Video games are now more accessible than ever, and this is all thanks to multiple gaming platforms on the market. While some have proven to be very convenient for the regular person, nothing can still defeat the immersive glory of the personal computer or PC. Arguably, video games are best experienced on a PC since they can technically have the best hardware out of any gaming device. What they lack in exclusive games they usually make up for with a plethora of free games—often courtesy of Steam.
Make no mistake, these games being free doesn't mean they lack quality. In fact, you'd be missing out on some of the best the PC gaming community has to offer by not trying out these free video game titles. After all, nothing's really stopping you from giving them a run—well, apart from a lack of time or a poor internet connection, perhaps. So, we've compiled the best of them for you—the cream of the crop, all of them with the best price ever: free!
10 Eve Online
For some, Eve Online might be a spreadsheet simulator, but for those who enjoy complex strategy space simulators, it's a vast astronomical treasure right at your fingertips. In Eve, you play as a lowly owner of a space vessel, and you can work your way up the space foodchain. It's actually a subscription-based game, but the developers were generous enough to implement a free-to-play model relatively recently.
That essentially split the player base into two kinds; Alpha and Omega players, with the former one used to designate free-to-play players. This is all for good reason since Eve Online probably has the steepest learning curve in all the games here—or perhaps even among all online games. It requires learning a lot of new information on gameplay culture, economics, resources, and even game-world politics, which are determined by the players themselves, or you can simply chill and just enjoy the view in your space dinghy.
If fantasy worlds are more your speed, then you might want to take a look at TERA. It's a Korean massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) and features a stunning—even by today's standards—open world. You get to choose your own race and class each with their distinct allegiances and quirks and also tailor your own character to your liking.
Of course, being a standard Korean MMORPG—a free-to-play one nonetheless—TERA is quite heavy on the grinding aspect. That means you usually have to spend hours upon hours killing enemies to get that perfect item drop or level your character up. This can be easier said than done since the quest system is dated—the game was released eight years ago!—and involves fetch quests, back-and-forth quests, and lots of dungeon runs. Nevertheless, that's usually still a fair price to pay for free games.
Fighting games or brawlers are some of the oldest genres in gaming ever, and they also involve one of the oldest forms of multiplayer. Some of the best these days are legacy titles such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, etc. Those cost regular game prices, but if you don't want to spend a single cent and still be able to beat your friends online without breaking your friendship in real-life, then Brawlhalla is the answer.
It's a free-to-play indie brawler arena action game. Of course, it doesn't hold a candle to the flashy and shiny graphics of modern brawlers, but you'll find Brawlhalla's action aspect more fast-paced and responsive than the bigger titles. The indie brawler also allows for multiple players instead of just two. It also has an esports scene of its own and you can join if you're the competitive type.
Trove is a lot more than just a fantasy and sci-fi mishmash of Minecraft. While it does look quite similar to that sandbox game, Trove is more streamlined and favors casual gameplay. Like TERA, it's also an MMORPG where you can meet up with thousands of players in an open-world instance. The open-world MMORPG also features its own robust adventuring system that should be a breather from the likes of traditional MMORPGs.
What makes Trove endless per se is the ability for players to create their own worlds and even their own weapons and armor. You'll find that the possibilities are quite endless in this game, and the fact that it's free is probably just the cherry on top. You can even build your own castles and your own enemies! You also won't need a robust gaming computer for Trove, even an affordable modern laptop should be enough.
6 War Thunder
Is modern warfare more your thing than sci-fi or fantasy? You're in luck, there's also a free video game from Steam for that. It's called War Thunder. No need to spend big on half-baked DLC baits from EA or Activision. However, there's a catch; there are no infantry battles in this game. All combat here involves military vehicles and hardware. That means tanks, fighter aircraft, and warships take the center stage instead of grunt squads.
