April 13

The 12 Best Free Online Games You Can Play Right Now 

Looking for the best free PC game?  

Gaming can sure be a drain on your wallet. There’s the computer, console, video games, and then the micro-transactions. The spiraling costs can certainly add up.  

You may be wise and frugal or just plain old broke. It doesn’t matter because ‘free’ appeals to everybody, right?  

Luckily for you, there is a wide range of browser-based games that you can just play online. No downloads or costs are involved. 

But can you really get high-quality games for the low price of nothing?  

We’ve pulled together our top picks of the best and most popular games you can start playing now for free.  

All of the games have mostly positive reviews, proving that you really can get premium-quality action games without spending a single penny. 

Check out the 12 best free online games for PC

12. World of Tanks 

Image credits: Wargaming

Since its launch in 2010 on PC, World of Tanks (WoT) has constantly been evolving and adding new content. With millions of players globally, it now supports multiple platforms like Xbox, PS4, Android, and iOS.  

This massively multiplayer online (MMO) game features 20th-century armored vehicles. The gameplay is focused on a team of players, each controlling a tank to either defeat the opposing enemy team or capture their base. You earn credits and experience in every battle depending on your performance. Credits can be used to upgrade your tank. 

WoT doesn’t just have one or two tanks. You can choose from over 600 tanks from various countries. There are also different types of tanks, from light (move fast, but their guns have less penetration) to medium, heavy to tank destroyers (have the highest caliber guns), and multiple game modes, from small-scale battles to epic battles on huge maps. 

WoT is a great, action-packed game, both gameplay-wise and visually appealing. The only downside is the micro-transactions. Overall, it’s a very well-polished free-to-play game and definitely worth a try if you’ve never played it before.  

11. Forza Motorsport 6 Apex 

Image credits: Turn 10 Studios

This Forza ‘Apex’ free-to-play title was released in September 2016 for Windows 10. Essentially, it’s a cut-down version of the 2015 racing video game that was originally published for the Xbox One by Microsoft Studios. 

Downsides compared to the full Forza Motorsport version are there are fewer cars and tracks, lack of customization, no multiplayer mode, and no steering wheel support. Although it still plays surprisingly well with a keyboard.  

But this one’s still a winner because it’s got the bare bones of a fine-tuned racing sim whilst having a good balance between realism and arcade fun. The gameplay looks absolutely great and even has support for 4K resolution and 60FPS, should you have Direct X capable hardware on your PC. 

The base game still has plenty of options with 62 cars and 6 maps. You can unlock cars by earning in-game race medals. Also, you can buy more cars and tracks with microtransactions. 

Overall, Forza 6 is one of the top racing games, giving you countless hours of AAA driving experience.  

10. Planetside 2 

Image credits: Daybreak Game Company

PlanetSide 2 is a massively multiplayer online first-person shooter (MMOFPS) game. 

The gameplay features fights involving thousands of players, supporting up to 2,000 concurrent players on a single map. These close proximity fights are fast-paced with sprinting, iron sights, and regenerating shields.  

Each player can join one of 3 warring factions: Vanu Sovereignty (VS), Terran Republic (TR), or the New Conglomerate (NC). Each of the factions has its own strengths and weaknesses, with only minor differences in weapons and vehicles. The goal of each faction is to capture territories across continents on the planet Auraxis. 

Infantry is grouped into six different classes, each offering unique battlefield roles and abilities to your faction. These are Infiltrator, Light Assault, Combat Medic, Engineer, Heavy Assault, and MAX. 

Like many other MMOFPS games, you’ll only have a few weapons when first starting out. You can unlock more by playing and getting more, for example, by getting kills, repairing vehicles, and reviving players. As the battle rages on the map, it generates chaos on the server as all three sides try to secure the map by gaining the most territory. Each map offers a truly unique experience, in which you can navigate using one of the 18 ground or air vehicles. 

Graphically, it still looks impressive today, even though it was originally released in 2012. The game is fully accessible and enjoyable without spending a penny. The other good news is that the future’s looking brighter than ever, as the Planetside team has been rolling out new content on a regular basis. So, if you decide to download and play it, you definitely won’t have any problem finding a new battle. 

9. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 

Image credits: Valve

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) was published by Valve in 2012. It came from a long lineage of MMOFPS game titles, like the original Counter-Strike (CS), released for Windows in 1999. It transitioned to a free-to-play gaming model in December 2018. 

CS: GO now has about 11 million players per month. It’s endured so well because of its well-balanced, competitive gameplay that requires skill to succeed. 

If you’re new to CS, you’ll find the game a more cerebral experience instead of the run-and-gun arcade-style action popularized by Call of Duty. But Global Offensive’s comparatively pared-down experience is no less thrilling, with a focus on teamwork and tactics. 

