Awesome free-to-play games that actually cost nothing

People, we're in the golden age of sitting on the toilet. Never has there been as much entertainment available to us at our greasy fingertips than there is today, whether spending some quality time in the bathroom, sitting on a cramped train with commuters' knees drilling through yours, or just trying to fall asleep at night without using pills or gin. And the most exciting part: all of this entertainment can be had for free. That's right, for no money down, you can be enjoying a slew of awesome, free-to-play games. Here are a few that are definitely worth checking out.

Team Fortress 2

Against all odds, Team Fortress 2 maintains a miraculous near-perfect score on Steam, where it's been chugging along since 2007. Completely free to play and welcoming to all levels of players, TF2 is much like your classic GoldenEye, but with a diversity of character classes and fewer grossly polygonal heads. It's a straightforward, relatively uncomplicated, welcoming first-person shooter with a good sense of humor and a whole lot of replay value — which is why it's showing no signs of stopping almost a decade later. That's a lot of juice for a Quake mod.

Path of Exile

Nostalgia factor aside, there's still something epic about old-school RPGs like Diablo, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter. Just the idea of sitting down to a good ol' dungeon crawl might give you goosebumps, and if that's the case, Path of Exile is your game. It's inspired by all those old favorites, and that means epic crawls, a gripping story, and hours of fantasy fun. And it's all free.

It's clearly made by people who love these games as much as you do because from the very beginning, lead designer Chris Wilson (via Polygon) approached the whole thing a bit differently. They'd make their money by just making a game people loved so much they'd play it, not pay to speed through it. Pretty novel idea, right? It's worked, too. After years of attracting a loyal fanbase, they're still releasing expansions (Fall of Oriath hit in 2017) and still free, although you can fork over some cash if you'd like your character to look extra pretty.

DC Universe Online

Want to feel like a superhero without undergoing some kind of traumatic backstory or finding some kind of alien artifact that imbues you with superpowers? DC Universe Online just might be the thing for you. In this free-to-play MMORPG, you're given the chance to become a hero or villain in the DC Universe, with an arsenal of powers at your disposal. You'll pick a hero or villain mentor and get decked out with superpowers like Superman's super strength, the Green Lantern's ability to make Light constructs, or even just some good ol' fashioned martial arts paired with gadgets a la Batman. You're free to take on quests and learn what it means to be a real hero, all while flying (or running at super speeds) around the DC Universe's most iconic locations, like the Watchtower and Gotham City.

Let It Die

Video games don't have to make sense to be enjoyable, and that's a good thing. At a glance, the PS4's Let It Die makes no sense. You're basically tasked with using a series of expendable characters to climb a skyscraper, hacking and slashing through everything in your way, all under the watchful eye of some kind of skateboarding Grim Reaper wearing novelty sunglasses.

Really. This is another game where you can technically spend money, but it's actually not worth it to do so. As you're climbing, you'll unlock stronger and stronger characters, so you'll want to get to a point where you kill your current character to upgrade, not pay to continue. (That hint is literally right in the title.) It's fun, it's quirky, and let's face it — some days, you just want to fire up that virtual chainsaw and go hunting.

Elvenar (and more from InnoGames)

Life is busy, and sometimes you don't have as much free time as you'd like for your gaming fix. That's where InnoGames comes in, with its series of free-to-play city-building, strategy, and RPG games for browser and mobile. There's something here for everyone, and it's tough to pick just one. If strategy is your thing, try Warlords of Aternum, Tribal Wars, or Tribal Wars 2. Miss the days of sinking hours into Civilization? Try Forge of Empires for a brilliant game that lets you guide your civilization through the eras.

And speaking of city-building, they definitely have you covered there. Grepolis is a Greek-skinned version of the concept, and Elvenar is a fantasy one. There's way more to do than just set your people to a task and come back an hour later to harvest, too. Join fellowships, trade with other players, work together in tournaments, or participate in events that last weeks at a time. These games are hugely flexible when it comes to a time commitment, and that makes them perfect for sneaking a bit of gaming into a busy schedule. Win!

