Looking for the best free PC game? Whether you're broke or just frugal, free is a price point that appeals to everybody's purse. We've collated the top free PC games guaranteed to deliver a near endless stream of complementary entertainment. All you need to spend is your time.
If you're feeling a bit more specific, check out our list of free MMOs.
From military to sci-fi to fantasy, from MMOs to block-builders to card battlers, it turns out that zero can buy you quite a lot in the F2P game world – and that some classics are available at the steepest possible discount.
Archeage is the closest thing we’ve got to a proper pirate MMO. You can try to master the endless sea as a notorious pirate or choose to be a humble peddler of crafted goods. Its labour system – how it gates content – may take time to get used to, but nevertheless it’s a really solid free-to-play experience.
If you’re not into piracy, there’s plenty of classic fantasy MMO elements to keep you happy. Yes, magical swords and fancy armour are still a huge part of ArcheAge. So is levelling, which was recently made even better thanks to the Erenor Eternal update. Now you can upgrade beyond level 55 and progress through your elementally-attuned Ancestral Levels.
With so much to do, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t give this a try.
Crossout is a vehicular combat MMO in which you craft outlandish cars and then drive them into battle alongside other players. Set to the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Mad Max-style, there’s an emphasis on deep customisation as well as skilfull driving and aiming. Crossout contains a variety of co-op and competitive game modes, as well as a marketplace full of tradeable goods. The sheer number of different body types, guns, cannons, and armor ensures that there are many different ways to play… although they’re all pretty deadly.
You don’t have to find a group of like-minded aviation enthusiasts on a message board and join their virtual squadron to enjoy War Thunder. You don’t have to choose between realism or accessibility. You just download it, and then you’re flying – or driving. This massively-multiplayer WW2 combat game effortlessly encompasses all of the explosions and excitement that planes and tanks are capable of generating.
World of Tanks
One of the mightiest PC free-to-play games there has ever been, World of Tanks is an accessible and exciting tank simulator that hides some complex game mechanics. It pits two sets of tankers against each other in team deathmatch. There are hundreds of vehicles to unlock across ten different tiers, from speedy scouts to hulking heavies. You’ll never believe so many tanks existed.
World of Warships
This isn’t a sim, and it isn’t an arcade game. World of Warships is something in-between – a pastiche, but a loving one. The controls are simple and welcoming, but allow for interesting tactics. It's more fun than Total War’s pondering naval engagements, definitely more approachable than Silent Hunter, and far, far deeper than the Pirates games. Surprising depth, if you'll excuse the submariner humour.
A plush, colourful space sim that takes the genre massively multiplayer, Star Conflict drops you right in the middle of an interplanetary skirmish that encompasses both PvE and PvP. Its void is as roomy as any other sector of space you might name, while its busy, man-made surface environments recall the twisty tunnels of the Descent series.
Warface is a fast-action military shooter, but less concerned with realism than its po-faced peers. Warfare wants you to do two things: cooperate with your team in urban deathmatches, and slide along on your arse while firing a machine gun.
Star Trek Online
Who wouldn’t want to take control of a starship, explore the fringes of the galaxy, battle dangerous aliens and train an elite crew of pangalactic professionals? Star Trek Online is your chance to show the internet that you’d make a much better Picard than Picard. Or, at least, than they do.
Neverwinter comes from a long line of ambitious, multiplayer Dungeons & Dragons RPGs – following one of the first graphical MMOs, Neverwinter Nights, and the BioWare game of the same name. This is the cheapest yet, and benefits from the massively-multiplayer expertise of City of Heroes studio Cryptic. It’s also fantastic Forgotten Realms fan service: a place where you can meet both RA Salvatore’s Drizzt and Minsc from Baldur’s Gate.
Rift was a phenomenal subscription-based fantasy MMO – World of Warcraft in new trousers, essentially. It made its name by updating and improving itself at a ferocious pace, with new raids, new zones, new world events appearing on a monthly basis. Now, it's entirely free-to-play: you can play it without spending a penny. That's a brilliant option: you can sink hours into it. Highly recommended.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is one of the best MMOs available. Even better: you can play a huge chunk of it for free. There’s a lot to do, from traditional questing for NPCs to zone events where everyone can suddenly get involved and work as a massive team to bring down a boss, or help a burning village. You’ll need to pay to get into the Heart of Thorns expansion, but the base game is huge enough as it is, and the backlog of Living World stories now available to play means there’s plenty to see, explore, and get involved with.
Everything’s better in space, as Warframe proves with its Ninjas in space theme. It’s a co-op third-person game where teams of ninjas suited up in powerful ‘Warframe’ armours head out to slice up bad guys, or just hang out at the dojo. It blends some MMO elements with the sensibilities of a more straightforward action game, creating something slick, exciting, and very sociable.
Paladins is a team-based MOBA shooter that actually predates Overwatch, but shares many of its merits as a tactical murder simulator at a fraction of the cost. You’ll play as a mecha-goblin or gigantic rolling bomb and work in conjunction with your comrades to knock the numbers out of your opponents – before destroying their base. Bonus: everyone gets their own horse.
