They say you can’t get something for nothing, but now that the free-to-play gaming model is taking the industry by storm, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Nowadays there are hundreds of games you can download and start playing without paying a single cent, and some of them are just as polished, graphically impressive, detailed, and engrossing as some of the most well-known retail releases on the market. We know that there are plenty of you out there that are gaming on a budget, so to help you in your search for a free game we’ve put together this list of the best free PC games you can get. 

Stable Releases

Planetside 2

Although it went through various rounds of beta testing for more than a year, the much-anticipated MMOFPS Planetside 2 was officially released in late 2012, instantly setting the standard for free-to-play MMO’s in the process. The scale of this game is breathtakingly large, the graphics are stunning, and the gameplay is sheer insanity. Players choose to play as one of thee rival factions constantly vying for control over the map, and can pick between a number of different classes before entering the battlefield. Whether you’re infantry, artillery, or air support, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be chaotic. 

Blacklight Retribution

There are dozens of polished, high-end free-to-play FPS’s out there, but what makes Blacklight Retribution stand out is it’s level of customization. Even with console games thrown into the mix, this is one of the most customizable games we’ve ever come across – you can tweak just about anything on your character to suit your particular style of gameplay. As with any card-carrying FPS, Blacklight Retribution comes with all the requisite gameplay modes you’d expect, including deathmatch, capture the flag, and a co-op survival mode.

RuneScape

We just couldn’t make a list of the best free games without mentioning RuneScape. The game has been around as a stable release for nearly a decade, and even though it wasn’t always as graphically polished as it is today, it’s still gained a massive following for it’s wide-ranging and diverse MMORPG gameplay. 

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Feinding to get into a lightsaber duel ever since you re-watched the original Star Wars series on blu-ray? Get your fix with Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), an MMORPG developed by BioWare, the same guys who make Mass Effect. Truth be told, it’s not entirely free – if you play for long enough you’ll come across some irritating restrictions, but you can play through all eight class stories and compete online without paying a dime, so it’s got plenty of worthwhile free content.

League of Legends

League of Legends is, by many accounts, the most-played PC game in the world. It’s got a massive user base that stretches across the globe, and that’s not by coincidence. The fantasy RTS game is incredibly strategic and competitive, which makes it highly addictive. With so many players online at any given moment, there’s almost no question that you’ll be able to find a match against somebody with a similar skill level. 

Team Fortress 2

Although it might not look that impressive in the graphics department, this class-based shooter developed by Valve boasts some of the best FPS gameplay around. It’s incredibly well-balanced, so every character class has a weakness that can be exploited with the right equipment. You can snag it on Steam right now without paying a single cent, and we highly recommend you do. 

Need for Speed World

Looking for a good MMO racing game? Look no further. NFSW (not to be confused with NSFW) is the cream of the crop when it comes to online racing. It features a huge open world for you to explore, and gives you free reign to drive around and enter competitions with whomever you like. The game wasn’t that great when it was released back in 2010, but thanks to a boatload of updates and bug fixes over the years, NFSW is your best bet for free racing games.

APB Reloaded

If you’re the type of person who can’t make it through a Grand Theft Auto game because you think it’s just too much fun to get in gun fights with the cops, then this game is for you. At it’s core APB is just a simple cops v criminals game, but it’s got plenty of other gameplay dynamics that make it much, much more. As you gain notoriety and your reputation starts to grow, so too does the target on your back, as other players will get a bigger bounty for bringing you down. 

Beta Games

The following selection features titles that haven’t officially launched, but are currently in open or closed beta so you can still play them free of charge. They might still have a few bugs and glitches here and there, but in most cases the kinks are hardly noticeable.

Hawken

Mechs are traditionally known to be slow, clunky, lumbering monstrosities, but that couldn’t be less true of the mechs in Hawken. These badboys are quick, agile, and fully customizable, so you can equip yours with whatever weapons suit your particular style of play. Its essentially an FPS, but with mechs instead of human soldiers. It’s also got some really unique gameplay modes (check out Siege) and sports some there richest, most gorgeous maps you’ll ever lay eyes on. 

Warface

Crytek (the makers of the Crysis series and the original Far Cry) announced this title all the way back in 2011. It is fast approaching its one year anniversary in Russia, but after a boatload of testing rounds, the game is almost ready for release around the world. You can hop into the open beta right now and enter the fray as one of four different classes: Rifleman, Engineer, Medic, or Sniper. The game runs on CryEngine 3, so you can expect the same jaw-dropping graphics and smooth gameplay as you get with high-end paid games, but without forking over a single dime. It hasn’t been officially released yet outside of Mother Russia, but it already has a registered user base that numbers in the millions.

World of Warplanes

Love flight sims and dogfighting games? Well fire up the Top Gun soundtrack and bust out your joystick – this game is everything you’ve ever wanted. Developed by the same people who brought us World of Tanks, WOWP applies the same formula to air combat. Take to the skies in your own custom-built plane and compete against thousands of other people in huge team-based battles or one-on-one dogfights – the choice is yours. 

Command and Conquer Free to Play

Command and Conquer is a staple of the RTS genre, and their upcoming F2P title is easily one of the best we’ve seen in the series yet. It’s the same strategic gameplay you know and love, but built on the Frostbite 2 Engine, so it’s far more detailed and graphically impressive than any of it’s predecessors. EA designed this one to be new and refreshing to CnC veterans, but also easily accessible for newcomers.

MechWarrior Online

They might be slow and clunky in comparison to those in Hawken, but that doesn’t make the mechs in MechWarrior Online any less fun to romp around in. Hop into the cockpit of your own fully-customized bipedal robot and duke it out with other metal monstrosities in spectacular 8v8 matches. Like a few other free-t0-play titles set for official release later this year, this game is built with CryEngine 3 – so it’s on par with (or better than) a lot of currently available console games.

This list is by no means comprehensive, so if we left out any of your favorites, be sure to tell us about them in the comments!