The 25 best free games you can play right now
The best free games are the perfect way to find your next hobby of choice. Whether you have a brand new gaming system and want to load it up with new stuff to try straight away, or your bank account is still looking a little thin after holidays, you'll find a ton of great experiences that you can play for no extra cash at all. Don't let the old days of endless microtransaction pressure and lackluster free options fool you, the best free games prove that they're some of the most vibrant games in the medium right now.
Now to be clear, a lot of these games do offer options for would-be whales (that is, folks who drop a bunch of cash on one game) and other folks who don't mind dropping a bunch of cash - but to be included on this list, you have to be able to have a great time without ever opening up your wallet. We've ranked 25 of the top tier best free games, laying out what you should expect when you jump in, which platform to find them on, and just why we feel each one is worth your time. So leave your credit card in a drawer, get comfy in your favorite gaming chair and explore the 25 best free games you can play right now.
The best free games, starting with...
25. Dragalia Lost
Genre: Action RPG Platform: iOS, Android
Dragalia Lost is the first Nintendo-published mobile game that isn't a spinoff of an existing, popular franchise like Mario or Animal Crossing. Instead, it's a new tale of a fallen fantasy kingdom and the hodgepodge of adventurers fighting to restore it. Dragalia Lost has all the usual free-to-play mobile trappings: gacha-style random pulls for heroes and items, a limited stamina meter, way too many things to upgrade. But the action RPG dungeon delving and boss battles are slick, with controls that let you execute satisfying last-second dodges and fire off powerful abilities all with one finger. Plus, you can play almost all of it with your friends (or random internet strangers) in synchronous co-op.
24. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Genre: MMORPG Platform: PC
Still bummed that you never got Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3? Play Star Wars: The Old Republic. Yeah, it's an MMO, but if playing with others isn't your scene you can pretty safely ignore those parts of the game and just focus on exploring your character's story. Did I mention that every class has its own sprawling, fleshed out tale complete with classic KOTOR-style Light Side and Dark Side choices? If you have even the slightest bit of Star Wars fandom in your heart, SWTOR will keep you happy for a long time.
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23. Pinball FX3
Genre: Pinball simulator Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
C'mon, it's pinball. Everybody loves pinball. And yes, the game is heavily monetized via microtransactions for additional tables that span everything from Harry Potter to Portal to Star Wars, but it does give you one table to play with for free as long as you like. And it's a pretty good table! Whether you're an old-school pinball wizard or just liked wasting time in the Space Cadet game that used to come with Windows, you're guaranteed to get at least a few hours of joy out of Pinball FX3.
Genre: MOBA Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Perhaps you don't want to be an anonymous cog in the League of Legends machine. Perhaps Dota 2 scares you with its hardcore rep. And yet you still want to play a decent MOBA game. We recommend you try Smite, a third-person multiplayer battler that focuses on scraps between gods and mythological figures. The community is small enough to be inclusive, but large enough to guarantee full servers, and the game is constantly updated with fresh characters and maps. Yes, it's free, but a reasonable $30 payment gets you the Ultimate Gods Pack, which grants access to all the fighters and any subsequent updates for life.
Genre: MMORPG Platform: PC
There's a reason this golden oldie is still immensely popular. One of the largest, and one of the best MMORPGs ever, is still constantly being updated, and offers a massive, ever-evolving world to explore. Depending on what you fancy doing, there's a plethora of challenges to choose from, along with fighting, competing, quests and mini-games to boot. Whatever you do, you'll have fun along the way and no doubt meet some like-minded folks too.
20. World of Tanks
Genre: Tank battle sim Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
If the idea of getting your face lasered to pieces by precocious teenagers in Call of Duty is your idea of hell, then World of Tanks might be for you. This game is all about strategy, out-smarting opponents, and customizing your tank with the right armaments to suit your style of play. Nine times out of ten, a well-prepared assault will smash a quick trigger finger, so it's ideal for seasoned players looking to wreak havoc at a more considered pace in this pick for the best free games.
19. Fallout Shelter
Genre: Vault management sim Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, iOS, Android
Fallout Shelter could have easily been a disposable tie-in game, but Bethesda's done a fine job of keeping it relevant in the years since its surprise mid-E3 arrival. iOS and Android users can control their very own vault and toy with the lives of their poor unsuspecting vault dwellers. Send them out into the wastes. Make them lay down their lives to defend the vault from raiders. Delight in the warm feeling of productivity... or is that radiation?
Genre: Multiplayer shooter Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Colourful, cheerful, and crammed full of satisfying shooty noises and cartoony maps, Paladins is as if Overwatch was set in a medieval fantasy world. Except, you know, with some guns thrown in for good measure. All the maps are distinctly old-timey, from desert temples to glacier fortresses, plus gameplay is hectic but full of charm. Instead of sprinting around you get your very own warhorse to hop onto and race across maps so you feel like a proper paladin. From the start a selection of characters are unlocked for free so there's plenty of choice no matter what role you like to play in frantic matches.
