For a lot of gamers, the term “free-to-play” has a negative connotation. This stems from a history of exploitive games that have used the business model in order to get players to fork over more cash through progression paywalls, otherwise known as pay-to-win. And while the free-to-play genre is still ripe with deceptive titles, there are still some gems out there offering enjoyable content free of charge.
Since it can be hard to sift through the overwhelmingly large amount of new free-to-play titles that release each week, we decided to do some of the work for you. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the best free games to check out in 2019. We’ll be updating this list regularly, so make sure to check back.
Dauntless offers Monster Hunter-style gameplay without the 60$ price-tag. The game sees you hunting down a variety of powerful creatures called Behemoths, each with their own unique attack patterns and behaviors, in order to gather materials to craft new weapons and armor.
With six different weapon types: Axe, Sword, Hammer, Repeaters, Pike, and Chain Blades, you’re bound to find one tailored to your preferred playstyle. Daily and weekly challenges also encourage you to keep pushing yourself and defeat increasingly difficult beasts for more rewards.
Final Fantasy XIV Online
While FFXIV may not be a true “free-to-play” game, it offers players a free trial that caps at level 35, at which point you would have experienced about 100 hours worth of content. After that point, you’d have to decide whether or not you’re interested in signing up for a monthly subscription to continue progressing.
The game is centered on upgrading different character classes, presented as “Jobs”. Each has their own skill tree that opens up as you take on different activities such as completing quests, exploring instanced dungeons, and participating in public events.
Closers will appeal to players who enjoy Anime fighters and action RPGs. The game is broken down by separate episodes with an overarching storyline that sees players protecting Earth from the wrath of interdimensional monsters.
Different characters are presented as “Closers,” unique classes with distinct personalities, combat styles, and weapon and gear selections. Gameplay mirrors that of a beat-em-up and sees players building up combos in order to unleash powerful special attacks on waves of enemies and colossal-sized bosses.
Brawlhalla is a free-to-play fighting game developed by Blue Mammoth Games that’s heavily inspired by Super Smash Bros. It places a focus on platforming fundamentals over fighting technique, with the goal for a majority of its modes being to knock the enemy player(s) off the stage and be the last player standing.
Featuring a staggering 40+ playable characters, each week sees a rotating selection of fighters made available for players to try out for free. The game is constantly being updated with new content via special promotions and crossover events. With simple controls and special moves that require single-button inputs, Brawlhalla is one of the more beginner-friendly free games.
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.
Still relatively new, Axiom Soccer offers Rocket League-style gameplay with no cost for entry. It builds upon the concepts of its predecessor with new additions like shooting mechanics, a dedicated goalkeeper, and more interactive arenas.
However, the gameplay remains largely unchanged and sees two teams working against each to score goals and reign supreme. The community may be small but with an upcoming new season and constant updates, we expect things will pick back up.
The popularity of battle royales has lead several developers to throw their hat in the race and offer their take on the genre, including Respawn. Apex Legends sees three-man squads of players dropping down in a large map consisting of different locales such as swamplands, close-quarters villages, and high-tech facilities.
The game is constant mad-dash to collect better loot as you search containers and enemies’ bodies for that next great weapon, attachment, ammo, or armor to keep yourself alive long enough to have a shot at victory.
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 throughout its many seasons. Gameplay sees you dropping down on a shrinking map where building and shooting are your greatest tools for coming out on top.
The addition of Daily Challenges and an everchanging map have made the game’s most popular mode highly replayable, as players can always expect Epic to have a new trick up their sleeve with each update. If you want a game with a massive and highly 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 the more grindy 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.
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.
Although Teeworlds is over a decade old, its fast-paced, frenetic gameplay still holds up in 2019. The game is a nice blend of retro genres, combining aspects of shoot-em-ups and side-scrolling action titles.
Gameplay sees you controlling little “Tees,” round, bi-pedal creatures that resemble a certain pink Nintendo mascot, as you traverse environments using a grappling hook, collect buffs, and destroy enemies with an array of weapons. Since Teeworlds is open-source, a large chunk of its content stems from community-made maps and modes.
Coming from PC gaming powerhouse Valve, Alien Swarm is a top-down shooter that features co-op for up to 4-players. Missions see you and your team running-and-gunning through abandoned labs and medical facilities while waves of aliens follow in pursuit.
The game offers four unique classes: Officer, Special Weapons, Medic and Tech, with each fulfilling a certain role during missions. However, if you’re looking to brave the planetary dangers on your own, Alien Swarm allows you to play through its 3-6 hour campaign completely solo.
Whether its PC or console, AAA or Indie, New-York born and raised Justin has a natural curiosity to seek out hidden gems and share them with other gamers. He also maintains his own YouTube channel in addition to writing and managing the social media profiles for GamingScan.