Best free games 2023: gaming fun at no cost

The best free games are games that come at no base price. Instead, these games either cost you nothing at all, or they make their money via regular subscriptions or the sale of cosmetic items.

The point is that you can voluntarily decide whether you’ll spend money on the game at all, and how much of it. The best free games offer a fun gaming experience that doesn’t restrict players who don’t pay – these games let you earn items it offers for money in other ways, or even better, they include no microtransactions at all. Of course the games itself have to be enjoyable enough to have you keep coming back for more.

The games on our list cover a variety of genres – from multiplayer shooter to online RPG or sci-fi adventure, there’s a whole lot of games to enjoy for free, no matter your taste.

Best free games 2023

best free games: characters such as samurai and a geisha standing in front of a Japanese castle and pink cherry blossom trees in MapleStory

(Image credit: Nexon)

10. MapleStory

The cute free-to-play platformer you didn’t know you were missing

Platforms: PC

Among the many games on this list that use RPG mechanics, MapleStory truly stands out. Not only is it a side-scroller, it’s also a platformer with really appealing visuals.

If you’ve grown tired of the dark fantasy aesthetic of most MMORPGs, you’ll love MapleStory’s colorful and inspired flair. Described by developer Nexon as the original 2D side-scrolling MMO, MapleStory takes the classic Dungeons and Dragons-inspired genre and gives it a new twist. The lighter tone and customization of this game make it feel more like Story of Seasons than Final Fantasy XIV, and it places more emphasis on improving aesthetics than many other MMOs, giving players a lot more personalization over how their characters look. 

Players also love MapleStory for its strong social dynamics – working together is a required aspect of many quests, but banding together with others is such fun that the game developed a rich social life including in-game weddings and bands.

best free games: Several players standing in a village square in RuneScape

(Image credit: Jagex Ltd.)

9. Runescape

Experience an unbeatable sense of freedom

Platforms: PC, iOS, Android

If you’re new to Runescape, you’ll need to know about the difference between Runescape and Old School Runescape. Originally released in 2001, this is one of the oldest free-to-play MMORPGs, and as such it has changed significantly from the original experience. Thankfully, Developer Jagex gives you the choice which version to dive into, by differentiating between Runescape, the game’s current incarnation, and Old School Runescape, a completely community-driven version of Runescape of olde.

What makes Runescape so special among MMORPGs is its lack of a central storyline. Here, you make your stories yourself, and you have a lot of different tasks and an impossibly large world to play in. Runescape does ask you to grind, but it does have a really satisfying sense of progression – you’ll always know the grind is worth it.

No game has been updated more often than Runescape, and while you can see its ages even after several overhauls, the gaming experience and community are fantastic even after all these years.

best free games: A spaceship flying through a nebula towards a planet in Eve Online

8. EVE Online

The largest, mostd etailled space adventure you can take part in

Platforms: PC

In 2003, Icelandic developer CCP Games unleashed EVE Online, an immersive and in-depth ‘sci-fi experience’ that would ultimately grab the attention of well over 500,000 players. EVE Online is unlike any game in its category due to the vast range of activities to participate in as well as its (appropriately) out-of-this-world in-game economy. This is a sci-fi MMO simulating a galaxy of over 5000 star systems and wormhole galaxies for you to travel through in giant spaceships. 

EVE Online features immensely detailed worldbuilding, then leaves players in charge
– political alliances between player factions are just as possible as large-scale wars. The ‘alpha clones’ system featured in EVE Online is like the unlimited free trial feature found in a lot of MMORPGs. You can engage with other players in piracy, manufacturing, trading, mining, exploration and combat, but certain skills in the free version are off-limits, as well as higher-end ships. 

If you don’t want to limit your access to some of the game’s most lumbering ships, you can opt for the Omega subscription. Otherwise, the game won’t cost a penny, and there’s plenty to do for free in the universe of New Eden.