17. Dota 2
Genre: MOBA Platform: PC
One of the most popular free-to-play PC games, like ever, Dota 2 is a top-down arena battler - aka a MOBA - that pays out serious cash to the best players. But it's not only for obsessives or professionals. Instead, dive into the Steam Community forms, read some guides, talk to some players, and then rope in a few friends to help you get hooked on the original MOBA, and one of the biggest PC games in history - you'll quickly see why it's a perennial pick for our list of the best free games.
16. EVE: Online
Genre: Space business and battle sim Platform: PC
CCP Games' immersive, and utterly humongous, space MMO has been free-to-play for a while now, thanks to its "alpha clones" system. It's akin to an unlimited free trial featured in the likes of World of Warcraft, which basically gives you access to all the mining, piracy, manufacturing, trading, exploring and combat, but keeps certain skills off-limits unless you pay a monthly fee. But with a ton of content very much still accessible in front of the paywall, it's an absolute joy and a bargain to boot.
15. Dwarf Fortress
Genre: Interesting failure simulator Platform: PC
Dwarf Fortress is one-hundred percent free, it doesn't have microtransactions of any kind (unless you count donations to the two-person dev team). But it does have surprise invasions by werebeasts and hidden aquifers that are just waiting to flood your entire fortress with a single misplaced pickaxe. It will take you a while to get used to Dwarf Fortress because there really isn't anything else like it, though some of the newbie-friendly starter packs can help ease the transition. Once you get comfortable with telling your dwarves how to build out their (probably temporary) shelter from the cold, hard world above, you won't want to stop. Even when the werebeasts show up.
14. Bombergrounds: Battle Royale
Genre: Bomberman battle royale Platform: PC, iOS, Android
Some game mash-ups just make too much sense, and putting the gameplay of Bomberman together with the trappings of the battle royale genre created an instant pick for our list of the best free games. That is Bombergrounds in a nutshell: you and 24 other players all appear on a gridded battlefield and compete to be the last one standing by dropping bombs, grabbing powerups, and smacking each other around. Just like oldschool Bomberman, half of your deaths will probably come from your own bombs - but it doesn't really matter when you can drop right into a new match and start playing again within seconds. Oh, and you get to play as cute bears, cats, rabbits, and red pandas, with a bunch of customization options to unlock if you play for long enough or feel like buying the battle pass.
13. Counter-Strike: GO
Genre: First-person shooter Platform: PC
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been around for years, but it only went free-to-play within the last few. The same update that stripped the game of a price tag also added Danger Zone, a battle-royale inspired mode that sets up to 18 players against each other on an open map full of cash to grab and supply drops to schedule. Even if you're not on board for more battle royale, you still get free access to all of the core competitive shooting action for which Counter-Strike is famous. Throw flashbangs, run around with knives, jump on crates in de_dust2 - it's all there, and now it's all free... as long as you can avoid the temptation to drop tons of cash on weapon skins.
12. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Genre: Collectible card video game Platform: PC, iOS, Android
If you grew up playing collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, then Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is all the fun without the bookshelves full of card binders. Hearthstone takes a familiar mana mechanic, used for everything from summoning creatures to casting spells, then simplifies it by granting each player an additional unit each turn. This makes jumping into Hearthstone that much easier, as you can now focus on the core strategies of your deck without worrying about taking up precious deck space with land. It's one of those "one more game turns into an all-nighter" deals, for sure.
11. Path of Exile
Genre: Action RPG Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Few action RPGs ever transcend the status of "well, this is good to play if you're tired of Diablo," but Path of Exile is one of them. Even if it wasn't free-to-play it would still be a remarkable game, refining several of the genre's sticking points while allowing for a dizzying degree of customization through a huge talent tree/cloud and skill-altering gems. Naturally, it's great to play with friends too - and much easier to convince them to join you with no upfront cost! Don't feel bad about looking up guides, since all the customization options can be a bit overwhelming.
10. Destiny 2: New Light
Genre: Online loot shooter Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
You can't play all of Destiny 2 for free, but you can play a sizable sampling of the game's older content. Yeah, it's a little confusing ferreting out which parts of the game are available for all players in Destiny 2: New Light, and which parts you have to purchase extra passes to play. But don't let that stop you from trying it, because Destiny 2 is still some of the finest shooting action you can experience today, and New Light gives you a ton of it. You can play through missions in single player or co-op, you can do all the Crucible PvP activities, you can explore vast open-world Patrol sectors. You'll need to pay up to stay current with all the current endgame activities and gear, but by then you'll already have put dozens of hours into the game.
Genre: Platform fighting game Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Like playing Super Smash Bros.? You'll like playing Brawlhalla, too. It may not have the recognizable roster of Nintendo's beloved fighting game, but it has a similar streamlined approach to competitive action - friendly for both casual players as well as more hardcore competitive types. It has a pretty generous business model, too: all players receive access to a rotating selection of six characters for free, and you can buy more with microtransactions or earned-in-game currency.
