If you’re looking for the best free-to-play PC games to play right now, we’ve got you covered.
These games will give hours of fun with no upfront cost, satisfying gameplay, and consistent updates to keep you coming back.
In this list, we’ll help you find your next favorite game by highlighting the best free-to-play PC games in 2021, including the best free PC games to play with friends.
We’ll be updating this list in the future with new titles, so make sure to check back and let us know if we missed any of your favorite free PC games!
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While Halo Infinite remains one of the most anticipated releases of 2021, fans don’t have to wait for the story campaign to drop before diving into online multiplayer.
Instead, Microsoft has decided to release Infinite’s multiplayer ahead of the full game for free on PC and console.
All of our favorite modes are back along with new seasonal updates designed to enhance the multiplayer experience over time with unique events, modes, and maps.
This includes a deep player customization system that lets you earn and discover new cosmetics by completing objectives during matches.
Splitgate is a free-to-play multiplayer shooter that combines fast-paced FPS action with the ability to place your own portals.
This greatly expands the number of tactical possibilities during firefights, allowing players with fast reflexes to get the drop on their opponents or make a quick escape.
Additionally, you’re able to line up some pretty impressive shots by using portals to create unique vantage points across Splitgate’s 20 varied maps.
Combine this all with grindable challenges, leaderboard and ranking systems, and 15 game modes catering towards both casual and competitive players and you have the makings of a great free PC shooter.
SuchArt: Creative Space
For the artistically minded, SuchArt: Creative Space is a free creative sandbox that lets you put your ideas to the canvas using an assortment of tools beyond standard paintbrushes.
Players are able to let their imaginations run wild while completing commissions, decorating their personal art studio with furniture, and buying new painting tools.
Under the hood, the game has a lot of complex simulations going on that allow you to mix colors, paint realistic textures, and combine different mediums to achieve unique effects.
If you have a chance to check out Creative Space and enjoy it, consider picking up the full game SuchArt: Genius Artist Simulator, which tacks on a new story mode.
If On A Winter’s Night, Four Travelers
Fans of point-and-click games will be more than satisfied with Dead Idle’s narrative-driven adventure game If On A Winter’s Night, Four Travelers.
This free-to-play title sees you guiding four characters through unique encounters that explore different horror elements and take place in atmospheric settings.
The game uses gorgeous pixel art to depict its characters and environments with a level of detail you don’t always see in free games.
While it only takes a couple of hours to complete, If On A Winter’s Night’s mysterious journey is worth the effort of a few clicks to download.
In it, up to 16 players try to kill, deceive or escape as one of three roles: Killer, Antagonist, or Victim.
Each role has a unique win condition that requires them to either escape the level, straight-up murder everyone, or complete certain objectives.
There are a handful of different maps with unique themes and methods of escaping as well as a variety of killers to pick from with more currently in development.
Doki Doki Literature Club
At first glance, Doki Doki Literature Club looks like your average visual novel dating sim, complete with attractive anime girls in tight-fitting school uniforms.
However, as you delve deeper into the story, you’ll start to encounter much darker themes akin to playing a psychological horror video game.
It’s a bit of a slow burn, with the most unsettling reveals tied to dating various characters and advancing the storyline with each, so it’s best to go in completely blind.
You can pick up Doki Doki Literature Club for free on Steam, though there’s also a paid DLC that includes the official soundtrack, high-res wallpapers, and concept art.
Riot’s take on auto battlers does a great job of leveraging its source material by turning League of Legends’ Champions into powerful minions with distinct roles in battle.
Each match sees you trying to defeat waves of units as you compete against seven other players in a strategic mad dash to craft the perfect squad of fighters.
A standout feature of Teamfight Tactics is its approach to drafting, in which players at the bottom of the standings get the first pick each round, giving them a decent shot at making a comeback.
While it may be a bit rougher around the edges than other auto battlers, it streamlines many of the genre’s mechanics, making it a great entry point into auto battlers for new players.
Unlocking characters, especially the really good ones, requires you to grind a lot, though you can also dump money into the game and hope you get lucky.
Considering it’s free and supports cross-platform multiplayer, why not bring some friends along for the ride to make grinding feel less tedious.
