Free to play games are often derided for being too basic, featuring too many microtransactions, or being designed entirely in flash. This is not the case. With a little searching, there are a games in every genre with high production values and excellent gameplay that don’t cost a penny. Here are ten of the best.
10: War Thunder
War Thunder is a shining light in the dying genre of flight combat games. Deep and engaging, War Thunder takes online dog fighting to the next level with deep customization, gorgeous set pieces and multiple game modes. War Thunder will have you coming back match after match to not only improve your hangar full of devastating warplanes, but the crews that maintain them. Tense dog fights shared with your buddies leave lasting impressions long after you log out. War Thunder is an easy choice to make for a rainy Sunday afternoon.
9: Tribes: Ascend
Tribes is a class-based shooter where you can not only fly through the air using the game’s standard jet packs, but also “ski” down the terrain of the map for an added speed boost. Tribes kinetic movement is what sets it apart from the pack of online shooters. CTF matches are fast and intense. Landing the perfect rocket shot on an enemy just before he captures your flag while soaring high above the ground is deeply satisfying. With multiple classes to unlock, various game modes and a stable of futuristic vehicles, Tribes: Ascend can easily occupy a large chunk of your weekend.
8: World of Tanks
World of Tanks is a global phenomenon. Hugely popular in the eSports world, World of Tanks popularity has only grown with its recent Xbox 360 release. Teaming up with your buddies against another team of custom tanks to see who is the best steel legion is insanely fun. Matches are tense and full of strategy. Positioning is as important as your aim. Using the geography of the map will help you gain the edge you need over your opponents. The collection of tanks borderlines on madness, giving you lots to work toward and unlock.
7: Planetside 2
Planetside 2 is a massive multiplayer online shooter. Three factions have gone to war over massive territories and you must pick whom to side with. Planetside is class-based shooter that fills its massive maps with hundreds upon hundreds of players. Battles can last hours as you fight for every inch of land. Tired of being a foot soldier? Hop into one of the many vehicles Planetside has to offer. Territories are bought and paid for with the blood of you and your foes. The size of other online shooters pale in comparison to the epic scope of Planetside’s battles. Whether by air or land, this is one shooter that will never leave you with a lack of targets.
Hawken is an adrenaline-based mech shooter that showcases maneuverability and hi-tech weapons. Combat is fast-paced and frantic. Hawken’s visuals are among the best that the PC has to offer —from a free to play game no less. Different chassis affect the speed and agility as well as the armor. The different game modes include a siege mode as well as free-for-all and team deathmatch. Boosting side-to-side to avoid incoming rockets as you cover your teammates’ escape from the deadly barrage is insanely fun. Hawken has tons of mech chassis to unlock as well as weapons and abilities to equip to customize your death machine. Hawken is not to be missed.
Loadout is the newest game on this list. Don’t let the cartoony aesthetics fool you. Ripe with happy trails, bikini waxes, blurred scrotums and chock full of offensive taunts and cheers, there’s a lot to love in Loadout. Loadout is a third-person shooter in which game progression is measured by your gun customization. With multiple chassis, ammunition, scopes and barrels, every gun on the field of battle feels unique. Matchmaking is fast and intuitive, so kicking someone’s titty-tasseled bare ass with friends has never been easier! Where Loadout really shines is with its amazing art style and the sense of humor that goes with it. Gratuitous and violent, Loadout was an easy pick.
The first thing that will stand out to you in Firefall is the charming visuals. Whether played in first person or third, the game is truly beautiful. The game’s cell shaded artwork coupled with unique character design sets it apart from the horde of adventure shooters. Completing quests and leveling up your character is further enhanced when playing with a group of friends. Quest after quest, mission after mission, Firefall had me coming back for more. Firefall’s adversarial mode offers a great change of pace if time does not permit you to dive into the game’s main story mode. Different classes offers variety and serve to fulfill your personal play style. Hours can be lost adventuring in Red 5 Studios’ amazing world.
3. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Hearthstone is simply amazing. Card games in digital form are nothing new but Blizzard has found a way to make their strategy game both deep and sophisticated while remaining intuitive and accessible to all skill levels. With nine heroes to choose from, each with their own unique ability, your distinct play style is sure to be accommodated. Whether battling with friends or climbing the online ladder to earn just enough gold to unlock the next deck, there’s a lot to love here. The game is quick and easy to pick up but difficult to master. Customizing decks and experimenting with different cards is half the fun. It is truly amazing to see how just a few card changes can affect the pacing of an entire deck. It’s this element of Hearthstone that makes the game so addicting. Hearthstone is a smash hit and not only fun to play, but to watch as well. ,i>Hearth is consistently in the top three games watched on Twitch, with players observing new strategy and deck builds. Hearthstone is a must play for anyone who loves strategy and has a few minutes to spare.
2. Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress is the godfather of free-to-play and remains one of the most popular games on Steam. A first-person shooter with unique game modes and a large stable of classes to choose from, there’s something for everyone’s play style. Team Fortress gains a lot of its prestige from its user-created content that can be purchased in the store. Clothes and weapons alike, there are limitless ways to customize your character, with fresh content coming daily. TF2’s visuals are one of its many staples that keep this game at the head of the pack. If you’re looking for a shooter that cares about more than just your K/D ratio, you’ve come to the right place. If you have Steam, Team Fortress is a must-download.
1. League of Legends
League of Legends is not only the number one free-to-play game, but also the number one video game in the world overall. Riot Games has found a unique formula that blends hyper-competitive gameplay with strategy and teamwork. League’s list of playable champions is massive to say the least — each character has a unique ability set and personality. It is this attribute that really sets LoL apart from other MOBA’s. Bonding with your champion of choice as well as the friends you bring onto the fields of justice leaves a lasting impression, compelling you to say “Just one more match.” League of Legends is here to stay and leads the flood of MOBA’s hitting the market. It will be interesting to see if Riot can continue to keep its billion-dollar ideas fresh and fun.