The 15 best free PC games to play now

The 15 best free PC games to play now

Gaming doesn't always have to be an expensive hobby. You can hunt around for coupons, you can wait for holiday sales, or you can take a look at these games that cost you nothing at all. It’s easy to forget, but free-to-play games come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from quick-hit strategy games to grand MMOs.

Free games are great for you to save on your budget; they’re also great for persuading friends to join you, since the commitment is as low as simply downloading the game. And once you've done so, make sure to prevent Steam from auto-updating games if you want more control over what is downloaded when. Want to find a great new PC game without opening your wallet? You have nothing to lose by trying anything on this list.

Fortnite Battle Royale

Odds are you knew about this one, but maybe you just needed reminding. Fortnite is one of the most popular games ever, whether free or not. This multiplayer third-person shooter features 100 players all air-dropping onto a map to find the guns and equipment to be the last player standing. Like all battle royales, the play space on the map begins to shrink and force the 100 combatants closer and closer to each other. Since its launch, Fortnite has added creative building modes and attracted a lot of attention with its seasonal map changes and live in-game events. Credit: Epic Games


Warframe is an online co-op third-person sci-fi loot shooter with many similarities to games like Destiny and The Division. This persistent online shooter will see you customizing your main character to fill a role in combat, ideally teaming up with players using other classes in order to take on the game's toughest challenges. You'll be given story missions and a steady stream of repeatable content to help you grind out the currencies you need to upgrade your class and your weaponry. Where Warframe really differs from the pack is in its movement abilities. While things do vary between classes, each class is essentially a techno-organic ninja with the moves to prove it. You'll be double-jumping and dashing through the air, wall-running and making liberal use of melee weapons. Credit: Digital Extremes

Dota 2

Dota 2 continues to be one of the dominant games in the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre of competitive PC real-time strategy games. Two teams of five attempt to push past each other's defenses and deal enough damage to the opposing team's base. The gameplay map is a symmetrical three-lane space connecting both bases with smaller pathways connecting each lane. Each of the 116 playable characters are designed for specific roles, like attacking, healing, being defensive, stunning enemies and claiming powerful bonuses scattered on the map. The learning curve can be intimidating but you won't be thrown into the fire with the pros, thanks to the online ranking system. Best of all, you get access to the full roster of characters immediately, and the only in-game purchase you can make are for cosmetic items like costumes and weapon models. Credit: Valve

League of Legends

Following closely behind Dota 2 in popularity, League of Legends actually predates Dota 2’s release, but the full history is a bit complicated. There's good reason to give League a look, as each game tackles the MOBA concept differently. Overall, League is less technically demanding and perhaps a better on-ramp for anyone curious about MOBAs. Unlike Dota 2, you'll be given free access to a weekly rotating roster of five characters with the option to buy or earn the game's remaining 138 other characters. They all play roles similar to Dota 2's, and the map is also largely identical with key differences, like being able to hide in tall grass. League also includes a three-on-three two-lane map and a special one-lane map where both teams fight using random characters all in one location. Credit: Riot Games

Path of Exile

For anyone looking to resurrect their old love of Diablo 2, or for anyone looking for something after they're done playing Diablo 3, Path of Exile is a good place to look. Designed by many former Diablo 2 developers, Path of Exile takes direct inspiration from that particular entry in the Diablo series and holds fast to old traditions like finite scrolls for loot identification or teleportation back to town. For the uninitiated, Path of Exile is a point-and-click PC looting adventure game. You roam a fantasy world as one of six classes, fighting tons of enemies and picking up even more loot that they drop. You'll sift through it all to find what's good and sell the rest as you make your way through the story campaign and the game's randomly generated maps. Credit: Grinding Gear Games


Smite is easily the most accessible of the big MOBAs out there. Where League of Legends and Dota 2 play with oldschool point-and-click controls, Smite plays like a modern third-person action game and brings the camera down into the lanes. Gameplay otherwise follows the same MOBA ruleset of two teams of five attacking each other's bases on a standard three-lane map. Players have their pick of 100 available characters who all fill the usual MOBA roles of carry and support types. Credit: Hi-Rez Studios

Team Fortress 2

An oldie but a goodie, Team Fortress 2 is a team-based first-person shooter that arrived long before the likes of Overwatch and is one of the earliest free-to-play games. You'll play as one of nine character classes in teams of up to 32. The most common gameplay modes are objective-based that have a team defending certain points, moving an explosive payload across the map into the enemy's base or playing capture the flag. Over the years, Team Fortress 2 has added dozens of playable maps and alternative game modes and is also one of the earliest games to get deep into item trading between players. You can exchange in-game cosmetics straight-up, buy them from other players, or offer them special keys that open loot crates with odds of earning certain sometimes limited-offer cosmetics. Credit: Valve

