We not only offer a list of names, we explain how the ecosystem of free games works on the platform
You may have seen this report on the Meristation pages and encouraged yourself to enter, but most likely you are here because one idle afternoon you searched the search engine for "free games" and (hopefully) landed here. In any case, apart from welcoming you, we want to offer you something a little different. Almost all videogame magazines have free game reports (this same magazine has in fact published several over the years) is a popular topic that always arouses interest and curiosity in a wide range of veteran and novice players. But most reports of this type are limited to releasing a more or less long stream of names – almost all of them – with a description, and that's it. Without taking credit for the work that these texts carry and their usefulness for thousands of readers, we want to do something different with this article.
We will give some proper names, yes, but in addition to that we will explain the different alternatives that the PC player has to play for free, the reference points, the differences between the payment models and, ultimately, we are not only going to leave a list of names, we will also "teach fishing", leaving the means for the reader to start his own search for free games and find what he is looking for, because the alternatives are many and go beyond the Fortnite or the DOTA on duty.
"Free" does not mean the same everywhere
For those who arrive completely new and are not familiar with this topic, some basic notions. The first thing is that, yes, with a computer you can play thousands of games completely for free (legally). But there are different types of "free" that could be classified by their name in English: "Free to Play", "Pay What You Want" and "Free". The "Free to Play" or "F2P" are games that you can play for free, but that have payment options, either to access certain content, either to unlock characters or skins, or to progress faster, depending of the game and its model that is something that must be investigated well before investing a lot of time in it. The “Pay What You Want”, are titles with voluntary payment of indie and experimental cut, made by developers who are learning, experimenting or who simply wanted to embark on a small and fast project, without all the baggage involved in launching into the market; They are completely free but, optionally, if you are very satisfied with the experience or simply think they deserve it, you can leave a tip for the work done. In the third category are the "free" or freeware games, free games without more, which can be titles that their creators have left for free for any reason – search for notoriety for future projects, love of art … – or games that were of payment in the past but now those responsible leave as free to understand that their business cycle has ended.
Doom was the great flag of the shareware movement
They are not the only alternatives to play for free on PC. In the past it became very popular what came to be called “shareware”, codes that were distributed for free with a portion of the game available and that left the possibility of unlocking the entire game by payment if the interested party had enjoyed the experience; Classics like Doom were born as part of this phenomenon. Its current equivalent would be in some MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV, which allow you to play for free with up to a certain level before you start asking for a monthly fee to continue. Then there are the demos, very popular a few years ago even for large productions, but now they have remained in a smaller role – although they are still an interesting alternative to try a wide variety of modest productions. And finally there is the most current iteration of the demo, which are limited in time and that do include more commercial and multiplayer games – in Steam there are usually one or more of these temporary demos every weekend.
The most popular free PC games
These are some of the most played and popular free games of the moment, with those names well known to many but that should be present for new readers who join and want to know immediate options.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
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A true phenomenon that brings together millions of players and spectators every week. Fortnite is actually made up of two parts: Save the World, the original payment concept, which is a mix between team shooting game and Minecraft, and Battle Royale, which is the free part (and the vast majority of the user base), which is a all against all among 100 players in which the goal is to be the only survivor. Its casual tone, its dynamism, how easy it is to start playing and the great flexibility granted by the construction system are some of the features that distinguish it from others. Battle Royale mode is, as we said, free with purely aesthetic micropayments.
League of Legends
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The game that unleashed the fever for the MOBA, knowing how to take advantage of the popularity of the Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft III and reinterpreting their ideas to take them to the general public. From that root a game of global reach was born, whose world and characters continue in permanent conceptual and aesthetic expansion. It is a demanding game to start, as you team up with four other players and face five others, choosing from a wide range of characters with unique abilities, so it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities, details to learn and the own pace of battle. Of course, once inside, it is a title that leaves you trapped for years. It is free and you can play years without paying a euro, but you have to accumulate "blue essence" ingame, or pay, if you want to play with a specific champion. The selection of free champions is changing and it is perfectly functional to play with them, but to choose you need time or the fast way to pay.
