In case you’re new to the term, free-to-play or FTP refers to any video game that is downloadable for no cost. They often include “premium” services or in-game goods that come at a cost, but aren’t required to enjoy the game.
Below I’ve gathered a few of my favorite free-to-play games, rounded out with a few popular FTPs I think deserve mention.
Summary: A multiplayer mech first-person-shooter that provides a unique spin on more typical tactical, team-based shooters. White-knuckle dogfights and coordinated team strikes are commonplace. The robots players are highly customizable in both gameplay and appearance.
Pros: Fresh take on FPS genre, built-in teamspeak, customization, giant robots and no pay-to-win items!
Cons: Lack of good teammates (like any Multiple Massive Online) and some beta kinks like matchmaking (something they’re working on).
Summary: A sci-fi shooter set in a futuristic open-world with plenty of background lore (and even its own comic). The ability to roam across a seamless landscape populated by other players and their battles and involve yourself as you please creates a particularly interesting MMO experience.
Pros: Constant “open-world instances,” multi-option resource gathering, beautiful visuals and vanity items are unnecessary, yet fun, additions to gameplay.
Cons: Requires relatively capable hardware to run properly, some quests require large parties to complete and long distance travel can be tedious.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Summary: An MMO that puts the player in the midst of the universe and allows gamers to create a character that falls into one of the iconic roles in the Star Wars films. By choosing your own path, you may just join the Dark Side or play within the Light side of the Force. Small and large-scale battles, as well as earning your own starship, add to the fun in this story-driven game.
Pros: Compelling cinematics, character “identity” customization, well crafted combat classes and modes, interesting story and, of course, immersion in Star Wars awesomeness.
Cons: Free only until level 50 with some restrictions, only humanoid playable races with semi-limited customization, no structured tutorial and awkward basic attack set-up.
Summary: This MMO version of Pokémon Fire Red allows you to travel, battle and trade Pokémon with friends and other players. If you’re a fan of the newest Pokémon games, or would love to relive the nostalgia of your first single-player playthrough, this game gives a social aspect to the game that is fun to explore.
Pros: Large, active player community and easy to set-up.
Cons: Occasional glitches (often fixed and updated) and lack of any newer Pokémon content.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Summary: A Warcraft-hero-based, online, strategy card game with four modes of play that mimic the feel of “hard-copy” card games such as Yu-gi-oh or Magic the Gathering. Cards are earned in-game or bought and decks face each other in one vs. one battles using pre-built decks in the play mode or drafted decks in the arena mode. The practice mode allows players to hone their skills against the A.I. and unlock new cards and heroes.
Pros: Cards can be disenchanted (destroyed for material) or crafted, customizable decks, quick player versus player matches, rank-scaling is well thought out, good mana mechanic and no pay-to-win advantages.
Cons: The Arena mode requires in game gold (or actual money) to play, cards are non-tradable, the A.I. is poor, some graphical glitches due to the beta status, and could use more game modes.
Smite – A multi-player online battle arena that pits players in five vs. five team battles using god-like avatars. Unlike League of Legends, Smite is third-person and utilizes the WASD keys for movement. Bringing a mythical setting with tactical gameplay, it utilizes a variety of abilities that affect battles and five modes of play.
Loadout – An agile third-person shooter that allows players to create their own arsenal, character and play-style. Loadout currently features four modes of game-play and is working on adding more. Class is entirely determined by the weapons the player builds and their personal choice. Movement is a key part of the game and it puts a lot of emphasis on the mobility of each player’s character.
Free-to-plays are becoming more varied and popular, after the world-wide success of League of Legends especially, and now is a great time to try one out. After all, what could be more friendly to a college-student budget than free?