There was a time when anything free in the world of gaming would have been regarded with suspicion. If a game was free, it was either a demo, a shareware product, or too good to be true. Now, free-to-play games are the dominant business model when it comes to online multiplayer games, and single-player games are also moving into that space. With that in mind, you’ve got a lot of options if you want to game without spending any money these days. Here are the 20 best free-to-play games available online right now.
1. Apex Legends
EA and Respawn’s battle royale shooter has lots of heroes to choose from, all of whom have their own special attacks and ways to approach combat situations. It’s a deep, infinitely replayable game that changes every time you pick a different hero, and if you can recruit a couple of friends to play with, the experience becomes even more satisfying. What’s more, it supports crossplay, so you can play with whoever, wherever.
2. Genshin Impact
It’s almost hard to believe Genshin Impact is a free-to-play game, given how much content it offers. The world of Teyvat is massive and chock-full of secrets to discover and quests to complete; if you loved Breath of the Wild and want a little more of its stamina-based climbing and combat, then you’ll love Genshin Impact, even if its gacha mechanics are a little aggressive.
The biggest multiplayer game in the world is completely free to play, which is a pretty impressive feat on Epic’s part. Fortnite isn’t a massively deep game; there’s only one character to play as, and every player has the same range of skills available to them when they drop into Fortnite’s map. That just acts to level the playing field, though, making each game of Fortnite feel based more around skill than a meta.
4. League of Legends
MOBAs may be going out of fashion to some extent, but Riot’s League of Legends has managed to maintain its fanbase, by and large. It’s done so by constantly creating a range of exciting new champions, all of whom bring new skills and ideas to the battlefield. There are five different roles to enjoy in League, and the meta often shifts to change a character’s dominant role, so there are endless team permutations to try.
5. Dota 2
The other MOBA that’s managed to keep a steady player base is Dota 2, Valve’s slower, more methodical MOBA. If you don’t like how fast and combat-heavy League of Legends is, then the more strategic Dota 2 might appeal to you. The champions are named more straightforwardly than League’s, but the games are pretty similar in terms of their core gameplay, so try them both and see which one you prefer.
6. Overwatch 2
Overwatch has gone free-to-play, and a big content update that arrived for the original game in October 2022 has transformed it into Overwatch 2. This is essentially still the same core game that it was before it got painted with the sequel brush, though; it’s a hero shooter with multiple gameplay modes and plenty of well-balanced heroes to try out, all of whom fulfil different roles.
7. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Valve’s military shooter feels just as fresh and addictive as it did when it was first released all those years ago. Each round of CS:GO is fast, furious, and frenetic, with opponents jostling for space on crowded maps full of corners and crannies. Here’s a pro tip if you’re just getting started: focus on the objective. You’d be amazed at just how many people fail to do that when they’re getting into CS:GO.
8. Final Fantasy XIV
Technically, not all of Final Fantasy XIV is available for free, but a big enough chunk of it is that it’s well worth a recommendation. Both the base game and the Heavensward expansion are completely free to play, and while there are some restrictions, you’ll get to experience the epic story that has absolutely no business being as good as it is (especially when you get to Heavensward).
It’s Super Smash Bros, but with Warner Bros characters – what’s not to like? MultiVersus is free-to-play and has a constantly rotating roster of free fighters, but you can buy them permanently with either in-game or premium currency. Characters like Batman, Shaggy, and Tom and Jerry go toe-to-toe across a variety of themed levels, and while this one’s in its infancy right now, it has a ton of potential to be great.
10. Destiny 2
Like Final Fantasy XIV, parts of Destiny 2 aren’t free-to-play. Once you start reaching max level, you’ll need to shell out for some of the game’s premium expansions, but even with that proviso, it’s worth noting that the free version of Destiny 2 offers an almost embarrassing amount of content. Shoot, loot, level up, and explore the intricate sci-fi world Bungie has created without spending a penny.
On paper, Warframe sounds like a deeply strange game. It’s a third-person action title that incorporates ninja-style parkour and a borderline-incomprehensible Bungie-esque storyline, and it’s all free-to-play? What? Still, somehow, Warframe works, and it’s largely because of the tight, constantly compelling action. The fact you can play a game this fun without spending any money is testament to where gaming is right now.
12. Marvel Snap
With Marvel Snap, developer Second Dinner wanted to create a game that would be playable by those who don’t usually like strategy card battlers. The devs say they wanted to make a fun game that wouldn’t be bogged down by the usual problems of lengthy games and endless waiting, and they’ve succeeded with Marvel Snap, which is free-to-play on PC and mobile devices right now.
13. Pokemon Go
The initial Pokemon Go craze might have faded away since its launch back in 2016, but that doesn’t make Niantic’s augmented-reality game any less fun right now. Pokemon Go is, at its heart, all about taking a walk and seeing what Pokemon you can find along the way. Somehow, a simple core gameplay loop like that becomes endlessly addictive, and you’ll be building a huge collection before you know it.
14. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
“What if a battle royale game was a primetime game show?” That seems to have been the question asked by Mediatonic as they developed Fall Guys, a game that went free-to-play last year and lost none of its sheen as a result. Sure, the new currency system might be a touch predatory, but the core game is no less fun; it’s still a frantic, super-fun platformer with plenty of variety.
15. Rocket League
Rocket League is another free-to-play game that emphasises fun and skill rather than realism. It’s a game in which you pilot rocket cars as they compete to punt a ball into the opponent’s goal, and as you can imagine, that task is much, much harder than it sounds. The game’s physics engine means that you’ll have to master your movement and the space around you before you can even think of knowing what you’re doing.
16. Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0
The original Call of Duty: Warzone was one of the most popular battle royale games of its time, and Warzone 2.0 iterates on it in some very pleasing ways. New AI-controlled fighters are present throughout the game’s maps, giving players new objectives to fight over, and the new DMZ extraction mode also puts a new and interesting spin on the classic Call of Duty: Warzone formula.
17. Pokemon Unite
Currently available for Nintendo Switch and mobile devices, Pokemon Unite is Nintendo and TiMi’s unique spin on the MOBA genre. You control one of several Pokemon, all of whom fit into a different archetypal class, and it’s your job to score points for your team. You bank points by capturing wild Pokemon or battling enemy Pokemon, and then you drop them off at a goal, making this a less directly competitive affair than other MOBAs.
18. Halo Infinite
Remarkably, the entire multiplayer contingent of Halo Infinite is completely free-to-play, even if you don’t own the campaign. The trademark “Halo feel” is present here in spades; unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) hilarious vehicular homicides combined with extended tactical skirmishes and, sometimes, all-out warfare. You haven’t played a deathmatch until you’ve played a Halo deathmatch.
19. Path of Exile
Hey, we heard you like Diablo. Path of Exile is a free-to-play online action RPG with more than a touch of Blizzard’s iconic ARPG about it; you’ll pick a character class, slaughter hordes of monsters essentially by clicking on them until they fall over, then engage with an absolutely gargantuan skill tree to build your character exactly how you want them. It’s pure dungeon-crawling goodness.
20. Battle for Wesnoth
If you like strategy titles like Fire Emblem or Advance Wars, you owe it to yourself to check out Battle for Wesnoth, which dates all the way back to 2003. Wesnoth has a huge amount of content to play through by itself, but its real strength shines through in its level editor, which allows you to build as many scenarios as you like. As you’d imagine, there’s a huge amount of user-generated content out there to check out too.