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IceFrog, one of the main creatives behind the Defense of the Ancients mod, signed for Valve to create DOTA 2, the great League of Legends rival in the MOBA genre and the most established alternative to it. The concept is the same: two teams of five faced on a map, with the aim of ending rival defenses and ending their base. It is even more complex than its rival, more strategic and with numerous concepts to learn to be competitive, but equally irresistible once it is mastered and you have a stable team to play with. Unlike LOL, in DOTA 2 and you can access any champion among the 117 that there is without putting money, although paying a monthly subscription has certain advantages such as access to the amateur payment tournament Battle Cup and a game assistant that can mark the Difference when making good decisions in your game and career – it is not essential at all, but if you are clear that you will play DOTA 2 for a good time, it can be a useful service.
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Dota 2 and League of Legends are the two great alternatives within the MOBA / ARTS, but they are not the only ones. SMITE has managed to gain a place by betting on its own values that make it a solid and sufficiently independent alternative. A different camera and control system, more focused on giving direct action to the player, give the title a different personality compared to the quasi RTS action of the previous two. It is also more colorful and spectacular, with great powers deployed by the leading gods in the fighting. The game follows a model similar to that of LOL, with a "free rotation" that allows us to play for free with a part of the template, in addition to the ability to pay to get direct access to all the characters.
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Blizzard surprised with his intense card game, a reference in the genre. Fast, sometimes fleeting games that always leave you wanting "one more", a multitude of possibilities to configure your deck, a style of play in which the right card at the right time can change the course of the game – although the virtue This is debatable among the most advanced players – and an effective presentation on both PCs and tablets. A player can advance reasonably without paying, but those who pay can complete decks before, have more options and access the latest strategies faster than those who do not. But at the same time, many of the most powerful decks historically are made up of quite accessible cards playing for free – with some exceptions. So it is an open debate, although everyone can agree that to start and think about a casual game, it is a title that can be considered free.
World of Tanks
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Another classic played by millions of users is the Wargaming title, which is still as up-to-date as always – accompanied in addition to its "cousins" World of Warplanes and World of Warships. This F2P goes through a fast, immediate accessible and fun formula, with a large number of tanks of different types at our disposal with which to compete in tense battles against other players. In addition, although it does not have simulator lines, it includes a certain attraction for lovers of war history because it includes locations and tanks typical of World War II. With money you can unlock “premium” tanks, buy equipment and special ammunition that give you, technically, advantage over other players, but none of that will give you a victory against a veteran player, or that is the theory at least.
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Another F2P that is very worth trying is this futuristic action title in which we handle what can be defined as “space cyber-ninjas”, performing solo missions or cooperatives against AI-controlled enemies. We have a wide variety of classes with different skills, but characterized by their great agility that allows us to walk through the walls, slide and perform all kinds of pirouettes to avoid enemies or dodge their attacks, a characteristic that gives a distinctive air against to other shooters more focused on shooting. With a very effective aesthetic and a very considerable amount of content always growing, Warframe is a different and high quality game that can keep us entertained for tens of hours.
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The move from Destiny 2 to a base model of F2P is great news for all those who are looking for a quality shooter to play in their spare time. With the Bungie seal, which guarantees polished and very fun action, Destiny 2 offers a large amount of content, an interesting story told at the level expected of an AAA, very high production values and wide possibilities of playing both alone , competitive or competitive. If you decide that the base experience has convinced you, you can decide to acquire the expansions: Forsaken and Shadowkeep, which are paid.
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Clearly inspired by Monster Hunter, Dauntless is an F2P alternative to the Capcom game cut under a similar pattern: a group of hunters driven by the player against a large and powerful creature. With each completed hunt we will have more resources with which to continue advancing and progressing, opening different combat styles depending on our equipment. It also has the advantage that it is crossplay with virtually all systems – including mobile phones in the near future – so it is easier to play with your group in any circumstance.
