Video games generally cost $60 for a full retail experience ($50 for most PC games). In this economy, savings is more important than ever. As such, more and more games are being released as “free to play.”
Free to play games are free to download and play. The developer makes money on “micro-transactions.” These usually involve the sale of in-game items that enhance your play experience, but aren’t required to play the game.
Here are some top free to play games available right now, covering several genres of interest:
1. Lord of the Rings Online
A massive online RPG, this is based on Tolkien’s legendary universe. Great for fans of World of Warcraft that want an alternative that is less expensive! Available for download on Steam.
Xonotic is a first person shooter (FPS) game, created in the style of the legendary Quake III Arena. It features blazing fast gameplay and great graphics, but since it is meant to emulate the style and look of older shooters, it runs on a wide variety of computers, even older ones. Xonotic is available from its website.
3. Tribes: Ascend
Also a free first person shooter, Tribes: Ascend features vehicles, jetpacks, and class based gameplay. It is, however, made with modern graphics and does require a reasonably modern PC to run. It is also available on Steam.
4. Dwarf Fortress
And now for something… completely different! Dwarf Fortress is an incredibly unique game in which you control a deep simulation of a colony of dwarves. What makes it so unique, among other things, is that its graphics are made entirely of text! That’s right: the kind of “text art” you sometimes see (think the “Picard facepalm”) in the comments section of your favorite blog comprises the entire graphical output of this game (it is an amazing effect: especially the opening cutscene). Of course, it is also a very complex game, and part of the fun is learning *how* to play it, as much as the actual gameplay. It is available from its website.
5. Team Fortress 2
Incredibly popular even five years after its original release, Valve’s classic class based multiplayer shooter is absolutely brimming with personality and clever design. The name of the game is teamwork: you’ll be on a team, and you can’t just run n’ gun. You’ll have to work with your ‘mates, and use your characters unique skills. These include the Scout’s fast movement, the Pyro’s flamethrower, and the Sniper’s long range abilities, among other classes. Available, of course, from Steam!