DOTA 2

Welcome to DOTA 2. This free-to-play MOBA is the direct sequel to the popular Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft 3, which effectively created a new genre and more or less changed the gaming landscape forever. It might have a bit of a learning curve attached to its team-based action, but there's a whole lot of content for you to sink your teeth into, as well as over 100 heroes for you to "git gud" with. It might seem a bit daunting to start playing the game and jump into the multiplayer, but DOTA 2 does a fine job of helping you learn the game at your own pace and presenting everything in a clean, digestible format. Of course, anything goes and you could ganked forever online, but that's why practice is paramount. Give yourself time to adjust and you'll be wrecking noobs in no time!

Warframe

Aesthetically, there's no game quite like Warframe. In this free third-person shooter from Digital Extremes, players take control of the Tenno, which are ancient warriors that find themselves in an all-out brawl after waking from a cyrogenic slumber. While the gameplay is fun, one of the biggest draws of Warframe is its character designs: the Tenno are the coolest cyber ninjas ever. You'll be obsessed with optimizing your Tenno with gear and then taking them out to complete missions with other players. Whether or not you've ever had dreams of rolling (semi) deep with biomechanical ninjas, there's a certain appeal in wreaking havoc with both guns and kunai. If you have a PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One, just start playing already.

Heroes of the Storm

Here's another great, free-to-play MOBA, this time with all the trappings of Blizzard's greatest hits. In Heroes of the Storm, you'll engage in fantastic lane combat with heroes and villains from games like World of Warcraft, StarCraft, Overwatch, and classics like Lost Vikings. What sets Heroes apart from other MOBAs is the ease of play, which is facilitated by the fact that your team shares experience points. This means that every little thing that you do — taking out structures, farming minions, or hunting down enemy Heroes —helps your whole team. Because of this, you can expect games to last about 20 minutes, which is pretty fast for MOBA matches. With such speedy play times, you'll be able to get back into games and keep testing out all the available Heroes in the roster, with a rotation set of free Heroes every week.

Trove

Minecraft was massive, and if you ever wondered what it would be like to wander through your cubist world, slay dragons, and hunt for treasure, wonder no more — just check out Trove on Steam or PS4.

Trove is pretty epic when it comes to gameplay, and it's got all the world-building that made Minecraft so popular. Log in, and you can opt to spend your afternoon building your own house (and unlocking a mechanism to carry it with you), riding dragons through floating islands, heading into the big city, looking for hidden treasure, or battling it out with any number of foes. There's co-op and solo play, and so many characters to choose from you're guaranteed to be hooked. And yes, there are even dinosaurs.

World of Tanks

World of Tanks puts you into the dreaded treads of a tank as you fight for supremacy against other players. You might be used to vehicular warfare from games like the Battlefield series, but believe us when we say that you're not prepared for the nearly 400 vehicles in this free-to-play game. You can engage in game modes like random battles, team battles, and even stronghold battles with other players, all in light tanks, tank destroyers, heavy tanks, and other turreted terrors. If you're tired of running around in other games as an infantryman or just another grunt with a rifle, check out World of Tanks and see how it feels to play from within an iron monster that shakes the earth as it moves.

Smite

Just in case you wanted to get some more deities in your MOBA adventures, here's Smite, the god-filled game that puts you in control of mythological figures like Amaterasu, Loki, Terra, and more. It's a veritable who's who of pantheons, so fans of mythology will feel right at home as they do battle against gods and demigods alike. There are plenty of game modes available, so you can take your gods for a spin in 5v5 Conquest, a 3v3 Joust with just one lane, an ARAM (All Random, All Mid) game, and more. No matter what champions you pick, the action will look pretty epic as the gods come down the lanes unleashing their wrath upon each other. With so much content packed in this free game, you'll have plenty of things to do without offering anything tithes to the developers.

Wildstar

It's one of the most cartoonish-looking sci-fi MMORPGs out there. You'll be jonesing for some space opera-style adventures. Welcome to the wacky world of WildStar. The blend of science fiction and fantasy might be strange for some, but the aesthetic is definitely one of the selling points, and the gameplay makes you feel in complete control of your character. If you're the type of person who really lives inside the MMORPGs you play, you'll feel comfortable in WildStar thanks to its housing feature, which gives players their own homes with customizable "sockets" that can be outfitted with mines, workbenches, and other features. It's nice to have a home to come back to when you're not farming mobs or diving into dungeons with other players.

