It’s easy to fall into the trap of a mediocre freemium game, especially on mobile. However, we have also seen the free-to-play market achieve some serious success in recent years. From battle royales to MOBAs and spectacular indies, there is enough variety for every type of gamer. If you don’t want to spend any cash but want to enjoy hours of fun, here are our picks for the best free-to-play games on any platform.
The best free-to-play games on any platform
Editor’s note: We will update this list regularly as new and exciting free-to-play games are launched.
MOBAs or multiplayer online battle arena games are among the most entertaining and fiercely competitive games you can play. DOTA pioneered the genre and its successor DOTA 2 continues to improve it to this day. What makes Valve’s game stand out from competitors like League of Legends, SMITE, and Heroes of the Storm, is that it’s a true free-to-play game.
You don’t have to pay a dime to get the full roster of 117 heroes. Whether you prefer magical supports or hard-hitting carries, you can enjoy them at any time. DOTA 2 has a steep learning curve, but it’s addicting and fun when played with friends. It also gives you access to hundreds of custom games, making it one of the best and most diverse free-to-play games on PC.
CS:GO and Valorant
If there is a quintessential PC first-person shooter, it’s Counter Strike. The latest iteration, CS:GO, is now free-to-play and better than ever. It expertly blends objective-based strategy with high-octane action, offering seven game modes. Casual or competitive, CS:GO matches are fast and great with friends. The classic mode pits two teams of five against each other in a race to defuse a bomb or rescue hostages. However, CS:GO also offers a fast-paced Deathmatch mode with instant respawns and has recently introduced a battle royale mode called Danger Zone. With so much variety and exciting gameplay, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call CS:GO one of the best free-to-play games you can play on PC.
Read also: Best PC games: Top picks from every genre
While CS:GO’s tried and true formula has kept the game popular for nearly a decade, the rise of hero shooters has left some gamers looking for something with less realism and more fantastic abilities. That’s where Riot Games’ Valorant comes in. It takes some of the hero mechanics of games like Overwatch and mashes them together with the simplicity of Counter Strike. It retains not only the tense, competitive elements of CS:GO, but also the price tag. Both team-based tactical shooters are completely free and supported by purely cosmetic purchases.
Path of Exile
If you are tired of cartoony RPGs, look no further than Path of Exile. This action RPG is dark, gritty, and best of all — completely free. Set in the fantasy realm of Wraeclast, Path of Exile offers more depth than almost any other game of its genre. There are seven main character classes that branch into more specialized categories. You can tweak and customize the vast skill trees to produce complex and unique combinations. Gems, on the other hand, allow you to augment skills, giving you earth-shattering abilities.
This opens up endless possibilities and gives the game immense replayability. To top it all off, Path of Exile can be enjoyed with friends or against enemies in PvP races. It’s available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and it’s the best free ARPG you can play.
PUBG Mobile and Fortnite
Although different, these two games revolutionized mobile gaming and made the unstoppable battle royale genre what it is together. Unlike its PC counterpart, PUBG Mobile is completely free. It is more gritty and realistic than Fortnite, offering four maps with different terrains. A hundred people are dropped from a plane in different parts of those maps. They have to gather weapons and supplies and kill anyone who gets in their way. You can undertake that challenge solo or in groups of two or four.
Fortnite shares many of the same characteristics, but it has a more colorful aesthetic and just one map. Its most unique element, however, is building. You can quickly throw up walls and ramps to swing a gunfight in your favor, making Fortnite creative, exciting, and unpredictable. Nevertheless, both games are accessible and easy to pick up and play. Fortnite has an edge over PUBG Mobile because it’s available for free on almost any platform you can think of, including all popular consoles, Mac, PC, and Android (sorry, iOS users). But, as far as mobile battle royale titles go, PUBG Mobile and Fortnite are pioneers and the best free-to-play games of their genre.
Respawn brought us this fresh take on the battle royale genre last year. Apex Legends follows the familiar formula of dropping down in an area, looting, and shooting, but it stands out from the crowd for a couple of reasons. The first is its fast-paced action, which requires split-second decision making. The second is its hero roster. Unlike other games in the genre, Apex allows you to pick from twelve legends, each with its own unique abilities.