And since Genshin Impact currently features 20+ playable characters, you and your friends can all try out different team combinations and find the most effective ones.
Brawlhalla is a 2D arena fighter that takes some cues from Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. while introducing its own unique roster of 40+ playable characters.
The goal is quite simple: fight your way to victory by knocking opponents off the stage and becoming the last player standing.
Outside of the main roster, it features numerous crossovers with TV shows, movies, and video game properties that add new fighters and skins.
With simple controls and special moves that require a single button to perform, Brawlhalla is also easy for new players to pick up.
Destiny 2 is another free-to-play multiplayer shooter worth looking into if you enjoy season-based looter shooters with rolling content.
In it, you take on the role of a Guardian, space defenders tasked with protecting the last beacon of humanity left in the solar system as alien factions wage war for power.
Although it may be a first-person shooter, your Guardian can also wield superpowers that can quickly change the tide of battles.
It’s also a very multiplayer-driven game, with Strikes requiring three-player teams and Raids demanding six; though if your crew is up for a challenge, you could try with less.
Dota Underlords sees you recruiting a variety of heroes and other units to use in strategic team-based auto-battles.
What separates Dota Underlords from similar games is its unique items system, which grants players a choice of three items every fifth round after the first, second, third, and tenth one.
Additionally, the game introduces ‘Underlords’ that fight alongside units on the battlefield and provide unique perks and buffs during battles.
Gold and EXP earned from matches offer a means for upgrading heroes and units while consumables provide a way to obtain stat bonuses.
The free-to-play action RPG sees you hunting down a variety of powerful creatures called Behemoths in fast-paced battles set in exotic biomes.
Tracking and hunting down each Behemoth presents a unique challenge determined by the monster’s distinct attack patterns and behaviors.
Much like Capcom’s popular monster slayer, Dauntless rewards each hunt with various materials that can be used to craft and upgrade gear.
Apex Legends continues to prove itself within the battle royale space, with many putting it up right beside or even above (depending who you ask) its two biggest competitors, Fortnite and PUBG.
The game’s top-notch quality isn’t that surprising when you consider it was created by Respawn, who by now is a seasoned veteran in the shooter space with two Titanfall games under their belt.
After dropping squads of three players onto a map, the game quickly becomes a mad dash to find the best weapon and gear you can as a circle around you closes.
Additional quality of life improvements such as cross-play support, solo matchmaking, teammate respawns, and cinematic kill screens help keep the game feeling fresh and accessible to all.
You can’t deny Fortnite’s dominance over both the battle royale and free-to-play categories as the game continues to add new content across multiple seasons.
The formula is well known by now: players explore a shrinking map where they’ll have to loot, shoot, and build their way to victory.
The addition of Daily Challenges and a continually shifting map has made the game’s most popular mode also one of the most replayable free-to-play experiences around.
That’s before even mentioning the fact that it supports crossplay and is jam-packed with crossover events themed around high-profile properties like Marvel and DC comics.
No stranger to free-to-play lists, Digital Extremes’ third-person shooter Warframe has been delivering a robust and engaging experience for years.
It casts you as a death-dealing space ninja that travels are breakneck speeds with ease, which definitely comes in handy when grinding out certain materials and enemy spawns.
Like many other free looter shooters, the game features a class system that unlocks distinct skills and traits depending on your Warframe, weapons, and ability modifiers.
The combat is just as intense and chaotic as you’d expect, especially when you team up with friends and start flying through levels.
Path of Exile
Any Diablo fan on a tight budget will appreciate Path of Exile’s no-frills approach to Diablo-like dungeon crawling in which you battle monsters and complete quests in exchange for EXP and powerful loot.
Players take on the role of an Exile forced to survive on the dark continent of Wraeclast before setting off to exact revenge against those who wronged you.
The game features a robust character customizer that allows you to combine your class’s unique abilities using tradable gems and a massive selection of passive skills.
As you would expect, PoE has a pretty big following that provides a significant boon to its player-driven economy at the expense of being online-only, which might be a deal-breaker for some.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Since its release, Valve’s team-based FPS has gone on to become an esports staple and boasts one of the most competitive communities in gaming.
Modes are objective-based and require teammates to communicate and work together to achieve their goal as attackers or defenders.