Following the same formula as League of Legends and Dota 2, Smite has teams of five gods trying to fight their way into their opponent’s base. Rather than giving players a top-down view of the battlefield, however, it chooses a third-person perspective, switching the focus of the game from tactics to action.
No MMO can claim to be as player-driven as Eve Online, with the space game/lifestyle boasting mega-corporations run by legions of players and, very occasionally, gigantic space battles with upwards of 5,000 participating pilots. Eve Online’s free-to-play model lets players experience all of that space madness (bar access to some of the end-game ships and skills) without having to pay a subscription fee.
While action games have begun pilfering the best bits of MOBAs in earnest, Paragon is no hybrid – it’s an uncompromised MOBA that just happens to give you full and direct control of your hero. Built by Epic Games in their own Unreal Engine 4, it’s unusually pretty in motion, thanks in no small part to some vibrant, vertiginous maps.
League of Legends
Inspired by the original Dota, this takes the same concept but introduces a different roster of playable characters that is constantly being expanded. Many players find League of Legends is both easier and more accessible than Dota, but it’s still extremely nuanced. 12 million people play it every day. You won’t struggle to find a game.
Want more? Read our League of Legends review.
Two teams of five choose their Dota 2 heroes from a selection of hundreds before taking to the battlefield to destroy the other side’s base. It’s no mean feat, as both bases spawn waves of creatures and are protected by powerful towers. Each player will need to make the best of their hero’s abilities in what is not only a game, but a sport. It’s tough, complex, and inspires fanaticism in its fans.
Want more? Here's our Dota 2 review.
Blizzard's world-dominating card game is about as addictive as chips. Who's ever had enough chips? You've always got room for more chips, and you've always got time for another game of Hearthstone. Oh, and it looks pretty great on phones and tablets too.
Want more? Here's our Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft review.
Heroes of the Storm
It wasn’t going to be long until Blizzard entered the MOBA fray, and Heroes of the Storm is their stab at taking on Dota and League of Legends. Yet this 5v5 arena game isn’t just another Dota clone. Instead of a single map, Heroes of the Storm has many themed arenas that ask you not only to defeat the enemy but also complete side quests to help improve your chances. Not only does this provide variety, but it’s intensely fun.
Want more? Here's our Heroes of the Storm review.
Team Fortress 2
Valve’s class-based shooter, Team Fortress 2, has achieved legendary status thanks to its varied game modes, impeccable sense of fun, and being home to more hats than the world’s millinery stores combined. The whole game is free-to-play these days, from the standard shoot-everything-that-moves deathmatches to the fantastic Mann vs Machine co-op mode where teams fend off waves of robots.
Want more? Here's our Team Fortress 2 review.
Think Battlestar Galactica meets Dota, and you’ll be somewhere close to award-winning Fractured Space. Control gigantic ships and shoot your intergalactic foes in intense battles as you use your tactical nous to capture bases.
The complexity of developer Edge Case Games’ meta has only grown deeper a year on from release - and that’s on top of the game’s time in early access, too. Lowered minimum specs mean that even ageing rigs can get in on the action and the addition of AI-powered ships help you get to know your spaceship properly.
From solo scraps in PvE to 5v5 quickplay, there are plenty of modes to get your teeth into if you are low on time. But, if you’re looking to get into something meatier, Fractured Space has the tactical complexity to rival the best Mobas.
Normally, if you want to take charge of massive airships, you’ll need a fair amount of cash and hours of training. With Dreadnought, a team-based dogfighter from Yager Development, you can pilot massive spaceships across the skies of many different planets, for absolutely zero cost.
Dreadnought gives you access to a variety of ships equipped with massive, earth-shattering weapons that you can customise down to the last thermal exhaust port. The combat is a tactical affair, with a combination of slow methodical broadside assaults and rapid, piercing strikes. There are several game modes to choose from, and doing well in the tactical team-based warfare will reward you with an ever-growing fleet of ships.
Duelyst is a free PC game that offers the free-to-play card game players something a little more strategic. Instead of a standard board, Duelyst proffers a five-by-nine grid straight out of a top-down tactical game like Blood Bowl, letting players move their cards about the board at will. Keeping with the emphasis on tactics, cards in Duelyst spawn in units rather than cards, like a CCG twist on chess, except with hundreds of potential pieces to choose from. Counterplay Games Inc. have also lavished their game with a beautifully crisp 16-bit art style that’ll have you collecting cards for the art rather than their card effects.
This golden oldie holds the record for being the largest MMORPG ever, as well as the most updated game. Runescape has an enormous player base and a massive, ever-evolving world to explore, full of challenges that you can choose according to your own interests. Want to fight, complete quests, or just to play minigames? In Runescape it’s entirely up to you.
Want more? Here's our Runescape review.
Now, turn to Page 2 to find more priceless games – and please do share your own recommendations in the comments.