You can choose between four online game types as part of the Terrorist or Counter-Terrorist teams. Classic Casual and Classic Competitive are team-based modes played in multiple rounds. The goal in each is to either eliminate the opposition or be the first team to complete a map-related goal. The other two modes consist of Arms Race and Demolition.  

What makes CS: GO so appealing is it plays differently from its competitors. If you’re tired of seeing praying and spraying in other action games, then you’ll appreciate that using short, controlled bursts will be more successful.  

Of course, one of the most important aspects of any browser game is how much you want to play after your gaming session ends. This is where Global Offensive excels. It has the same addictive quality that helped make the earlier games a long-term success story. 

Shooter fans looking to prove their mettle against a talented pool of players shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. 

8. Runescape 

Image credits: Jagex

Runescape is a high fantasy MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game) that was initially released in 2001. This golden oldie is certainly popular, with over 200 million accounts created. Guinness World Records recognizes Runescape as the largest and most-updated free MMORPG in the world.

There are currently two different Runescape versions. Old School, which is based on the 2007 desktop version of the game, and Runescape 3, which is less popular but more modern, with more micro-transactions. This game has thousands of hours of content due to it being around for so long. 

The action takes place in the Gielinor, a medieval fantasy world that has different kingdoms, regions, and cities. Each kingdom has different types of resources, monsters, and quests. Players travel through each region using a number of methods like, on charter ships, by foot, or using magical spells. 

Runescape 3’s questing is some of the best in the MMO genre. Visually they’ve done a good job in updating the game over the years. 

Compared to other MMOs, the ‘click to move’ movement feels unresponsive compared to other competitors today, like Albion Online. Overall, a very good PvE (Player versus environment or player versus enemy) game. There are also a lot of mini-games, which you casual players can jump into for a bit of fun.  

7. League of Legends 

Image credits: Riot Games

League of Legends (LoL or ‘League’) is an online multiplayer battle game published in October 2009. The game’s popularity peaked at 8 million players in 2019, leading to spin-off games and other products like music videos and animated series. 

The actual gameplay feels amazing. It caters to both competitive and casual gamers. So, you can either play hard to win or just for fun. 

It’s a fairly straightforward game in terms of strategy, making it easier for new players to pick up. You can learn by playing against bots or matching up with players at your skill level.    

This game has a lot of replayability, which means every single game is different. You’ll need lightning reflexes and skill due to the super-fast-paced action. There’s no delay in input, and it feels very responsive.  

You don’t need a beast PC to run this game. The stylized graphics mean the system requirements are fairly low. 

There are a few negatives too. There’s a toxic community (it goes with people being competitive) – just use the mute button. There are trolls and time wasters, but you can report them. The user interface lacks the basic functionality you’d expect from a game of this caliber. You can’t pause the game if your teammate disconnects temporarily. So, it feels pretty unsatisfying if the game just randomly ends. 

This game is free-to-play, although the game is monetized through character customization. So, if none of the cons have made you against it, why not give it a shot?  

6. Call of Duty: Warzone 

Image credits: Activision

 Call of Duty Warzone is a squad-based battle royale MMOFPS released in March 2020.  

Warzone mashes up several familiar locations from Call of Duty’s past, but on a larger scale. The stellar weapon variety and well-crafted massive map consistently deliver excellent firefights. 

Gameplay starts with you and a group choosing a spot on the map and parachuting in. You run around, find guns and loot and fight your way to being #1. You’re also getting the gunplay, game mechanics, and systems from Modern Warfare. You can pick up different guns, colored based on how cool and useful they are. 

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an area devoid of well-crafted structures brimming with weapons, supplies, and cash. Money can be redeemed randomly placed by buy stations for things like killstreaks, armored plates, weaponry, and load-out drops. 

Earning cash itself is at least a little fun, thanks to contracts visible on the mini-map, which tasks your squad with scavenging supplies, capturing a zone revealing a recon station, or hunting a specific player. 

The Gulag is where you go when you die for the first time. You’re taken to the shower room of prison to take part in a gladiatorial scrap with another dead player in return for a shot at reincarnation. 

It’s not just about being the best player, but a smart and savvy one too. Control-wise it could be a lot better, but Call of Duty Warzone still remains thoroughly enjoyable.  

5. Valorant 

Image credits: Riot Games

Valorant is a competitive MMOFPS shooter, officially released in June 2020 by Epic Games. Inspired by the Counter-Strike series of shooters, it’s set in the near future. 

The gameplay is in quick, fast-paced rounds. Teams take turns as either the attackers or defenders in a best of 25 rounds. Attackers carry a bomb to one of several bomb sites on one of three finely tuned maps. Meanwhile, the defenders must thwart the attackers by preventing them from planting the bomb or defusing it once they do. 

