WE are well and truly into the year of 2023, and as the holiday season comes to a close, the team at Game on Australia have put together a cumulative list of the best available free to play games as of right now (so you can save some of the remaining money you haven’t already spent over the Christmas or holidays).
World of Tanks
If you’re at all familiar with the content we here at GOA push out on a fairly consistent basis, it should come as no surprise that World of Tanks is an immediate inclusion in our recommended free-to-play list, as we absolutely love it (and for very good reason). If you’re not familiar with it, World of Tanks is a tactical shooter that replaces the people with highly realistic tanks in session-based rounds.
You’ll win each session by either destroying all of the opposing tanks, or capturing your opponents base. There’s a surprising amount of depth and variety in gameplay (thanks to the numerous types of tanks you can play with various benefits), but it does become a bit of a grind if you’re not prepared to pony up some cash. If you do reach the point where the grind really kicks in, investing a bit of money may seem like a worthwhile investments due to the sheer amount of time you would have already sunk into the game.
Valorant is a highly competitive, tactical shooter, jam-packed with ‘agents’ you can unlock to play as to suit your play-style and team composition. It borrow it’s core game-play loop from Counter Strike, with the primary objective being 5v5 rounds, where the attacking team needs to plant a bomb (or eliminate their opponents), while the defending team needs to prevent this.
The unique aspect of Valorant that differentiates itself from other games in the genre is it’s roster of MOBA-like heroes, who all have unique abilities/powers that they can use on cooldowns (which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering RIOT also developed the MOBA League of Legends). There is the option to invest some money in Valorant, but it’s purely for cosmetic purposes with no in-game advantages attached. The only negative aspect of Valorant is that it’s currently exclusive to PC only, but one can always hope!
If you haven’t at least heard of Fortnite over the past 5 years, there’s a high chance you’ve been living under a rock – and that’s perfectly okay. In its simplest form, Fortnite is a 100 person battle-royals type game, where you’ll fight to be the last individual or squad standing in an FPS format. On a consistent basis, Fortnite has improved upon it’s Battle Royale experience for it’s ever-expansive audience, and offers arguably the most unique experience for anyone interested in the genre with it’s building mechanics.
Despite its cartoonish appearance, the team at Epic have just released a massive graphical update for the game, as well which has improved its shaders, FPS and stability immensely. It’s really staggering just how much you can do in a single Fortnite game now, which is why it was a no-brainer to include in this list.
Battle Royales are going to become a bit of a regularity on this list, but Fall Guys is a much less combat-centric inclusion that offers a lot of fun for any age-group. Each game drops you into a random wipe-out styled course that you must race to the end of, or be the last jelly-bean standing. Either by yourself, or with a group of your closest friends, you’ll run, jump and bump your way to victory in the body of a jelly-bean. It’s incredibly silly, yet incredibly addictive both alone and with friends.
Alike a lot of games in the free-to-play market, Fall Guys offers some purchasable skins and character customisation as their primary source of monetisation, but you can earn plenty of in-game currency and rewards to never have to spend a cent. If you’re after something colourful, competitive and fun that you can play with any of your friends (on any platform thanks to cross-play), Fall Guys is definitely worth the download.
Overwatch 2 took a huge leap by offering it’s sequel in a free-to-lay model right from launch, which has done wonders for it’s audience. It’s a class-based shooter with a healthy roster of 35 characters (and yet, I still only play as the same two) ranging from tanks, healers and damage-characters. With so many heroes and abilities, you’re certain to find one you are drawn to.If you ever had the chance to play the original Overwatch, it’s pretty much the exact same game with a few new characters and maps, and team-sizes reduced to 5 for a much more balanced and fast-paced feel.
The game uses a battle pass system for progression, cosmetic unlocks and monetisation, but from the 30 hours I’ve played thus far, I haven’t seen a need to invest in this whatsoever as I’m much more focused on my inability to successfully kill anyone with my Bastion ultimate ability. Playing with a full squad in Overwatch 2 can be some of the most intense matches of any FPS out there, and is definitely worth a download.
Genshin Impact is one of the quickest grossing and most popular free-to-play games available to date. Set in an open-world environment with stunning visuals, a multitude of enemy types to overcome, and a seemingly endless number of new characters to team up with, unlock and play as, Genshin has quickly become one of the most played games (paid or free) across the world. It feels and plays a lot like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with rich RPG elements and anime styled action presented throughout.
It uses gacha elements for unlocking new characters and gear if you don’t feel like grinding your hours away, which can be a deterrent for a lot of people, but you don’t have to spend a single cent to enjoy the bulk of what Genshin has to offer. I myself had to repetitively do a double-take when just starting the game, because of how ‘Triple-A’ it looks and plays. It’s becoming the standard of what people are looking for when it comes to ‘free-to-play’ games, and is absolutely worth trying (just be sure to hold onto your wallet tightly).
