Best Of: 8 Free to Play PC Games That Are Too Good to Be True

By on May 10, 2013, 1:32 AM

The gaming world is making a dramatic shift towards free to play games. Of course, full price retail titles still make up for a majority of releases on the PC and most other platforms, but playing a quality game without cracking your wallet open is a completely viable option nowadays.

Most free video games offer at least some form of in-game purchases, designed to extend the experience and serve as a steady revenue stream for its creators. But a free to play game made right will allow players to enjoy everything it has to offer, while keeping monetary transactions completely optional.

We’ve combed through the Internet to bring you the very best PC games pushing forward the free-to-play model -- and making a good name for it, too.

Read the complete article.




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VitalyT VitalyT said:

The original DOTA has a rare distinction: it actually gave birth to an entire genre

Really? This doesn't sound right... Games like Starcraft pioneered such battles across the Internet, as I know. Even according to DOTA information in WikiPedia: [link]

The first version of Defense of the Ancients was released in 2003 by a mapmaker under the alias of Eul[14] who based the map on a previous StarCraft scenario known as "Aeon of Strife"

Guest said:

An alright list. But what the heck is up with Star Wars?

That's not really free to play... You can barely do anything in the game. If you only play the free to play version of it, they actually demand you pay up, if you want to do a basic thing like hiding your characters equipped helmet for example. You also only get access to the main story line and that's basically it. It's such an extremely stripped down version of the actual game, that I don't think it DESERVES the free to play moniker. It's a disgrace.

WillemVanVliet WillemVanVliet said:

OpenTTD is free. (http://www.openttd.org/en/)

And there are a number of games based on SpringRTS that are free too (not counting those made with content from Total Annihilation, because you would need to own TA for those to play, legally speaking). (http://springrts.com/wiki/Games)

Those two are both amazing.

But as for the list above. I've played some LoL, was great!

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

I love League of Legends. I think I own almost 90 Champions of the game since 2010. Fun game for me.

Hollow Fox Hollow Fox said:

Ghost Recon Online and Blacklight Retribution are far better than Planetside in my opinion, free to play and way more fun than COD series.

SexyMan SexyMan said:

Where is "Heroes of Newerth"(HON).. This is better than DOTA2 or LOL.. why is not on the list?

Guest said:

Heroes of Newerth is missing.

Adnel Adnel said:

Is there a delete button for that reply? I was gonna Post about SW TOR but someone beat me to it. Game is sooooo ridiculously restricted, you can barely TALK in chat, you get exp slower, Can't carry stuff, can't sell stuff (and Im not talking about bound eq, you can barely carry stuff until you buy expansion slots) can't send proper mails in game, have access to less eq, everything is far more expensive. Can have a very limited amount of money and so on. You can buy a few licenses to deal with some things which is fine, yet you'll soon notice you will be battling in 2 fronts: the game and the game restrictions. It should not belong here IMHO which is sad, because its a good game.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Game is sooooo ridiculously restricted
If SWTOR is as restricted as you say, I will agree it should not be in the list.

1 person liked this | GeforcerFX GeforcerFX said:

Here's a couple more if anyone is interested(I have been a free 2 play gamer for the last couple months because of some money problems), Ghost Recon online and blacklight retribution (I see now someone else beat me to those ones) and new guy on the block would be Warframe but its been getting around 20,000 players a day on steam alone, and also tribes ascend is fun as well. Heck even battlefield play for free has its moments. For racing games you have raceroom racing experience, Auto club revolution(new release), you also have stronghold kingdoms, and APB reloaded, Airmech as well, and Microsoft Flight is a fun basic flight sim.

TheDreams TheDreams said:

PlanetSide 2 is actually really fun when you become a platoon leader and if you utilize the vehicles and planes, the only bad part about it is it is really pretty taxing on your CPU.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

Where is "Heroes of Newerth"(HON).. This is better than DOTA2 or LOL.. why is not on the list?

Heroes of Newerth is missing.

HON is quite underrated compared to League of Legends. In our country, very few users played the game, and so is DOTA 2

2 people like this | Guest said:

The REAL LIFE is the best free play game ever

lalaman lalaman said:

After seeing DOTA2 and LoL on the list, I really though HoN would follow up, but no dice =[

Guest said:

HoN is fun for its fast paced action, but they really should take the time in balancing almost everything.. it still feels broken compared to LoL or Dota

Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

TERA is a fun game until you hit cap and run out of endgame to do. Played it when it was still P2P.

avioza said:

What about Mechwarrior Online? Well it is still in Beta I suppose....

