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This link is quite old...But still valuable, I guess.
Personally, I'd say that Darkfall online and Mortal Online are the 2 best Sandbox MMORPG actually on the market.
I don't know for free ones, but...If you agree to pay 15$ per month, those two rock.
I'd play Mortal Online, but my PC can't run it xD
So I'll just go for Darkfall Online. What I love about it is the importance of the PVP aspect (I live for PVP) and the freedom that players have. You can kill anyone and steal their stuff! It's so cool! xD
Also, the village and fortress system of amazing. I've always dreamed about a game where guilds could conquer towns...Well, this is exactly what happens in this game! You can capture other guild's fortress and villages. And you don't necessary have to be extra-rich to have a fortress...Well, yes you do, but I mean that smaller guilds can just have smaller villages instead.
Full-loot pvp is also really cool, in my opinion. I'm actually scared to die because I don't want to lose my stuff so I constantly look carefully around me for any potential danger...It makes you feel like if you were really in the game :)
Hmm...Yeah. I don't know how to do a 'real' review so I just stated the reasons why I'm actually playing Darkfall :D
Hope to see you there!
I'm actually playing the open beta and that's pretty cool :P
Personally, what I love the most about this game right now is the combats. There's action! You need to use your spells at the right moment in pvp, you need to dodge, run, hit really fast...The skill of the player makes a big difference. I have the impression that having good gear helps, but it's not what makes you strong :)
PVE right now is quite boring. Quests are all the same and the fastest way to gain xp is to do again and again the same starting missions in group, as more advanced missions are much longer and harder BUT only a little more xp than beginning missions. It reminds me of Baal runs in Diablo 2 :P
PVP is repetitive too but I enjoy it anyway. DanmcC is right by saying there is no strategy really involved in pvp...it's all about being fast and using your ressources the right way. Make sure you lose as few souls (minions) as possible while the other team lose as many as possible...While keeping capturing seeds, which provides the resourced to make souls and buildings.
Once you get used to the commands, you realize that they are really well-made. They allow you to fight while controling your souls and build things ^^
Obviously, as an Open beta, there are a couple bugs and some parts of the game not completed...But I'm sure it'll get better in a couple weeks :)
Sorry for the poor quality of my review, it's pretty much the first time I do something like that :S
Anyway I hope It'll help some people to have an idea of SoulMaster anyway... :)