Put your wallet away
You don't have to have money coming out of your ears to afford a respectable game library. There are plenty of console and mobile games available to play for the low, low price of free. While most do give you an opportunity to spend your hard-earned cash into them, many give you hours or entertainment without having to pay a thing unless you want a fancy hat or additional fighting characters. We've rounded up the 25 best free games available on consoles right now which amount to a hefty list of got shooters, fighting games, driving games, 2D platformers, and, yes, a handful MMORPGs (but you'd be better off checking out our complete list of best free MMORPGs).
25. Battle Islands
Battle Islands is probably the cutest depiction of WWII-era Pacific Theater warfare you'll ever see. The RTS puts you in command of US forces as you attempt to build your military might and conquer as many islands as possible. It plays like most classic RTS titles, requiring you to gather rare resources, build strategic bases, and amass an army of tanks, troops, and aircraft. With a challenging single-player campaign and online multiplayer matches, Battle Islands has everything you'd want in a strategy game - all wrapped up in an adorable, cartoony package.
24. Tekken Revolution
We never thought we'd see the day fighting games became free-to-play, but Tekken Revolution on the PS3 has broken down the doors on that concept. On the outset its basically a Tekken arcade mode: pick a character, fight either A.I. or online opponents, rinse and repeat. However, the coin system only allows for a certain amount of plays at a time, regenerating after a period of time, and characters can be upgraded by collecting skill points, which can then boost stats like power (strength), endurance (defense), and Vigor (affects critical hit percentages). Its limited Tekken, but its still Tekken, and its free Tekken to boot. This is the perfect way to get a small taste of Tekken if that's all you're looking for.
23. APB Reloaded
The cops vs. criminals shooter APB Reloaded has gone slightly mad since launch. You show up for the shooting, which is competent and competitive, but stay for the lunacy of watching characters dressed up in all kinds of crazy outfits charging around the city. The way combat works is fantastic--you choose to be either cop or criminal and gain notoriety based on your actions within the MMO-sized city. Become well-known, and more opposing players will try to attack you because theyll get a larger reward for taking you down.
22. AirMech Arena
AirMech Arena blends real-time strategy elements with the competitive MOBA framework. You take control of your Transformers-esque, aircraft-to-mech hero unit with the goal of constructing a base, building an army with a multitude of tanks and foot soldiers, then sending them off to destroy your enemy's fortifications. Whether you're taking on AI opponents or online players, winning a match becomes a balancing act between building up your units and reinforcements or just wading into the battle yourself with your almighty AirMech.
21. Blacklight: Retribution
Take the highly popular Call of Duty multiplayer model, chop it out, and turn it into its own game, and you have Blacklight: Retribution in a nutshell. All of the main game modes are here, including Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Domination, and more. Thats not to say that this game does nothing original; the HRV mechanic that shows a player everything from weak points in a wall to the location of the enemy is interesting--but you can't shoot while it's in use, making it very dangerous. Also, in-game weapons depots allow for mid-match upgrading, so a bad loadout choice wont always be a death sentence. Best of all, it costs nothing to jump in, so shooter fans on PC or PS4 should give it a whirl.
20. War Thunder
World of Warplanes isn't the only game to feature some serious dogfighting. War Thunder also controls the skies with its massive open-air battles and dozens of selectable planes. Along with the multiplayer options, War Thunder offers a few things for the individual player to enjoy, like solo missions and dynamic campaigns. Best of all, future updates boast that War Thunder will allow us to fight by land and sea in addition to the air we already know. Wargaming took two games (and a third on the way) to give us these options; War Thunder hopes to do it in one stop. The World of Tanks and Warplanes have some real competition here.
19. Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters
The Core Fighters version of Dead or Alive 5 Last Round is a free taste of the 3D fighter that's available on the PS4 and Xbox One. In Core Fighters, you only get access to four characters, but just about every game mode is open to let you train up. Downloading the free version is an easy way to test out the game, and if you end up getting hooked, you can expand your options as you like by purchasing additional characters and extra features.
18. Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct made its triumphant return to the gaming world when the Xbox One launched, but it eschewed the normal fighting game format in favor of something entirely new. You can download KI right now and play to your hearts content, though you'll only have one character available to you. That may sound like a drag, but it doesn't stop you from getting a taste of what the new KI is all about--and once you see the wicked combos and crazy fighting action the game is capable of, we think that's all you'll need. Plus, Jago is pretty awesome, so its not like you're getting stuck with a bad character, either.
17. Robot Unicorn Attack
Do not underestimate Robot Unicorn Attack. The ingredients are all wrong--colorful, sugar-rush worlds, a looping electro soundtrack, and the limited appeal of an endless running game--and yet this is one of the best games you'll find on Android or iOS. After just one go, you'll be enraptured by its catchy presentation and moreish gameplay for hours. It'll get its hooks in you. And the best part is that there are loads of different variants, including a Heavy Metal version.
16. Hustle Kings
This exclusive PS3 title just recently made its way over to the PS4 for the price of free. In Hustle Kings, you play a straightforward game of pool, without any of video-gamey frills like powershots or special trick moves. Think of it as a pool simulator with realistic ball and shot physics that real pool sharks should enjoy. The free version of the game allows you to take on other players online in a standard game of 8-ball, but if you want to play any couch co-op or dig into additional game types, you'll have to buy in to the Exhibition packs.
15. Happy Wars
Maybe you don't own a PS3 or a gaming PC, but still want a piece of the free-to-play pie. Luckily for you, the 360 has Happy Wars, a third-person online battler with a heavy emphasis on teamwork. The objective in each game is to storm your opponents fortress, using different classes of soldier, and combat--although quite pedestrian--is frantic. You get a decent wedge of game for free, but expect to feel somewhat inadequate next to higher-level players, who have likely coughed up a little cash.
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 from almost every religion and faith. 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, its 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.
13. Gotham City Impostors
Six-vs-six multiplayer shooter Gotham City Imposters is free for you--high-fives all round! Its an odd use of the Batman license, pitting Dark Knight wannabes against criminals imitating the Joker, but the great use of gadgets elevates the action above 'Call of Duty in fancy dress.' Mid-game challenges keep things fresh too, offering the chance to unlock rewards by doing more than just killing enemies.
This third-person shooter has the art style of Team Fortress and the crass humor of a high-school teenager. It's violent, bloody, and has one of the most expansive weapon customization systems you can get in a shooter. As you blast your way through Loadout's character progression system - which unlocks bizarre player skins and wacky costumes - you earn weapon parts that include swappable barrels, magazines, triggers, and scopes. Mix and match to create anything you want, including an ally-healing rocket launcher, spiked-ball-shooting machine gun, or an electro-charged grenade launcher.
11. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
If you grew up playing collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, then Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a mobile game you should be looking into. Hearthstone takes the basic Magic formula: accumulating mana, using it to summon creatures or cast spells, and so forth. But Hearthstone makes it even simpler, removing the land mechanic of Magic in favor of granting one additional mana 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 lands. We've played many a game of Hearthstone around the office, and we still cant get enough of these cards.
Think mech games are slow and boring? Well, yes, most of them are but not Hawken. Here they move at a frightening pace and come bristling with a decent variety of weapons and gadgets to help you smash your human opponents into scrap. Its essentially a first-person shooter with a focus on customising your mech to suit whatever playstyle you choose. The developers recently added taunts too, so you can belittle enemies at the press of a key instead of awkwardly trying to tea-bag them from inside a 100ft killing machine.
9. World of Tanks
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 pimping out 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 its ideal for older players looking to inflict violence at a more considered pace.
