When a game is released as free to play it carried a certain amount of air to it. That is to say, it was often viewed distastefully. How could a free game be any good? For the most part, this boom came around with the birth of high-quality smartphones via the iPhone in 2007. Since then we’ve had an overabundance of free apps, which then bled into PC games, which then transferred into consoles, and now here we are. So in that time frame, have free to play games evolved into something substantial even on the console side? You bet they have! I’m actually kind of jealous of kids nowadays. It used to be that if I wanted a new game I had to beg my parents, or wait for a birthday, or a holiday to get something. Either that, or renting games, which I did a lot of too even though it was also expensive.
Young gamers have it so easy now. There are plenty of free to play games no matter what console you own. Not to mention the mobile market again. Plus with services like PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass, well, we are all swimming in games. If my theoretical kid came up to me and told me they were bored my head would explode. There’s a lot to play, but it’s hard to know what’s good and what’s not. Even though something is free it costs precious time. That’s why I devised this handy list. Hope it helps!
30 Lame: Pokémon Quest
Right off the bat, I hated Pokémon Quest. Sure it’s bright and cheery, but that cube art is low rent and clearly a scam to lure in Minecraft fans. Then you got the gameplay, which there is basically none of. Every level you start, the Pokémon just auto run through it. You can tap to pull off specials, but since the game moves freely anyway I just clicked auto battle to do the specials for me. There’s no player incentive. It’s an insult to the fans and brand.
29 Best: Fortnite Battle Royale
Admittedly I’m not a fan of Fortnite, or its free to play Battle Royale mode, but there’s no escaping its popularity right now. Even if it’s not for me I can see why people love it so much. Who would have thought that this game, which was in development heck for years, rumored to be canceled several times, would go on to be a global phenomenon to the point where it’s literally everywhere? Fortnite continues to be the biggest surprise of 2018.
28 Lame: Fallout Shelter
According to the lead on the Fallout series, Todd Howard, over 120 million people have played Fallout Shelter. Cool, but it’s free. That doesn’t mean they played more than once. In this day and age with everyone having a phone of course we’re going to try free stuff.
Why would I want a terrible phone sim on my console?
I can’t tell you how many big name offshoots I’ve downloaded, played once, and then never touched again. Now you can play on your consoles. Why? I say nay to you Bethesda.
27 Best: Hawken
Ever since this launched on PCs back in 2012, I’ve been itching to play it. At long last, it came to consoles in 2016 and the wait was worth it. Climbing inside a mech and customizing it to your play style is as addicting as it was the first time I created my own load out in Modern Warfare 2. Admittedly it had a rocky start with frame rates and the general online infer structure, but it’s better now. It’s as close as we’ll get to pilot mechs in real life. Well, for free that is.
26 Lame: A King’s Tale Final Fantasy XV
Somehow, even before it was released, Final Fantasy XV had a bazillion spinoffs planned. One of those is this prequel starring Noctis’ dad. On paper it sounds cool: a retro beat ‘em in the Final Fantasy universe. Awesome! Trouble is the combat is slow, bogged down by an unwanted parry and counter system. Plus it’s single player only. Has Square Enix even played a brawler before? You need co-op! That’s the soul of what breaks, or breaks games in this genre.
25 Best: Final Fantasy XIV
If you want a good free Final Fantasy than look no further than XIV. You can download it for free and play until level 35 with most of the core features available. After that, you have to pay the $15 a month subscription.
The best MMO on this list!
I think at that point you’ll know if you want to keep playing, or not. If I didn’t have a job in the games press wherein I’m encouraged to play a lot of different games, I think I’d still be playing this. That is to say, it’s very good and highly addictive.
24 Lame: Brawlhalla
Brawlhalla is another in a long line of terrible Super Smash Bros. clones. Here’s why it fails. The game has no recognizable characters. Did you think people played Smash because the gameplay was fun? It’s fine, but it’s not the most robust fighter. Nintendo is successful because it has a huge catalog of characters. Even PlayStation’s go, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, was alright. Not as iconic a roster, but still fun. Brawlhalla is a nobody and also just basic as heck.
23 Best: Toukiden 2 Free Alliances Version
Were you surprised by Monster Hunter World and have been craving another game in that same style since it launched back in January? Also, do you like Dynasty Warriors? Yes? Well, then I have a match for you. Toukiden 2 Free Alliances Version is a mouthful, but it’s basically a feudal Japan Monster Hunter clone with ninjas, samurai, and demons. This free version launched later containing most of the main game. If you like it you can unlock everything for a somewhat minimal fee. It’s a good deal and fun time especially with friends.