Fallout Shelter

If you're a fan of the post-apocalyptic mayhem in the Fallout universe and always wondered what it was like to keep a Vault going after the bombs fell, then Fallout Shelter might be the game for you. In this snack-sized management game, you're a Vault Overseer making sure your Vault runs smoothly and keeping all your dwellers happy and productive. You'll be in charge of setting up rooms that generate power, produce food, and purify water to keep your dwellers alive. This means you'll also have to put those dwellers to work, matching up their skills with the proper rooms to make sure there's maximum yield for all the resources you need. It's important to train everyone up and get them working in rooms they're suited for because you'll get attacked by raiders every now and then. But hey, keep everyone happy and well-armed, and you won't have any problems at all … unless Deathclaws come a-knockin'.

Atlas Reactor

PvP battle arena games can all feel a bit same-y after a while, but Atlas Reactor is a contender that's not just free-to-play, but a little different. Instead of taking your standard, boring old turns, the game forces players to make their decisions simultaneously, without knowing what the other competitors are doing. After confirming actions in Decision Mode, the game kicks everyone into Resolution Mode to see how everything shakes out.

If it sounds chaotic and bizarre, it is — and that's the point. Atlas Reactor has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam, and there are plenty of characters to choose from. You can buy those characters with real money or with in-game currency called Flux, which you earn just by playing. That's what you're going to do anyway, right?

Perchang

Rube Goldberg machines involve many individual pieces and elements that come together to complete a single task. In Perchang, a mobile title by Perchang Games, that task is to get the ball bearings in the hole. You'll control different elements of a machine, including fans and platforms that help guide a stream of balls into a hole. It sounds simple, but that's where the beauty of Perchang lies. It forces you to think logically while also infusing a bit of skill, since timing is a key factor in getting those balls to the end point. Because this game and its stages are free, you'll probably find yourself with your brow furrowed at your phone's screen, looking for a way to get a fan blowing a certain way or making a platform bounce balls at just the right angle. We hope you're good at physics or at least have reasonable spatial awareness. This game will need both, or just a lot of persistence.

Pokemon Go

Do we even have to explain why this game is fantastic? Niantic's Pokemon Go lets everyone with a phone indulge in their secret (or maybe not-so-secret) fantasy of becoming a Pokemon Trainer and catching Pokemon in the wild. With this game and its GPS features, you'll be catching Pikachus and Eevees everywhere you go, making you scramble to get to specific spawn areas and flicking your fingers up on your screen to toss Pokeballs. The inclusion of Pokestops that gift you with free items means that you'll be exploring places you probably never even thought to look at, all in the name of grabbing more free Pokeballs. And don't get us started on the rivalry of Teams Mystic, Valor, and Instinct. Pokemon Go is probably the closest we'll come to actually living in the world of Pokemon, so love every minute of it.

Elder Scrolls: Legends

Getting into a new strategy card game can be tough, and we're not just talking about the learning curve and the sheer number of cards. We're also talking about buying a ton of packs to get the good cards, and who can afford to do that? Fortunately, Elder Scrolls: Legends gets rid of all those concerns.

It's super-easy to learn (although it'll take you longer to get good at it), and if you're familiar with the Elder Scrolls lore, it'll be much easier to learn the cards. Finally, it's free-to-play, and there are tons of ways to get free packs. In 2017, Bethesda partnered with Twitch to offer free goodies to anyone who links their accounts, and you can get some seriously powerful cards that way. Plus, there's a bonus to nostalgia when you go back to places like Clockwork City and Skyrim, so how can you beat that?

Frozen Free Fall: Icy Shot

You're probably thinking, "Wait … a Frozen game?" But hear us out, because Frozen Free Fall: Icy Shot is kind of amazing in that it just might be the best version of Peggle you'll ever play. In this mobile game, you travel across the Kingdom of Arendelle and complete levels by firing balls at colored pegs until you hit all the red ones (or complete other objectives before clearing red pegs). It's so immensely satisfying to see your shots bounce around and get imbued with Elsa's cryomancer powers, turning them into multiple balls or even giant snowballs that can clear whole sections of pegs. The graphics and the gameplay make this game a must-have, regardless of whether you're a Disney fan. And if you think that maybe the game is lame because of the Disney Princess trappings, you'll have to let it go.

