The Free Agent: Episode 14 - MechWarrior Online

Hello to all our new readers, and welcome back to those who have been following ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

Last time on the Free Agent we hunted dragons, tamed dragons, trained dragons, rode dragons and fought dragons. It's almost as if we covered an MMO about dragons or something. Oh wait, we did... To see how free Dragon's Prophet ended up being, be sure to check out Episode 13.

For this week's episode, however, it's back to mechs. But not just any mechs. This time we're hitting up a franchise with a long history in the gaming world. Dating back to 1984 the BattleTech franchise has been around for a while and managed to spawn four video games under the MechWarrior banner (plus an impressive list of related titles).

With a pedigree like that it's no surprise that there is a fair amount of interest in the latest installment in the series MechWarrior Online (MWO) from Vancouver based developer Piranha Games and publisher IGP.

I'll be honest, after playing Hawken in Episode 12, when I picked up MechWarrior Online I was expecting more of the same. What I got was a decidedly different experience.

The Free Agent: Episode 13 - Dragon's Prophet

Hello to all our new readers, and welcome back to those who have been following ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

Last time on the Free Agent the Oculus Rift inspired us to brave shrapnel and rocket launchers in the FPS mech title Hawken. If you happened to miss out on the action don't worry, you can always go back and give Episode 12 a read.

But for this week's episode we're back to MMOs again. And unlike my last foray into free-to-play MMOs, this one seems to diverge somewhat from the traditional MMO template. After a minor launch delay Dragon's Prophet stormed onto the scene on September 23rd under the Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) banner. Even with so much on the go it seems SOE is more than happy to bring Dragon's Prophet to North America from Taiwan based developer Runewaker Entertainment.

With a name like Dragon's Prophet it's no surprise that dragons feature quite prominently in this title. Of course dragons are kind of a staple to the Fantasy MMO genre, so that isn't exactly much of a hook. However, for the dragon obsessed among us (you know who you are), Dragon's Prophet offers up something new that should put a grin on your face; a giant, scaly, many-toothed grin. Let's take to the skies and learn more.

The Free Agent: Episode 12 - Hawken

Hello to all our new readers, and welcome back to those who have been following ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

Last time on the Free Agent we brought you coverage of The Banner Saga: Factions. Despite an unfortunate breach in security and a mild concussion induced from a hefty sack of quarters striking the back of my head, it was great experience. So if you missed it be sure to check it out.

A few weeks back I had the distinct pleasure of trying out the Oculus Rift VR headset at PAX Prime. It will stand out as one of the most distinctly mind-blowing and horizon expanding moments in my over 25 years of gaming. Not only that, but the demo I played through also encouraged me to finally try a free-to-play game that has been on my list for quite some time. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Hawken.

The Free Agent: Episode 11 - The Banner Saga

Hello to all our new readers, and welcome back to those who have been following ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

In our last episode we diverged from the usual format to bring you the Free Agent's coverage of PAX Prime, including our top three most anticipated free-to-play titles from the show floor. If you're looking to get excited about some up and coming games that won't put a dent in your wallet be sure to check out the full episode.

This week we're back to business as usual, bringing you our analysis of an indie free-to-play title from Stoic Studios. Available on Steam, The Banner Saga: Factions is a strategic turn based RPG with a refreshingly unique art style and tons of character, that can best be described as Viking chess on steroids. Intrigued? Well then grab a horn of mead and read on.

The Free Agent: Episode 10 - PAX Prime Edition

Hello and welcome to the 10th episode of the Free Agent. To celebrate we have a special PAX Prime Edition in store for you today. The Free Agent spent the long weekend scouring show floor for free-to-play games. From the blazing lights and soaring banners of the Wargaming booth to shadowy corners full of Indie games, the Free Agent asked the question, "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

With only ten episodes under our belt it's too early to truly answer that question, but I'm happy to report that there are some very promising prospects in store for us. So read on as ZAM.com and the Free Agent bring you our Top 3 Most Anticipated Free-to-Play games from PAX Prime 2013.

