Games are expensive, and money doesn't grow on trees. Taken together, these two little facts provide a grim reality for those of us on a budget, as it's never fun nor easy to cough up £40/$60 on average for every big new release. So when a great, free PS4 game comes along, it's something that shouldn't be passed up, especially when they can be just as enjoyable and satisfying as the big-budget titles.
The free PS4 games we've selected below aren't just any old flotsam found floating across the PlayStation Store; they're all an example of free-to-play done right, demonstrating a respect for your time and money with great experiences with no entry barriers whatsoever. Whether you're sinking time as an Overseer in Fallout Shelter or enjoying life as a space ninja in Warframe, these are the best free PS4 games to download and play right now.
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Fortnite Battle Royale
Fortnite Battle Royale is probably the hottest, free multiplayer game right now, and for good reason. Taking Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds’ basis of a vast, 100 player, last-man-standing shooter as its starting point, and then evolving it with natty, on-the-fly, tactical construction, Battle Royale is an instantly accessible hoot with serious long-term depth. Parachuting into a huge, open-world island map – initially completely unarmed and entirely devoid of supplies – the opening minutes of any match are a giddy, tense scramble as you attempt to glide to a spot free of competition (but hopefully bountiful of resources), search for a weapon, and quickly smash up the environment in a bid to accrue a few of the building resources you’ll need as things heat up. As the map boundaries close in, player numbers dwindle, and base structures become ever more elaborate, a different kind of tension ramps, as the game’s demands dynamically evolve. It’s an unpredictable joy every time, and with developer Epic updating Battle Royale at a heady pace, one that’s only going to grow over the coming months.
Forget PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Actually, forget that instruction. No-one remembers PlayStation All-Stars. Sony’s mascot-touting, Smash Bros. ‘homage’ made a splash akin to a pea in the Pacific back in 2012, and the light, breezy, platform-brawler fighting game genre has (mostly) remained the sole preserve of Nintendo ever since. But no longer! A decidedly slick, accomplished, and even slightly more energetic take on the Smash formula, Brawlhalla presents a nonsensically eclectic cast of mythical and historical warrior archetypes – taking in Valkyries, Vikings, medieval knights, and er, ‘30s gangsters – and lets you go wild. With an increased focus on empowered air-control, and bigger scope for epic, high-flying ‘off-stage’ duels, Brawlhalla also does a good job of standing (somewhat) distinct from it inspiration. And its free-to-play model is rather friendly too, offering a limited selection of the character roster on free rotation, with earned in-game currency or real money buying the rest.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
You might have missed out on Life is Strange and its prequel Life is Strange: Before the Storm till now, claiming "insignificant funds" as an excuse to miss out on Dontnod's excellent interactive adventures, but with The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, there's nowhere left to hide. A totally free, bite-size chunk of Life is Strange gameplay, as well as a precursor to the first game's official sequel, this two hour trip inside the mind of endearing seven year old Chris is a delight from beginning to end. It's not the longest game in the world, but then again, you won't have to pay a thing, and not a single minute spent with the imaginative youngster is wasted when he's such an empathetic and loveable presence. It's the perfect gateway drug to the wonderful world of Arcadia Bay.
Part third-person action game, part competitive shooter, part RPG, part co-operative PvP team game, Smite takes the loose spirit of the MOBA and turns the genre in an entirely more immediate direction. You’ll earn gold and experience with which to level and enhance your character’s power and abilities, but – much like in something like Destiny – the RPG numbers mean nothing if your action skills and combat strategy aren’t up to standard. Not that this s just about instinctive twitch play. With a current line-up of 93 playable hero deities covering ranged and melee archetypes (with separate magical and physical combat types), spread over five distinct classes, there’s a huge amount of tactical team play to get stuck into. The free-to-play model is pretty damn pleasant, too. You get five permanent gods for free when you start, and five more will cycle into the roster on a weekly basis. From then on you can buy or rent your chosen champions as you go, or pay for the full package and get access to every one that’s been released, and every one that ever will be.
Let it Die
A hectic, borderline-sadistic hack-and-slash, you should only play Let it Die if you have a penchant for getting your ass handed to you. Or thrown over the other side of the room as one of its many insane bosses rips you in half in ways you didn’t know existed. No, I’m not going to compare it to that game about darkness and souls. Grinding your way through its many levels, you’ll have to beat boss after boss to make it all the way to the top of a tower that’s mysteriously risen up through the earth. On your way you’ll meet characters that look like someone pitched them based on random word combinations. The most memorable by far is the skateboarding Uncle Death. Who wears spiral sunglasses and biker boots. He’s… interesting. There is a slim monetisation aspect to Let it Die, but you get a ton of ‘death metals’, its currency of choice (*metal horns gesture*), thrown at you after completing special events so you don’t have to drain your wallet to play. Plus each time you die your player will appear in someone else’s game as an additional enemy. So we promise all those deaths mean something. Promise.