New maps, operators, weapons, and modes are frequently rolled out, most of which can be explored for little to no cost due to the game being free-to-play.
If you’ve never played a single round of CS: GO or dropped off in the past, now is as good a time as any to hop in and see why the game is so revered.
Bethesda’s base-building survival spin-off to the Fallout series happens to share many qualities with idle games where characters carry out actions independently.
Throughout the years, Fallout Shelter has been expanded to allow for more wasteland adventures and opportunities for exploration, though the core premise remains the same.
You’re tasked with overseeing nuclear fallout shelters dubbed “vaults,” recruiting survivors, and ensuring their survival in the face of dwindling resources and mutated monsters.
Once your vault is fully set up, gameplay takes a more off-hand approach that sees you accumulating resources while you’re away from the game.
SMITE is currently the most-played MOBA, with around 30 million registered players across each platform, including the Switch.
The game has you playing as one of over 100 different mythological gods, goddesses, and creatures with unique abilities and weapons in 5v5 competitive game modes.
Inexperienced players can build confidence by taking advantage of onboarding features such as CPU Arena Battles and turning on auto-buying and leveling.
A diverse roster of playable characters and crossplay support makes SMITE one of the most appealing free-to-play titles on PC.
Since its launch, the free-to-play game Paladins has repeatedly been accused of stealing Overwatch’s mojo despite being in development long before Blizzard even announced their game.
Whether or not you think Hi-Rez copied Blizzard’s homework or vice versa, there’s no denying the two have a lot in common, though Paladins is currently the only one supporting crossplay.
While Paladins’ modes owe more to MOBAs than shooters, even Overwatch fans will feel right at home in 5v5 modes like Siege, Team Deathmatch, and Onslaught.
The game features a diverse roster of over 40 heroes called “Champions,” as well as a unique deck-building system that lets you make fine-tune adjustments to your character’s playstyle.
There’s a good reason why Blizzard’s card battler remains one of the most popular deck building games on the market.
Blizzard has always focused on making Hearthstone appealing to a broad demographic of players, even those who typically don’t play card games.
The game features an easy-to-read UI, engaging animation and sound design, matches with consistent pacing, and a slew of card expansions released throughout the years.
Add the fact that it’s free to play, and it’s easy to see why it’s still the go-to deck builder for many players.
Inspired by the Bomberman series, Bombergrounds: Battle Royale sees you taking part in explosive battles with up to 25-players, represented in-game as cute animals.
Gameplay revolves around collecting coins, equipping power-ups, and placing bombs on an ever-shrinking grid-based battlefield
Any player who finds himself unfortunate enough to be in the radius of a bomb when it detonates is unceremoniously tossed out.
Bombergrounds has been praised for contrasting cute cartoon visuals with exciting, fast-paced gameplay.
Call of Duty: Warzone
However, this time around, it’s a standalone game that’s free-to-play even if you don’t own a copy of Modern Warfare, which is excellent news considering the game also supports crossplay.
Where Warzone differs from other battle royales is its addition of the Gulag, a prison where players spawn after they’ve been killed and duke it out for a chance to respawn and join their team.
Combine this with the ability to bring back teammates by spending in-game cash at Buy Stations, and your squad’s chances of winning are significantly increased.
Spellbreak is a crossplay-enabled fantasy-themed battle royale that sees you developing your skills as a ‘Breaker,’ powerful mages that can take flight and cast spells using magical gauntlets.
Spells are broken up into separate elements and have different effects based on their nature, such as poison that deals damage over time and fire that causes enemies to burn.
Additionally, your character’s powers operate on cooldowns and can be swapped out or modified by equipping different equipment found throughout the game world.
Spellbreak emphasizes traversal more than most battle royales; players can levitate, dash, fly, and even teleport across the map as an ever-shrinking storm surrounds them.
Valorant draws inspiration from some of the best shooters of the last decade while putting its own spin on things.
Presented as a 5v5 tactical shooter, the game sees you joining either Defending or Attacking sides as you compete in objective-based rounds.
There are several playable characters called ‘Agents’ to choose from, each one unlockable for free in-game.
Each one features a unique skill set that can give players a leg up on the competition and help turn the tide of battles.