Best Free PC Games: Top 20 Free PC Games In 2022
The best free PC games vary a lot in genre, system requirements, age, and more, but there's something in here for everyone. Assuming you’ve just built a brand-new gaming PC, but in an honest mistake, forgot to actually account for video games in your budget. “All this money and I can’t play any games” you may think to yourself in a huff, but worry not! There are a plethora of free games available these days, across a wide berth of genres and styles. Whether you need something new to play, or you’re somehow in that very specific circumstance above, we have 20 great free PC games you can try free of charge. Note that this list is in no particular order.
- The best PS5 games are perfect if you want something to play on your telly
Best Free PC Games: Dota 2
Based off the legendary Warcraft III mod that birthed the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), Dota 2 is Valve’s attempt at tackling the genre and reviving the mod as a standalone title. They brought in Icefrog, who designed the original mod, as the game’s lead designer and went about creating one of the biggest games and esports in the entire world.
Do beware, as it’s notoriously difficult to get into and is typically considered the most complicated MOBA, with a focus on micro gameplay and player’s raw mechanical skill.
Best Free PC Games: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Another Valve entry on this list, and another game that was originally a mod. Counterstrike started as a modification for Half-Life before Valve acquired the IP, creating CS:Source in 2004 and then CS:GO in 2012. It didn’t start as a free title, but over the years with more and more updates, it has turned it into the definitive Counterstrike experience and a global phenomenon.
It favours slower, more methodical and tactical gameplay, and features gunplay that rewards good aim and learning spray patterns. Likewise, it’s one of the most rewarding FPS games of all time, with gameplay that has been refined to near perfection.
Best Free PC Games: Valorant
Valorant hasn't been around for too long compared to some of the other titles on this late, but it’s already made quite the mark in that time. It’s Riot Game's answer to Counterstrike, featuring similar gameplay and movement mechanics, but with heroes (agents) and abilities in lieu of CS’s grenades and equipment. It may not be quite the full experience yet because of its lack of quality maps and turbulent agent balancing, but it’s a good attempt at a tactical shooter that differs itself from the competition enough to validate its own existence.
Best Free PC Games: League Of Legends
At one point, League of Legends was the biggest PC game in the world, and still holds the title for biggest esport. It’s been a behemoth since its release, due to taking the MOBA formula of Dota and simplifying it, with more macro-based gameplay to deliver it to an even wider audience.
It’s been so successful for Riot, that they’ve managed to create in-universe bands with digital concerts and an animated series.
Best Free PC Games: Smite
Smite was certainly born out of the popularity of LoL and Dota in the early 2010s, but it took that formula and added real-world gods to the mix and a third-person camera.
The camera change brought you closer to the macro-based action and made for more fast-paced MOBA gameplay than what the rest of the market was offering. It’s still doing well to this day, and is one of the easier MOBAs to get into for new players to the genre.
- Got friends round? Check out the best party video games
Best Free PC Games: Path Of Exile
Path of Exile is an action role-playing game, that sees you absolutely eviscerate hordes (and we mean hordes) of monsters, complete quests, and acquire loot. Rinse and repeat. It’s got a simple but addictive gameplay loop, but its real draw is how open it is to different builds, as any class can use any item or ability, with the relevant attribute levels.
This gives players the freedom to highly customize their characters and design creative builds with unusual play styles. In the end, Path of Exile turned out to be the Diablo III that every Diablo player wanted - after the third game’s lukewarm reception and terrible launch - rocketing it to the top of the ARPG genre.
Best Free PC Games: Apex Legends
Apex Legends is perhaps most notable for ruining friendships by exposing who your two most important friends are. But on a serious note, Apex is the first Battle Royale on this list, a genre that has rocketed into the gaming mainstream these past few years.
Apex changed up the BR blueprint, created by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, by focusing on a smaller group of players and heroes with unique abilities. It also plays at a much more breakneck pace than most battle royales, dissuading camping gameplay and offering rapid verticality.
