Between affordable apps, discounted older titles and must-play
downloads, there are more ways to play games on the cheap than ever before.
But what if you don't want to drop a dime? No worries. Free-to-play
games have flooded gaming over the past year or two, making it possible to
enjoy hours and hours of legit online gaming without forking over those
annoying subscription fees. Sure, they'll noodge you to drop coin on microtransactions
or pony up for 'premium' content, but such nuisances are a small price to pay
for essentially free gaming.
Unfortunately, "free" doesn't necessarily mean
"good" -- and in many cases, it means a lot less than that. Luckily,
there are more than a few worthwhile options out there in the free-to-play
space. Just remember: you get what you pay for.
Spiral Knights - Sega
addictive and flat-out fun to play. And it makes sense once you realize it's
made by Three Rings, the same folks behind the wildly popular Puzzle Pirates.
Spiral Knights trades swashbuckers for robots, letting you blast through a
colorful Clockwork world as a pint-sized bucket of junk armed to the teeth with
cool weapons and gear. Emphasizing co-operative play over aggressive tactics,
it's that rare gem that appeals equally to both adults and kids.
The Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings Online - Turbine
for this online game set in Middle-Earth. Once a full-fledged subscription deal
like World of Warcraft, LOTRO was freed of its payment shackles last September.
The result is one of the most slickly-produced free games on the market. Create
a character, duke it out with Sauron's minions and explore the famous locations
of Tolkien's world without losing all your gold.
World of Tanks
World of Tanks - Wargaming.net
makes up for with its surprising depth and awesome price tag of zilch. The
premise? Man a giant tank, outfit it with giant tank weapons, and drive around
blasting the sheet metal off other giant tanks. But forget Atari Combat -- this
is as much a simulation as an action game, so it requires some patience as you
learn the ins and outs of maneuvering the treaded warhorses.
Battlestar Galactica Online
BSG Online - Bigpoint
fine. And in this case, that might actually be a good thing. Taking place during the show's second (and some would argue best) season, this browser-based online game lets you relive the Cylon/Human struggle through fierce space
dogfights. It's not exactly the deepest game around -- the action gets a little repetitive after a while -- but it's a must-try for fans of the series. And we certainly hope you're one of us, er, them.
Free Realms (PS3)
Free Realms - Sony
Free Realms on the PC back in 2009. Some 17 million registered players later, they've taken their free-to-play baby to the PS3, making it the very first free
massively-multiplayer online role-playing game for the consoles. While some concessions were made for the new crowd (chatting isn't so easy with a gamepad), it's mostly the same game. Expect loads of kid-friendly mini-games wrapped in a very pretty package.
Vindictus - NEXON
tougher online fantasy brawler. Steeped in Celtic mythology, it's a no-holds-barred action game emphasizing combat over pretty much everything else. Stylish and brutal, it's certainly not one for the wee ones, but if you're of age and want to hack, slash and dungeon dive with others, this freebie is one to die for.
Pocket Legends (iOS)
Pocket Legends - Spacetime
it can handle big games, and it doesn't come much bigger than Pocket Legends. The leading massively-multiplayer online role-playing game for your iWhatever provides a good five or six hours of fantasy fun before you need to start
handing over cash, and even that comes in pretty painless 99-cent chunks to unlock new areas. It's no Warcraft, but it's a portable -- and affordable -- way to scratch that online itch.
- World of Tanks
- action game
- The Lord of the Rings
- Battlestar Galactica Online