Gaming can be pricey, so we’ve rounded up the best free games on PC
One of the best ways to escape 2021 is dive into the best free games available right now. It doesn’t matter if you just want an after-work diversion or a deep dive into another world, you can do just that without spending a bunch of money to do so.
Just because they’re free doesn’t mean they’re not as fun as paid games. In fact, depending on the game, you might enjoy it even more. But beware, as some of them do make their money through microtransactions and loot boxes, which can end up taking more of your money than a paid game could. With all the different options out there, whether you’re looking into co-op PC games, the best PC games out right now, Steam’s deep catalog, or even EA’s Origin client, you can get a lot of mileage out of the best free games for PC.
With all the money you’ll save playing the best free games, you could spring for one of the best gaming PCs to play them. Whether you want to take on enemies in Battle Royale extravaganzas like Fortnite or play CCGs like Hearthstone, here are the best free games you can play right now.
Best free game on our radar: Idle Big Devil
Idle Big Devil from Hong Kong Spark Software may still be in Early Access, but the idle RPG game has already gotten a lot of raving reviews from Steam gamers. While it is an idle game, which lets you progress through the game without much interaction, there’s a lot of stuff to do while you wait so it never gets boring. You also get a ton of free currency in the initial play, giving new players a chance to progress quickly.
In this game, you’re appointed by the king as the lord of killing the Undead and creatures possessed by evil spirits. You do so with the aid of a total of five heroes whom you recruit yourself throughout the course of the game. As you travel the continent, you can participate in different events that allow you to collect loot, as well as complete daily tasks that reward you with prizes. You can also gather resources to power up your heroes and upgrade your castle.
Idle Big Devil does get a bit complicated and harder as you progress, and you will get to a point where you have to decide whether to spend money or endure a slower progression in the game. However, this game can be completely free to play, if you choose not to spend money.
Best free PC games: 1 – 2
1. Fortnite Battle Royale
The Battle Royale is huge right now, and Epic Games has refined it to perfection with Fortnite Battle Royale. Originally designed as a kind of add-on for Fortnite, Battle Royale blew up in a way that nobody expected, fast becoming among the best free games 2020 has to offer.
Fortnite Battle Royale is entirely based on a simple scenario: you’re dropped in a map with 99 other players in a free-for-all melee, and the last one left standing at the end wins. Because of its meteoric success, Epic Games is working hard to steadily integrate new game modes and fresh features. Take Playground mode, for example – it drops you in the map and lets you build up structures for a set amount of time before the floodgates open and the carnage begins.
What’s particularly cool is that with Fortnite, you can actually play with your friends, regardless of which platform they’re on. Whether you’re on PC, Xbox One, iOS, Android or PS4, you’ll be able to match up against millions of other players from all these different platforms.
2. Dota 2
The Dota universe may have evolved from a WarCraft 3 mod, but Dota 2 is very much its own entity, and holds its own as one of the best free games of 2020.
This top-down arena battler is very dynamic, drawing in multimillion-dollar prize funds for serious tournament players. Yet, it’s not just for the most hardcore gamers.
A brief tutorial now shows you how to play, with the Steam Community offering guides to the original MOBA. Don’t expect a warm welcome or an easy learning curve from its complex gameplay mechanics. However, bring a few friends, and Dota 2 will have you hooked on one of the biggest crazes in PC history.
Best free PC games: 3 – 4
3. Planetside 2
Two years prior to Destiny, we had Planetside 2, an all-out, epic first-person battle that’s so unbelievable, you’ll want to pinch yourself each time you boot it up just to remind yourself that a game this incredible is completely free. There are in-game purchases, naturally. However, you can still dive into the largest battlefield in gaming and still have a remarkable time with your starter equipment.
There’s simply nothing as thrilling as taking part in a mass assault on an enemy base and coming out on top, or existing in a world where an enemy convoy might materialize on the horizon at any second. Planetside 2 is proof that ‘free’ doesn’t mean prosaic.
4. Path of Exile
Path of Exile is a free dungeon crawler that might remind you of Diablo III, and it’s rather different than most of the best free games available in 2020. It’s not just about fragging real-life people until they scream at you in shrill pubescent tones through their Skype headsets.
Path of Exile takes its time, more than your standard multiplayer game. But, give it a chance, and you’ll find yourself obsessed. There are hidden mechanics and features to discover after playing for hours, as well as a huge skill tree to slowly progress through. It really is the best free game for former Diablo addicts.
Even basic loot can be of use since there’s always the possibility to enhance even the simplest weapon with magic. If you’re bored with the grind of Diablo III, it’s a good one to check out.
Best free PC games: 5 – 6
5. League of Legends
Pick your champion and charge into battle in this trailblazing free-to-play title from the folks that brought you the Warcraft III mod, Dota. League of Legends’ automated matchmaking, sundry cast of characters and exquisite maps have made it a multiplayer behemoth over these last few years, and one of the best free games 2020 has that will absolutely stand the test of time.
It’s an aggressive gameplay experience to be sure, but one that rewards great teamwork and careful tactics. There is a bit of a learning curve as well, but you’ll be taken on a thrilling ride shortly after pressing play.
Like Dota 2, League of Legends attracts many high-end players, and the top tournaments offer prize pools of over $1 million. The wacky world of esports, eh?
6. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Ever played Magic the Gathering? Hearthstone is Blizzard’s attempt at building an online version of it, for free.