The Free Agent: Episode 9 - Astral Battles

Hello from the sunny sandy beaches of beautiful British Columbia and welcome to a fresh episode of ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?" The only difference this time is that I'm still on vacation and haven't been able to fully tackle a new free-to-play game for you.

Be not dismayed my fair readers, the Free Agent wouldn't dare leave you hanging for another two weeks. I've discovered a diabolically brilliant scheme to keep on mission even while on vacation. While my sleek and sexy Asus Republic of Gamers laptop has sadly been sitting idle with my current internet situation, my phone on the other hand has not.

So go fetch yourself a cup of coffee or a delicious energy drink, kick back and relax, and have a read through the first ever mobile edition of the Free Agent.

The Free Agent - On Vacation

Indeed there is supposed to be a new episode today, but as it turns out all these covert free-to-play missions have tired the Free Agent out a little. I'll be on vacation for the next few weeks, with minimal internet access, which in this day and age makes it a little difficult to play a lot of video games out there (grumble grumble stupid always-on DRM).

So it is with great sadness that I must inform you that there will be no Free Agent this week. But never fear my friends, be not dismayed, because in two weeks time ZAM.com will be bringing you a special mobile edition of the Free Agent.

In the meantime keep your browser set to ZAM.com for all the latest and greatest MMO news. And if that's not enough to keep you busy then why not check out some past episodes of the Free Agent that you may have missed with this handy dandy Episode guide:

The Free Agent: Episode 8 - RIFT

Hello to all our new readers, and welcome back to those who have been following ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

In our last episode of the Free Agent we got down right medieval with Firefly studios  MMORTS, Stronghold Kingdoms. Check out the full Episode 7 article if you missed out on all the castle building, kingdom crushing action.

This week we're back to what ZAM does best, MMORPGs. From the moment Trion announced that RIFT was going free-to-play, I knew it had to be added it to the list of games slated for the Free Agent. It was only a question of when, not if, we would venture into RIFT's game world, known as Telara. Turns out that time is now so, without further ado, I bring you Episode 8 of the Free Agent, RIFT.

The Free Agent: Episode 7 - Stronghold Kingdoms

Hello to all our new readers, and welcome back to those who have been following ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

In our last episode of the Free Agent we hopped onto the PS3 to try out Dust 514. It was one of the rockiest starts we've had on the Free Agent, but there was some merit there in the end. Check out the full Episode 6 article for more details on that.

This week we get medieval, with the MMORTS from Firefly studios, Stronghold Kingdoms. This one's been around a while; starting with open beta in 2010, which in F2P land is practically full release. Almost three years later, Stronghold Kingdoms continues to thrive and release new content.

In fact, to celebrate Independence Day, Firefly brought the new USA1 server online on July 4th. This server takes all the medieval goodness of Stronghold Kingdoms and plunks it right down in the middle of the 48 States (sorry Alaska and Hawaii weren't included). Catapults and pikemen laying siege to Seattle, who'd have thunk it?

Now on with the show!

The Free Agent: Episode 6 - Dust 514

Hello to all our new readers, and welcome back to those who have been following ZAM's bi-weekly column, The Free Agent. Our mission, as always, is to answer the question "Can gaming REALLY be free?"

The previous episode of the Free Agent got a little buried under all the gaming news coming out of E3 two weeks ago, so if you want to know what free buys you in the new Action RPG Marvel Heroes, be sure to take a gander at Episode 5.

For this week's episode of the Free Agent I dusted off the old PS3, which has been relegated to Netflix duty for the better part of two years. That's right, for one episode only, the Free Agent is going console.

Why you ask? Well it just so happens that our next assignment is the PlayStation exclusive Dust 514, a free-to-play FPS from Icelandic developer/publisher CCP that many are calling the first true MMOFPS. So can console gamers play to their heart's content without spending a cent? Let’s find out.