Video games are expensive. This is especially true nowadays with practically any new game hitting a $60 price tag. So if you want to build even the smallest of libraries, you might well be spending over $300. This is why certain platforms, such as Steam have become so popular with their incredible sales that will let you build a formidable library at a very reasonable price. Nonetheless, for many, the aspect of paying any money at all is too much. That’s why free-to-play games (technically you’re still paying for your own Internet, but this is as close to free we can get) are the best things in the world. Back in the early 2000’s most free games you could find were essentially little flash games that were addicting, but never really too in depth. In 2017, there are a host of free-to-play games with massive worlds that are rich with lore.
10. Fallout Shelter
- System: iOS, PC, Xbox One, PC, Xbox One
- Publisher: Bethesda Softwork
- Developer: Bethesda Softwork
- Release Date: Jun. 14, 2015
Fallout Shelter is a spin-off series from Bethesda’s infamous Fallout series, where you are put in charge of managing your very own Vault. It is a free-to-play simulation game and thus your role is to move about your little community and guide and direct the citizens that inhabit the Vault.
The gameplay in and of itself is pretty enjoyable in Fallout Shelter. In order to survive, you will need to manage your resources (food, water, and electricity) wisely. The management of such resources has a lot of factors, with one of the most enjoyable being population size, because in order to grow your population, you can either wait for people from the wasteland to find your shelter or you can pair up male and female citizens.
However, what puts the game above and beyond is how well it captures the main series lore with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. This vibe is created with the playful graphics as well as the humorous dialogue and events that can ensue when you are not taking proper care of your citizens.
9. Path of Exile
- System: PC
- Publisher: Grinding Gear Games
- Developer: Grinding Gear Games
- Release Date: Jan. 25, 2013
Path of Exile is an online ARPG that takes a lot of hints from Diablo II. It puts us in a land that used to be one of the greatest empires, but is now a penal colony for criminals and vagabonds. Now you must make your way through this dangerous land and discover the secrets that led to the earlier civilization’s fall.
Path of Exile is one of the free-to-play games that will honestly surprise you. You will play it and immediately wonder why and how it’s free. It is a complete ARPG, with a lot of nice aspects that people would have gladly shelled out some cash for. It initially offers six unique classes, which allows you to customize your play style quite nicely. Outside of the main city hubs, the outside environments are randomly generated and give each outing a certain x factor that helps increase the game’s replay value. Oh, and the story is quite deep and will give you something to dive into for some time.
- System: PS4, PC, Xbox One, PC, Xbox One
- Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
- Developer: Cryptic Studios
- Release Date: Jul. 19, 2016
As a free-to-play MMO, Neverwinter throws players into the huge world of Dungeon & Dragons. While trekking the environments, you can form groups of up to five players. The focus of the world is the city of Neverwinter after the city has suffered from the disastrous Spellplague (worldwide) and the attack of a primordial fire element (specific to the city). Now, the city is dealing with an undead problem. For more background, definitely check out R.A. Salvatore’s Gauntlgrym, Neverwinter, and Charon’s Claw (novels).
What is so fun and addicting about Neverwinter is how much lore from the Dungeon & Dragons universe is incorporated in every aspect of the game. From the get go we are hearing rumors about the presence of two huge characters, Drizz’t Do’Urden and Barrabus The Grey (who are both creations by R.A. Salvatore, with each having a huge fanbase). It is this type of lore that really helps push forward the story and makes you want to invest your time in the game. There’s also the unique gameplay mechanics that follow D&D’s 4th edition rules, which includes healing powers and action points, and makes you think about each move you’re about to make. Overall, you can tell that the creators made sure to make you feel like you are on a adventure.
7. Lord of The Rings Online
- System: PC
- Publisher: Midway
- Developer: Turbine Inc.
- Release Date: Apr. 24, 2007
Lord of The Rings Online is a free-to-play MMORPG that launched in 2007 and has been going strong since with regular updates (also free) and five expansion packs (sadly not free). Based in the LotR universe, the game actually starts players off with Frodo as they leave the Shire to undergo the journey of the rig. With all of the updates, players can currently undergo events that happened in the Return of the King.
Is it hard to understand why Lord of The Rings Online made its way onto the list? It incorporates one of the most beloved fantasy worlds that has ever been created. People love LotR. They love the books or they love the movies, and now they can moreso than ever partake within the world they love so much. Thanks to LotR Online, people can really jump into a fantasy world unlike any other and roam and battle and explore and interact with places and characters in a manner that they could only imagine a couple decades ago.
6. Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2)
- System: PC
- Publisher: Valve Software
- Developer: Valve Software
- Release Date: Jul. 9, 2013
The DotA series holds a special place in those who love things that are free and those who love Warcraft. This is because the first game was actually a community-created for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (and its expansion Frozen Throne). In both Defense of the Ancients and its sequel, the matches are set with two teams of five players facing off against one another, with each team needing to defend their own base. You will see similar game premise just a little bit further down on this list.
