Often accused of being one of the more deceptive genres in gaming, free to play games are still a great way to keep yourself entertained and have some fun without having to dig into your wallet. The best free to play games of 2019 offer satisfying gameplay, an active community of players, and plenty of worthwhile content devoid of any annoying pay-to-win systems.
Given that hundreds of new free to play games get released every day on platforms like Steam, we’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the best experiences worth your time. This list will include a mix of free to play staples that never go out of fashion as well as new releases and a few hidden gems that may not be on your radar.
Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list regularly in the future. And lastly, if you’d like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
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The release of Destiny 2’s Shadowkeep expansion coincided with the launch of a free to play version of the MMO looter shooter titled Destiny 2: New Light as well as a transition from the Blizzard client to Steam. With Bungie now serving as both developer and publisher, a bevy of highly requested features have been added to New Light, namely cross-save functionality.
Destiny 2: New Light includes all Year One content from Destiny 2 as well as PvP modes like Crucible and Gambit. Additionally, players are given the option to tackle New Light‘s story content in any order they wish, removing a majority of the hurdles that previously made the game feel strictly tailored for die-hard players.
Following the success of the popular community-made Dota Auto Chess, Valve set out to create a standalone auto-battler in the form of Dota Underlords. The game has you recruiting heroes to fight in strategic chess-like team battles set on an 8×8 grid-shaped battlefield.
With support for up to eight players online, matches can quickly turn to chaos and fast-paced mayhem as each team tries to take the crown. However, 1v1 battles provide some breathing room to prepare your troops before sending them out to fight to the death completely on their own. Gold and EXP earned from matches offer a means for upgrading heroes and units while consumables provide a way to obtain stat bonuses.
Dauntless offers Monster Hunter-style gameplay without the 60$ price-tag. The free to play game sees you hunting down a variety of powerful creatures called Behemoths, which each present a unique challenge determined by the monster’s distinct attack patterns and behaviors.
Much like Capcom’s popular monster slayer, Dauntless rewards hunts with a variety of materials that are then used to craft/upgrade weapons and armor. With six different weapon types, players are bound to find one tailored to their preferred playstyle. Daily and weekly challenges ensure you’re constantly improving while earning useful rewards that grant access to new monster variations.
The popularity of battle royales has lead several developers to throw their hat in the race and offer their take on the genre, including the titan of first-person shooters, Respawn. Apex Legends sees three-man squads of players dropping down on a map consisting of swamplands, close-quarters villages, and high-tech facilities.
The game is constant mad-dash to collect better loot as you search containers and loot enemy bodies for that next great weapon, attachment, ammo, or armor to keep yourself alive long enough to have a shot at victory. New heroes, timed-holiday events, and the launch of Season 3: Meltdown makes now as good a time as any to check out what Respawn’s been cooking up.
No one can deny Fortnite‘s dominance over both the Battle Royale and free to play genres as the game continues to add new content across multiple seasons. In true BR fashion, the game sees players exploring a shrinking map where they’ll have to loot, shoot, and build their way to victory.
The addition of Daily Challenges and a constantly shifting map have made the game’s most popular mode also one of the most replayable free to play experiences around as Epic continues to dream up new events and crossover content. If you want a game with a massive and active community, look no further.
No stranger to best free to play lists, Digital Extremes’ third-person shooter Warframe has been delivering a robust and engaging experience for years and seems to always be improving with new updates. Although grinding can get tedious at times and knowing which skills to equip can be difficult to figure out, online guides and a welcoming community make it easier for new players jumping in.
There are some cosmetic items as well as special currency you can purchase to speed up its grindier parts, however, these systems never feel intrusive to the core gameplay experience. With a wide variety of character builds and weapons to craft, you’ll always have at least one achievable goal to work towards.
Playcraft is an online multiplayer sandbox game-maker that allows users to seamlessly switch between designing and experiencing creations firsthand. With intuitive controls and no coding required, the game is a tremendously useful way to gain hands-on experience designing games or simply enjoying what others have made.
Built-in tools such as fully destructible environments, AI-enabled characters, realistic physics, and world-linking portals allow you to push the envelope and make a variety of gameplay experiences ranging from cinematic first-person shooters with dialogue and cutscenes to platformers with puzzles and co-op support. Playcraft’s versatility and breadth of content is only limited by the user’s imagination.
Path of Exile
Those still feeling the burn from Blizzard’s announcement for Diablo Immortal may find solace in Path of Exile, a free to play dungeon crawler from developer Grinding Gear Games. The game has you exploring procedurally-generated environments, battling monsters and completing quests in exchange for EXP and more powerful loot.
At the start, players choose from six available classes: Duelist, Marauder, Ranger, Shadow, Templar, and Witch. Each class focuses on one or two of the game’s three core attributes: Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. Items drop with different rarities and can have increasingly powerful properties that make replaying older missions a lot more enjoyable.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Making the switch to free to play in 2018, CS: GO has seen an uptick in popularity that’s resulted in a larger community for what was already a well-known franchise. Additionally, Valve’s decision to remove a majority of the paywalls preventing players from accessing certain content has been well received by veterans and new players alike.
Consistent content drops such as new maps, operators, weapons, and modes have played a major role in keeping CS: GO interesting even after all these years. The most recent Operation Shattered Web expansion lets players bring their favorite character into battle with all-new equippable agents and introduces a new battle pass format for the online first-person shooter.
Beyond Shattered Isles
Tailored for single-player, Beyond Shattered Isles is a first-person platformer in which players attempt to build momentum as they make jump, dash, and grapple their way through vibrant 3D environments. Challenges are time-based and see you trying to clear a level as quickly as possible by experimenting with alternate paths and utilizing advanced techniques.
As players progress through the game, they’ll be exposed to new modifiers such as zero gravity as well as new obstacles designed to keep the experience feeling fresh and exciting. It’s best recommended for fans of parkour-based games such as Mirror’s Edge and Dying Light who enjoy the thrill that comes with fluid first-person platforming.
Hellbound: Survival Mode
Hellbound is a single-player first-person shooter inspired by classics like DOOM, Quake, Duke Nuke ‘Em 3D, among others. While the full game is still being worked on, developer Saibot Studios has released a standalone survival mode designed to give players a taste of what they can expect when Hellbound launches sometime next year.
The survival mode sees players taking on infinite hordes of demons and other monsters in a fiery arena. At their disposal are a variety of overpowered weapons you’d expect to find in a retro shooter of this nature, including devastating rocket launchers, meaty shotguns, fast-firing machine guns as well as satisfyingly brutal melee weapons.
Paunch is a free to play PvP fighter in which two players duke it out in procedurally placed outdoor arenas while controlling robust bald men known as Bobs. While inherently comedic, Paunch has a couple tricks up its sleeves that make it an enjoyable, albeit barebones fighting game.
In addition to bare-knuckle hand-to-hand combat, players can pick up rocks spread throughout the arena and fling them at their opponent for a devastating effect. With both players assigned 12 lives, matches can quickly turn into a game of cat and mouse as one competitor gains the upper hand on their opponent, making for intense and hilarious deathmatches.
Bethesda’s free to play base builder is just as addictive today as it was when it released in 2017. Fallout Shelter puts players in charge of designing their very own fallout bunker to attract potential new vault dwellers and ensure the survival of mankind.
A broad range of customization tools allows you to customize the name and appearance of any of your dwellers in addition to crafting useful weapons and items they’ll be able to use when venturing out into the Wasteland. If you’ve ever wanted to alter the course of humanity, this is the game for you.