Way back in 1999, Korean developer Nexon put out the first free-to-play game, called QuizQuiz. The person behind it would go on to create the enormously popular title MapleStory and the rest is history. These days, F2P is an oft-used model and is one of the keys to the success of the biggest game in the world right now, Fortnite.
Huge companies, like those behind the yearly FIFA game, EA, are now getting involved and even games that have always been full price are now joining the free-to-play party. What this all means is that you're spoiled for choice on how to spend your time, but without spending your cash. Lucky for you, we're here to give you the info on which are the biggest and best F2P games in the world right now.
A shooter, and one with the best pedigree in gaming. Remember the incredible Call of Duty: Modern Warfare titles? The makers of Apex Legends came from there. After leaving Activision and Call of Duty behind, they created their own studio and made the incredible Titanfall (and even better Titanfall 2) before surprising the world with the shock release of Apex Legends.
A first-person shooter that takes place in the Titanfall universe, Apex Legends has all the phenomenal movement you'd expect from the studio, but has the window dressing of a Battle Royale game. It's another game that continues to evolve, adding new characters (and thus, classes) that change the game, as well as trying out new modes and player counts per match. Apex Legends is a tremendous way to spend your time and is one of the best free games on any platform, but we'd love a Switch version to go with the PC, Xbox, and PS4 editions.
Moving away from shooters, we've got the ultimate free-to-play game that's also the ultimate time sink. It's not uncommon to find Dota 2 players with hour counts into the thousands.
A multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA, for short), Dota 2 is a game that spun out from a mod that, itself, has given birth to two further games in the universe: Artifact and Dota Underlords. Be prepared for a steep learning curve, but one that will yield a satisfying addiction. And if you can't get enough Dota 2, you can move to mobile and play Dota Underlords, an auto battler game on both mobile and PC.
Dota 2 is maybe the ultimate gateway to Esports, but one of the few games that can lay claim to being the biggest free game in the world, and it's only on PC.
Launched in 2014, fans of Blizzard's F2P card-battler Hearthstone might remember the excitement while waiting for that iOS release to come. Initially on PC, when it hit iPad and iPhone we could all carry on playing the game wherever, creating decks and trash-talking our opponents when our Aggro Hunter deck levelled the board, leaving us laughing at our imminent victory.
The only thing left that surprises us about this brilliant game is that it's not somehow found its way onto consoles yet. This is another all-time classic that, despite being over five years old, continually evolves by adding new cards and updating the meta to keep fans on their toes.
Speaking of keeping fans on their toes, Clash Royale just keeps going from strength-to-strength. We've just had a new season, which brought buffs and debuffs to favourite cards, but Clash Royale's true genius comes from the fact it’s almost the dictionary definition 'easy to pick up, difficult to master.
Everyone has a smartphone these days and Clash Royale is just so colourful and attractive, that it's hard not to just give it a go. Before you know it, your phone is permanently attached to its charger and you're ignoring everyone in favour of one more go. Clash Royale is a monster of a game, but it also changed minds, because at a time when mobile F2P games were fairly poor, it was a genuinely excellent and well-designed game that remains so to this day.
Developers Digital Extremes have done wonders with Warframe. A burgeoning community for this game helped the team change what was broken, or upsetting people, and turn it into a riotous success story. A fantastic game that was marred by being horrendous to play blind is suddenly a massively accessible, responsive and fast-paced game with a multitude of customisation options and ways to play. One thing that a truly great F2P title needs is to be updated and Digital Extremes regularly launch new content for their action game.
Warframe is massive nowadays, even having its own convention (Tennocon), but coming back from a position where player counts were low to even launch on Nintendo Switch (it’s also on PC, PS4, and Xbox One) in 2019 makes it a game you should definitely be paying attention to. Everyone loves an underdog story and Warframe is one you should get on, along with the 50,000,000 players that were reportedly playing last year.
Like Fortnite, there was a period where it seemed like everyone and their dog was playing Pokemon Go. Taking the time-honoured tradition of catching them all and turning it into a mobile game, where you physically adventure around collecting your favourite pocket monsters, was no easy task, but its success speaks volumes. In the past years alone the team at Niantic have added gym battles, Team Rocket and, most recently, changes that allow people who are disabled to play the game easier.
At the time of writing, quests are being created that you can play from home, so if you're unable to walk to complete this event, you don’t need Pokestop spins, you don't need to take part in raids, you can just enjoy this wonderful game from home. Maybe, unlike us, you'll have an easier time finding Sinnoh stones to evolve your Pokemon. Good luck.
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