19 best free PC games to play right now in 2024

19 best free PC games to play right now in 2024
Riot Games | Paradox Interactive

Written by 

Tarran Stockton

Last updated 

7th Mar 2024 15:22

With some games costing the better part of £100 these days, sometimes I want to settle down with something completely free, and thankfully there are tonnes of high-quality, free PC games to enjoy.

Maybe you've even just built your own PC for the first time but forgot to account for video games themselves in the budget. Luckily, no matter what genre or type of game you enjoy, there will be something close enough that's free on the PC platform. 

So, check out my recommendations for some of the best free PC games you can download and play right now.

Best free PC games

Genshin Impact

an image of Genshin Impact
Click to enlarge
Image via HoYoverse

  • Publisher: HoYoverse
  • Release date: September 28
  • Game link
  • Key features:
    • Large open world
    • Tonnes of characters to use
    • Build variety

Genshin Impact is an anime-inspired action RPG that's become a worldwide phenomenon, allowing players to explore a magical open world and take part in snappy battles while completing quests and other objectives.

Your main goal will be gathering new characters to make use of, though you'll need to contend with loot boxes and a gacha system if you want a hope of finding the strongest characters. Regardless, there's a lot to love about Genshin and its well-designed gameplay loop, so jump in now!

Dota 2

DOTA 2 gameplay
Click to enlarge
Image via Valve

  • Publisher: Valve
  • Release date: July 2013
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • A large amount of characters
    • Hardcore MOBA mechanics
    • Huge community

Based on 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 the player’s raw mechanical skill.

Counter-Strike 2

Overpass in CS2
Click to enlarge
Image via Valve

  • Publisher: Valve
  • Release date: September 2023
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Tactical FPS gameplay
    • Gun customisation
    • Smooth movement mechanics

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 and created CS:Source in 2004, CS:GO in 2012, and then CS2 as a follow-on in 2023.

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.

VALORANT

VALORANT Agents
Click to enlarge
Image via Riot Games

  • Publisher: Riot Games
  • Release date: June 2020
  • Game link
  • Key features:
    • Hero shooter design
    • Tactical gameplay
    • Cartoonish art style

VALORANT hasn't been around for too long compared to some of the other titles on this list, but it’s already made quite the mark in that time. It’s Riot Game's answer to Counter-Strike, 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. 

League of Legends

LoL gameplay
Click to enlarge
Image via Riot Games

  • Publisher: Riot Games
  • Release date: March 2013
  • Game link
  • Key features:
    • Lots of build variety
    • Lore to explore
    • Simplified MOBA gameplay

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. 

SMITE

SMITE gameplay
Click to enlarge
Image via Hi-Rez Studios

  • Publisher: HiRez Studios
  • Release date: March 2014
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Play as gods
    • Third-person perspective
    • Lots of game modes

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.

Path of Exile

Path of Exile combat
Click to enlarge
Image via Grinding Gear Games

  • Publisher: Grinding Gear Games
  • Release date: October 2023
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Violent and satisfying combat
    • Tonnes of loot
    • Tonnes of build combos

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 customise 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.

Apex Legends

a map in Apex Legends
Click to enlarge
Image via Electronic Arts

  • Publisher: EA
  • Release date: February 2019
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Fast-paced gameplay
    • Verticality and movement
    • Fun characters

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.

Team Fortress 2

characters in Team Fortress 2
Click to enlarge
Image via Valve

  • Publisher: Valve
  • Release date: October 2007
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Iconic characters
    • Masterful core gameplay
    • Lots of customisation

Would it surprise you if I said 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.

EVE Online

ships in space in EVE Online
Click to enlarge
Image via CCP Games

  • Publisher: CCP
  • Release date: May 2003
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Almost unlimited freedom
    • Play at your own pace
    • Huge player-driven space battles

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 most unique games in the world, and I'll prove it with one anecdote.

Eve Online has a completely 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. 

Warframe

Warframe mech
Click to enlarge
Image via Digital Extremes

  • Publisher: Digital Extremes
  • Release date: March 2013
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Huge amount of gameplay options
    • Acrobatic combat
    • Wear unique mech suits

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. 

Final Fantasy 14

FF14 gameplay
Click to enlarge
Image via Square Enix

  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release date: February 2014
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Freeform gameplay
    • Several expansions
    • Class build variety

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 MMO games right now, featuring a vibrant world with that signature JRPG flair. While not fully free, you can play up to a certain level without spending a penny, which can take upwards of 100 hours. If you do decide to jump in, make sure you check out our tips, along with our levelling guide to help you climb the ranks quickly.

Brawlhalla

Brawlhalla fighting gameplay
Click to enlarge
Image via Ubisoft

  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Release date: October 2017
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Tight platform fighter combat
    • Fun characters
    • 2D art style

Brawlhalla is an indie platform 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.

Hearthstone

a game of Hearthstone
Click to enlarge
Image via Blizzard

  • Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Release date: March 2014
  • Game link
  • Key features:
    • Thousands of cards
    • Fun events and modes
    • Easy to build decks

Blizzards Warcraft-inspired collectible title is probably the best card game 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. 

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Planetside 2

a ship in Planetside 2
Click to enlarge
Image via Daybreak Game Company

  • Publisher: Daybreak Game Company
  • Release date: November 2012
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • MMOFPS gameplay
    • Massive battles
    • Explore huge maps

Planetside is an MMOFPS 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 enemy 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.

Super Crate Box

Super Crate Box gameplay
Click to enlarge
Image via Vlambeer

  • Publisher: Vlambeer
  • Release date: October 2010
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Chaotic gameplay
    • Snappy movement
    • Hardcore mechanics

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.

Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald - A Whirlwind Heist

a room in Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist
Click to enlarge
Image via Crows Crows Crows

  • Publisher: Crows Crows Crows
  • Release date: December 2015
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Short experience
    • Surreal humour
    • Puzzle rooms

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 of what to expect here.

It features narration by British comedian Simon Amstell 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.’ 

Crusader Kings 2

CK2 gameplay
Click to enlarge
Image via Paradox Interactive

  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Release date: February 2012
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Experience history your own way
    • Role-playing freedom
    • Huge amount of gameplay choices

Have you ever wanted to play a game that allows you to murder your own heir because your next oldest seems more suitable for the throne? 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.

Destiny 2

a boss in Destiny 2
Click to enlarge
Image via Bungie

  • Publisher: Bungie
  • Release date: September 2017
  • Steam link
  • Key features:
    • Solid FPS gameplay
    • Large story years in the running
    • PvE and PvP gameplay

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 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 throughout. It’s the premiere game as a service FPS on the market, with a plethora of content to occupy your time.

Check out our lists homepage for more game recommendations and guides like this. We've also covered the best Steam Deck games, the best Xbox Game Pass games, the best paid & free MMORPGs, and the best dragon games.

Tarran Stockton
About the author
Tarran Stockton
Tarran is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. He previously wrote reviews for his college newspaper before studying Media and Communication at university. His favourite genres include role-playing games, strategy games, and boomer shooters - along with anything indie. You can also find him in the pit at local hardcore shows.
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