Best Free PC Games: Team Fortress 2
Would it surprise you if Valve’s next entry on this list was also a game made as a sequel to a mod? Didn’t think so. Team Fortress 2 set the benchmark for how a character-based shooter should be, and did so years and years before other companies decided to try their hand at it.
It’s got a wonderful art style that’s kept it looking timeless for over a decade; tight gameplay with well-balanced characters, that all have a role to play in a team composition; creative weaponry that allows for differing playstyles on the same characters; and a brilliant sense of humour that shines even in the multiplayer setting.
Best Free PC Games: EVE Online
So, Eve Online may look like a very complicated spreadsheet simulator, and that is mostly true, but it’s truly one of the coolest and unique games in the world, and we’ll prove it with one anecdote. Eve Online has a complete player-driven economy, and with no overseeing or governing body, it’s an example of complete free-market Capitalism with no rules or regulations.
One rather wily player, called Cally, used this to their advantage by forming the EVE Intergalactic Bank in-game, that players could deposit their cash and other valuables in for a small-fee. Eventually the total holdings of the bank reached 800 billion ISK (10,000 in GBP) and Cally took all the money and ran. A completely legal move, per CCP Games, who didn’t intervene. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of epic EVE Online stories, that routinely feature corporate intrigue, betrayal, and all-out galactic war.
Best Free PC Games: Warframe
Over the past eight years, Warframe has been updated into quite a comprehensive action third-person shooter. You control an ancient warrior equipped with a powerful mech suit called a Warframe and shoot, melee, and parkour your way through a mix of procedurally generated and fixed open-world levels.
It’s got a mix of player vs player and player vs environment missions, packed with loot to acquire, that will help you explore the star system.
- If proving your mettle against loads of other players is your style, check out the best battle royale games
Best Free PC Games: Final Fantasy 14
The original release of the Final Fantasy MMO was a massive failure, with a horrible critical and commercial reception that saw the entire game redone into A Realm Reborn, with a new director. Since then it’s been a huge success, and an example of how games can redeem themselves with the right work.
It’s one of the most played MMOs right now, featuring a vibrant world with that signature JRPG flair. It’s just got a new expansion pack this year with a new race of rabbit men, so what better time could there be to dive in? If you do decide to jump in, make sure you check out our Final Fantasy 14 tips, along with our Final Fantasy 14 leveling guide to help you climb the ranks quickly.
Best Free PC Games: Warzone
Love or hate Call of Duty, you can’t deny it has some of the tightest arcade shooting mechanics in all of multiplayer gaming, and has made the transition to a Battle Royale smoothly with Warzone. Since its release, the map and theme of the game has changed with the mainline COD titles to prevent stagnation. It also features more players than most battle royale games - at 150 and 200 in some modes - which gives it an all-out guerrilla warfare feel. Warzone is simple to pick up and play, and will reward you from the beginning, but it has a very high skill ceiling with lots of mechanics to perfect.
Best Free PC Games: Brawlhalla
Brawlhalla is an indie fighting game, similar to Super Smash Bros. It’s super colourful, with a cool cast of varied characters that feature a cyborg ninja, an Arthurian knight, a cowgirl, a sentient rock, and more. They also have different statistics that make up strength, dexterity, defence, and speed. Plus, characters have large movesets, so you can vary up combat with heavy power moves that send enemies flying or light attacks to chip away at health.
The frantic action is satisfying, as you battle to knock your enemies off the stage or fight for power weapons that regularly drop. It favours positioning and cunning play, especially in larger battles with eight players, which can become hectic fun.
Best Free PC Games: Hearthstone
Blizzards Warcraft-inspired collectible card game is probably the best on the market, with a slick presentation and a simple concept, that rewards familiarity with your deck and thoughtful counter-plays. Cards have character too, with great art design and voice lines when they’re summoned or defeated on the board.
It’s highly rewarding to outwit your enemies or predict their plays, allowing you to manipulate enemies to literally play into your hands. It’s only real competition is CD Projekt RED’s Gwent CCG, based on The Witcher series, which could just as easily take its place, but Hearthstone is a little more beginner-friendly.
