Although Steam sales make it terribly easy to end up with a backlog of titles we'll need several lifetimes to get through, sometimes all we want is to download a game and play without having to pay an upfront fee. Free stuff is, after all, always good, as someone somewhere used to say. As it turns out, the PC has a hefty selection of free games that let gamers do just that.
It's a pretty varied selection, too. From card games to those focusing on vehicle combat, from MMORPGs to battle royale titles, there's something that's bound please everyone. Below, you'll find a list of The Best Free Games on PC, in alphabetical order and with links to their store pages. If you think we've missed any, drop us a line in the comments.
Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Alan Wake's American Nightmare sees the writer protagonist attempting to stop his evil, and quite loud, double, Mr. Scratch from wreaking havoc. The title not only introduces a new storyline to experience, but also brings with it more action-packed gameplay as part of its Fight till dawn arcade mode. In it, players must use the light and weapons at their disposal to survive, as the name puts it, until dawn. Alan Wake's American Nightmare is free on the Epic Games Store between October 17 and October 24.
A surprise release from Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts, Apex Legends is a free-to-play first-person shooter battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe. While Titans don't make an appearance, the game features playable characters with different active and passive abilities, much like a hero shooter would. A total of 30 squads of three players duke it out across a map featuring a variety of terrain, searching for loot while evading a ring of death that constantly closes in on them.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Released back in 2012, the latest incarnation of Valve's team-based multiplayer first-person shooter series is still going strong. Not only is it one of the most played titles on Steam, but it also has a healthy competitive scene that boasts frequent E-sports events. Its high-stakes action is complemented by a satisfying if a bit steep, learning curve, which makes mastering each weapon's recoil and learning the maps feel like triumphs. Featuring maps and weapons both old and new, modding potential and, more recently, a battle royale mode, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is available on Steam.
If vehicle-on-vehicle action is your cup of tea, Targem Game’s Crossout has plenty of it. In Crossout, you build combat vehicles from a variety of available parts, deck them out with flamethrowers, power drills, chainsaws, rocket launchers and the likes, and blow up other players. You can download it for free on the Crossout website or Steam.
Dota 2 shouldn’t need any presentation by now. A well-known MOBA and successor to the original Warcraft 3 mod that had its fair share of fame, it’s yet another example of Valve striking gold. Out for more than five years, it’s a common sight on Steam’s Top 10 games with most concurrent users. You can find Dota 2 on Steam.
Dreadnought is a free-to-play game that fills a visible gap, focusing on tactical battles between capital ships. You get full control over one such ship and must engage in team-based modes where knowing when to unleash a flurry of nuclear torpedoes, using line of sight to block enemy attacks or boosting engine power to better position yourself is vital for survival. Dreadnought is now on Steam.
EVE Online’s fame precedes it but just in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s a community-driven spaceship MMO where you can fulfill a variety of roles, whether in industry, business, exploration or the military. It’s no stranger to massive space battles, has a player-driven economy and is home to both honorable and less honorable folk. You can get it on the EVE online website or Steam.
Fortnite Battle Royale
Quite possibly the biggest game in the world, Fortnite’s Battle Royale component switftly overtook PUBG upon launching. Adding the building system from its Save The World mode to the battle royale recipe, alongside its playful art style, did more than enough to set the now-global phenomenon apart. Its success has prompted Epic to open up its own store, but also brought lawsuits related to its dances. Fortnite Battle Royale is available via the Epic Games Store.
Guild Wars 2
NCSoft’s Guild Wars 2 started out as a buy-to-play MMORPG but made the base game available for free back in 2015. It’s a gorgeous sequel that features both PvE and PvP activities. Perhaps its biggest draw, the World versus World mode pits three servers against each other on a large map, often featuring large battles and sieges. Since its launch, the game has also received two paid expansions. You’ll find Guild Wars 2 on its website.
Gwent came out of beta earlier this year and is a more evolved, complex take on the popular minigame found in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3. It reduces the number of rows to just two from the previous three while giving cards abilities that allow for more interactions with the board and a fair degree of synergy. You’ll find Gwent on Gog.com.
Blizzard’s Warcraft-based CCG has seen its fair share of expansions since launch, when it was solely a PvP title. Its PvP component is still very much the focus, having both constructed and arena modes, but it now has several PvE campaigns to go through, courtesy of its expansions. There's also lots of RNG. You can get Hearthstone from its website or the Battle.net Launcher.
League of Legends
League of Legends is a veritable MOBA behemoth that's been around for a decade now. In its long run, the game has received a variety of updates, including a graphical and UI overhaul. Each new season brings about larger changes in terms of systems and items, while champion balancing and reworks were constant throughout the game's history. A roster of 142 champions welcomes those eager to play, whether casually or competitively, while the title's strong eSports scene is a good source of both learning and entertainment. Its matches reward teamwork and taking calculated risks, having the potential of being intense, lengthy engagements. League of Legends is available on its official website.