MilwaukeeMike said:

Game is sooooo ridiculously restricted
If SWTOR is as restricted as you say, I will agree it should not be in the list.

I think SWTOR is a bit of an exception. When it came out it was $40 (I think) for the game, and they charged $15 a month. Then a while back they went F2P, which meant no more $15/month subscription fee, but you still needed to buy the game. If I remember right, you could collect gear faster or get some other in-game benefit if you subscribed though. Now it sounds like they'll let you play in a restricted way WITHOUT buying the game. I think F2P means something a little different for an MMO.

Even WoW is F2P at the beginning. You can get a trial account and get up to like lvl 20 or something before you buy the game, but I think they restrict you from using the mail and chat system because it would encourage spammers. SWTOR probably restricts chat and inventory before you pay also because it would encourage gold (do they use gold in outer space?) farming and/or spamming of websites.

1 person liked this | LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I love League of Legends. I think I own almost 90 Champions of the game since 2010. Fun game for me.

1v1 bro.

Guest said:

Based entirely on that one screenshot, You Have to Win the Game looks awesome.

Guest said:

On the topic of SW:TOR, the entire story is awesome right up till 55. The endgame.... It's still lacking a fair bit of the basics, but it seems to be moving in the right direction. Operation (raid) fight mechanics require more than just face rolling the keyboard now, and hard mode and nightmare mode content do give it a bit more life. Gear progression for pve has been redesigned so that it'll slow down even the most hardcore group of players compared to how it used to be.

The devs seem to be listening to the community right now (though you can't please everyone) though the cartel market( cash shop) seems to feature quite heavily in non major content patches, though thankfully no pay to win requirements. It's all cosmetic stuff.

2 people like this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I think it's a misnomer to categorize games that use micro-transactions as "free to play." I think a better descriptive would be "pay as you go."

lipe123 said:

What about neverwinter?!

Also a +1 to openTTD for the awesome nostalgia factor.

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

I think I would count total conversion mods as "free" even if you have to own a copy of the game which provides the underlying game engine.

There are some total conversion mods that are certainly worth looking at. Nehrim using Elder Scrolls Oblivion (URL: [link] is good.There are several full mods for Jagged Alliance 2 ( URL: http://www.ja-galaxy-forum.com/ ). I also have been told that other major total conversion mods: Brazil for Fallout 3 at URL: [link] and Enderal for Skyrim at URL: http://enderal.de/?lang=en are in process.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I think it's a misnomer to categorize games that use micro-transactions as "free to play." I think a better descriptive would be "pay as you go."

We, in the mmo world call these games P2W(Pay 2 Win) games.

JC713 JC713 said:

The only free to play game I agree with on the list is Planetside 2. I am not a MMORPG player, so that is why.

Guest said:

Life is pay to win you must be living of mummy & daddy still ;-)

EchtoGammut EchtoGammut said:

Saying Path of Exile is like Diablo III is not correct. D3 wishes it was half as good as Path of Exile and stands as an example of how bad a job Blizzard did with D3. Basically everything that everyone complained about D3 works in Path of Exile, plus it has true replayability. Even when you replay a map the random map generator makes it different enough that you don't feel map fatigue. Played on Hardcore you are constantly faced with the possibility of losing your character if you die (technically it just drops your character back into easier levels, but you lose access to everything in your hardcore chest and you can no longer access maps). Plus played with other players it becomes wickedly difficult and requires a combination of luck and careful planning when playing the hardcore levels. Oh and the story line isn't so stupid you are doing face palms to the point of having a permanent hand-print on your forehead...unlike D3,

Guest said:

Nobody has mentioned World of Tanks, or Warthunder? Incredible free to play's

diverbuoy diverbuoy said:

TERA is misrepresented in this article. The game has PvP battlegrounds, that's a completely false claim. More grey area would be the horrible picture you've selected for the main article, TERAs top appeal is it's absolutely gorgeous, probably the best looking game in the entire market right now. What makes TERA special is the Open Targeting component (can use mouse or controller) ... NO MORE TAB targeting. You have to align your crosshairs up on moving targets or your shots will miss. This makes the combat so organic and natural, really brilliant design.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

Life is pay to win you must be living of mummy & daddy still ;-)

On the contrary. If I lived with my parents I don't think they'd pay for my digital content anyway.

kodrutz kodrutz said:

Hmm, it seems you missed a lot. so let me add three huge titles to the list: War Thunder, World of Tanks and Tribes: Ascend. What about these?