Team Fortress 2

(Image credit: Valve)

7. Team Fortress 2

Platforms: PC

Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer shooter which offers plenty of unique modes next to standards such as Capture the Flag and Payload. There’s the Medieval Mode, which lets players only use melee weapons or PASS Time, a rugby-inspired mode that lets you pass around and score goals with an actual ball.

It may be an old vet in gaming terms, but nothing offers such crazy fun as Team Fortress 2. The community is fun, and there’s no shortage of cool weapons and skills to have fun with. Infinitely silly, it’s still one of the genre’s kings and one of the best free games around.

The game does come with some optional microtransactions. You can buy additional items, often cosmetics used to personalize your character. Team Fortress 2 is the the only comedy shooter of its kind, completely different from the likes of Fortnite, and still immensely popular despite its age. If you love the genre, you should give it a go.

best free games: a tank destroying something in a massive explosion

(Image credit: Wargaming)

6. World of Tanks

The most realistic vehicle strategy around

Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch (available on iOS and Android as mobile standalone version World of Tanks Blitz)

As the name suggests, World of Tanks is a game all about duking it out with massive vehicles. You either destroy all of your opposing team’s tanks first, or you occupy their base long enough to win. 

Where other games have a more complicated setup or ask for a large time investment, World of Tanks is one of the best free games for all those who enjoy something that’s quick to pick up, but also reveals considerable depth. Each vehicle in World of Tanks is defined by the type of damage it does and the weaknesses it has, and studying the different tanks is almost as much fun as using them.Team-based, massively multiplayer action with a wide array of war machines to drive into battle awaits. New players can jump into the fray right away. 

The upgrade system lets you personalize while being surrounded by an entire army at all times, to remind you that loners won’t make it on the battlefield. But be warned: get sucked in, and you may find yourself spending hefty sums on big chunks of virtual metal. However, a responsible approach to the game doesn’t stop this from being so much fun the game earns the title of one of the best free games.

best free games: Three characters stand on a hill and look at the scenery below

(Image credit: Epic Games)

5. Fortnite Battle Royale

The vibrant pop culture sensation

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android

Fortnite Battle Royale is based on a simple scenario: you’re dropped in a map with 99 other players in a free-for-all melee, and the last one left standing at the end wins. Because of its meteoric success, Epic Games is working hard to steadily integrate new game modes and fresh features. Take Playground mode, for example – it drops you in the map and lets you build up structures for a set amount of time before the floodgates open and the carnage begins.

While there are many Battle Royale games to choose from these days, none look and feel like Fortnite. The game’s cartoonish look and lack of blood open it to a large age range of players, and with character skins and events featuring everyone from Arianna Grande to Geralt the Witcher, everyone is getting in on the action. Fortnite has also developed a really interesting storyline around its ever-changing island. Read our Fortnite review to learn more about the game’s evolution.

Fortnite is free-to-play with optional purchases. You can buy skins and battle passes, but you can also earn these items through gameplay. What’s particularly cool is that Fortnite is also one of the best crossplay games, meaning you can play with your friends regardless of which platform they’re on. Whether you’re on PC, Xbox Series X|S, PS5 or Nintendo Switch, you’ll be able to match up against millions of other players from different platforms.

best free games: three star Wars characters and a droid battling off-screen enemies

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

4. Star Wars: The Old Republic

A thrilling Star Wars story in multiplayer format

Platforms: PC

Long before the release of games such as Jedi: Fallen Order and Battlefront 2, The Old Republic was one of the best ways to explore the Star Wars universe in game form. Set more than 3,600 years before the original movie trilogy, The Old Republic tells the story of the strained postwar relationship following a large Jedi/Sith war. How long will the peace hold for, and whose side will you be on if it breaks?

This is a well-told story, and it’s worth your time just to experience the Star Wars universe from different sets of eyes, like the hyper-professional Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter. If you want to  just have a generic Jedi Knight, though – you can totally do that as well.

