Looking for a fun new game to play? Strapped for cash? In this post, we’ve listed a handful of the best Free-to-Play games currently available.
The free-to-play gaming space is filled with tons of titles, all vying for your attention. The allure of the $0 price tag is pretty big, but when you get down to it, most free games end up forcing you to pay for something one way or another.
On top of that, there are a lot of junk free games that offer very little in terms of experience. Fortunately, underneath garbage lie a few shining examples of free-to-play games that are worth playing in 2021.
Available Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch
What is Warframe?
Warframe is a sci-fi third-person shooter with cooperative play at its core. You play as a Tenno, a race of warriors who are masters of powerful armors known as Warframes. The slick and intricate designs of these suits, coupled with the game’s fast-paced, acrobatic action, have given this title the “Space Ninjas” moniker.
In Warframe, you’ll take on a variety of missions on your own or with fellow Tennos. Along the way, you’ll gather materials to build Warframes, weapons, and upgrades.
Why is Warframe worth your time?
Warframe is often compared to looter shooter games like Destiny, and in many ways, it is. It offers near-infinite replayability of increasingly more brutal challenges and a vast world to explore. Where it puts most of the usual suspects to shame is its variety. Aside from shooting baddies, Warframe also features open-world areas and ship-to-ship space combat, on top of the looting and customizations. All of this for the low price of free.
Playing for free means that you’ll have to grind, and in Warframe, this can feel long. However, the fast-paced combat and parkour-based movement make the game an exhilarating experience, focusing less on loot gathering. The best way to describe it is that Warframe strives to make its grind an enjoyable experience. It’s also worth noting that Warframe doesn’t have a strictly defined endgame. There’s no “real experience” you need to feel pressured to rush towards, meaning you can experience it at your own pace no matter how brisk or slow that may be.
Magic: The Gathering Arena
Available Platforms: PC, Mac, Android, iOS
What is Magic: The Gathering Arena?
MTG Arena is an online digital take on the legendary trading card game Wizards of the Coast developed. After lessons learned from past attempts at digitizing Magic, the beloved card battler is a strong contender in the online CCG space. Like most card games, MTG Arena features head-to-head card battles with decks built around five mana colors, each representing an element of Magic’s world.
As you progress your account, you’ll open up packs of cards that’ll allow you to build more powerful decks. Whether you want to test your mettle in Ranked mode or play a few fun games and experiment with different decks, MTG Arena features a whole array of modes to sink your teeth into. There’s even the legendary Draft mode where you play against other players with cards you get from packs you just opened.
Why is MTG Arena worth your time?
Online card games are known for being a money suck as you need to open up a lot of packs of random cards to build stronger decks. While it still leans heavily in that direction, MTG Arena is one of the most generous games in the space.
Clearing the tutorial quests will give you a head start with pre-made decks that are Standard-legal. Quests are simple to complete, granting you gold at a faster pace than games like Hearthstone. Moreover, MTG Arena has taken a page from Legends of Runeterra’s wildcards and dishes them out fairly generously. Finally, Draft mode grants you rewards for winning games and allows you to keep all the cards you chose to add to your collection.
Like with most card games, if you want to have powerful decks sooner, you’ll need to pony up for packs. If you’re happy to pay a little bit in, you can grab the Starter Pack that gives some packs and premium currency for $5. It’s also worth getting the Mastery Pass if you plan to play regularly, as leveling it up will dish out packs and cards, ending up as excellent value for money. But, even if you want to just play for free, building up a couple of the free decks is also a great way to enjoy the game.
Available Platforms: PC, PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Series, Switch
What is Paladins?
Paladins started off as a free-to-play riff of Overwatch but has now evolved into a game of its own merit. It’s a first-person hero shooter that emphasizes teamwork and strategic use of abilities. You choose from a broad selection of Champions, each with their own unique attacks and skills, and team up with other players in objective-based matches.
Compared to Overwatch, Paladins offers more ways to customize your chosen Champion’s playstyle. The game’s card loadout system is one of the features that predominantly sets it apart from other titles. It allows you to build sets of cards that bolster your Champion’s abilities. Each card offers a passive bonus, from improved defenses to empowered abilities. Paladins also has Talents that you choose at the start of each match. These are also powerful bonuses that are build-defining and skew the choice of decks you build.
Why is Paladins worth your time?
The obvious answer is that Paladins is a free alternative to Overwatch. If you don’t want to pay for a hero shooter or aren’t sure you’ll enjoy the genre, Paladins is a great way to get your fix.
According to a lot of players, Paladins is more challenging than Overwatch. A combination of the card system and a bigger pool of Champions means there are many more factors to adapt to, especially if you’re a competitive player.
Playing the game exclusively as free-to-play is actually quite viable as well. Acquiring items and new Champions can be done by simply playing the game. Granted, the rate at which you earn stuff will depend significantly on how often you play. Apart from Champions, the game has no unlockables that affect gameplay, so there isn’t any pay-to-win factor. Whether you’re looking for something competitive to play or just want to work out those FPS muscles, Paladins will definitely scratch that itch.
Available Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch
What is Dauntless?
Dauntless is a Monster Hunter-inspired third-person action RPG where you hunt giant beasts called Behemoths. What sets it apart from Capcom’s long-standing series is the pace of gameplay. Where MH focuses on committed, slower combat that rewards good strategy and pattern recognition, Dauntless emphasizes flashy attacks and big combos. Some even go as far as to call it “Arcade Monster Hunter.”
Apart from combat, Dauntless has a lot in common with MH. The main game loop revolves around fighting giant beasts and skinning them for materials to craft increasingly powerful equipment. You progress through the game by taking on missions that you can tackle independently or with a team. Before taking on missions, you can prepare a few items, such as tonics and grenades, before going on your way.
Why is Dauntless worth your time?
Despite its popularity as a series, Monster Hunter isn’t for everyone, and the reason lies in its slow, methodical combat system. It can feel clunky and uninspired while you’re still figuring it out. On the other hand, Dauntless is a straightforward game that doesn’t punish you too hard for mashing buttons. Fighting monsters in MH feels like going up against a living monstrosity. Behemoths in Dauntless are like tough bosses in a regular game, with the more challenging difficulties being better compared to Dark Souls’ big baddies. This difference in enemy paradigm makes Dauntless more open to the broader spectrum of gamers.
Dauntless is also incredibly generous to free-to-play players. The free path of the Hunt Pass ends up giving you a complete set of cosmetic gear without needing to spend a dime. The game also doesn’t artificially gimp you when you choose to play without buying anything. Any usable items, such as a second Fusion Cell slot, are entirely optional and will only improve quality of life. It’s not very often that you find F2P games that are this generous, and it’s one of those traits that make Dauntless worth sinking your teeth into.