What are the best free games on Steam? If you're broke and penniless, you don't need to fear a gaming drought. Steam is full of games to play without spending a penny. What's more, they're actually good games: games as fun to play as their full-price, wallet-destroying siblings.
Disclosure: some of the games on this list will earn PCGamesN a small referral fee if you sign up to play.
Because we desperately care about the health of your bank account, and honestly worry about how much money you’re spending on your nasty gaming habit, we want to help you find the games worth your time. Below, you’ll find a bounty of free games, all waiting for you to play them right now.
Warframe lets you play as a space ninja, and for a lot of you, that’s probably all that you need to know. Beyond that, it’s a third-person co-op affair that pits you against goons and other space ninjas, all wearing fancy ‘Warframes’ that confer special abilities. It’s a slick action game with a hint of console gem Destiny about it, thanks to its buddy-up mission design and shared-world social environments. There may be a bit of grind involved if you want to craft the coolest gear, but you'll be slicing people in half and power sliding around on your knees for most of that, so I wouldn't be too concerned.
PLAY WARFRAME NOW
Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online is an MMO set in the unmistakable sci-fi world of the starship Enterprise, where you are given a ship, a crew and sent you off on sci-fi adventures that feel authentically Star Trek. Though it’s ever ageing, it continues to get regular free updates that add new, elaborate episodic missions, new gear, seasonal events (we're currently on 'season 11'). The story also has a tangible impact on the evolving galaxy. While there is a cash shop and premium ships, the game continues to be extremely generous toward free players.
PLAY STAR TREK ONLINE NOW
Neverwinter is the MMO take on Bioware's classic and beloved RPG, taking us to the Forgotten Realms and pitting us against hobgoblins, kobolds, and much, much worse. It's a surprisingly robust action MMO, with a strong emphasis on skill-heavy combat, and a pretty world to explore. Free players are unfortunately more restricted than premium players, but Neverwinter receives frequent updates that add new quests and classes that are available to everyone.
PLAY NEVERWINTER NOW
In World War II soldiers would often hear thunder in the distance and prepare themselves for rain, only for them to discover it was actually War Thunder, a video game about planes shooting each other. Gaijin's flight game straps you into a mind-shattering variety of authentic 1940s planes and tasks you with surviving dogfight after dogfight with other players.
Should you have a reasonable fear of height or flying, you can stay firmly on the ground with the game's tank expansion, which offers the same variety of perfectly-crafted vehicles without any defying gravity technology. New pilots should read our guide to getting started in War Thunder before take off.
PLAY WAR THUNDER NOW
Archeage, Trion’s free-to-play MMO, begins very much in the mould of tradition: quests, crafting and slightly humdrum fantasy adventures. Get past that though, and the game quickly makes way for high seas escapades as you and some chums set off on your very own boat, becoming wealthy traders or unfriendly pirates, preying on other players. It's a true sandbox MMO that's vastly accommodating to the ambitious merchant, explorer, or scallywag.
PLAY ARCHEAGE NOW
Path of Exile
Considerably more grim and gothic than other action games out there, Path of Exile is also blessed with one of the most compelling level up systems seen in an RPG. An impossibly large and liberating grid of abilities and improvements awaits, ready to allow you to upgrade your character in any which way you see fit. To unlock those tantalising abilities you'll need to battle your way through the monster-infested world, and combat is (whisper it now) possibly a bit better than Diablo III.
There are certain games out there that let you fit bits together to make whatever you want, but you have to pay for those. But if you’re in search of free digital Lego, look no further than Robocraft. A workshop full of hundreds of components you can neatly click together to create an amazing robot, you can then take your mech out to the battlefield for huge multiplayer battles. There, lasers blast chunks out of players’ designs, and with the battle done it’s time to go back to the drawing board and iron out the flaws.