The focus will be on Dota 2 as the game was simply cleaner, but in reality the aspects that set this game apart from the rest were also part of the original DotA. What really makes this game so special is that it seamlessly inputs the greatest points of lore within the main game into a multiplayer experience. However, if you haven’t played Warcraft III, you will still find the gameplay addicting and thrilling, especially with all the special skills and unique character traits.
5. World of Tanks
- System: Xbox 360, PC, Xbox One, PS4 360, PC, Xbox One, PS4
- Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
- Developer: Wargaming.net
- Release Date: August 12, 2014
World of Tanks is one of those MMO video games that you simply have to play, and you really have no excuse not to, because it is a free-to-play game. It revolves around PVP as you control either a light, medium, or heavy tank; tank destroyer; or self-propelled gun. Though this game started out on Xbox 360, it has made its way to practically every major platform.
The level of detail in this game is one of the aspects that so many people fall in love with. The portrayals of the tanks actually resemble their real-life counterparts, which not only creates a particularly pretty game, but gives history and war buffs something to really sink their teeth into. Another aspect of this free-to-play game that makes it so addicting is the variety of game modes it presents. You can go for random battles, team-training battles, tank-company battles, team battles, stronghold battles, and special battles. These modes give the video game a particular amount of re-playability.
4. Team Fortress 2
- System: PC
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: Valve Software
- Release Date: Apr. 8, 2008
The Team Fortress series is the best free-to-play, multiplayer FPS games out there, and that’s that. Its premise is that two brothers are having a feud and so they hire teams of mercenaries to destroy the assets of the other brother. What a loving family.
Team Fortress 2 is by far the most polished of the series and is extremely addicting for numerous reasons. First off, the characters have ridiculously fun designs (which fit their classes/personalities). this allows not only for people to become attached to a character, but has also created a certain community-created lore behind the personalities of each character. Speaking of characters, this is one of the few FPS games where actually having a balanced mix of playing styles (support/healing/sniper/tank) matters, so choose your character wisely. Then there is the fact that each map has its own specific objectives, which makes intimacy with maps extremely important. Oh, and then there’s the fact that PC matches can hold up tot 32 players! That is a ridiculous number and allows for truly hectic and addicting gameplay.
3. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
- System: PC
- Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release Date: Mar. 11, 2014
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, otherwise known as simply Hearthstone, is a collectible card video game that pits two players against each other in turn-based combat. Each player gets to use their own customized deck that has at its helm a hero with a unique power.
Hearthstone makes its way onto this list for two particular reasons. First, out of all the online card games, Hearthstone’s required strategy is one of the best. Yes luck, does play a role (believe in the heart of the cards), but this isn’t one of those card games where luck can easily outweigh proper planning. The second reason why Hearthstone earns a spot on this list is because it accurately and uniquely captures the lore of Warcraft in an extremely addictive manner. There is just something particular about having a hero in card format that brings out the heart of a collector.
2. Star Wars: The Old Republic
- System: PC
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: BioWare
- Release Date: Dec. 20, 2011
Star Wars: The Old Republic has one of the deepest stories out there. It takes place in the Star Wars universe at a point in time, 3,600 years before the movies, where a strained peace has been established between the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic. The Jedi have been held responsible for the Sith Empire’s re-emergence as a galactic force, and so have been in essence relocated and held at arms length from other factions. All in all, the Sith Empire is on the rise and the Galactic Republic and the Jedi are doing everything they can to prevent the Sith Empire from expanding.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the older free-to-play games on this list and yet it is one of the best. The only reason why this game is actually not number one on the list is because it initially required a monthly fee to pay. SHAME. Nonetheless, it’s free now and though not as glorious as when it first began, it does provide a lot of entertainment.
First, you can actually choose to fight for the Sith Empire. Allowing the player to actually fight for the dark side was pretty big when the game first came out, You can also choose from a wide range of species to customize your looks as well as choose from a range of play styles (ranged/melee/support/tank/etc). Oh, and your choices actually affect the way the world changes. Your responses will actually open/close storylines and change the way NPCs react to you. Thank you, Bioware, for being so thorough.
1. League of Legends
- System: PC
- Publisher: Riot Games
- Developer: Riot Games
- Release Date: Oct. 27, 2009
League of Legends came out in 2009, and it is an extremely unique multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA). In this game, you act as essentially an “unseen” summoner who takes the form of a mystical hero. The goal of each game is for you and your teammates to destroy the enemy’s nexus.
The actual set up is pretty standard, but League of Legends has won over millions of fans thanks to its extremely diverse and exciting cast of characters. From the magician role of the fox goddess Ahri to the brute strength of Volibear, League of Legends constructs gorgeous character designs and classes. The toughest part of the game for most newcomers is simply choosing a favorite character to really develop. They all have such unique skills, which allows for a range of combat styles. This is another selling point for the game, as you do need to be strategic and you do need to consider that the unexpected can happen.
It is important to note that one of the reasons each of these games have made it so big and continue to work wonders is that they have garnered a huge amount of online support. This means that for most of these games a large player pool is essential for the game to be fun. It is by having such a community that the game’s lore is able to spread out into different territory. Also, community-created content and mods (which these games have plenty of) really help keep the spirit of the game alive and add a lot of replay value. Now are there any free-to-play games that you love and wish were on the list?