EVE Online

EVE Online is an online space exploration MMO with elements of strategic combat and life sims — you could spend all your free time on just this game. Not all of it is free, but the opening free portions should keep most gamers busy for quite a while and let you discover if the full game is for you. Gameplay primarily consists of navigating space in your ship. For free, you can pilot small vessels to explore space, mine for resources, trade, get into fights and otherwise do what most players can do who buy subscriptions. Free accounts won't have access to large late-game ships, but filling in everything you can for free still represents a large amount of content. EVE's world is unique among MMOs in that most players exist in one very large game world across several star systems. EVE also stands out by keeping track of character progress passively in real time, giving you points into different categories you’ve queued up whether you’re logged in or not. Credit: CCP


Brawlhalla is a 2D fighting game that takes heavy inspiration from the Super Smash Bros. series. Players pick from a weekly rotation of eight characters from a full roster of 44 and enter one-on-one matches or fights with up to eight players, locally or online. The rules are similar to Smash Bros. where the goal is to rack up damage on your opponent to send them flying off the stage and off the screen. Games can be played for score or with limited player lives. Mechanically, Brawlhalla lifts a lot of ideas from Smash Bros., including one-button special moves, but introduces its own weapon system that attempts to make the items seen in Smash Bros. fit better into a competitive fighting game. Each character has different normal and special moves associated with the game's 12 different weapon types that spawn in during a match. Credit: Ubisoft

Card Hunter

Card Hunter combines the setting of a Dungeons and Dragons tabletop RPG with a collectible card game like Magic the Gathering. You’ll play set encounters with win conditions against an opponent using an allowed number of playable characters. Each character will have a hand of four cards that dictates every action they can take, from attacking to basic movement. Like combat in Dungeons and Dragons, movement takes place on a grid, and as with Magic the Gathering, the cards dictate available actions and counteractions. You can play the game's single-player campaign or engage in some competitive online PvP with your characters and deck. In-game purchases are all odds-boosting benefits that give you better chances at loot awarded when you win an encounter. Credit: Blue Manchu

Realm Royale

Realm Royale is a third-person battle royale game that, due to its cartoony appearance, often gets described as Fortnite without the building mechanics. While true, there is a bit more to Realm Royale that just that comparison. This game includes a unique crafting system that allows players to make better gear at specific forging stations on the map. Forging takes time and sends up a large plume of smoke, alerting players and introducing some risk for your reward. Like other battle royales, Realm Royale is free outside of its premium battle pass that awards players limited-time cosmetics for ranking up through the pass during the active content season. Credit: Hi-Rez Studios


Part of our list of hidden gems on Steam, Shadowverse is a collectible card game that borrows plenty from others before it, like Magic the Gathering. Shadowverse includes a solid single-player campaign and an overall speedy pace of gameplay. After enough turns go by, you can evolve your cards into more powerful versions of themselves, gaining new or improved secondary abilities. Cards can be won or purchased and include the usual rarity tiers of other similar card games. Matches can be played online against another player on PC or with crossplay on the Android or iOS versions of the game. Credit: Cygames

MapleStory 2

MapleStory 2 is a combat MMO, life sim and collection of rather goofy minigames all in one. There's not a lot to take seriously in MapleStory, but what's on offer is no less robust for how light the atmosphere is. Your typical character classes exist that determine your attack skills in combat, but you'll also spend a lot of time doing less violent things, such as building a big house or playing live trivia games. Diverging from the 2003 original MapleStory, MapleStory 2 features Minecraft-like voxel graphics befitting of the game's all-ages approach. Credit: Nexon America


Duelyst is another card- and strategy-game fusion similar to Card Hunter, but with more inspiration from Fire Emblem than Dungeons and Dragons. You summon cards onto a grid, then position them and take turns attacking enemy summons. The game touts itself as featuring fast-paced matches lasting only a few minutes, an ideal amount of time for a quick distraction on a laptop, perhaps. Credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment America

Apex Legends

Apex Legends is a hero shooter combined with a battle royale. In this game, 60 players are divided into teams of three, and each team is composed of a hero character, or "Legend," with a unique set of abilities — one passive, one active and one ultimate ability. Skills include dropping smoke canisters, projecting a shield and calling down a missle strike around your location. Apex Legends comes from the developer of Titanfall and exists in that game's world. Although Titans don't show up in this game, characters retain their fast ground movement, suffer no fall damage and can knee-slide for a quick speed boost. At launch, players can pick from six Legends, with a further two that can be unlocked using earned currency. Expect this number to grow as Respawn promises frequent content additions, including increased player count on the map, in the near future. Credit: EA