As a typical Blizzard offering, this one’s truly impressive. It’s instantly enticing, lacking the terrifying learning curve you would expect from an online fantasy card game. Hearthstone plays fast, has a very casual visual approach and benefits from a basic rule set, all of which add up to a very accessible card battler that offers you plenty of fun – especially if you’re a World of WarCraft fan.
Not that it’s not challenging as well, especially if you go against an opponent that plays their cards right, which is why it gets our vote for one of the best free games to date.
Best free PC games: 7 – 8
7. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Taking the Star Wars MMORPG mantle after Star Wars Galaxies ended its run (may it rest in peace), Star Wars: The Old Republic was not intended to be free at release. However, it has since, like so many MMORPGs before it, adopted the free to play model. If you want to satisfy your inner Sith, this is the best way to do that for free.
Subscriptions are on hand for more in-game potential and end-game content, but in true best free games fashion, all the story missions are still accessible for free – it just might take a bit longer now.
It’s worth your time just to experience the Star Wars universe from different sets of eyes, like the hyper-professional Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter. If you want to go with the dull option and just have a generic Jedi Knight, though – you can totally do that as well.
8. Forza Motorsport 6 Apex
When Xbox head Phil Spencer said he was going to bring the console’s best franchises to the PC, he wasn’t joking. Among these notable games is Forza Motorsport.
Forza Motorsport 6 Apex in particular brought a complete Forza Motorsport game to PC gamers for the first time – before Forza Horizon 3 arrived in 2016. It’s not quite the full-fledged experience you get from full entries to the series. However, Forza Motorsport 6 Apex is the best free game that we could have asked for from Microsoft’s long-standing racing series.
Shunned by petrol-heads and embraced by gamers, Forza Motorsport may seem like an arcade-y offshoot of its biggest rival on PlayStation, but it consistently looks and feels incredible, which is reason enough to add it to our best free games 2020 list.
Best free PC games: 9 – 10
Dauntless is a household name at this point, after becoming an overnight success on PC, thanks to Monster Hunter World. It offers a remarkably similar experience that’s free and easier on your PC.
Drifting away from the clear environmentalist focus of Monster Hunter: World, where you’re trying to preserve the habitats, Dauntless simplifies things a little, just tasking you with slaying behemoths to protect a human colony.
The gameplay itself is much more straightforward as well, free of some of the more obtuse gameplay systems that you either love or hate in the Monster Hunter series. The core DNA of the series, however, is there – hunt monsters, craft gear, hunt more monsters, making it one of the best free games to have right now.
10. World of Tanks
World of Tanks is a different kind of MMO, as you may have already guessed from the title. Team-based, massively multiplayer action with a wide array of war machines to drive into battle awaits, with new players able to jump into the fray right away.
The upgrade system lets you personalize, while being surrounded by an entire army at all times to remind you that loners won’t make it on the battlefield. But be forewarned: get sucked in, and you may find yourself spending a hefty sum on great big chunks of virtual metal.
Some premium tanks go for just a few dollars, while others require a bit more coin. You can see where maker Wargaming is earning some money from World of Tanks enthusiasts. Still, this doesn’t stop it from being one of the best free games right now.
Best free PC games: 11 – 12
11. Heroes of the Storm
It was only a matter of time before Blizzard joined the fray in the MoBA phenomenon, and with Heroes of the Storm, we’re only left asking: what took it so long? It’s an astonishingly approachable esports title, sitting somewhere between League of Legends and DOTA 2 in terms of complexity, but with the added bonus of playing characters you know and love.
You read that right: the roster is made up entirely of Blizzard characters from across its library of classic games. If you’ve ever wondered who would win in a fight between Thrall and Kerrigan, Heroes of the Storm can show you how that fight plays out on the battlefield.
Blizzard knocked it out of the park here, making it one of the best free games that keeps getting better by the day.
Its future was briefly in question after the sale of Sony’s online entertainment division in February 2015, but Everquest is back with a vengeance, swaggering with new expansion packs and continued support by Daybreak Game Company. That’s one of the many reasons why it’s made our best free games 2020 list.
The first of its kind to commercially succeed with a 3D game engine, Everquest was released in 1999 as an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) and has since been documented as one of the most important games in the medium’s history.
Featuring steadily released expansion packs (quite massive in scale, at least early on) with vast new areas, races and classes, Everquest brings to the table just about everything you could want or need from an MMO. Plus, it’s notably better at handling co-op than its alternatives.
Best free PC games: 13 – 14
Initially hailed as the game that would finally depose World of Warcraft, Rift had its moment – and is still going strong depending on who you ask. It brought innovation to a genre that was evolving very slowly, letting you change your class whenever the urge compelled you.
The whole game is focused on separating giant boss battles and events that inhabit entire zones. It’s ambitious, thrilling, and monumental with dozens of interdimensional rifts that keeps things exciting and unique from other MMOs. And, even after Rift went free to play, Trion has stayed on top of things, bringing out regular expansions for everyone to enjoy.
Plus, you can ride a landshark.
Runescape is one of the largest free-to-play MMOs available, and now is a good time for a deeper look. In 2013, it entered its third reboot – this is actually ‘Runescape 3’, although just jumping in now, you may not even realize that it has been around in one form or another for more than 10 years.
Despite the overhaul, it’s definitely not the sparkliest MMO in the world, but hanging onto this many players shows it’s doing something right. The big change introduced in Runescape 3 that made it appear a lot more updated was the ability to see much further. In Runescape 2, the horizon quickly gave way to fog… not so now.
You can download the game for free or run it in your browser using Java, making it much more convenient than most other online role-players of this enormous scale.