PLAY ROBOCRAFT NOW
Smite’s another one of those MOBAs, but blessed with a twist: you control your divine religious-influenced heroes like you would in an action game, with the camera positioned behind them and many of their abilities being skill shots. With 3D character models and the lack of isometric view, Smite feels a very different kind of game.
Despite that, if you enjoy a good 5v5 arena battle, it’s still got the familiar stuff: like lanes, creeps and items are all present and correct. If you're just getting started, check out our Smite beginner's guide.
PLAY SMITE NOW
Marvel Heroes 2016
Marvel Heroes was once a pretty disappointing online action-RPG that might have faded into obscurity, but Gazillion instead went back to the drawing board and reinvented the game. Like Steve Rogers being turned into Captain America, Marvel Heroes returned an improved, beefier, stronger offering of the same thing: a better business model, a more involved community, and frequent updates.
The game now offers up eleven chapters of Marvel goodness, where players can join together to punch villains in the face while playing as Winter Soldier, Deadpool (dressed as a pirate), The Hulk and Spidey, in a Diablo style isometric world (with added capes and spandex). There are tonnes of characters that you can unlock, and a decent starting roster to boot, with plenty of alternate and film-inspired costumes to collect.
PLAY MARVEL HEROES 2016 NOW
Card Hunter is a digital version of tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, but combined with deck-building card games, strategy, and all bought together with a charming art-style that captures the feel of playing with physical boards and items rather than the fantasy setting the writing describes. But, most importantly, it’s evocative of sitting around a table, munching pizza and rolling dice with your pals.
Designed to be played in co-op (although solo players are welcome) it's a wonderful little strategic endeavour to be stretched out over regular gaming nights. The writing is lighthearted and sometimes funny, while the game itself has proved to be the challenging and clever sort where every dice roll counts.
PLAY CARD HUNTER NOW
Team Fortress 2
What can one say about Team Fortress 2, Valve’s mega-popular, constantly evolving shooter? It has many hats. It’s also extremely refined, always full of players despite launching in 2007, and gets frequent updates to fatten the game up with even more hats, modes and maps. But despite how much the game has grown in eight years since it launched, it remains easy to pick up, especially if you’ve got some chums to play with.
The package itself now feels infinitely huge, with a great variety of map designs and game types, from the classic capture point team vs team games, to co-operate Mann vs Machine, where players band together to keep waves of murderous robots at bay.
PLAY TEAM FORTRESS 2 NOW
Marvel Puzzle Quest
Marvel Puzzle Quest is one of those deceptively addictive match three games, but with teams of Marvel heroes and villains, each with unique powers represented by comic book covers, battling it out on gem-filled boards. Unfortunately, the game is cursed with a greedy cash shop and eventually becomes a bit of a grind unless you spend some money – it takes quite a while to get to that point, however, and up until then, it’s a great deal of fun and you don’t need to spend a dime.
PLAY MARVEL PUZZLE QUEST NOW
Dota 2 is massive, second only to League of Legends in the realm of MOBAs, with millions of people seemingly playing it constantly, always coming back to check out new characters and new patches. As a MOBA with roots in the origin of the genre you know exactly what to expect: an eclectic roster of champions, a huge list of powerful items, ten players, three lanes, and a massive emphasis on skill. You could spend days and days just thinking about the metagame, not to mention honing your talents by spectating the biggest matches come tournament season.
PlanetSide 2’s scale is something to behold. Whole continents are locked in constant conflict, with armies clashing over bases, vehicles speeding across the ground, aircraft lighting up the sky – it’s glorious, until you die thanks to a sniper sitting a mile away. You’ll want to play with friends for this one, as the chaos of battle only starts to make sense when you’re in a squad that communicates. Think Battlefield's capture-point style gameplay, but on a large, never-ending scale, with three factions locked in ceaseless combat. Absolute FPS bliss.
PLAY PLANETSIDE 2 NOW
Is there a free game we've overlooked? Drop your suggestions for brilliant F2P games in the comments below.