The Lord of the Rings Online
Many MMORPGs don fantasy clothes, but The Lord of the Rings Online brings J.R.R. Tolkien's very universe to life on PC. Initially released back in 2007, the free-to-play title lets players set off on their own adventures across Middle-earth. Players have access to six races and ten classes, while subsequent paid expansions let them explore iconic locations such as the mines of Moria, Rohan or Helm's Deep. You can get the base game for free on the Lord of the Rings Online website.
Cyberpunk horror title Observer puts players in the shoes of one Dan Lazarski, an elite neural detective whose role is to hack and invade the minds of suspect individuals. As you forcibly make your way into various unsavory criminals' heads, you'll find that the information required to help with solving cases often waits behind manifestations of the hosts' darkest thoughts. Observer is free on the Epic Games Store from October 17 until October 24.
Path of Exile
Grinding Gear Games’ ARPG has entered its sixth year and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Constantly refreshed with new leagues that reset progress and add new gameplay elements, like entire new dungeons or item types, it gives plenty of reasons to return regularly. Add to that an in-game economy reliant on currency also used for modifying items, a massive passive skill tree and plenty of active skills lending themselves to a large number of builds and it's easy to see why it’s one of the major players in the genre. Get it on the Path of Exile website or Steam.
Planetside 2 is an MMOFPS that sees three factions taking part in a tug-of-war of territorial control across four massive continental maps. Whether we're talking open fields, forests, deserds or besieged outposts, battles can include hundreds of players. Infantrymen have access to a number of different classes which fulfill different roles, while armor and gunships round off this futuristic combined arms experience. You can find Planetside 2 on Steam.
Quake Champions brings the arena shooter genre, established by the original Quake, to modern audiences while adding a dash of hero shooter to the mix. Speed and explosive action remain very much its focus, courtesy of an arsenal of weaponry familiar to Quake fans and some good old strafe jumping. On top of that, the playable roster of characters get different stats and unique abilities which they can use in battle. Quake Champions is free on Steam or the Bethesda launcher.
Ring of Elysium
Ring of Elysium is Tencent Games’ entry into the battle royale space. The title drops 60 players on a mountain beset by an ever-advancing snowstorm and lets them battle it out. A rescue helicopter waits to be boarded, while snowboarding and hang gliding join regular vehicles as means of transportation. Ring of Elysium is now available on Steam.
Smite is a MOBA with a twist. Instead of the traditional isometric view, Hi-Rez Studios’ title takes on a third-person perspective. Its roster further makes it stand out, being pulled from various mythologies. As with its peers, Smite is also free-to-play, available via its website or Steam.
Star Trek Online
If you’ve ever wanted to play as a ship captain in the well-known univers, Star Trek Online lets you do just that. The title features over 160, spanning multiple story arcs, with both ground and space content. You can find it on the Arc launcher or Steam.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Although Star Wars: The Old Republic hasn't been at the forefront of EA's marketing lately, Bioware's 2011 MMORPG has been steadily receiving content over the years. Initially launching with a focus on more traditional MMORPG experiences such as PvP and raiding, which are still there to be experienced, the past few years have seen it shift focus towards a single-player, story-driven set of campaigns. Players can choose between two factions, the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, which allow them to play as Jedi, Sith, soldiers or smugglers. The game is available its official website.
Surviving Mars is a colony sim that tasks players with colonizing the Red Planet. Starting with a humble rocket, a limited amount of materials and a few automated drones, it's only through hard work, and a bit of luck, that you'll see domes capable of sustaining human life on the planet. As the title suggests, the colony sim has its fair share of survival elements, at least in the beginning. From something as simple as a food shortage, to dust storms or cold waves cutting off oxygen and power supplies, a good colony leader always prepares for these disasters ahead of time. You can try your hand at colonizing the Red Planet between October 10 and October 17, when Surviving Mars is free on the Epic Games Store.
Team Fortress 2
Nine distinct classes full of charisma, a good handful of modes and maps, alongside the level of quality expected from Valve titles make this over-a-decade-old game an absolute must-play for fans of team-based first-person shooters. It’s seen plenty of updates over the years, adding lots of new, wacky weapons plus cosmetic items, and still boasts a healthy playerbase. You can find it on Steam.
Who doesn’t want to be a space ninja? Well, there’s bound to be someone out there but they don’t know what’s fun. For everyone else, there’s Warframe. Digital Extremes’ unusual co-op third-person action lets you mow down aliens as one of many cool-looking space ninjas wielding a vast arsenal of weapons that includes assault rifles, bows, throwing knives, nunchucks and more. It’s very much a game that lets you set your own goals and the introduction of more open areas in later expansions gives plenty of content to play through. Find it on Steam and check out our guide on how to hunt down Silver Grove Specters for rare mods and Nightwave Challenges.
World Of Tanks
If the title isn’t enough of a giveaway, this one’s about tank battles where tanks battle other tanks and they’re all controlled by players. Wargaming’s action title features over 500 customizable vehicles from all over the world, including places like the US, USSR, Japan, Sweden and Italy. Get it on its website or Steam.