Guest said:

I'm really loving War Thunder, man some time has gone into making this game and its free to play but of course you can buy golden eagles with your real hard earned cash that will enable you to rank up faster. The game is in beta but hell its very enjoyable if you like dog fighting or taking massive bombers out for a bombing run. The developers have huge plans for this game and have done a great job. I've played final release games from huge companies that are as buggy as hell, not War Thunder it's fairly solid already in its beat state.

Guest said:

Tribes Ascend is a free fps for those interested.

Guest said:

SWTOR is nearly unplayable unless you sub almost everything is locked or capped to the point where after leveling there is nothing you can really do with out subbing or buying their cartel coins.

Guest said:

Not sure polish is the right word for planetside 2.

Guest said:

We, in the mmo world call these games P2W(Pay 2 Win) games.

There's a difference between paying for content and paying for an advantage. Buying a mappack is not pay to win, it's just expanding on the free part of the game. Getting a weapon early or a ridiculous armor is pay to win.

Guest said:

>League

>Skill intensive

Good one. League is one of the easiest competitive games you can play. It pales in comparison to Dota, Tribes, Quake, Starcraft, and even world of Tanks or Mechwarrior. Its accessibility is one of the biggest reasons for its success.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

There's a difference between paying for content and paying for an advantage.

Between those two classifications, I can say this

  • Star Trek Online is pay for an advantage.
  • Lord Of The Rings Online is pay for content.

Regardless of inconvenience, you can still play several months for free without needed to spend on either game.

Guest said:

Im not sure, but Phantasy Star Online 2 not count because is fort japanese only? is a good option for play online. Lots of foreigners play the game in the japanese servers, waiting for the western launch.

Guest said:

No love for Age of Wushu? It's not for everyone, but there's a LOT of content.

Lionvibez said:

A game not on this list that I played the beta ON steam this weekend was Marvel Heroes.

Free to play MMO and it was alot of fun.

1 person liked this | Daneyul Daneyul said:

Can't believe Lord of the Rings Online isn't on the list. Especially considering SWTOR is!

LotRO is MUCH less limited in it's F2P than a lot of F2P MMOs including SWTOR -- You can get to end game without paying a cent (if you're willing to grind for "turbine points" to purchase expansions). And it's successful--not likely to disappear anytime soon, with solid, big expansions every year (and littler one's bi-yearly).

It uses Direct X11 graphics rendering (Star Wars is DX9(!)) gives a visual depth that rivals pretty much any MMO out there if you play it with all bells and whistles turned on--the dappled shadow and lighting effects are the best I've seen in any game--some areas are just breathtaking in their visual detail. And the attention to detail in creating Middle Earth is just top notch. Plus, it has a friendlier community than most, with a lot of players on the older, more mature side. Crazy not to include an established, huge, growing game in the list.

Guest said:

In the topic of HoN and the issues of balance...S2 doesn't know the meaning of the word. If you mention the word balance to S2 they may either laugh or scramble to find a dictionary.

Avid HoN player

kodrutz kodrutz said:

The REAL LIFE is the best free play game ever

I don't know where you're living, but in my side of the world, life is pretty damn expensive...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Life is not expensive, habits/desires (good or bad) on the other hand can be.

kodrutz kodrutz said:

Life is not expensive, habits/desires (good or bad) on the other hand can be.

Old habits like eating and having a roof above your head die hard...

Boilerhog146 Boilerhog146 said:

Hawken is free to play but to get full advantage of mechs ,you have to pay...that's the idea behind free to play.I guess if you want a great experience and like the game, you have to pay.

toooooot said:

Downloading planetside2 right now

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Without a doubt PS2, Dota 2, TF2, Path of Exile and possibly swtor/tera (shootmania elite mode will be f2p as well) are the top end f2p games imho.

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