We’ve all been there, halfway through a pay period with no extra money to spend on that expensive new game, and the old ones on your computer aren’t quite scratching the itch to play something fresh and exciting. That’s when free to play games really come in clutch.
There’s also no denying that online multiplayers dominate this category of games, so if those aren’t your cup of tea, there’s unfortunately few on here that may completely suit your fancy.
That being said, being (mostly) online multiplayers and costing nothing at baseline does not make any of the games coming up on this list inherently worse than pay-to-play games. By all means, many of the games here can compete with anything on the market right now.
10) VR Chat
While arguably VR chat is more of a social platform that just hosts various games, it is undeniably one of the most fun and customizable free to play applications out there. The possibilities are limitless, truly, if you can think of it, it probably exists. You can create an avatar to call all your own (or adapt to literally any 3D model of any characters in popular media), play specialty games, chat, create and explore different worlds, and so much more. It has the potential for great meme content, is a great place for making friends, and truly fosters a good escape from life. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t require expensive VR equipment to enjoy it, in spite of the name.
9) Team Fortress 2
As the oldest game on this list and one that could rightfully be considered a cult classic, Team Fortress 2 earned its place on this list. Despite being out for about fifteen years, it still brings in an average of over 100,000 players a month. While it is classified as a shooter with combat based objectives, it has fourteen different game modes to choose from, and nine character classes that you can hone in on based on your favorite play style. At the time that it dropped, it was the only game of it’s kind. While it’s playstyle is still fairly unique, it does seem to have inspired other, more currently relevant games like Overwatch.
Initially, it had been intended as a more serious military-based game, but the fan base really helped turn the game into what it’s known for now, as being a more frivolous, casual game. It never took itself too seriously and the community that continues to play it is a pretty amusing, devoted group that still puts out good content, earning it it’s spot on the list.
8) Doki Doki Literature Club
Doki Doki Literature Club is a freeware visual novel, and the only non-multiplayer game out of these top 10! While it presents itself as a dating simulator it is quite a bit more than that. The cutesy name and characters suggest something vastly more light hearted and romance based than what you receive, and it’ll definitely throw you for a loop with its classification as a psychological horror. Without giving away too much of the plot, we will say it’s an extremely well written, complex visual novel, and hits you with a lot more surprises than you’d ever expect for a game type that seems so cut and dry in it’s intent. Be aware also, that it’s not reccomended for children or individuals that are easily disturbed.
Player-versus-player shooters like Spellbreak absolutely dominate this list, but this game sets itself apart from the rest as an amalgam of various different genres. While it is mainly a Battle Royale shooter, it’s unique not only in its lack of guns and the integration of magical gauntlets that fire off projectiles, but also that it takes on aspects of an RPG having six different magical classes based off of the elements. In doing this, Spellbreak ignores the traditionally set characters that you’d have in a shooter and encourages character creation and customization. Despite having a character distinctive to you, you are not bound to just one of the classes. Before each match, you decide which class you would like to take on for the duration of it and can progress your skills that way. Having a fantasy shooter without the integration of guns is extremely refreshing to say the least.
6) Call of Duty: Warzone
As far as Battle Royale’s go, Call of Duty: Warzone has one of the best. With a more realistic, military-based style that’s an inherent aspect of games in the Call of Duty franchise, it’s garnered world-wide popularity and acclaim. Warzone has three different game modes, but Battle Royale is absolutely the most exciting. Good Battle Royales have an intrinsic quality that makes them extremely addicting. Winning in a 5v5 is one thing, but there’s absolutely nothing like coming out on top when going up against up to 150 other players.
The concept of having a second chance after dying in the Battle Royale mode, by being thrown into the Gulag (which truly has become something of a meme) in a 1v1 fight to the death is one aspect that is also very unique to Warzone. It adds an extra level of excitement to an already adrenaline fueled game mode.