Path of Exile
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The game that, for many, has managed to dethrone Diablo from the cusp of the genre. Path of Exile is an F2P developed by fans of the genre, and it shows. It captures like none that essence of Diablo II that escaped Blizzard itself in its sequel, has a huge amount of content, a huge development tree and a payment model that can be considered “fair” and that does not prevent enjoying it Without putting a euro. In addition to the large amount of content you already have, Path of Exile 2 will arrive in the future, as part of the same game and with a new campaign, also free. A real jewel that represents the best of the Free to Play model and a must for ARPG lovers.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
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The nth recreation of the Star Wars universe, in turn the second attempt to take it to the ground of persistent worlds, takes us to the years of the Old Republic and the wars between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. Bioware has been in charge of putting into practice what has been learned with the two Star Wars installments: Knights of the Old Republic, initially responsible for the idea being carried out. Star Wars: The Old Republic allows us to create a character choosing from several different species and visits dozens of planets in personalized stories for each of the roles, with colleagues to talk with and decisions to make. The free content is very generous, you can play alone without major problems and the story has great moments (the only downside is that it is not translated into Spanish, so you have to know English to enjoy it).
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For those looking for an F2P alternative to Overwatch, Paladins is one of the most obvious options. A 5vs5 team hero shooter with several game modes, more than 40 champions to choose from with their own abilities and a fairly friendly game system for the player who wants to play for free – yes, you can pay to unlock all the champions present and future of a stroke, and to obtain a Season Pass with exclusive resources and skins.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
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Almost two decades after Counter Strike dominated cybercafes around the world, the game is still extremely popular thanks to the strategy of converting it into F2P, which catapulted it into becoming the most played title on Steam today, with figures constants that touch the million concurrent users. Being such an established game, the introductory experience can be complicated and requires patience, time and dedication before you can feel that you are doing something relevant – for this, as in any multiplayer team game, it is always better to go with friends- . The game is free, but by paying you access games with other paying users and several extras in the form of skins and objects.
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With more than 90 million active users, Roblox is usually less present in video game pages than, for example, Fortnite (which has a similar number of users), probably because of its chaotic nature, which is also what gives it its charm. Roblox is not really a game, there are many, an infinity of them, it is a shared engine in which the most creative can devise their own worlds and games, ranging from small spaces to simply be and chat with friends to ambitious simulations of all kinds There are all kinds of bets, Battle Royales, mini-GTAs, things like (unofficial) Dragon Ball games and countless options, although each game can have individual payment options if it has reached a certain popularity.
Dungeon Fighter Online
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One of the most popular multiplayer games around the world, DFO is a brawler in the style of Final Fight or Street of Rage, but under a system of progression to the MMO, which makes it have a wide variety of characters, classes, subclasses and skills It has the advantage of a certain immediacy with respect to other MMO F2P, since the approach is quite straightforward and has a long way to go once you start entering history. It has PVP mode, cooperative and a payment system that will give you exclusive objects, help in the progression and get powerful objects before players who do not pay. As usually happens in this kind of games, it is a matter of spending money or being patient, it all depends on the priorities of each one. The game is available on Steam, but it is advised to use directly.
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The F2P of Electronic Arts and Respawn is the bet of the great software giant not to be left behind in front of other alternatives in the popular Battle Royale genre. With a more serious and focused cut than Fortnite, Apex is popular with those who want to play a shooter with some foundation against the chaotic games of the festive Epic title. Its payment model focuses on cosmetic elements for characters and weapons, loading screens, music and other elements that can be acquired either by battle pass or by microtransactions, so there are no competitive advantages over players who do not wish to pay .
Plus? Much more
These are just some of the most popular names, but there are many other alternatives that we will try to review in a more summarized way, in order to have a broader perspective of what you can find.
F2P card games and strategy
We have mentioned Hearthstone as one of the most established card game options, but there are other options. The most obvious is the recent Legends of Runeterra, the Riot card game based on League of Legends that is starting to run in open beta. If we want to play the father of all, we have the F2P option of Magic The Gathering Arena, a game that drinks from the classic card title and one of the richest and most complete options that exist, although those who do not want to pay have a long way to go. ahead before having truly powerful mallets. Also a solid and powerful option is Gwent, the beautiful F2P card game set in the Witcher universe that offers its own rhythm and mechanics that make it a good alternative.
