5 – Team Fortress 2
This has to be the greatest F2P shooter ever made. It’s funny, stupid, brilliant and could keep you happy forever. It’s a great, great game. The cartoon style will never get old and the mix of classes and some incredible map design would make it essential even if there was a cover charge. An absolute must. Get it from Steam.
4 – World of Warcraft
WoW is now free up to level 20. There’s a bunch of restrictions in place to free players, but if you’ve never played (really?) then that’s a situation you have to remedy immediately. Whatever you think of WoW, the fact remains it’s a cast iron classic MMO and one of the most content-heavy games ever created. There’s so much to like here. Now it costs you nothing to see it.
3 – Hearthstone
If you haven’t started playing this yet there’s something wrong with you. The Blizzard card battler is available on both PC and iPad, and is far too addictive. The pay element comes in buying cards for your decks, but you can get on just fine without ever having to spend. Get it on PC. Then get it on tablet. Then play it forever. Get it from Blizzard.
2 – The Lord of the Rings Online
LOTRO is the best F2P MMO on PC. There’s no question. It’s beautiful, has a range of content that puts it up there with any of its competitors and sports some of the most robust MMO mechanics in existence. It’s free. If you’ve never played an MMO before, or you’re just looking to pretend to be a hobbit for a few hours, there is no excuse whatsoever: get it.
And number 1 is ....
1 – Path of Exile
That Path of Exile is free is borderline criminal. You should have to pay for this ARPG. The notoriously gigantic skill tree alone is enough to download it, let alone the depth of the item combination mechanics and the fact it managed to out-Diablo Diablo III with withering ease. Free or not, Path of Exile is a horror masterpiece, and one of the best games currently on PC. You must play it.
Players use slottable skill gems in Path of Exile as in most ARPGs, the difference here being that they level with play and have their own requirements for upgrading. The passive skill tree is immense. Combining gems and skills offers the sort of customization options that could keep you bogged down for years. Path of Exile sometimes feels more like EVE Online than Diablo.