22 Lame: Army Proving Ground
Doesn’t that sound fun kids? Don’t you want to join the United States Army and thwart real villains with subpar gameplay that’s worse than a PS1 game? Well then head on over to your PS4 and download Army: Proving Ground today.
If you want a less fun Call of Duty, play this.
There are so many people playing. There’s no deserted lobbies, or lag during gameplay at all. It’s so exciting! Aaaaand...scene. Obviously, I was being sarcastic there, because it’s a bad experience.
21 Best: World Of Tanks
If you want a war game that takes place in our modern era for free and is actually good then I suggest World of Tanks. The name says it all. It’s a tank based multiplayer shooter and it controls just about as good as you’d think a tank should. That is to say, it’s clunky. That may be a detriment to movement found in a certain 90s survival-horror game, but it fits here. It’s a sim more than anything else featuring tanks from across the globe and throughout the ages. It’s a collector’s dream come true.
20 Lame: Defiance 2050
Defiance was created with a lofty goal in mind. The SyFy show and game launched in April 2013. Players could get exclusive quests if they followed the show, which would affect the game and potentially vice versa. Eventually, the show was canceled, because, well, it was another terrible SyFy show, but the game has lived on. It just got ported to modern consoles under the guise of Defiance 2050 and it’s just as bad if not worse looking than the last-gen version. Did they actually do any port work?
19 Best: Star Trek Online
If you want a good sci-fi MMO on your PS4, or Xbox One than I suggest jumping into Star Trek Online. Now I’m not going to lie. It started in 2010 and it continues to basically look like it was made in 2010.
Rocket to your nearest online stores, man.
It’s rough around the edges, but like World of Tanks, it’s a dream come true for fans. The attention to detail in following the lore of the numerous shows is incredible. Plus it has both ship and on the ground combat to satiate both fan bases.
18 Lame: Dust 514
For those unaware, Dust 514 is a tie-in to the ungodly popular EVE Online. We’re talking on a global scale. When ships send troops to war, that’s what Dust 514 is supposed to symbolize. It was meant to be a better jumping on point to the series, but it’s almost as complicated as EVE Online. A shooter should be as easy to play as 1-2-3, but it sadly isn’t. Both of these titles aren’t games. They are full time jobs.
17 Best: Warframe
I recently wrote about Warframe in an article about games that deserve a second chance. When it launched it was pretty bare bones and reviews reflected that. Now some, including myself, think it does the Destiny concept better. I know it’s hard to believe that a free game is better than an AAA title from Activision, but come on. It’s free so why not give it a shot? Then you can be the judge. Was I right, or am I full of it?
16 Lame: Lost Reavers
The Wii U tried so many times to reinvigorate itself, but failed almost every time. It’s a shame because I liked it, but I’m at least glad to see that most of its best titles are being ported to the Switch.
It should have stayed lost.
Anyway one of the ways it tried to reach out was a free to play game from Bandai Namco called Lost Reavers. It’s a pretty basic dungeon crawler with four-player co-op. It came out and was quickly forgotten due to a poor reception.
15 Best: Happy Dungeons
I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the previous Happy game aka Happy Wars, which was a lengthy MOBA type. The sequel spinoff is a lot easier to digest. It’s a dungeon crawler with each mission being super short, almost akin to a mobile game. It has co-op, classes, character customization, and it’s cute. It’s fun for all ages. It’s the one game on here the I don’t mind feels like it was created to played in short bursts akin to a phone title. In fact, it’d be great on Switch.
14 Lame: Galak-Z Variant S
The original Galak-Z tried to pay homage to 80s anime like Robotron while creating an epic new twist on the space shooter genre. It was a nice sentiment, but one I couldn’t get behind. If the main game wasn’t fun for me then why should I care about a free spinoff? The thing that really throws me off is the size of everything on screen. It’s even worse on the Switch’s screen. This came out of nowhere and it’ll go nowhere.
13 Best: Neverwinter
For those unaware Neverwinter is actually set in the Dungeons and Dragons universe. Even if you’ve never played a session before, Neverwinter may seem familiar via BioWare’s action RPG, Neverwinter Nights. Like that, this is also an action RPG that harkens back to the sorely missed Champions of Norrath series on PS2, but in MMO form.
Yeah, it’s kind of old looking now, but it’s brimming with content. It’s not as robust as say Final Fantasy XIV, but if you’re looking for yet another MMO, give it a shot.
12 Lame: Dawn of the Breakers
Dawn of the Breakers: You can’t get more obtuse than that. Oh, wait, yes you can. In Japan, it’s called Breakers: Dawn of Heroes. Silly names aside this is an old school brawler, that would be fun if it moved faster and the characters were better utilized. It suffers from a lot of the same issues I have with A King’s Tale. Simply put, they’re ugly, squat, and reek of generic phone games. Don’t waste your precious Switch space with it.