Planetside 2

If first-person shooters are more your speed, then maybe Planetside 2 is just the experience you want to have at the free-to-play cost you crave. In this shooter, you'll fight in large-scale battles to take control of huge territories on the planet of Auraxis. All the action is complemented with tons of unique weapons, vehicles, and tools to help you conquer your enemies. You can choose from a variety of classes, including Medic, Engineer, and Infiltrator. No matter what role you like to have in combat, Planetside 2 will make sure you get to feel like you're contributing to your faction, all with the low price of "free." You just have to decide whether you want to champion the spray-and-pray Terrans, the shotgun-happy New Conglomerate, or the spandex-wearing Vanu Sovereignty.

Blacklight Retribution

Continuing with the first-person goodness is Blacklight Retribution from Perfect World Entertainment. It's a direct sequel to Blacklight: Tango Down on PC and PlayStation 4, so it isn't as widely available as other free-to-play first-person shooters, but it'll still help players scratch the itch with game modes like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, a ticketed Domination mode, King of the Hill, and more, all wrapped up in a cyberpunk package. There's also a bevy of customization options so you can make yourself look like the terror you know you truly are. It may not be as flashy as Overwatch or as insanely competitive as the latest Call of Duty title, but Blacklight Retribution is free to play and available for you to conquer it as you see fit. There aren't too many games that will allow you to conquer newbies en masse for little to no cost, so jump into this one quick.

ArcheAge

You know what the gaming world needs more of? Pirates. There just aren't enough of them, and Trion World's ArcheAge is one of the biggest and best free options for anyone looking to get in on some swashbuckling action. It's a huge, open-world MMO where you can take to the seas, claim land, trade, loot, and even build your own nation. There's a catch, too. While a lot of MMOs use things like player housing to keep everyone happy, that's not the case in ArcheAge. There's a limited amount of land, so you'll have to fight for it.

There are some free-to-play restrictions, most of which boil down to land ownership. You can only own land if you cough up some real-world doubloons, but since there are public lands accessible to everyone, it won't break the game for you. Besides, what kind of pirate settles down and farms all day, anyway? Get out there!

Star Conflict

Star Conflict sounds a bit like Star Wars, and there's good reason for that. If you've ever watched Star Wars and wondered about the lives of all those elite pilots who rose to the heads of their squadrons, you'll need to take a look at this game. This action MMORPG for PC is set among the stars, predictably, where humankind has just discovered the ruins of an ancient alien civilization. You've headed out there to stake your claim, and it's by no means a simple, straightforward matter of flying the biggest and baddest starship in the galaxy. There are quests you pick up as you travel between a series of colonies, and along the way you can build entire ships, weapons, and funky gadgets to help you make a name for yourself. Go co-op or solo, PvP or PvE, help an alliance control huge sections of space, or just be a mercenary. Be Han Solo. (You were already thinking it.)

Lord of the Rings Online

In case you missed getting on board with Lord of the Rings Online when it came out way back in 2007, you should absolutely give it a try now. Not only have they finally opened Mordor with an expansion that adds hundreds of new quests and the chance to play as high elves, but the game is free-to-play … with some restrictions.

You won't be getting all the stuff a VIP player might, but there's so much to this beast of a game it doesn't really matter. High-end stuff can be purchased with in-game currency called Turbine Points, which you can earn by playing. Some aspects of the game — like chat, auction listings, and storage — are minimal but not completely off-limits, so it's more like you could pay for perks rather than be penalized for playing for free. Systems that usually get restricted for free players in other games (like crafting tiers, housing, and mail) are unlocked, so if you've ever wanted to know what it's like to have furry Hobbit feet, give this one a shot.

Realm of the Mad God

Here's the thing about starting a new MMORPG. There's a ton of stuff to learn. Even if you know the basics, figuring out how to play well enough to enjoy the game — and not sell those key items you're going to need later — is daunting. That's part of the beauty of Realm of the Mad God, an arcade-style PC MMO reminiscent of classics like Gauntlet. Not only is it free, but it's addicting in simplicity. Even the story is simple: You've been summoned into a mad god's realm (surprise) and he's going to feed you to his monsters. You venture out from safety, kill stuff, get loot.

There's no PvP, and everyone's basically trying to keep from becoming Mad God Minion-Food. The class system is a bit different, too. You're forced to start as a wizard, but the more you play, the more classes you unlock. You can hook up with random groups without the commitment of a guild, and play without feeling like you need to set aside a 4-hour chunk of time to get anything accomplished.

Deceit

Deceit is one of those titles you've probably seen pop up on Steam but maybe never looked at. You absolutely should look at it because it's brilliant.

