it is undoubtedly one of the best games around.

In addition, the combat mechanics are well thought out and offer the possibility of both solo fun and exploring secret dungeons with other group members and participating in grandiose raids against fantastic creatures.
And if you don't like fighting? No problem: Update 6.2, Buried Memory, introduced the possibility of retreating to a bucolic life on the Sanctuary Island, where the pace of play is extremely slower and more peaceful.

With more than 1 million active players as of the date of writing this article (remember that FFXIV was the game to dethrone World of Warcraft in the ranking of most-played MMORPGs), we are sure that FFXIV will keep us company throughout 2023 and beyond.

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 is living (for the second time) a new life

Publisher: NCSoft
Economic model: Buy to Play

Guild Wars 2 is an MMORPG developed by ArenaNet and published by NCSoft. The game was launched in 2012 as a buy-to-play, except to become free-to-play a few years later, and then added an optional monthly subscription (with some in-game benefits and access to some exclusive areas) for discerning players.

The game world is vast, varied, and well-characterized, with several regions to explore, each with its own unique culture and history, and there are many real-time events that take place in the game, such as dragon invasions.

GW2 adopts the classless approach in which there are no predefined classes: you can create your character as you see fit and choose the skills that best suit your style. This makes the game very dynamic and allows you to adapt your character to the different challenges that will confront you as you go along.

Note how the commercial history of Guild Wars 2 is somewhat backwards: while most titles usually start off with a bang and then decline more or less slowly, GW2 is experiencing a history of ups and downs after a decline in enthusiasm in the early years, the move to free-to-play revived it--for a few years. Then a new decline, perhaps due to the too relaxed pace of updates, only to arrive in February 2022 with the gigantic End of Dragons expansion, which really turned the game around, doubling its (still far from negligible) numbers in a short time. What can I say... it's not easy to recover a waning MMORPG like this: doesn't it make you curious, too, to see firsthand how this happened?

Not just MMORPGs

We are almost at the end of this long roundup of MMORPGs for 2023. We want to conclude with a couple of games that we cannot consider as full-fledged MMORPGs, but that possess interesting elements typical of online role-playing games that we are sure you might enjoy.

Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming

The official MMORPG Browser of the Iron Throne


Publisher: BigPoint
Economic Model: Free to Play
Link: Official Site

Fans of the award-winning HBO series will be happy to know that there is an official browser game inspired by it, complete with names, settings and characters that actually exist in the TV series. GoT: Winter is Coming is a hybrid between:
- a classic browser strategy game, from which it inherits the mechanics of building your own citadel and army;
- a role-playing game, from which it derives the mechanics of alliances, technological research, empowerment and equipment;
- and an MMORTS, from which the dynamics of real-time combat are drawn.

It is not the MMORPG with which to spend entire nights playing, but no doubt it can prove to be a more casual pastime nonetheless enjoyable.


A shooter with the customization possibilities of an MMORPG


Publisher: Gaijin
Economic Model: Free to Play
Link: Official site

Okay, there's this kind of unwritten rule that says if you don't have a sword or a fireball in your hand, then it's not an MMORPG. And if you do have a cannon and a scope, then it's a shooter.
If we set aside this maxim (which is certainly not derived from the literal interpretation of the MMORPG acronym), Crossout would be a true MMORPG, indeed, almost a sandbox given the enormous possibilities for customizing one's armed vehicles through the collection of materials.

Published by Gaijin (the same ones as War Thunder) with a Free to Play model, Crossout is a shooter with some very strong role-playing elements that will entertain many of you: watching your "cart" evolve piece by piece until it becomes a deadly war machine gives you sensations as devilish as they are pleasant.

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