VALORANT has taken the FPS world by storm, having dropped a little over a year ago but bringing in a reported 14 million monthly players. It’s popularity is certainly warranted, with exciting characters and gameplay reflecting other popular aspects of the FPS category. While gunplay is a given, and shooting accuracy is heavily emphasized, each character also has unique abilities reflective of the powers they have as “Radiants”, or superhumans on the alternate Earth where the game is set.
Your objective in this game ultimately, is either to attack by planting a bomb called the “spike”, which you need to protect long enough for it to detonate, or defend by defusing the spike, which usually requires killing the entire enemy team. With flashes, walls, and stuns to constantly keep you on your toes, there’s almost never a dull moment in this game. Characterized by fun, multifaceted gameplay with superpowered characters, it’s unsurprising that VALORANT is as popular as it is.
If a multiplayer Sci-Fi game based in roleplay and shooting is more your fancy, you’ll really enjoy Warframe. In this game, you are spawned into the universe as a member of the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors who control golem-like entities called warframes. There is a set of 80 Warframe characters and variants, and they’re all customizable to a noteworthy extent with various augmentations and utilities. While anthropomorphic, their technological designs are inspired by the aesthetics of various types of animals and elements, giving you a pretty decent read on sight about what their abilities and personalities might be like. As far as character design goes for a shooter, it’s definitely the most unique.
While the game itself has a more mission based objective, it does have various expansions available to players that are open-world. In those you can explore and complete missions on three different planets. Throughout it’s game modes it integrates various different gameplay elements including player-versus-environment and player-versus-player elements.
For players who may have gone through a phase where they were obsessed with Greek gods at any point in their lives, SMITE is definitely for you. SMITE is a multiplayer online battle arena game with characters from various pantheons; gods along with various myths and heroes from history make up the massive 112 character roster. MOBAs typically require a lot of time and effort put into understanding builds, team composition, and how to play against certain characters. However, one other wonderful feature of SMITE that sets it apart is that you can auto-buy builds that make sense for the team you’re playing against. Whatever play style suits you the best, you’re bound to find a few characters and ways to play that work out for you.
If you like cosmetics, SMITE also has the absolute best on the market. While they will cost you a pretty penny, they’re constantly introducing new skins to the game, and occasionally do partnerships so characters in the game with end up with skins of characters from other popular media like Avatar the Last Airbender, or RWBY.
2) Genshin Impact
There are few free-to-play games that match the level of detail and development that was put in Genshin Impact. It is a massive open-world, fantasy adventure game with a wide array of characters and content that you would never expect from a game that requires no cost to download. It’s main campaign is a single-player journey across the world of Teyvat, where you seek out information about the sibling your “Traveler” character lost long ago. There is however also the ability to fight with friends in a four-person party where you can come together to solve various puzzles, fight enemies, and take on the elemental bosses of the game.
On top of the massive amount of content the game currently has, the developers have a ten-year content plan, so once you get addicted, you’ve got at least a decade to look forward to rather continuous updates.
1) Apex Legends
As a first-person shooter with a roster of relatable, well-designed characters, Apex Legends is at the very top of the list for free to play games. It is set in an event called the Apex Games, an ancient bloodsport where twenty squads of legends come together and fight until one is left standing. Each legend has their own set of skills that can be used to benefit the squad, along with a litany of customizable weapon loadouts to fit any preferred style of shooting. If you enjoyed any of the Titanfall games, you’ll feel especially at home playing this one as it’s set in the same universe with similar mobility and gunplay.
You also wouldn’t expect a game without a story mode to have great lore or universe building, but Apex Legends manages to do so on many levels. It’s lore building arguably sets it the most apart from other first person shooters on the market right now, deepend by in-game interactions between characters, events, cinematics, and a long-standing comic series put out each season. It’s really difficult not to fall in love with the characters when you get spoiled with constant lore and game updates, which ultimately pushes it to the apex of the best free to play games.