DC Universe Online
Imagine having the whole pantheon of DC comics at your fingertips, where superheroes saunter through city streets without fear of prejudice and adventure lies around every corner. That's DC Universe Online in a nutshell; a battle-tested MMO in which players create their own superhero and battle it out in a sprawling multiplayer landscape inspired by the comic books that brought us Bats, Supes, and all the rest.
The game's over seven years old, so its visual oomph isn't as impressive at it once was, but developer Daybreak Game Company has been so committed to enriching the game with new updates and content since launch that it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer breadth of gameplay available for free. A must play for DC fans, and definitely something to try out for those on a budget, DC Universe Online is a super sized corker of a free product.
H1Z1: Battle Royale
Even after several years in active development, H1Z1 still doesn't run quite as smoothly as we'd like it to, but we can hardly complain now that Daybreak Games has brought its Battle Royale mode to PlayStation 4, completely free of charge. Less harebrained than Fortnite but more arcade-like than PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, H1Z1 hits comfortably straddles the middle ground of the genre with a battle royale experience that's both competitive but accessible.
The weapons and vehicles are varied and easy to use, and the PC's Auto Royale mode is said to be on way to PS4, which is basically battle royale, but cars. Better yet, you don't even need a PS Plus subscription to enjoy the exclusively online firefights, and Daybreak appears to be as equally generous as Epic in terms of updating the game with new updates and content week on week.
PlayStation’s attempt at Minecraft feels a little more like Dragon Quest Builders, with hours of building fun in store. In between bouts of piecing together your house/castle/lair of choice in Trove there are vastly different landscapes to be explored. Yes, there’s the usual forest, desert, and arctic sections. Scattered into the mix is also a bright pink, saccharine-sweet candy realm, and a futuristic tron-like world with high-tech enemies. Slashing your way through levels of each dungeon is surprisingly tough at points, yet it gradually gets easier. Each boss drops a variety of weapons and masks, which you can equip to give yourself some skill boosts. Perhaps you think you can guess what kind of characters you’ll be playing. No offence, but you’re probably incorrect. Choose between Chloromancers who control the plants that spring from the ground to deadly effect, or a Candy Barbarian who gives the phrase ‘sugar rush’ a whole new meaning.
Cyberninjas. Does that word alone not sell you on Warframe instantly? With your main aims being assassination, looting, and trying out as many frames as possible, at first the amount to do is intimidating. You see, ‘frames’ are loadouts (in the form of different sets of armour) that determine your abilities, and therefore your playstyle. To amass different frames to try you’ll first need blueprints, which will be splurged out of bosses you defeat. Use these to buy the frame you’ve got your eye on. One will be able to teleport, another will be able to summon a frost nova or a sonic boom. Encouraging you to play the game however you want and try out new approaches, it helps that each frame has an eye-catching design for you to yearn after. It’s outperformed usual free-to-play expectations by making it entirely possible to get to a high level of expertise without paying a single penny, though expect to grind quite a bit in the process. With over 26 million users, there’s a very active community to play too.
After years of thriving on mobile devices, Bethesda took to its E3 2018 stage to announce that Fallout Shelter would be hitting the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch consoles for free, no strings attached whatsoever. The vault management spin-off to the studio's acclaimed RPG franchise is definitely more of a mobile game than anything else, but its crafted with such dedication and whimsy by Bethesda that the translation to PlayStation 4 feels completely natural.
If you're willing to be patient, you can also completely ignore Fallout Shelter's microtransactions, which are mainly there to speed up wait times of questing beyond the vault. Before you know it, you'll be addicted to overseeing your subterranean commune, building new structures, cranking out resources, and micro-managing the populace like all the great post-apocalyptic dictators of past, present, and future.
Lone wolves, step away. Those who yearn to be part of something bigger, to have brothers-in-arms shooting by your side, step up to the plate. The raucously hectic FPS Planetside 2 has you join one of three factions and battle for domination of the planet Auraxis by using foot soldiers, monstrously huge vehicles and air support. The premise will be familiar to anyone who’s played an online FPS match. Each outpost you conquer and retain gives your team extra resources and limits the spawning options open to your enemies. You can only capture outposts that are near ones you’ve already claimed, so there’s no voyaging deep into enemy territory where you’ll become over-familiar with bullets in various body parts. There’s just the right amount of direction to keep Planetside 2 from becoming overwhelming, so it’s ready and waiting any time you want a bit of free sci-fi FPS action.
Want more? Check out all the best deals on PS4 controllers... because you may need a new one pretty soon, with all these free games.