Best Free PC Games: Planetside 2
Planetside is an FPSMMO that allows for all-out chaotic warfare with up to 1200 players. The large-scale battles in Planetside are unrivalled, featuring simultaneous ground, vehicle, and air combat, as you fight to take and hold key checkpoints on different continents and progress your faction's power and influence.
It has classes similar to the Battlefield games, allowing you to play a significant role in combat, whether you’re an infiltrator causing chaos behind enemies lines, an engineer keeping your artillery and tanks alive, or in a MAX mech suit that gives you massive damage output and the power needed to overwhelm checkpoints. If you want the escapism of huge sci-fi warfare, then Planetside is the game for you.
- Want to escape reality? Look at our list of the best VR games
Best Free PC Games: Super Crate Box
Making a change from most of the games in this list, Super Crate Box is single-player only, but just as endlessly fun as many previous entries. Developed by Vlambeer - who made a name in the indie scene with small creative experiences like Ridiculous Fishing and Nuclear Throne - SCB is simple but addictive.
The main goal is to survive as long as possible, as enemies spawn from the top of the screen and you collect boxes with weapons to eliminate them. You die on instant contact with enemies, so the game favours dexterous movement and quick thinking to survive the hordes. It’s a perfect game to pick up and play when you want a short gaming session and will have you craving that new high-score.
Best Free PC Games: Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald - A Whirlwind Heist
This is another one that differs massively from the rest of the list, as it’s a 20 minute story-driven exploration game. It was designed by Crows Crows Crows of The Stanley Parable fame, so if you’re familiar with their prior work, you’ll have an idea what to expect here.
It features narration by British comedian Simon Amstell, and Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland, so expect a comically surreal tone to the experience. There’s no point explaining too much of Dr. Langeskov, but it’s worth playing for those who enjoy narrative games, or ‘walking simulators.’
Best Free PC Games: Dwarf Fortress
Definitely the most complicated game on this list, if not of all time, Dwarf Fortress is something you have to play to truly believe. There is a Steam version that costs money, but the main version which has been in development for nearly 20 years is free and donation run.
It’s a management simulation game with roguelike elements, that sees you running a fantasy Dwarven kingdom. It features mostly ASCII art, which can making getting into it a hassle, but it will reward your dedication and then some, with the most robust emergent gameplay there is. There are so many interconnecting systems in Dwarf Fortress that will have unintended effects on gameplay and your kingdom that it’s impossible to discover everything. The lead developer Tarn Adams summed it up best by calling it an “open-ended story generator,” and if you don’t believe him, just look up player’s stories and find out.
Best Free PC Games: Crusader Kings 2
Have you ever wanted to play a game that allows you to murder your own heir, who is mentally stunted, so your next in line, who’s more suited to the crown, can take over? Have you ever wanted to carefully curate which genes are passed down through generations of your family, to create the ultimate incestuous house of intellectual warriors? Do you want to manipulate the concubines of your Sultan brother’s haram, so they will take part in your plot to assassinate him, allowing you to rise to the throne?
Then the grand strategy role-playing dynasty simulator, Crusader Kings, is probably the only game you’ll ever want to play. Allowing you to fulfil your dreams of medieval political intrigue, theological manipulation, alliance creation, and warmongering.
Best Free PC Games: Destiny 2
After Halo, Bungie wanted to stay in the realm of mythical science fiction, and their answer was Destiny. Similar to Warframe in some ways, Destiny 2 is an FPS that will see you taking part in player vs player and player vs environment missions. There are free-roaming elements where players can take part in public activities and timed events, along with the matchmade strikes, dungeons, and raids.
There is a story to complete throughout, and some paid expansions, but ultimately you’ll be grinding content acquiring loot and levelling up though. It’s the premiere game as a service FPS on the market, with a plethora of content to occupy your time.
Now you know all of the best free PC games on the market right now, why not check out our list of the best Switch games to play on the move?