Freedom is Yours
The world of Sacred Grove is waiting for you. A fantasy MMO experience like nothing you've seen before, Free Realms creates an opportunity to enter a vibrant world where you can play however you'd like. Explore new lands, hang out with friends, accessorize your home, compete against others or battle enemies for notoriety and wealth: This and more is waiting at your fingertips.
Official video from Sony showing an overview of Free Realms
An Open-World Experience for Gamers of All Kinds
Free Realms is an open-world MMO that focuses primarily on exploration, adventure and the social aspects of game play. There is no over-arching meta-plot that guides Free Realms game play, although the site does include some lore and the game developers have released several comic books that tie in with the world of Sacred Grove. In response to requests by several fans, the game developers have begun including more plot-based quest-lines, but the majority of the game is left open-ended for players.
One of the many areas players can explore. Photo courtesy of Wikia
Rather than taking away from the game experience, many gamers find that the open-endedness of Free Realms is crucial to the game's success. It encourages creativity and roleplaying, and players are able to craft a unique game experience to suit their specific interests. Essentially, Free Realms presents itself more as a virtual hang-out than a more linear game.
Photo of the picturesque Seaside area. Photo courtesy of Wikia
A Game for the Young and Young-at-Heart
Free Realms is ostensibly aimed at a younger generation of gamers, and its bright design and simple mechanics help endear the game to young players. Nevertheless, there is a lot to explore in this world, and its depth appeals to a wide range of casual and hardcore gamers of any age.
The graphics will definitely appeal to younger audiences though anyone will enjoy them. Photo courtesy of Wikia
The game is accessible and easy to jump into. All actions can be completed with the mouse, but keyboard shortcuts are available for various actions if you would prefer to use them. You can begin playing directly from the game's own website, where you design your character within a browser-based application. You can choose your character's name from a set of pre-made options, or you can input a unique name; the unique name will need to be approved, however, so you will need to create a pre-approved backup name before the game begins. This is to ensure that all names remain family-friendly and fit with the game's setting.
In terms of character creation, you begin with the option of creating either a human or pixie. Your character can be either male or female, and the appearance can be customized to suit your tastes. Aside from aesthetics, there are no differences between races or genders in the game.
Players will enjoy the vast customization options to change the look of their characters. Photo courtesy of Wikia
Choose a Profession or Just Start Adventuring
While you create your character, the game will download in the background; you can then jump in and play immediately. Once you've entered the world, you will be confronted with a wide variety of possible activities, and the game play is largely self-guided. There are many things to do in Free Realms, and players are encouraged to try as many of them as possible.
Fishing is one of the many activities you can enjoy in the game. Photo courtesy of Wikia.
Rather than offering character classes, Free Realms provides professions. Any player can try any profession, and it's possible to switch between them as often as you'd like. Any individual profession can be leveled up quickly, but attempting to complete all of the material in the game could take a lifetime. Here are the professions available to free players:
- Ninja: A battle-ready class specializing in exotic weapons and able to vanish from sight.
- Chef: A class that can complete mini-games to create edible items to give away or sell.
- Kart Driver: Professional racers who can customize vehicles and challenge friends or strangers.
- Postman: Hosts of quests and challenges for other players.
- Demolition Derby Driver: A professional racing class that focuses on fierce competition.
- Brawler: A battle class that uses fists, hammers, clubs and other melee weapons to fight enemies.
- Card Duelist: Players who compete against each other in the trading card mini-game.
- Miner: Players who can harvest gems and precious metals in a mini-game.
Additional professions are available to paid subscribers. Depending on your profession, your activities in the game will vary. For example, combat-based characters will spend more time confronting enemies and battling through dungeons. Skill-based professions like chef or miner will spend more time playing the mini-games related to those professions.
An archer and some of the weapons available. Photo courtesy of Wikia
Combat in Free Realms is purely instanced and optional, so you never have to worry about being attacked while you try to level up a passive profession. You can seek out fights whenever you feel like it, and all of the dungeons in the game can be completed with a group or solo by high-level characters.
Never Run Out of Things to Do
Official Where's Waldo Party. Photo courtesy of Free Realms FB photo stream
In addition to activities relating to your profession, there are numerous other things to do in Free Realms:
- Improve your gear and customize your character's appearance
- Partake in various mini-games and quest lines
- Build and customize a home
- Visit with your friends in their homes
- Explore the massive world
- Collect and train virtual pets
- Chat or roleplay with friends
Guilds like Mystic Mayhem sponsor events for players to participate in. Photo courtesy of Wikia
Most activities can be completed for free, but there are a few perks for paid players. You can either purchase a membership for the game or cash in on a few premium items by paying cash for them. A paid subscription is not necessary, but it does come with several perks:
- The ability to create three characters rather than just one
- Monthly reward packs of various in-game items
- Access to members-only items
- Access to members-only professions
- A 10 percent discount on all game items
- Greater ability to earn coins
You can choose to subscribe for one month, three months or a year. The per-month cost of the subscription drops the more time you buy. If you choose to allow your subscription to lapse, you will lose access to your members-only content, but it will be stored for later use once the subscription resumes. You don't need to worry about losing characters during down time.
A Great MMO to Explore as a Family
Free Realms is offered through the Playstation Network on PS3, Mac and PC. It's rated "E" and is primarily aimed at a young audience; 75 percent of the players are under 17 and nearly 50 percent are under the age of 13. In this respect, it follows in the foot steps of browser-based MMO games for kids, such as Neopets or Webkinz.
Critics generally responded very positively to Free Realms after its release, and ratings continue to be high as the game adds more content. IGN rated it with an 8.8 out of 10, and Metacritic rates it with a 79 percent.
Like other games in its class, Free Realms is an ideal way for parents and children to play together online. You can create an account to keep a watchful eye on your kid or play together as a bonding experience. Free Realms will also offer "family accounts" in the future, which will allow paid members to log into multiple characters at once to make it easier for parents to play with their kids.
Just one of the dance moves available to learn in the game
Even if you don't have children, however, Free Realms still offers plenty to do. People looking to get away from the competitive and often hostile environment of many commercial MMOs will find Free Realms to be refreshing and original. It also offers the perfect balance of mini-games, combat and social interaction to satisfy both casual gamers and more hardcore players. If you're looking for a fun virtual hang-out and an addictive way to pass the time, Free Realms will keep you happily occupied for a long time.