From the start, free-to-play games rubbed just about everyone the wrong way with ugly paywalls and micro-transactions that were all but required to make any progress or stand a chance at winning. Like all things in life, free to play games have evolved to the point that you don’t need bottomless pockets or a trust fund to have fun or stand a chance at winning. Micro-transactions still exists but are far from required, and the following list of free action games are more than enough to keep you entertained without breaking the bank.
Warframe is one of the best free to play actions games available right now. It mixes DNA from games like Mass Effect and Halo with martial arts-inspired combat into a single science fiction world ripe with decent graphics and addicting gameplay. According to the official website, Warframe has more than 50 million players and, despite being seven years old, it still holds a candle to some of the most graphically intense games on the market today. It’s available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch, so literally anyone can play and while there are some micro-transactions, you’ll never feel as if you have to pay to win. With plenty of customization options to modify weapons, your own personal spaceship, and some awesome parkour moves, Warframe definitely sits at the top of our list as one of the best free-to-play action games available today.
Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone is a newcomer to the scene, and it has quickly become one of the world’s favorite free-to-play battle royale and action games. Pegged as the best Call of Duty Battle Royale to date – we promise it’s much better than Call of Duty: Blackout – it runs as an extension to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare but requires zero monetary investment to play. The combat engine is exactly that as Call of Duty’s multiplayer element, so if you’re a CoD player, you’ll feel right at home. And, in terms of battle royales, it has a somewhat unique element known as the Gulag that allows you to occasionally keep playing even after you’ve died. In short, if you win a match in Gulag, you’ll be able to redeploy and join your team still fighting on the ground. There are plenty of micro-transactions to jump on if you wish – including the battle pass – -but the core of the game is free, and you don’t really need any of the extra weapons or cosmetics as you’ll still have a strong chance of winning if your skills are good enough. There are two big downsides to Warzone, however, with the first being the ongoing cheating problem that only seems to get worse and the amount of storage space required which varies between 80GB and more than 100 GB if you don’t already have a paid version of Modern Warfare installed. If you already have Modern Warfare, the download will take upward of 30 GB depending on your platform. Warzone is available of PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
World of Warships
If you’re into strategy, combat, boats, or a combination of them, then there’s a good chance that you’ll love World of Warships. Published by Wargaming and Gearbox Publishing, World of Warships is basically World of Tanks with a twist. You’ll get to command four different types of ship – battleships, destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers – through several different game modes that include PvE and PvP, among others. This strategic, open-water combat simulator will keep you busy for hours with impressively deep customization options and constantly changing gameplay. The best part is that you can play it on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Classic Mac OS.
World of Tanks
World of Tanks is basically World of Warships on the ground and a big step forward from the PvP tank games from the 1980s. As an MMO game, you’ll get to enjoy some impressively intense warfare while commanding tanks from America, Germany, England, China, France, and even the Soviet Union. That said, the online matches are downright huge and there is a bit of a learning curve to conquer before you actually come into your own. This is also one of those games that tries to encourage you to pony up for extra features, including better tanks and more premium features. As you play and win, you’ll unlock special vehicles and earn in-game currency. It is possible to enjoy the game and win without paying, but it’s also one of those games that you don’t mind paying a little bit for because it’s just that much fun.
War Thunder is one of those games that takes the term “freemium” a little too serious, but not to the extent that you feel forced to pay anything. The game is set in World War II, and you’ll be able to sit behind the HUD of several planes from five different world powers. Believe it or not, the game is billed as a serious simulation and plane control does have a steep learning curve. You can start out playing in arcade mode to get used to the controls, but once you’re ready, you’ll love the epic 16v16 dogfights and objective-based missions. Along with planes, you’ll also get to experience anti-aircraft vehicles and tanks. War Thunder does have a huge player base, some of which take the game very seriously. A lot of the good planes and perks are locked behind paywalls at first, but you can unlock new content without paying a penny – it’ll just take a little time to get into the good planes. Overall, it’s worth checking out and if you decide to buy into it, it won’t break the bank either. You might even meet a few new friends while playing. War Thunder was developed by Gaijin Entertainment and is available for the Xbox One, PS4, PC, Linux, and Mac OS.
Let it Die
If you haven’t heard of Let it Die yet, then we suggest you leave this page now and give it a try. It’s one of the more brutal games on this list and it reminds a bit of Mortal Kombat in its gameplay dynamic. This hack-and-slash game is set in 2026 Tokyo, the city has been split in half, and a tow has risen from the depths of the ocean. You’re compelled to head to this tower by none other than Uncle Death, aka the grim reaper, where you’ll fight your way to the top, dealing with weird creatures and enemies on the way. When you finally meet your maker, your play data is shared with other players, where you ghost will become and enemy to them as they work their way up the tower. Let it Die was originally a PS4 exclusive but is now available on PC as well.
We wanted a new Titanfall, but what we got was Apex Legends, a game set in the world of Titanfall but void of any titans or wall running. As a battel royale, the overall dynamic of the game will probably be familiar to you – drop from the sky, find some gear, and make it to the inner circle while dispatching your enemies the best way possible. It’s definitely not the Titanfall game we wanted but Respawn went out of its way to make the game interesting. As of the time of this writing, there are eight different playable characters, all with their own unique abilities and moves. Like Call of Duty: Warzone, death doesn’t have to be permanent either. If you’re downed, other teammates can revive or even resurrect you by dropping your dog tags at a beacon. As one of the best free-to-play shooters available today, you’ll find that there’s not a lot of pressure to pony up real money and even if you do eventually chip in, you’ll find the money you spend is usually well worth it. Apex Legends is available on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of H1Z1, but I’m here to tell you that you definitely need to check it out. It is a battle royale game, but it fits into the mix somewhere between PUBG and Fortnite with an arcade vibe to it. Each game session puts 150 players onto a huge map, where you’ll fight to the death solo, as a pair, or as a squad of give players. The unique in-game crafting system allows you to make your own armor and healing items, and you can even play a game mode known as Auto Royale, which is basically like Burnout Takedown on a much larger scale. As of right now, H1Z1 is only available on PC, but will be coming to Xbox One and PS4 in the near future.
Darwin Project isn’t exactly an action game in the general sense. You won’t find the kind of action you get in Warzone, World of Tanks, or even H1Z1, but it does have action and is a unique take on the battle royale genre. Basically 10 players drop into the Canadian Rockies at the beginning of the next ice age. A big part of the game is survival, so you’ll have to keep warm by building fires, scavenge for resources, and craft weapons. But that’s also where the action comes in as if you want to survive, you’ll need to track down your enemies, set traps, and engage in full-on bow combat. Here’s where the real twist comes, though, as Darwin Project also has an 11th player that acts as, well, God. As the 11th player, you’ll get to see everything that happens, choose when and where to send supplies, and what zones on the map should be shut down. Even better yet, you can outsource these duties to viewers on Twitch and Mixer to make things even more interesting. Darwin Project could represent the next evolution of multiplayer survival and action games and is currently in Early Access on PC and Xbox Game Preview.