You play in teams of three and you can take on defensive or aggressive roles depending on which play style you prefer. It’s entertaining, competitive, and one of the best free-to-play games you can enjoy on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty is a name every gamer has heard. But while previous COD games might have gotten rather stale, the series has had a resurgence with some great new additions. Call of Duty: Warzone is undoubtedly one of them. It might be yet another battle royale game, but it has a lot to offer. With 150 players competing in groups of three, teams battle it out on a single massive map. Many fan-favorite locations from previous games call the map home, creating a familiar atmosphere with new and refreshing gameplay. Call of Duty: Warzone also offers a Plunder mode, and we expect more will be added in the future. It’s available on Xbox, PC, and PlayStation and it’s one of the best free-to-play games you can pass the time with.
Want to play on your phone instead? Then Call of Duty Mobile is a title you shouldn’t miss. Available for free, it is one of the best and most popular shooters on Google Play.
Trading card games are never out of style and Blizzard’s Hearthstone is one of the best among them. Highly polished and competitive, the game pits two players against each other in a magical card battle to the death. There are eleven character classes to pick from, all of which should be well-known to Warcraft fans. But whether you choose Malfurion Stormrage or Valeera Sanguinar, Hearthstone is entertaining and challenging.
Unlike some other free-to-play card games, it allows you to craft powerful and rare cards without the need to spend cash. It also offers interesting game modes like the Arena and solo adventures. It’s one of the best free-to-play games available on mobile and PC.
Despite its humble beginnings as a DOTA 2 custom mod, Auto Chess‘ popularity was so explosive, it created its own genre of games. Today, it can be enjoyed outside of the DOTA 2 client, on PC and mobile. But what is it exactly?
It’s a strategy game, which despite its name has little to do with chess. Eight players simultaneously battle it out by placing and upgrading units of different classes until only one player is left standing. It is similar to a tower defense game, but it offers a lot of strategic depth that will keep you hooked. You can’t go wrong with Auto Chess! However, we also recommend checking Valve’s DOTA Underlords and Riot’s Teamfight Tactics — two other Auto Chess-style titles that are among the best free-to-play games you can play.
Pokémon GO was the game that put augmented reality on the map. This real-life Pokémon hunt became a global phenomenon the moment it was released in 2016. Since then, the hype has died down a bit, but the game still has a large active player base. In fact, Pokémon GO is better than ever — with trainer battles, research tasks, and community days and events, there’s never a dull moment.
Don’t worry if you’re currently under lockdown either. Niantic has recently made it much easier to play from home. So, if you haven’t played Pokémon GO recently, give it a try because you might be surprised by how much you enjoy it. It’s one of the best free-to-play mobile games ever made.
Sky: Children of Light
From Thatgamecompany, the studio that brought us Journey and Flower, comes Sky: Children of Light. This ethereal and atmospheric indie game sends you on a journey in search of lost stars. But you are not alone: friends can join you in traversing the seven realms of Sky, as you unravel the mysteries of these magical kingdoms. It’s the perfect game for fighting social isolation and lifting your spirits.
Don’t believe us? Sky: Children of Light has been available on iOS for some time now and won the iPhone game of the year in 2019. It is now available on Android too and it doesn’t cost a cent. It’s one of the best free-to-play mobile games you can experience.
It’s hard to stand out in the saturated shooter games market, but Warframe does exactly that. This game has been around for quite a while and its player base has grown steadily over the years. Warframe is a third-person shooter set in a futuristic sci-fi universe. But guns blazing is far from the only combat tactic you can employ.
The game features flashy melee combat, which is made even more interesting with the unique abilities the 35 different warframes (heroes) possess. It’s fun and exhilarating, even if it might be challenging for beginners. Nevertheless, Warframe is one of the best and most unique free-to-play games you can get your hands on. It’s available on all popular consoles and PC, so check it out today.
World of Tanks
World of Tanks is synonymous with the action-packed MMO. It has been almost ten years since the initial release of the game, but it is as fun as ever. World of Tanks puts you in command of the legendary war machines from yesteryear, pitting you against other players in the fight for supremacy.