There are many other proposals. For example, lovers of anime aesthetics have Shadowverse, the card game of the house of Granblue Fantasy, which comes with beautiful art and a very well measured game, generous with players who do not want to invest money – although we will always have some frustrating clashes with rivals with loaded mallets – and an attractive campaign that guarantees a good time even if you have no intention of competing. Also with a remarkable campaign would be Hex, another game that is a good option to spend a few hours entertaining alone, but not to make an investment of time in your multiplayer. Nor do we want to forget The Elder Scrolls Legends, a good card game based on the universe of Oblivion and Skyrim, but for which, unfortunately, there will be no new content in the future, which does not prevent being able to enjoy the content that already has . And, as a final alternative, we can aim at Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, a very solid, clear and enjoyable version of the Konami card game, with a very active community and a fairly reasonable free progression (although, as usual, to move faster you have to pay), in addition to having the plus of the characters and the atmosphere of the classic manganime.
Outside the cards, the two most obvious and popular options are the so-called "auto chess", a branch of the MOBA (League of Legends, DOTA2) that combines chess elements with the mechanics of this kind of games, resulting in an experience deep and with endless possibilities, which can also be enjoyed playing alone (they are individual duels, not by teams like the matrix games). The two referents in this subgenus of recent invention are Teamfight Tactics (TFT), which would be the game based on LOL, and DOTA Underlords, based on the Valve game. Both are free, have similarities and differences, but they propose a long-lasting game class, which can take up our free time for months.
Commercial games that are now free
In the previous section we have failed to mention another proposal, but that is also perfect to illustrate this point: Starcraft 2. The RTS may have lost popularity compared to yesteryear, but the Blizzard game is surely one of the best ever made And now you can play a good portion of it for free. The first of the three campaigns, Wings of Liberty, is available to anyone, an excellent alternative to enjoy a great real-time strategy campaign (game of the year in Meristation). Continuing with the other two campaigns already requires payment, but it is a good example of what we explain in this category: titles that were originally paid but that for one reason or another can now be played for free.
Another completely free classic RTS is Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, which can also be played online thanks to the work of the cncnet community. Another attractive option is The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, Skyrim's grandfather and a great RPG in its own right, although it will require an effort to adapt to the mechanics of yesteryear. In GOG, the digital store that offers games without DRM, we can find a list of classics available for anyone who creates an account, including three highly recommended for lovers of graphic adventure: Beneath of a Steel Sky, Lure of the Temptress and Flight of the Amazon Queen, which share space with the Tyrian 2000 shoot'em up, the excellent FPS Shadow Warrior or several deliveries and spinoff of the Ultima series, among other options.
We have previously talked about World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, which have a limited free trial period but cannot be considered “free”, and The Old Republic or Dungeon Fighter Online, which are F2P. But there are many other quality options if you are attracted to the idea of permanent online gaming, since the vast majority of those in the market today follow this model, with more or less success but without monthly fees or mandatory down payments. Among the best we can find Guild Wars 2, a high quality title with a lot of content, excellent production values and a good alternative to the best of the genre. If you are a fan of Star Trek or The Lord of the Rings, there are also two good options in this space.
From Korea we have a wide variety of persistent titles, with different flavors and strengths, among which we highlight Blade and Soul, with a more dynamic than average combat system, very colorful thanks to its art, with a magnificent soundtrack and a Martial arts theme very colorful. Tera is another popular and established option, with active servers and a notable Hispanic community. Outside of the Asian country and for completing this review, we will mention three names: Runescape, a timeless MMO that has been able to be renewed over almost 20 decades; Eve Online, the great space sandbox and one of the most fascinating games that exist for its epic PVP conflicts, which can be played for free (accepting limitations on progression); and finally, the most recent example: Albion Online, an MMO F2P sandbox very interesting and complete, whose biggest drawback is the lack of European servers and the problems that this causes in PVP for players outside the USA.