Genre: Co-op monster hunting Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Even if you've never played other co-op monster hunting games like the Monster Hunter series, Dauntless is easily the best way to get started. It uses the same core loop of taking down giant monsters then using their parts to make gear for taking down even giant-er monsters, but it makes it all much more approachable with systems that are easy to grasp and an effortless online multiplayer experience. Mastering each different weapon style feels like playing a different game, each with their own unique quirks to master - a hammer that doubles as a jetpack (complete with an active reload mechanic) is a particular favorite. Best of all, seamless cross-play means you can hunt with your friends no matter the platform, making this an easy pick for the best free games.
Genre: Tactical hero shooter Platform: PC
This superpowered shooter from the creators of League of Legends infuses Overwatch-inspired heroes with big powers and even bigger personalities into Counter-Strike-inspired multiplayer. Watching your corners and knowing the map is just as important as picking the perfect moment to unleash superpowered hell on the enemy team. You'll have instant access to a selection of Valorant's heroes as soon as you start playing, and you can unlock more either by finishing their Contracts or by paying for one-time microtransactions. Then there are all the cosmetics, but you can always stick to basics and just enjoy the hardcore shooting action for free.
6. Final Fantasy 14
Genre: MMORPG Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5
Whether you're a fan of the Final Fantasy series, a former WoW-fiend looking for your next hobby, or just a appreciator of great storytelling and fascinating worlds, you owe it to yourself to check out Final Fantasy 14. The entire game isn't free-to-play, but Final Fantasy 14 offers both its original A Realm Reborn content and its first expansion together in one free trial with minimal restrictions. That includes no time limit or subscription requirements, so you can spend as long as you like savoring the story. Just don't blame us if you're scrambling for your credit card as soon as you finish the trial content - however many dozens of hours it may take you to get there.
5. Call of Duty Warzone
Genre: Battle royale Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Call of Duty Warzone isn't the series' first bite at the battle royale apple, but it is its best - easily earning its spot on our list of the best free games. Though intrinsically tied first to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and then Black Ops: Cold War, Warzone is playable entirely for free on its own across all supported platforms. Its main modes let you drop onto a map built from memorable Call of Duty set pieces, searching for loot and fighting alongside your friends. Loadout Drops even let you bring over your favorite gear from the standard multiplayer mode, and the Gulag gives you a chance to fight your way back into matches even after you're taken out. It's a smart, polished take on both Call of Duty and battle royales, though you don't need to be a fan of either to enjoy it.
4. Apex Legends
Genre: Battle royale Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Apex Legends is a smooth-as-butter battle royale from the team that brought you Titanfall 2. On top of Respawn Entertainment's shooter chops, Apex Legends is also designed to modernize the genre with reduced downtime between matches and a smart respawn system for bringing back fallen squadmates. All that and its lineup of heroes ("Legends" in the game's parlance) are some of the most colorful oddballs we've played in years, each with abilities that do enough to set them apart while keeping the focus on gunplay. You have a lot of options for battle royale games, but for fans of smooth shooting action, it doesn't get better than Apex.
3. Genshin Impact
Genre: Open-world adventure Platforms: PC, PS4, Android, iOS
A wide-open world full of beautiful vistas, tough enemies to overcome, and fun new characters to team up with have all helped instantly elevate Genshin Impact to near the top of this list. It takes the vast open spaces and elemental reactivity of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and fuses them with a smooth and satisfying combat system that's heavily inspired by anime action. Granted, the gacha elements will happily gobble up your disposable income if you have your heart set on unlocking certain characters or gear. Thankfully, you can safely ignore all that and still have hours upon hours of fun just playing through the story with your core team.
Genre: Online action Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Online games lasting five or more years are hardly unheard of these days, but Warframe has one key difference among that venerable cadre: its days as one of the best free games still seem to be ahead of it. The game of weird space ninjas fighting even weirder enemies just keeps growing - first with more kinds of randomly generated corridors, then with all-new open worlds to explore, and now even full-on ship-to-ship battles featuring every kind of Warframe combat. Warframe remains some of the most fun you can have in any game today, free or not. Just don't let the rough post-tutorial part, where you're still figuring out what the heck to do, turn you off before you get into the real meat.
Genre: Build-and-battle royale Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, iOS, Android
If you haven't heard of Fortnite at this point, I'm actually kind of impressed. Epic Games' battle royale is free to play on just about everything - and it's become the start of a true cultural platform. Fortnite has become the unlikely social hub of musical performances, trailer debuts, and virtual hangouts for folks all over the world. There's also the free Creative mode, and the casual event-hosting Party Royale, but Battle Royale is the beating heart of the Fortnite behemoth. If you need some help getting started in the Battle Royale, we have some Fortnite tips with your name on them.
Looking for more? Here's our list of the best PC games to play right now.