You and five others wake up in an asylum. Some of you have been infected with a virus, some of you haven't. Infected players can transform into a zombie-like nightmare in the darkness, and their entire goal is to hunt the healthy players. At the same time you're not sure who's infected and who's not, you have to find your like-minded group and survive. The entire layout has been created with the goal of creating tension and not a little bit of chaos as players try to hide what they really are and sabotage everyone else. It's an awesome twist on a FPS that'll keep you guessing … and playing again.

Slither.io

Let's talk a bit of retro gaming with Slither.io. It's a free game you can play in your browser, and whether you've got a 15-minute break from work or a few free hours, this will fill that hole. Trust us.

It's incredibly simple and incredibly addicting, especially if you remember spending hours plunking quarters into some of the old-timey arcade games down at the local pizza place. In Slither.io, you're a snake, and you're tasked with slithering around on the screen and eating dot food. The dots make you larger, and … that's pretty much it. There's a certain type of gamer who takes that as a personal challenge, though, and if that's you, you can spend hours gobbling dots and dodging other players. And there are always other players because as we said: addicting.

League of Legends

There are few free-to-play games as important as League of Legends. It seems as if everyone nowadays has played the popular MOBA, with fans ranging from fledgling preteen gamers to older adults who have discovered the magic of working with a team to shut down one's opponents, conquer lanes, and feed on the weak. In the years since its arrival, League of Legends has spawned an amazing competitive scene that gets people religiously watching Twitch streams, discussing their favorite teams, and trying to practice so they can reach the upper echelon. There are always great new champs coming down the chute, so the game often gets a refresher, especially as team compositions change with the new additions. And don't get us started on all of the great skins. League might put a carrot on a stick, but at least you'll be chasing it without having to spend a dime.

Hearthstone

Trading card game aficionados are already used to being able to take their gaming on the go, but Hearthstone lets them feed their obsession without the need for deck boxes. This PC and mobile title from Blizzard is flavored with the lore from the Warcraft universe and features gameplay designed to keep the action going, making sure that players get resources to play their cards every turn. While there are plenty of expansions and adventurers you can purchase, you're still always welcome to play the game for free, finding worthy opponents and smashing their decks into the ground. What's even better is that there are weekly Tavern Brawls that always feature new, wacky formats that keep the game fun.

Neverwinter

Are you a role-playing fanatic who can't always coordinate schedules with your Dungeons & Dragons group? Well, why not stay at home and download Neverwinter on your PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One? This free-to-play game puts you into the boots of an adventurer who gets wrapped up in all the intrigue of Neverwinter, a magnificent city in the Forgotten Realms of D&D. Whatever class/race combo you pick, you can expect some action-oriented gameplay that will have you dungeon-crawling all day long. The graphics are great, the gameplay is addictive, and the combat really makes you feel like an adventurer who's unleashing powerful spells and attacks that rock enemies to their core. If you've got the RPG itch, then this is the best thing to scratch it, short of rolling dice with pen and paper.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Want to fulfill that dream of becoming a Jedi Knight or a roguish smuggler? Download Star Wars: The Old Republic and find out just how satisfying it can be to use the Force to conquer all kinds of seedy criminal types. Since becoming a free-to-play game, The Old Republic feels as welcoming as ever and will get you adventuring through the galaxy without spending all your Republic Dataries. You can choose whether you want to become a champion of the Republic or an agent of the evil Galactic Empire, with classes like the Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, and Sith Inquisitor available for your consumption. Each class feels unique and full of that classic Star Wars flavor, so try out the game and carve out your destiny in the galaxy, with or without a lightsaber.

Paragon

Paragon might seem like just another MOBA except for one little thing: it's a third-person, over-the-shoulder MOBA. Instead of the top-down perspective with a bunch of pointing and clicking, you play Paragon like any other action game and follow your character behind, able to control where they go freely. Their actions are performed in real-time, so you're in complete control of when they pop their ultimate skills in the middle of a team fight. It's certainly a unique experience to traipse around a battleground with multiple lanes and multi-tiered areas in the middle, but it's fun and will feel familiar to any MOBA player. The characters are all quirky and unique in their designs, so half the fun is unlocking them and seeing how well they do in battle. Because you'll likely sink a lot of time into this game, you'd better grab a comfy chair.