Grand FantasiaThis endearing anime-inspired free MMORPG from Korea (I believe) has been an outlet for my spare time more times than I can count. It's customization features in your character are basic at best in the beginning, and your uniqueness will eventually come from your gear. There are only four or so basic classes to choose at the beginning- warrior, mage, priest, ranger- and the more you level up, you can ascend the ranks into more specialized classes. For instance, the warrior can become a berserker, a class more specialized towards direct damage, or a paladin, a healer-warrior mix that can cast heals and buffs onto party members as well as yourself. Additional customization, mounts and things like that are able to be bought from an in-game store, but it is all purely optional, and gives no real advantage over others in combat, so it is far from pay-to-win. The world is large and for the most part pleasing to the eye, from the silly creatures you fight in early levels to the more threatening creatures you combat in later levels. If you're a guy, I would suggest playing this with your girlfriend or something to make use of a kind of "love connection" available to bind with other players in the game, to get buffs and increased experience just for playing with a friend (or something more than a friend. After all, those who slay together stay together!)*
AionI have a friend who played Aion back when you still had to pay for it. These days, it is free to play to the public, and I believe it has reverted to selling in-game items for real money, much like Grand Fantasia. I'm not sure if this is true, or if it is what exactly it entails, since I never really looked into it that much. The game begins with you choosing one of two warring races as your main characters, on the lighter and darker sides of the same realm. Think of it like choosing Alliance or Horde in World of Warcraft. Within those races you get to choose the same four basic classes, and you specialize it much like you do in the previously mentioned Grand Fantasia, or GF. However, one of the biggest differences between these two games are the graphics. While Grand Fantasia is a bit more angled towards females, with the anime characters and silly enemies in an overall cartoony world, Aion is set in a much more realistic setting with darker atmospheres. However, the art in general of the world is beautiful and well crafted. I feel in the little amount of time I played through this game, I only scraped the surface of a massive world with amazing lore and its share of humorous parts, while Grand Fantasia seemed to be stuck in the silly rut. I will likely give this game another try very soon.
More games coming soon...
* You now have permission to shoot me.