The premise of soccer combined with rocket cars really can’t be better imagined than what you get with Rocket League. It’s fast-paced, competitive and incredibly fun with a multitude of game-modes. It’s also got a really with approachable control scheme that is easy to pickup but difficult to master.
The biggest upside of Rocket League for me is the match length – as each game lasts for 5 minutes (unless you end up in overtime). There’s a lot of vehicle customisation incorporated (which is where Rocket League monetises itself), but it doesn’t affect the overall gameplay by any means, it just gives you the opportunity to show of your vehicle bling to your friends.
I can confidently say that out of all the competitive games I play, Rocket League is the one that I’m the most skilled out – which in the grand scheme of things; isn’t that impressive compared to some of the professionals out there. For anyone looking a quick game that you’ll lose a lot of time in – this is the game for you.
If you grew up playing collectible card games like Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone will be right up your alley all the fun without the bookshelves full of card binders.
Set in Blizzard’s fictitious world of Azeroth, Hearthstone takes a familiar mana mechanic found in most collectable card games, and replaces it with turn-based mana (meaning you get one additional mana each turn, instead of having to play lands/mana cards). This makes jumping into Hearthstone incredibly easy, as you can now focus on the core strategies of your deck without having to worry about how many mana cards you need to include.
There’s an immense mount of cards/heroes to choose from and customise, offering endless customisation. This is also how Blizzard monetises their game, as you can buy packs at a randomised chance of unlocking cards, but you can also earn free in-game currency to purchase these same packs – so there’s no ‘necessity’ on spending money.
We’ll give an honourable mention to Magic The Gathering: Arena, but Hearthstone takes the cake sheerly due to the fact that it’s a lot easier to be immediately competitive/effective with your starter decks as compared to the immense amount of complex systems and deck archetypes available in Magic: The Gathering (alongside the amount of money you have to invest to get worthwhile cards).
Set in the world of one of my favourite games (Titanfall), Apex Legends is another battle royale, first-person shooter, with unique classes and plenty of wall-running (if we don’t get the titans from Titanfall, we deserved the wall-running).
Apex‘s focus revolves entirely around teamwork, with it’s primary game-mode being a fight to the death between 20 3-person squads vying to be the last one’s standing. Alike all these types of games, you’ll fly in from the sky, scavenge for gear, and ion you’re anything like me; hide on the outer bounds of the circle in hopes of being one of the last few squads remaining.
The unique offering from Apex Legends (outside of the wall-running) resides in it’s unique heroes/classes that you get to play as and unlock. Each possesses a unique hero ability to aid you in combat and your play-style, alongside an enormity of skins to customise your appearance and weaponry. You might be surprised as you continue through the article to see that Call of Duty‘s Warzone was excluded, but we found it was a bit excessive to include four battle royale type games. Both Apex and Warzone share the most similarities, and from our end, the Apex experience is marginally more enjoyable (so this our honourable mention to Warzone as well).
The Sims 4
In my unpopular opinion, The Sims 4 was already worth buying before it was made free-to-play, so now that it is free – I can’t recommend it more. It’s the fourth instalment in a long-running franchise that sets the benchmark for simulation-type games, in which you create, customise and control the lives of ‘sims’, as they go about their everyday lives. You’ll built their dream (or cursed) home, decide on and pursue their career path, and control them through the roller-coaster of relationships.
If you play the game as it was ‘intended’, you can design and create some really incredible buildings and rich sims, or if you play like me – you can burn the kitchen down on loop because you have no form of intelligence whatsoever. In my first playthrough of The Sims 4, my character met an elderly women he was romantically interested in, who had to quickly leave for the bathroom mid conversation. When I went looking for her after several hours of her not returning, it turns out she had died and the grim reaper had come to collect her, so I decided to flirt with him instead. This is exactly what I love about The Sims, and why I recommend it to everyone and anyone.
League of Legends/Dota 2 (yes – we’re putting them together)
If you’ve never played a MOBA before, there isn’t necessarily a wrong choice between League of Legends and DOTA 2. Both are top-down, team-based arena battlers, with hundreds of unique characters to learn, master and compete with, and both are two of the largest pillars in the free-to-play genre. The main differences are in movement and game-maps, but from an outside perspective, they’re relatively indistinguishable from each other (which I know would absolutely offend either audience). the competitive nature of both games is their biggest selling point (with both holding regular large-scale tournaments with MASSIVE prize pools), and because of this – the audience and player-base off both games are incredibly competitive.
Both also monetise themselves in the form of character skins (with trust me when I say this – there are thousands), but as per a lot of the games on this list, this doesn’t offer any in-game advantages. I myself have always been a League of Legends fan, (I’ll forever love the dog skin I have for Fizz), but have dabbled in DOTA 2 here and there and completely understand why it has just as big of a following. If you love competitive games, skilful based games – it’s about time to tried two of the best MOBAs out there.