After each round, you get credits based on your performance. You can spend this in-game currency on weapons, armor, and limited use abilities. 

The game features a variety of agents in 4 playable roles: Duelists, Sentinels, Initiators, and Controllers. Each agent has unique abilities, which require charges. 

The familiar Counter-Strike features all exist here. From the movement of the rounds, pinpoint accuracy, quick deaths, and instant headshot to pre-aiming. It’s quick and brutal but can be pretty satisfying. 

All Valorant’s weapons have a distinctive personality, including primary guns like machine guns, shotgun and sniper rifles, and secondary guns like sidearms. Each of the 17 guns at your disposal has an elaborate and unique recoil pattern. 

You’ll need to budget skills along with guns to maximize an agent’s combat potential. It’s that risk/reward decision-making that adds a layer of tactical depth that goes way beyond just picking your favorite weapon each round. You can spend your earned cash on weapon skins, so they’re unlocked for each gun to make them look more appealing. The graphics, maps, and animations are designed incredibly well. 

Valorant is a ridiculously fun multiplayer FPS that combines the flexibility of a magically infused cast with a deep arsenal and great gunplay fundamentals. 

The learning curve is steep, but once you’ve mastered it, you could easily spend hundreds of hours playing Valorant. It’s free to download and play. You don’t have anything to lose if you want to try it.   

4. Apex Legends 

Image credits: Electronic Arts

Apex Legends is an online multiplayer battle royale shooter game released in 2019. Set in the same science fiction universe as the Titanfall series and also includes some of its cast of characters. Apex takes the core movement, flow, and shooting of Titanfall and puts it into a smaller scale battle royale game with a few more twists on the genre. 

While the battle royale structure here is familiar, it’s the 16 playable characters called legends that keep Apex from feeling run-of-the-mill. Each legend has its own abilities, strengths, and play style, as well as a compelling backstory. The different team combinations can let you get more out of their individual character abilities. Even though some legends do feel stronger than others in certain situations, Apex makes sure personal skill is more important than the specific moves of any given legend. Also, skill-based matchmaking means you’re faced with people closest to your own skill level. 

There’s a wide arsenal of extremely satisfying, futuristic weapons to pick from across Apex’s three maps. Attachments are more about customizing guns to your personal preference rather than supplying a pure power boost. Weapons test your aim more than your luck. Season updates arrive every few months to tweak and re-balance weapons, keeping gunplay fresh. 

Apex’s revolutionary contextual ping system has only gotten better since its launch. It allows you to quickly communicate with your team in detail without having to use voice chat. There’s a reason why so many classic games have copied it since. 

The fast-paced matches will never fail to get your heart racing as you jump, slide and dodge bullets while hip firing a sniper rifle. 

As a free-to-play game, Apex Legends plays perfectly well, being both fun and competitive, and is the perfect mix of thrilling and approachable. If you enjoy the battle royale genre, download it and check it out.  

3. Warframe 

Image credits: Digital Extremes

Warframe is an action role-playing third-person shooter multiplayer online game, released in March 2013, although its origins date back to 2000. 

In Warframe, you play as a Tenno, a lost race of super-powered beings who wear suits known as ‘war frames’ into combat. You collect materials from various planets to build new gear at your Forge. The star map is how you’ll leave on missions, enter social spaces and see what timed events are going on.  

There are a variety of mission types that will task you with goals, like eliminating a certain number of enemies or saving a hostage. By completing missions, timed events, and quests, you’ll unlock new weapons, frames, cosmetic items, and mods in order to become more powerful and progress through the story and star map.

At the start of the game, you’ll be given a choice between three different frames, which are basically classes. Each frame has its own unique abilities and stats that can be modified heavily during the game. Frames can either be bought from the in-game market using platinum or earned by grinding out the necessary blueprints and materials. You can switch between frames and are never locked into any one. For newer players, Excalibur is the easiest frame to use. Volt is a spellcaster using chain lightning and AoE abilities. Mag uses gravity spells to push and pull their enemies. 

Choose whatever weapons suit your playing style and experience. All of the starter weapons can be acquired and crafted fairly easily early on in the game. 

One of the unique things about Warframe’s gameplay is its movement mechanics. As with other shooters, there’s the typical crouching, jumping, and sliding. What makes Warframe unique is how you can chain all the abilities together and fly at breakneck speed through environments. It’s both simple to learn and incredibly satisfying to pull off.  

At first glance, the star map can be daunting. But you won’t be visiting most of these planets until 100+ hours into the game. When you begin, you’ll be on earth, and you’ll have access to a couple of missions. By finishing quests, you’re rewarded with new planets, social spaces, weapons, and warframe blueprints. 

There’s a healthy Warframe fandom, so you’re never short of players. Definitely worth a try. 

