The best free PS5 games come in all shapes and sizes. Some drop us into cartoon worlds and task us with fighting scores of players to the death against the clock. Others transport us to far-flung sci-fi realms, where keeping up with convoluted lore is as important as shooting everything in sight. Some others blend soccer with racing in a hybrid, breakneck sport that probably shouldn’t work but somehow totally does. The only question is: are those vehicles tiny, or is that ball really, really big? Who really knows. What is more clear is that the best free PS5 games have something for everyone, and while many include in-game microtransactions, playing without spending a penny is entirely feasible too.
Here are some of the best free PS5 games to keep you busy until payday.
Call of Duty Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone burst onto the battle royale scene in March of 2020, and quickly accrued over 30 million players less than a month later. Talk about hitting the ground running. With myriad loadouts, several seasons and umpteen themed events under its gun belt already, things have only gotten bigger and bigger for the free-to-play shooter spin-off, and they hardly look like slowing down any time soon. Infinity Ward’s war-torn FPS slant on the ever-popular genre lets up to 150 players duke it out on the battlefield per match, all the while supporting crossplay between console and PC. Better still, it’s integrated with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which makes it one of the best looking, most polished and most finely-tuned battle royale games out there today.
We’ve already given you 7 reasons why Astro's Playroom should be the first thing you play on PS5 – one of which is the fact it comes pre-loaded and ready to go on Sony’s latest console. That’s especially pertinent given the purview of this list, and while it may present itself as a fancy tech demo, rest assured, Team ASOBI’s 3D platformer is so much more than meets the eye. For starters, it takes players on an Easter egg-packed tour of PlayStation’s history, a journey which visits the actual components of the hardware – Cooling Springs represents the console’s fan system, for example, while Memory Meadow nods to its 16GB GDDR6 of RAM – all the while showing off the DualSense features of the control pad with aplomb. In doing all of that, expect a wonderfully-designed, gorgeous-looking platformer that’s completely free-of-charge.
Building upon the sound battle royale foundations laid by PUBG Battlegrounds (back when it was known simply as PUBG) in 2017, Fortnite Battle Royale – a spin-off itself of Fortnite Save the World – added a splash of on-the-fly construction to the 100-player, last-person-standing formula to great effect. Instantly accessible but with real long-term depth, Fortnite has since taken the world by storm with its series of themed season and real-world crossovers – not least a remarkable, in-game live performance from American rapper Travis Scott – wherein players can expect a different experience every time they parachute into the game’s open-world island map. Cosmetics are now available to buy by the bucketload, but there is still plenty of fun to be had with Epic Games’ battle royale juggernaut without spending a jot.
Although beginning life as a pay-to-play game, Destiny 2’s New Light update of late 2019 introduced a free-to-play entry point for the space opera shooter. In essence, New Light delivers a tailor-made version of the full game that focuses on content released before Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, the major expansion paired with New Light. It allows players to sample myriad Destiny 2 activities and destinations, and play with their friends, without spending a dime – on PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It also supports the new Destiny 2 cross save feature, so if you start playing on one platform and decide to move to another, you'll be able to bring all of your Guardians with you.
The aforementioned cars meets soccer meets, um, cage fighting spectacle that has no business being as entertaining as it is. But Psyonix’s long-standing sports-racer is tremendous fun – in one vs one bouts, four vs four encounters, and everything else in between. Out on the pitch, speed-enhancing boosts help you scoot around at lightning speed, and a roguelike ability to double jump broadens your scope for creativity in defense and attack. Like real-world sport, and indeed virtual incarnations of real-world sport, tactics, and strategy are key, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strive to smash up your opponent’s cars at every turn. Popular tie-ins since the car-soccer sim’s 2015 launch include the movie Back to the Future, wrestling giant WWE, and EDM artist Deadmau5.
If Titanfall 2 and Overwatch got together in the throes of a war-torn battle royale deathmatch, the outcome would look something like Apex Legends. Respawn’s free-to-play FPS was a bit of a surprise hit when it landed in early 2019, and it’s hardly looked back since, driven by its meticulous, razor-sharp shooting and head-spinning, breakneck speed. Apex Legends’ availability on PS5 is a bit of a technicality – it’s on PS4, but playable on Sony’s latest hardware via backwards compatibility – but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a last-gen affair, it packs as powerful a punch as anything else available today. Throw its innovative Ping system into the mix – a means of player communication via a host of commands and statements in lieu of voice or text chat – and you’ve got a real free-to-player winner in Apex Legends. Fortnite is rightly praised for its accessibility, but there’s a strong argument to be made that Apex Legends is the most inviting free game that money can’t buy.
Another free-to-play game that landed with modest fanfare that has really taken off since launch. MiHoYo's sprawling open-world gacha JRPG arrived in late 2020 for PS4 and PC (making the jump to PS5 in April, 2021), and has since been treated to frequent updates and neat additions which have grown its world exponentially. Storywise, Genshin Impact covers a lot of familiar JRPG ground – after being separated from your family, you’re tasked with exploring the expansive setting of Teyvat, in order to find answers from the gods of elements known as The Seven. Classic stuff, really. In sort-of Suikoden-like style, you can also recruit a host of characters to help you on your merry way, each of who possesses a variety of different skills. With so much going on, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the fact Genshin Impact is free-to-play. Assuming you choose not to punt on its loot box-aping gacha features, it totally is.
Splitgate isn’t quite Portal meets Halo, but it’s as close as we’re going to get minus lawsuits or big money takeovers. As a super fast-paced, free-to-play shooter, Splitgate is great fun, but what stands it apart is its sci-fi elements, namely its use of wormholes. In practice, this lets players turn battles on their head in an instant, making on-the-fly tactics and strategy absolutely key to survival. Among Splitgate’s most endearing features are its grindable challenges, dozens of customizable characters, a leaderboard and ranking system, and the choice of 20 manipulatable maps – including a research facility set within an active volcano, an underwater hotel, and an alien crash site to name but a few – ripe for tearing apart with time-bending, Donnie Darko-esque portals. For all of this to be free-to-play is impressive, but the fact that Splitgate can be played cross-platform means it more than earns its place on this list.
If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a space ninja (which is, surely, every one of us), then Warframe is the game for you. With a mix of close-quarters melee, fast-action shooting, RPG and stealth elements, life as a Tenno warrior is never boring, especially when locking horns with the Orokin, a faceless army of robots sent to kill you by evil mega-corporation, the Corpus. Since its launch way back in 2013, Warframe has undergone several transformations to become the free-to-play giant it is today, with developer Digital Extremes rolling out extensive updates a few times a year. Despite making Xbox Series X players wait several months for a dedicated next-gen version of the game, Digital Extremes launched Warframe on PS5 at launch, and has since rolled out a number of quality of life updates designed to cut loading times and improve cross-play matchmaking.
Smite is like a punch bowl of video game genres, combining third-person action with competitive shooting, role-playing, PvP co-op and a splash of MOBA mechanics to great effect. With a line-up pushing 100 characters – from ranged to melee, magic and physical archetypes – spread over five distinct classes, there’s plenty of scope of variety as you lead your gods and goddesses into third-person battle. On the free-to-play front, Smite starts you off with five permanent gods, with a further five cycled into the roster on a weekly basis, allowing you to rent champions as you go. If you wish to part with real money, you buy champions on an individual basis, or, should you desire, you can splash for the full package which grants you access to each future champion as they’re released.