Star Wars: The Old Republic wasn’t intended to be free at release. However, it has since, like so many of the best MMO games before it, adopted the free-to-play model. Subscriptions are on hand for more in-game potential and end-game content, but this is on our list of the best free games because all the story missions are still accessible for free.  If you want to satisfy your inner Sith, this is the best way to do that, and do it for free.

best free games: a group of League of Legends heroes

(Image credit: Riot Games)

3. League of Legends

One for lovers of tense competition

Platforms: PC (on Android and iOS as mobile-optimized version League of Legends: Wild Rift)

This game is what’s called a MOBA, or mobile battle arena. In all of its modes, two teams of players compete with each other. The goal is to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus, a magical structure, while keeping your own intact.

League of Legends’ automated matchmaking, varied cast of characters, and exquisite maps have made it a multiplayer behemoth over these past few years. It’s one of the best free games that has absolutely stood the test of time since its release all the way back in 2009.

It’s an aggressive gameplay experience to be sure, but one that rewards great teamwork and careful tactics. There is a bit of a learning curve as well, but you’ll be taken on a thrilling ride shortly after pressing play. League of Legends is completely free to play – you earn an in-game currency through play that you can also purchase for real money, much like in Fortnite, but the choice whether or not to do so is yours.

best free games: Horizon from Apex Legends slowly approaching a machine that glows with blue light

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

2. Apex Legends

The apex of multiplayer shooters

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android

To get a piece of the massive success of Battle Royale games, Respawn dropped Apex Legends almost out of nowhere. Now, the shooter has made it onto our list of the best multiplayer games, and it’s still one of the best free games to boot. Apex Legends places 60 players in the middle of a gigantic map, armed with a bunch of unique abilities that make both combat lots of fun.

Not only is the game itself an incredibly modern, lively take on the Battle Royale formula, it also offers both a story and regular events that you want to get in on. read or full Apex Legends review for more.

Apex Legends is free to play, with optional item purchases that you can also earn in-game. It’s not the chaos of 100 player Battle Royale titles like Fortnite or PUBG, but the team-based mechanics and strong character focus give it a flavor all its own that makes it feel intense, yet well-balanced. 

best free games: Characters walking around the busy city Old Sharlayan

(Image credit: Square Enix)

1. Final Fantasy XIV

An MMO you’ll want to play for its story

Platforms: PC, PS5

At launch, Final Fantasy XIV didn’t have a whole lot going for itself, but since then, the online multiplayer roleplaying game has evolved and gone from strength to strength, thanks to the impressive storytelling and new features in its expansions. 

As in other MMORPGs, you design your character and pick your profession, then you follow along with the main quests to complete the story or make a life for yourself in the world of Hydaleyn. FFXIV is one of the few games of its kind you can enjoy largely by yourself – only certain mission types require players to group together. However, in a community as large as this, there are a lot of fun options to interact with others that you should give a try, such as participating in the game’s player-driven economy. There’s even a Final Fantasy XIV nightclub scene. Final Fantasy XIV‘s storytelling and its large community elevate it above the rest. It is never too late to start, there are heaps of new content and the free-to-play model is generous.

Unlike a lot of other free-to-play MMORPGs, you can level your character all the way up to level 60 (multiple times, even) and even play the game’s award-winning expansion Heavensward for free, with no restrictions on play time. You can enjoy the best that Eorzea and beyond has to offer at no cost to you. So, climb aboard your Chocobo and work your way through the game’s impressive roster of professions and outstanding story arc.

Best free games: FAQ

best free games: several Fortnite avatars flying upwards through the sky

(Image credit: Epic Games)

What free games release in 2023?

2023 is a great year for free-to-play games: Ubisoft will release the Division: Heartland, a free-to-play installment in the third-person shooter series. Path of Exile 2 should be a feast for roleplayers, as it’s one of the best games like Diablo, and Predecessor will be a rare third-person MOBA.

What are the best free PC games?

All games on our list of best free games are available on PC, either via their own website or through storefronts such as Steam. There are also plenty more free PC games around for you to try if you’re a fan of the games on this list, such as Wazone 2.0.

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