11 Best: Knights Of Valour
If you want a good free to play beat ‘em up then you should check out Knights of Valour. It’s basically a 2D version of Dynasty Warriors as it features the same subject matter of the warring states. It’s actually based off of an old arcade game of the same name that debuted way back in 1999. This is essentially a modern reboot in free form. If you’ve got that brawler itch, scratch it with this. Show those Yellow Turbans what for.
10 Lame: Mini Mario & Friends Amiibo Challenge
Surprisingly the Wii U had another free to play game other than Lost Reavers and one I literally never heard of until researching. Now the Mini Mario series are a bunch of puzzle games where players lead a group of robo Marios to a goal. They’re charming if not somewhat repetitive.
Too little, too late.
This game allows you to scan in your Amiibo and use them in lesser-designed courses. Oh what fun you’ll have on the deceased console.
9 Best: Path Of Exile
Recently I reviewed Titan Quest, which was trying to ape Diablo’s design. Long story short I did not like it in the slightest. That said if you do want a really good Diablo clone in that same time period, sort of, then try out Path of Exile. There’s really not much to say about it, as it’s exactly what you imagine it to be. It’s a top down hack and slash RPG with oodles upon oodles of loot. Go, play!
8 Lame: Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct is actually a great fighting game. It, however, is not a good free game. You can download and play one character, ONE, on a rotating basis. Cool so you want me to come back weekly and hope to find a character I like so that I can then pay money to unlock him, or her? If this was marketed as a standalone thing you could buy without a weird free model then I think it could’ve been a bigger deal than it initially was.
7 Best: Let It Die
Let It Die began as Lily Bergamo. It too was set to be an action game, but somewhere along the way, it was changed. Weirder still Grasshopper Manufacture barely advertised the game before shadow dropping it on PS4 during PlayStation’s press conference for PSX in 2016.
It’s heavily inspired by Dark Souls in terms of gameplay. It’s very challenging, but put in enough time and you’ll get a lot out of it. Putting in cash will speed up the process if you really love it.
6 Lame: Fable Fortune
Fable Fortune comes with a fabled, ha, history. This series has remained a console exclusive to Xbox since day one. Despite some issues with the first three, it was well regarded. Then Fable Journey came out, and then Fable Legends was announced, delayed, and canceled along with its developer, Lionhead Studios. Then to replace that devastating trail of tears they released a free to play card game? Don’t we have enough card games on the table? What is going on over there Microsoft?
5 Best: Phantom Dust
A good Xbox One exclusive card game is Phantom Dust. It’s actually not specifically a card game in the traditional sense. You can equip your character with abilities in the form of cards. They are as much cards as a ring is a card, or something. I lost the analogy. Point is while it’s not as exciting as the promised sequel; it was cool for Microsoft to remaster the original cult classic for free. It’s surprisingly deep for an original Xbox title.
4 Lame: APB Reloaded
A real world MMO devised of cops and robbers sounds pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it’s not great. Out of every MMO on here, it is by far the worst. I couldn’t believe how terrible it looked let alone played.
Put out an APB for a terrible video game on the double!
Even the user interface was messed up. I couldn’t figure out what to do in the tutorial. If you get that wrong then you know something has to be up.
3 Best: DC Universe Online
DC Universe Online is not the game I imagined it to be. You’re not taking on the mantle of a familiar DC superhero like Wonder Woman, or Batman and fighting crime. Instead, you’re a new hero with freshly formed powers that fits neatly into several categories that mimic the more popular ones. It’s not as cool as being the Batman, but at the same time would you want to play a MMO with nothing, but black caped crusaders? No. In this way, it makes more sense and is probably better for it in the long run.
2 Lame: Clicker Heroes
Not to annoy, or critique anyone too harshly, but what exactly do people find interesting about these clicker games? On one hand, I can see it sometimes feeling good to see numbers go up after a long day’s work of turmoil. Turning off your brain and feeding it rewards easily like in Clicker Heroes may be a good stress reliever. I can get behind that, but if all you want to do is relax just grab a movie, or something. This is not a game.
1 Best: Smite
The only MOBA I ever really got into was DOTA 2. One, my Mac could run it. Two, my friends encouraged me to play with them and the rest is history. I’ve since stopped and haven’t t really found a console MOBA to really hook me, but I did like what I played of Smite.
Imagine a scenario where all the Worlds gods and historical heroes fought in one big arena. Doesn’t that sound cool? For those that want a bit more action and 3D movement in a MOBA, Smite is worth a download.