I made this thread over on my multi-gaming site... I figured I'd pass it along to people here that might be into Free games. Feel free to suggest your own favorites too or comment on the list.
I'm going to make a list of the best free to play games out there. What makes a game "the best"? Hell I don't know, but I'll put the fun ones up for you to decide. These are games I have played if not regularly and can back in some shape or form:
Age of Conan -
MMORPG that originally released as a pay to play subscription game. It's gone through a lot of rough patches from a poor beta, even worse release, and a declining player base that caused the game to go from a few dozen servers to now four! AoC has been one of those games that's been plagued with bad press... so when it was announced free to play it didn't surprise too many people. I gave it a second go after having played the original Closed and Open Betas. Honestly it's pretty damn solid. There's some glitchy things here and there, but it's very well done. The graphics are clearly 2008, though they're not far from outdated (Dx10). Gameplay combat consists of combo buttons which attack different angles (to exploit unguarded sides of the body). Questing is in depth and ALL audio! Seems they got that accomplished ahead of TOR. For free you have a few limitations, but not much. Worth a go for sure.
Age of Empires Online -
A top down, "Command and Conquer" style real time strategy game that plays off the original AoE series. You can play as the Greeks or Egyptians and build massive armies (of up to 200) to fight on a mid sized map against the AI or other players while completing quests for rewards. You also get to sport your own city where you can "craft" and set up AI shops that sell items to other people who visit your city (which in turn yields you gold that you can spend on your city). Cartoonish graphics (ala World of Warcraft) that are light on the computer specs but fun none the less.
All Point Bulletin -
Easily one of the most irritating but fun games out there. Graphics are decent, gameplay is fun (when it wants to be) and the single greatest character/vehicle customization system this gaming world has ever seen. You venture the world of San Paro as an Enforcer or Criminal and fight the other faction in missions given to you at random by your contacts. Third person views, with access to pistols, rifles, sub machine guns, and a number of vehicle types. Plagued by a small percentage of hackers and a botched matchmaking system (that often times under or overbalances teams)... it's still a fun game to play. This is one where spending nothing almost guarantees as much fun as spending hundreds though the "Pay to Play" people will likely have a lot more fun.
Americas Army -
Probably the best free first person shooter out at least from a realism point of view. Very in depth and a real attempt to keep things accurate (from a rifle range qualification, to medical classes where you learn first aid from a movie slide)... it's a propaganda tool for the U.S. Army recruitment. But, it's actually well done. In the past there's been some almost game breaking issues, but generally everything gets hashed out. The game is now on its third installment and shouldn't be slowing any time soon. I started this game in the original and went on through Americas Army 2. The downside for me was the lack of real vehicles. I wanted more and moved on. But if Battlefield isn't your thing and you want a more realistic Call of Duty... AA is for you. What's great about it is you wont need to spend a dime... it's already well funded through tax payer money. :P
Battlestar Galactica Online -
What can be said of this game? It's easily the most advanced browser based game I've played to date. Set in space during the events of the Battlestar television show (remake), you are a pilot controlling a ship in space going up against the dreaded Cylons (robots created by man that revolted). No existing crafting, it comes down to who is best on the stick. Featuring strike craft, Escorts, and Line ships... there's something for everyone. Being a browser game it certainly does have its limitations. But it's fun to try and worth a go if you hadn't jumped into the cockpit yet.
Black Prophecy -
A good mix between EVE and Battlestar Galactica. It's action based (more like BGO) but has plenty of crafting, and mission questing like EVE has. There were talks of changing the game completely into a different model, but the space simulation setup worked well. You are a pilot in space during a catastrophic event. You'll command small ships that are basically heavy weight fighters... with talks of adding in Capital Ships later. If you like faster space combat, this might be for you. Makes good use of the keyboard and mouse or joystick. Decent questing system that doesn't seem to sputter out over certain levels. Crafting consists of making guns, engines, hulls, etc for ships as upgrades or sale. Player vs Player is present and semi-open world (during a quest you could find yourself running into hostile players). All around decent space game.
Champions Online -
Like comic books? You'll probably like this game. It's basically a superhero game set in comic book style graphics. You can choose between a number of pre-set powers, or pay up and get the unlimited mix and match custom set or a bunch of other sets. The premise for the game comes from the tabletop RPG and is geared towards action than much else. The settings are boxed worlds where similar to games like City of Heroes there is a limit as to how far you can fly and go, and instance between areas. There are limitations to the free to play, but not many if you start fresh. Those of us who subscribed prior to the free change, and then had custom sets, are basically screwed. We ended up having to choose a new set of powers that negates everything you might have done since starting. But if you start from the beginning in the free model, there's nothing much stopping you.
Fallen Earth -
Easily, HANDS DOWN the most in depth crafting system available to a free MMO right now. Star Wars Galaxies sported the biggest one I had ever seen, but this game ties it up. You can craft every weapon, every clothing item, every vehicle, and more that you could possibly ever want. So much that you'll fill your bank with absolute crap and never have room for anything else. Scavenging is ridiculous as well... almost everything you physically see, you can scavenge. The combat system leaves some things to be desired, but you can melee, use pistols, rifles, and other weapons to fight across a post apocalyptic world. The downside? It's not exactly free to play at least not yet. It was picked up by GamersFirst and will be free to play by the end of the year. It's one of those games that you need to at least try once in a lifetime.
Global Agenda -
Sci-fi, combat, jetpacks, guns. You fight arena style in this free game that features third person views and various technologies that can make or break a match. Standard class system of "Medics", "Sniper", etc (with different names) you take to the field with a squad to fight against other players or venture solo in questing throughout a wasteland. The terrain and maps are decent, if not HALO-ish, the customization is decent, and the graphics and gameplay are not bad at all. I did find that at one point character progression and questing just about ceases to exist if you don't buy the game (which was $19.99 at the time). A very fun game that often gets overlooked. It's certainly worth a try.
Lord of the Rings Online -
One of the most in depth and "lore driven" games on the market. Taking content directly from the Tolkien novels (and almost word for word, line by line), the game is HUGE. You could practically spend all day running from the starting zone to the end of the game (if you didn't die in the process). You get to pick from various "races" while also getting the chance to experiment in Monster Play which features the darker races. The downside to this great game (with unlimited social potential) is that it's not truly free to play. Sure you can join up and run through the first region without paying a dime... but don't expect to go any further than that. Even those of us who purchased the game, subscribed for months (even up to the F2P change) still got shafted on questing. You just can't access them without paying.
Pirates of the Burning Sea -
Passed over by many for simply a lack of advertisements and marketing... this game sports a combat system that is almost exact to Star Trek Online (only on a single plane). You are a Pirate (or a National) fighting on the high seas in your ship with nothing but a sword at your side. You start out in a little schooner and move up into massive warships with hundreds of crewmen and guns. There's an in depth crafting system where you can build goods, ships, and more for other players. The quests are spread out across the Caribbean, Florida, Mexico, and beyond. It also features an "Open Sea" (picture STO's sector map) where you travel between locations and then fight in instances as you attack something in the water. When you're not fighting on the sea, you can clash swords with the AI and players in ground combat. The graphics on the ships are great, the ground element graphics are rather bland. But it makes for a real fun few hours a day and costs nothing at all.