When Crytek announced they were going free-to-play, eyebrows were raised. These are the guys who gave us Crysis, the series that continues to mock the pathetic attempts of gaming rigs to actually run it. Warface is far less beautiful than Crysis, but no less ambitious. It's both a multiplayer and co-op shooter, set in the future, and you can apply for a Beta key now. While it doesn't offer anything truly unique, the shooting is excellent, it looks amazing, and it's got some incredibly smart map design.
7. Pinball FX 2 / Zen Pinball 2
These virtual pinball hubs (which are identical in all but name, depending on which platform you're playing them on) are much more than just digitized version of the classic arcade tables. All of the normal pinball-on-bumper physics apply, so anyone accustomed to the real thing will feel right at home - but the layouts have complexities and surprises that wouldn't be possible in an actual machine. You can also download a plethora of themed tables from a variety of video game and pop culture franchises, including Star Wars, Plants vs. Zombies, and South Park. Those will cost you a small fee, but you can get started with the excellent Sorcerer's Lair table just for downloading the game, and there are free demos for each additional table.
6. Powerstar Golf
Powerstar Golf is now free-to-play on Xbox One, giving you a chance to test your driving and chip-in skills on some picturesque 18-hole courses. This cartoony game of links has all of the features and gameplay elements you'd expect from a golf title, including Match and Stoke game modes and a variety of fictitious golfers to choose from. Each character has a special power they can use to improve their game like power shots and the ability to split one ball into five. You earn experience as you progress which can be used to purchase new gear, but if you want to play on additional courses or try out new characters, you'll have to drop some money.
5. Cave Story
Cave Story's roots can be traced to a freeware version available to everyone online. The game became so popular that indie dev Nicalis took notice, offering to port the game to WiiWare/DSiWare and Steam before creating an upgraded 3D version soon after. There has to be a reason that Nicalis would take the plunge on a game like this, right? Its because the original Cave Story hearkens back to the days of the original Metroid with stellar platforming and a robust weapons system. The sheer fun of this game cannot be ignored, so go and see for yourself why Cave Story was cool enough to graduate to the console world.
This free-to-play MMO has two big factors pulling in its favor: one, its based on the incredible Neverwinter series of PC games, including Neverwinter Nights; and two, Neverwinter as a whole is based on the Dungeons and Dragons name, specifically a modified version of the D&D 4th Edition rules, and we dont need to tell you how influential D&D can be. Even without the strong lore background, Neverwinter is an enjoyable MMO with six strong classes to choose from and a ton of quests to complete. Longtime D&D fans whove been aching for a new video game to whet their appetite need look no further than Neverwinter.
3. DC Universe Online
Quite simply, DC Universe Online is the one of the most entertaining free-to-play experiences you can have on console. It's been kicking around on PS3 for a few years, and despite a rocky start, its now a fully fledged MMORPG with a huge roster of super-heroes and villains. It comes with a hefty initial download, which takes especially long if you're squeezing the game through PSN (its also available on PC), but after that you get stacks of game for free, and some of the downloadable paid-for content has an incredible value.
2. Planetside 2
This is the daddy of free-to-play shooters--its staggering how much game you get for free in Planetside 2. Maps are vast, there are three different factions, and you get hundreds of players stuffed onto the servers during most games. In fact, we recommend either taking a friend with you or learning about the game before you begin, because there's so much to understand here. Progression can be slow if you don't hand over some cash, but the starting weaponry is decent enough to give you a fighting chance in any skirmish, so you can be competitive from the start.
When the PS4 launched, most early adopters were focused on games like Killzone, Call of Duty, and Battlefield. The more adventurous, however, saw Warframe available for free and thought, "Why not try it?" We'd wager that a good chunk of those who took the plunge are still venturing into Warframe's futuristic world, powering up their Tenno warriors and battling the alien scourge in teams of four. The game is highly addictive, especially in groups, and the amount of upgrades attainable without spending a dime on platinum (Warframe's premium currency) is astounding. This is one free-to-play war we love waging.