Some of the best MMORPGS currently available for the frugal college gamer.

It’s hard to justify spending $15 on a MMO subscription fee when you’re living off of ramen and energy drinks. Luckily, the free-to-play market has become increasingly competitive in the last year, and a number of pretty quality games, many of which were formerly subscription-based, are now available for those unwilling to pay $180 a year for dungeon crawling. Here’s the five best free-to-play MMOs currently available:

Star Trek: Online

Based in the expansive universe of the Star Trek television shows and movies, STO puts players in the middle of an intergalactic war, either in the captain’s seat of their own Federation starship or Klingon warship. You’re assigned your very own customizable bridge crew as well, who will assist you with special abilities in the midst of space combat, such as targeting an enemy’s engines or launching strike team shuttles, and will accompany you on away missions to alien worlds. A highlight of the game is the pitched battles that both factions will face against the ever-popular Borg, which stands out as some of the most breakneck PvE currently available in the MMO world.

Lord of the Rings: Online

What self-respecting nerd hasn’t wanted to jump into Tolkein’s epic world of Middle-Earth at some point?  Turbine’s formerly pay-to-play game puts players in the most complete fantasy world ever envisioned, placing players  in the game’s “Epic Quest” which follows events familiar to fans of the series, as well as allowing for the purchase of their own race-specific house that may be fully decorated, and a unique PvP system known as “Monster Play,” where players may consent to play as either their main avatar, or in the guise of one of the Dark Lord Sauron’s minions.

Vindictus

One of the most unique MMOs currently available, Vindictus is a fast-paced action game that occurs in real-time, and more resembles God of War than your average World of Warcraft copycat. It utilizes truly amazing graphics, which definitely stand out in the generally lackluster world of MMOs. Running a modified version of the Source engine (used famously in Half-Life 2), players may throw enemies into wooden crates, wrap them in chains, and pick up objects that can then be thrown or swung at their foes.

Runes of Magic

While often criticized for its similarities to World of Warcraft, Runes of Magic matches the MMO goliath for content, style, usability and gameplay at every turn, and all without the monthly subscription. But what also makes RoM worth a try is its unique dual-class system, in which players are allowed to combine any two classes (with 30 possible combinations) and use all the powers available to both.  For WoW addicts who have been breaking the bank, here is your methadone treatment.

DC Universe: Online

Few things can top fighting alongside Batman and Superman in the settings of Gotham and Metropolis, and since late 2011, you can now do so free of charge. Players are granted a superhero or supervillain avatar that is mentored by one of DC’s iconic characters, determined by their allegiance to good or evil.  The game’s brawler-style gameplay is bolstered with special movement powers, in which players may zip around the cityscapes with superspeed, flight, or a mastery of acrobatics. One of the biggest draws of the game is how players interact with a cast of famous heroes and villains, all spectacularly voiced by a roster of alumni from other DC projects, such as  Kevin Conroy resuming his role as Batman, and Mark Hamill as the Joker.