(Pocket-lint) – There’s no price like free, is there? In all walks of life, getting something for nothing is like getting away with a scam, even if it’s far from criminal.
A decade or more ago, a game going free was a sign that something was seriously wrong with its player count or not good enough for people to actually pay. Now, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The model has spawned some of the most successful dominating games ever released, and there are now more high-quality free games to choose from than ever before.
So we thought it was fair to help you sift through the mediocre options to find the hidden gems and obvious hits, which include the best games to play right now without paying a dime. There are hours of entertainment to be had here, all with zero price tag.
It’s worth noting that in addition to the free PC games we’ve covered below, you can also take advantage of Nvidia’s GeForce Now service to play some great sample games for free. Although this is a paid service, there is a free tier that will allow you to play for an hour at a time on any compatible device.
Our pick of the best free games to play today
Call of Duty: Warzone
Warzone might just be the top pick on this list, if only because of its popularity. It is the battle royale game from the Call of Duty franchise. And a free game that pits up to 150 players on its huge map.
It’s a frenetic shooter that rewards skill and patience, and it’s just plain fun to play, especially with friends. Also, although it has a Battle Pass system for those who want to pay, there’s nothing stopping you from playing without paying at all.
If you like armored fighting vehicles and free games, World of Tanks might be the one for you. This is a free team tank shooter game that has more than 600 tanks to play with and is full of armored combat thrills. Customize your tank and go to war!
If there’s a single game that’s exploded free-to-play models into the mainstream, it might just be Fortnite, which has gained an absolutely massive playerbase thanks in part to its free-to-play Battle Royale offering.
It’s now a cultural behemoth that any parent will recognize and will continually expand its scope and systems to become more complicated, but one thing that hasn’t changed is: its run-and-gun-and-play gameplay. -build is just as free to access now as it was back then.
thunder of war
War Thunder offers it all – claiming to be the most comprehensive free-to-play military MMO game available. With over 500 planes to fly, 300 ground combat vehicles to blast, and warships to sail too. It’s a large-scale war, with an endless experience that just keeps getting better.
Genshin Impact has come out of nowhere to huge popularity around the world – it’s an open-world RPG that’s clearly inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but with a core character-gathering mechanic that makes it addicting to the extreme.
You won’t get particularly far without spending a bit of money, but it’s so polished and fun to play that you probably won’t care too much about it. It’s one of the most popular games out there, so give it a try once in a while.
world of warships
Do you prefer your battles on the high seas? Do you like the idea of assembling an armada and recreating historical battles? Then World of Warships just might float your boat. Sail on everything from battleships to cruisers, destroyers and everything in between.
You can play alone or with friends and of course it’s totally free.
Dota 2 is immediately different from the shooters featured above – it’s a much more complicated game, a battle arena game of 5v5 matches that can take up to an hour to play. It’s devilishly difficult but also utterly addictive, with nearly limitless combinations of possible outcomes to consider at any time.
Anyone who’s tried it knows how easily it can suck you in for “one more game”, and developer Valve is constantly tweaking it and adding new characters or features. Trust us, it might be one to try, as its main competitor League of Legends has an equally valid claim on your time.
Apex Legends might be another battle royale shooter, but it really shook things up at a time when Fortnite was pretty much untouchable in terms of dominance. It added hero characters with various abilities for players to choose from, as well as a revolutionary ping system to help players communicate – so good that all other games are now copying it.
It’s a really fun team shooter and you don’t have to spend any money to get an advantage. Unlocks are achievable with a bit of patience, while cosmetics are mostly all that awaits you if you choose to pay.
Blizzard’s card game monolith, there’s no ignoring Hearthstone if you’ve ever played and enjoyed a collectible card game. It’s a card game with a super simple ruleset that gets infinitely complicated depending on the cards you choose for your deck and the tactics you decide to pursue.
Games can be really quick and easy, and they’re available on all sorts of platforms so you can get your fix even if you’re on the go. Fun art and voice lines punctuate your battles, and you’ll soon find yourself obsessing over how you might win your next round. It’s fun and totally free.
Destiny 2 didn’t start out as a free-to-play title, but was changed to encourage new players to try it out. It’s Bungie’s new baby, with a large, dedicated playerbase and a shooter that’s nothing short of satisfying.
Plus, with frequent expansions and changes, you can expect more content down the line. If you’re looking for a relaxing game with the potential for a real challenge, playing Destiny 2 with friends might be a great answer.
The Incredible Adventures of Captain Spirit
Most of the games on this list are multiplayer – that’s just how the market is warping right now. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a welcome exception. It’s kind of a quasi-prologue to Life is Strange 2, the latest in Ubisoft’s entirely delightful series of adventure games, but it’s a lighter and briefer narrative.
It’s so good that Life is Strange 2 will recommend you play it before you start Episode 2, and while it might not last too long, it’s an amazing experience to have without any cash.
CS:GO is almost synonymous with competitive FPS gameplay. It is a popular and highly rated eSports game as well. It may have been banging since 2012, but it still consistently tops Steam’s player count.
Taking the likes of Destiny and other massive shooters, Warframe started from a humble place but slowly grew its following to gain a truly impressive reputation. You can play it on all consoles (even your Switch) and PC, and its mix of fast-paced fire and action is a really fun and explosive stress-buster.
The lore and story are a little hard to grasp at first, but you’ll get used to it and soon be flying off on missions with your teammates.
CRSED: FOAD is another free-to-play Battle Royale game, but with some twists as it features characters with special abilities and various rituals, traps, and sprays that change the dynamics of the game and keep things interesting. Whether it’s a ritual that releases zombies onto the map or temporarily floods the environment or simply helps you leap from great heights in an instant.
There’s a lot to love about this game and it’s also free on PC and console.
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Written by Max Freeman-Mills and Adrian Willings.