Oh, you're still here despite the lack of infantry combat? Awesome. You'll find no shortage of army muscle in War Thunder; there are more than a thousand vehicles in the game for you to choose, each with their own unique statistics and purposes. It's also massively multiplayer and highly competitive, meaning you get to pit your favorite war machines against other players' in matches.
Overwatch is a huge hit around the globe for its fun asymmetrical combat involving really interesting characters. If the price is a concern for you, however, or you simply want to try out the hype, then you can check a similar free game, called Paladins. Paladins is also a first-person shooter (FPS) with diverse characters comparable in design and aesthetics with Overwatch.
It's not just your blatant and ambitionless copycat, of course. Paladins has its own thing and features arguably more varied characters and gameplay elements than what is present in Overwatch. You can customize and tailor your own Champion builds or skill sets or even their appearance for more personalized gameplay. It's also mainly designed for a player-vs-player formula, meaning it can be extremely competitive.
4 Team Fortress 2
For a many in the gaming community, Team Fortress 2 was the primary and obvious inspiration for multiplayer shooter hybrids like Overwatch. That may not be the case according to Blizzard—Overwatch's developers—so take that community speculation with a grain of salt. However, the multiplayer template is undeniable and Team Fortress 2 probably contributed a lot to such a formula.
Team Fortress 2 is a shooter that was released back in 2007 and has since cemented itself as one of the best and most fun tactical FPS ever. Its goofy style and class assortment—not characters, just classes—lend a lot to its uniqueness and atmosphere. Even when better alternatives have entered the gaming scene, Team Fortress 2 has withstood the test of time and is still popular today. You'll find no shortage of friends and players here.
3 DOTA 2
While the matches in Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) 2 only last somewhere from 30-45 minutes, you might eventually find yourself spending thousands of hours mastering the game and increasing your rank. This multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game is the most competitive out of all the free video games here. It takes surreal amounts of skill, practice, hand-eye coordination, and split-second decision making to be respected by the majority of the player base, and even then, you might still occasionally called get called a "noob" or worse.
The gameplay appears simple at first; pick a hero, buy them items, push the enemy back to their base. Beneath that, however, are layers upon layers of intricacies that are all crucial to obtaining the upper hand. Due to this, the DOTA 2 community has a stigma for having an insanely toxic player base. Regardless, that probably wouldn't stop you from having fun once you get used to the culture and people in this game.
2 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
It's hard to decide whether Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's player base is more toxic than DOTA 2's. Between the two, it's probably a tie. CS:GO players take their matches quite seriously—even if there's not much at stake other than their pride or digital "ownage." The difference is, matches in CS:GO don't last as long since it's a tactical FPS, meaning players' heads don't usually become as hot in here as in DOTA 2.
For that matter, you might find it fun. Like some MOBAs, CS:GO is also deceptively simple at the start but has many layers of skill and mastery beneath the basic facade. You'll want proper spray control—for your guns, that is—proper gaming hardware, a high-frequency monitor, a high DPI mouse, and a good keyboard, and a fiber optic internet connection. All those are optional, though, and are usually reserved for the competitive players training for esports. Don't let that intimidate you, as you can just try out other game modes like battle royale for less stress.
Warframe is what happens when the developers love their game and their player base at the same time. The said parkour space ninja shooter game initially started off as a troubled project; the developers decided to self-publish it after publishers rejected their game, saying it wouldn't be a hit and the free-to-play model is terrible. Now, they are among the top free-to-play games in the market since their release back in 2013. Suffice to say, they probably know the free-to-play market best.
Warframe is perhaps the most generous free-to-play game in this list, and that's saying something. Even the premium currency in-game, called Platinum can be earned with a bit of effort, meaning there is no divide among players, and you are not gated from certain in-game content. Everything is accessible here just by playing. You don't even have to worry about having motivations to play; you get to control a race of space ninjas called the Tenno and work along with or against warring factions in the solar system as a mercenary. The graphics, the combat, the story, the presentation, and the value in this game put all other free video games to shame. Do yourself a favor and try it out!