The game offers different battle modes you can enjoy with your clan or with strangers. You can compete in frontline battles of 15 vs 15, 30 vs 30, or take things to a global level and try to conquer territories on the Global Map. It is both chaotic and strategic, making it one of the best free-to-play games. The good news is that if vehicular combat is not to your taste, developers Wargaming offer aerial and naval combat MMOs too in the form of World of Warships and World of Warplanes.
If there is one true classic on our list, it’s RuneScape. Also known as RuneScape 3, this MMORPG has been around for almost twenty years in one form or another. Set in the medieval fantasy land Gielinor, a massive player base still roams these realms until this day. The world is constantly growing, evolving, and changing. If you somehow haven’t played RuneScape yet, there is no better time to face all of its challenges with friends — head on endless quests and explore the land or face off against other players in the Wilderness.
For fans of the original game, you can get that nostalgic rush with Old School RuneScape, or OSRS. Starting in 2013, it rolled back the clock to the 2007 version of the game and has (mostly) preserved the same gameplay. Fans vote on whether or not any changes or updates are implemented, so you can have a big say in the game you’re playing. It’s available for free on PC and mobile, and it’s actually more popular than RuneScape 3.
Whatever game you choose, RuneScape won’t disappoint you. They’re two of the best free games you can play.
When we say that there is no other game quite like EVE Online, it’s not an exaggeration. This MMORPG for the space-faring age offers a different setting from the typical fantastical realms of the genre, along with scale and complexity. Players can explore a vast universe, engage in starship combat, mine, trade, and much more. What makes EVE Online truly special, however, are the massive wars different player factions can wage against each other. With thousands battling at the same time, it takes on a feeling of realism that few other games can deliver.
EVE Online might be a very difficult game to get into, but even its limited free-to-play version is among the best MMORPGs on the market. There’s also a mobile version that successfully adapts the expansive universe to the small screen of your smartphone.
Although it received some backlash from fans of the original at launch, Destiny 2 is yet another good free-to-play title. Just like EVE Online, it’s a space MMO epic. However, the combat here is in the hands of your Guardian character. You can choose from three classes with distinct appearances and skill sets, and shoot and loot your way through the solar system. The FPS combat is satisfying and responsive, even if a bit repetitive at times. Destiny 2 is available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, and it’s a game that will keep you entertained for hours on end.
RPG Maker horror games
Not into multiplayer action games? Some pixelated horror might be more to your liking. Made with the RPG Maker software, there are a number of great and completely free Japanese horror games. They used to be quite popular among streamers and YouTubers some years back and for good reason. We are talking about Ib, The Witch’s House, Misao, The Crooked Man, Mad Father, and more. They all share a great art style, captivating stories, and scares that are sure to get under your skin. Many of the games have multiple endings too, giving them a lot of replayability. You can legally download the English translations via vgperson’s website and check out the other free games he has translated while you are there too.
Even more free games
If the games above are not from genres you particularly enjoy, don’t fret! We have even more free game recommendations for you. Check out Dauntless — a beast-hunting ARPG, Doki Doki Literature Club — a visual novel game with a twist, and Team Fortress Two — a Valve hero shooter. Finally, we have some great resources full of free games you can explore yourself:
- Itch.io — One of the biggest indie game platforms on the web. It offers both quality and quantity across platformers, roguelikes, and experimental games. Many of the titles are pay-what-you-want or free. We recommend checking out Lost Constellation.
- Internet Archive — If you are feeling nostalgic, you will find plenty of retro games here. The Internet Archive’s MS-DOS games collection includes classics like Oregon Trail, Pac-Man, Prince of Persia, Doom, and many more. You can play the games directly in your browser!
- Newgrounds — Miss the flash games of the early 2000s? You can play them for free in your browser here.
- Epic Games Store — This online store offers up to four free games every week! Previous giveaways have included AAA titles like Civilization 6, Just Cause 4, and Grand Theft Auto 5.
These are our picks for the best free-to-play games on any platform. We’ll update this post with new games once they launch.