A report on free games would not be complete without a genre that has given countless hours of free play to millions of fans around the world. Created by amateurs but with a massive influence on the history of the game: extremely random, deep, difficult and rejugables in the extreme. They are the primitive RPGs, whose influence reaches our days, from the creation of Diablo to the countless number of roguelikes and roguelites that can be found in our days.
It is not the most accessible genre that exists and the fact that they usually use ASCII graphics makes them hard on sight, but once you understand their possibilities they are games that can give hundreds and thousands of hours of fun. Among the most popular is TOME, formerly known as Tales of the Middle Earth and which later had to be transformed into Tales of Maj'Eyal, a massive random RPG with a gigantic world, rich in lore, multitude of classes and a deep tactical system which makes each incursion a challenge (it has a paid version with more pleasant graphics but the base version is and will always be free, with accumulated work covering almost two decades of continuous development and creation. Other proper names are Nethack, DCSS , CDDA or UnReal World (which also has a paid version on Steam), all with their own characteristics, capable of operating on any computer and operating system.
And, of course, what to say about Dwarf Fortress, such an important game that was exhibited in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. A lifetime dedicated to a game in which each game involves the creation of a world, with its history, its own mythology, its nations that grow and fall, its wars, misfortunes and miracles. A title that has given millions of anecdotes, with a simulation so insanely detailed that simulates independent bodily aspects of living creatures that inhabit it and all kinds of behaviors, moods and interactions, independent of the player. Both in the fortress mode, in which we must build a dwarf fortress, manage it and make it prosper – or fail spectacularly in the attempt – or in the adventure mode, in which we embody a lonely protagonist in a vast world, Dwarf Fortress is a total game, in constant evolution and that would be able to entertain us a life if we could only play in it. In the future you will have a paid version with graphics and a more accessible interface, but there are competent options to start playing and, once some concepts are mastered, it becomes simply irresistible.
"Pay what you want"
Apart from the great F2P games, a way to play countless titles for free is found in the indie community gathered around itchi.o. It might seem that Itchi is another digital store, such as Steam or GOG, but in addition to selling games it serves as a meeting point for the most independent community, which makes games for learning, fun or competition through the multiple jams held at year – tournaments in which you have to create games in a limited amount of time and compete with other projects. These games, many remarkable, are normally housed in this service and you can find real jewels shortly after you spend a little time. You just have to go to the free games section and start exploring the different categories through tags, which will allow you to explore by genres, popularity, time or even introduce you to games randomly. Once on the page dedicated to the title, you will have a description and a “Download Now” button, in which you can put a voluntary amount of money for the author or click on “No, thanks” to download the game directly (although if , a posteriori, it turns out that you particularly liked a game, it never hurts to return to leave that tip).
Finally, for reviewing all options, there are some alternatives that deserve consideration. For example, on Archive.org there is a fantastic repository of MS-DOS games that can be played directly from the browser, including great old games like Prince of Persia, Sim City, The Oregon Trail or The Secret of the Monkey Island, running from the browser with just one click. In Steam there is a category of free games in which more than 3000 F2P and completely free titles come together – some excellent as the recent Star Fetchers. The Epic store distributes free games every week just for having an account. And let's not forget the demos, more than 3000 available in its category within Steam, which is also another way to enjoy hours of free content – and, incidentally, to know some game that may interest you for the future. Also worth mentioning is the Flashpoint project, an attempt to preserve more than 38,000 games created for the Flash format in a browser, at risk of getting lost due to the withdrawal of that format, a mad library among which you can find hours of fun.
Over time we will update this report to add relevant news, but after all this review, we hope that the message becomes clear: there are unlimited possibilities to play for free on this platform, to experiment, to discover and contribute to a creative community that is Always active. As users, we can only be grateful and value all the gigantic offer we have at our disposal. It only takes a little interest to discover the appropriate game for each one.