Who doesn’t love a free game, right? And what better way to treat your wallet than to give it a well-deserved breather after splashing out on all the latest releases? Thanks to the generosity of others, certain video games have always managed to find a way to reach the player without breaking the piggy bank in the process.
Whether it’s an MMORPG that can effortlessly consume your entire calendar year or a small-time indie that’s beatable in a few hours or less — free games do exist out in the wild. But as far as the here and now goes — these are the five you should definitely keep a firm eye on. Your wallet will thank you later, trust me.
5. Call of Duty: Warzone
While Call of Duty has always found ways to funnel microtransactions into its core, its Warzone segment did actually roll out without any hefty setbacks to weigh its player base down. Or at least nowhere near as much, anyway. Of course, there’s still an abundance of flashy extras that can only be acquired by chipping out the extra coin, though it is more cosmetics than pay-to-win pick-me-ups. So that’s something.
Call of Duty: Warzone puts you in a battle royale setting with upwards of 150 other players, with one familiar goal fastened to your core: outrank the masses — and be the last soldier standing on the battlefield. On top of that classic mode, Warzone also offers another game mode to conquer, Plunder, in which two teams must battle it out to be the first to amass a grand total of $1,000,000 in-game currency.
4. Final Fantasy XIV
After suffering from a fairly rocky start, Square Enix finally managed to build their MMO port of Final Fantasy XIV up to a respectable degree. And while there is still much to draw up and implement in the roots of the ambitious game, it currently sits with a generous amount on offer for those willing to embrace it. And considering the fact that it’s completely free — it would seem like an insult to discard such an offering.
After eleven years under the hammer, players can now step into a vibrant world chock-full of expansions and juicy content. Users looking to test the waters before making the plunge, thankfully, can do so with only one major restriction: the level caps at 60. After that, you’ll have to purchase one of the few monthly subscription models in order to employ the full package. But with no time limit to hold you back, level 60 is a pretty generous feat to claw at without having to spend so much as a penny.
3. The Lord of the Rings Online
If you’re a die-hard Tolkien fan and a geographical whizz-kid with all things Middle-earth, then you’ll definitely want to feast your eyes on Standing Stone’s early-2007 Lord of the Rings MMO. And considering its fourteen year lifespan, it is still in fact bustling with players, all of whom find sanctum in the beautifully portrayed lands strewn from the acclaimed anthology. 2.2 million, to be exact.
From Bag End to Rivendell, the Mines of Moria to the gates of Isengard, players can trek the farthest depths of Middle-earth on a quest to carve and tailor a legacy of their own. However, with the F2P model, there are a few locks and bolts attached to several in-game areas. Of course, the option to grind all available zones is definitely there, even into level 35 and above. But for the ultimate experience — a monthly subscription is probably the best bet.
2. Destiny 2
After treading the waters and experimenting with several expansion packs, Bungie finally made the call to make Destiny 2 free, running under a new model titled New Light, in which players receive access to the first two years of content as well as the base game without having to tie in to any specific terms and conditions. So, while a large chunk of the content requires some level of coin to flush out, all the basics and featured solar system are in fact free to consume.
Like its first instalment, Destiny 2 launches you into a galaxy crammed full of diverse routes and story arcs, all of which can be approached in any way you see fit. By leveling up and building on your Power Level, you’ll be able to navigate new landmarks and take down bigger obstacles, effectively hoarding better gear in the process. All of this can be achieved in the base game alone — so no cheeky tie-ins, thankfully.
1. World of Warcraft
Yes, it’s World of Warcraft. We could of course submitted the likes of Dota 2, Apex Legends and League of Legends as being some of the greatest free-to-play games on the current market — though Blizzard’s renowned franchise just feels like a much more inclusive addition, with plenty of benefits to absorb without any hidden costs.
Of course, like the other entries mentioned on this list — there is a catch. Although access to Azeroth is served up on a silver platter with no immediate costly tie-ins, there is a level cap (20) that will halt you from progressing after toppling over it. So, while you can soak up the glorious world that Blizzard has been pouring heart and soul into for well over a decade, there is that one unfortunate condition. But then, being one of the best MMORPGs on the planet — we’re grateful to have such a generous offer to begin with.