2. Dota 2 

Image credits: Valve

Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game released in 2013. Defense of the Ancients was the game that started the entire MOBA genre. That original success has been recreated in its sequel, Dota 2.  

Dota 2 stands out with its generous free-to-play structure, uncompromising depth, and great gaming experience. From the moment you complete the tutorial, the whole Dota 2 universe, including its 100+ character cast, is available. The only items for sale are cosmetic enhancements and tournament goodies, all of which are created to a high standard. What’s amazing is that not a single paid advantage will have any impact on your in-game experience.  

From the start, you know you’re in for a rough ride, hitting you with information overload and an often unforgiving gaming community. But by persevering, Dota 2 has become one of the most rewarding team-based, multiplayer games available. And once you start to learn its secrets, there’s a wild and exciting variety to play here, unrivaled by its peers. 

Dota 2 is played between two teams of five players. Each team occupies and defends its own base on the map. Each player controls a powerful character called a “hero.” Heroes and their unique abilities have impressive art and audio, so even the chaos of a 10 player team fight becomes readable to the trained eye. 

A sizable barrier to entry is having to learn everything, from killing your own units, points, and gold to complex abilities, making it a time-consuming challenge. This forces you to educate yourself and steers you towards their community. 

But beyond that barrier lies a deep pool of versatility. Unlike other MOBAs, every hero feels uniquely powerful because every hero’s strengths are countable by another’s. This works because, from the outset, every hero is free. 

As for future prospects, things look bright. Each year, there’s a long beta period, defined by regular and impressive patches, that make widespread changes to keep things fresh and interesting. So, there will always be something new to learn and master.  

Dota 2 deserves its outstanding reputation.  

The fact that it’s completely free to play is deeply rewarding and has hugely varied gameplay clearly outweighs the complex design and tough learning curve. This makes it one of the most generous games out there, creating a level playing field where both skill and cooperation matter. May the best team win.  

1. Fortnite Battle Royale 

Image credits: Epic Games

Fortnite Battle Royale gained more than 10 million players in its first two weeks of release in 2017, making it one of the biggest PC games out there.

There’s no shortage of 100 player battle royale games in the genre, but Fortnight Battle Royale stands out because of its vivid colors and unique free-form building system, which is unlike any other competitive multiplayer game. 

You and 99 other people skydive onto an island full of randomly spawning loot with the hope of being the last team or player standing. An ever-contracting circle forces survivors to get closer together, keeping things at a fast and furious pace. 

Fortnight Battle Royale stands out from the crowd through its personality. You’re not parachuting out of some bland military aircraft; instead, you drop out of a flying party bus. The island itself is different too. Instead of the standard slate gray grass and generic brown dirt patches, it’s a brilliant green with brightly colored, unique cities marking the landscape.  

Another way that Battle Royale sets itself apart is in its simplicity. With only 5 inventory slots, you’re forced to be a little choosier in what weapons to pick up. Even if you can’t find the exact weapons you’re looking for, you’re still never left feeling completely powerless. 

Battles are fun, fast, and chaotic. Most fights begin with volleys from the heavier, slow-firing guns like sniper rifles or pump-action shotguns that can end it all in one shot. If those fail, the lighter, agile weapons like assault rifles or tactical shotguns can finish it too. This might take some practice, but this fighting rhythm soon becomes automatic. 

Battle Royale’s most outstanding feature is its building system. Once you master this, you’ll feel you can control any fight. Anything that’s not the ground can be mined for stone, wood, or steel. These materials can be used to build floors, walls, and stairs anywhere on a map. There are so many possibilities that it may seem too daunting to figure out just how people built the huge structures around the island. 

The three-tile toolset might seem limited, but it has everything you’ll need. It doesn’t matter if you are jumping off a mountainside or building your way to a hard-to-reach chest. You’ll always have the right tools for the job. But it’s in the firefights where you’ll see just how much freedom you have. So, it’s not just about out-shooting your enemy, but also out-building them too. 

Part of the beauty of Fortnite’s ecosystem is its constant state of upheaval, that’s kept it feeling fresh. All of this adds up to a gaming experience that’s simply a joy to play. The only downside is the learning curve. You’re pretty much left on your own to learn how to play. So, the first few drops can often be fairly short and painful. By sticking with it, you’ll start to see how this Battle Royale ticks all the right boxes.

Battle Royale runs superbly on every platform; even on a mobile device, it still looks fantastic.  

On its release, the free-to-play model was a step ahead of the competition. Paid items are strictly cosmetic.  

Mastering Battle Royale is worth every second of your investment. It’s a neat, over-the-top game with a unique twist, combining building strategy with shooting, offering nothing short of an outstanding experience. Why not check it out?


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About the author

Kyrie Mattos