Putting aside the launch of the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation 5 is the most expensive a Sony console has ever been. That hasn’t stopped it from being one of the most sought-after products of the year due to the power it has over the PS4. There’s no denying that this system is a worthwhile investment for any gamer who wants to experience console gaming at the highest quality for the next several years at least.
Still, that heavy up-front cost can force you to be a little more selective with what games you buy right away. Now that games are regularly costing $70 new, you may end up wanting to wait for the bigger exclusives like Horizon 2: Forbidden West, or God of War: Ragnorok that you know will be great. That doesn’t mean your PS5 has to sit there gathering dust. There are plenty of free games you can jump into right now for hours of enjoyment without spending a dime. There are games here that cater to all types of players, so check out the best free PS5 games available right now.
Call of Duty: Warzone
While not quite as popular as another battle royale game we’ll get to later, Call of Duty: Warzone is undoubtedly the best-feeling FPS take on the genre. It has the same tight, fast-paced gameplay and high level of precision as you would expect from any other COD title, but shoved into a single massive map with more than 100 players. The game has been plagued by many bugs and glitches, but at almost a year old now, most have been resolved. The map has been updated, new modes and guns have been added, and there is of course a battle pass to keep you engaged and working toward new goals. The twists it puts on the genre, like buy stations, contracts, and the gulag system, make Warzone not overly complex but still deep enough to really sink your teeth into. Unless the battle royale genre itself puts you off, there’s no reason any FPS fan shouldn’t dive in.
Originally launching as part of PlayStation Plus years ago, then becoming a standard game, Rocket League has finally fully switched gears into the free-to-play model. If you somehow aren’t aware of this game, it is a mixture of soccer and rocket-powered cars. Yes, it is as awesome and chaotic as it sounds. Pick your car, team up or play singles, and slam into the ball to try and score on your opponents. Over time, you’ll learn more advanced tactics like aerial maneuvers and trick shots, but even at the lowest levels, Rocket League is a blast to play. The developers have introduced tons of car variants to play with, including some of the most iconic cars from other media like the Batmobile and DeLorean from Back to the Future. If you’re a fan of cars, soccer, or both, then Rocket League is made for you.
Live service games are very tricky to get right. The original Destiny was one of the first to even attempt it on a console, and the series has seen its fair share of growing pains up until the current version of Destiny 2. What was never a point of contention was how good the game actually felt to play. Bungie, the original Halo developer, is a master of FPS design. Each gun just feels good to use, and there are a ton of them to collect. The free version contains nearly all the content in the game, with the exception of the latest paid expansions, but even that amount is an incredible value for a free title. You get a huge chunk of story missions across various planets, all the events, several high-end raids, and the PvP crucible for a more traditional competitive experience. Destiny 2 is essentially two or three games’ worth of content given away for free, and is constantly being updated and supported with even more to do.
Read our full Destiny 2 review
Ninjas in space. That was basically the pitch for Warframe, and boy does it deliver on that promise and then some. This game is basically the grandfather of all evolving games-as-a -ervice titles, but somehow remains a leader in that space. What started out as a fairly simple looter-shooter across various isolated missions with fast and satisfying movement has evolved to introduce open-world areas, spaceships and space battles, and even fishing. Like Destiny, this game is still all about grinding at heart. You’ll grind for blueprints, weapons, armor, materials — basically everything. But, also like Destiny, Warframe is just so much fun to play that the grind doesn’t feel like … well, a grind. Running, sliding, dashing, flipping, and flying around maps while blasting away hordes of enemies with your guns, powers, or melee weapons never stops looking or feeling cool.
There are few examples of fighting games going free to play, and when they do, they tend to be rather aggressive in terms of their monetization models. In most games, you might get a small fraction of the cast, maybe a rotating selection, forcing you to buy your favorite additional modes, costumes, stages, and other cosmetics and features. Fantasy Strike is a breath of fresh air for the genre in that regard. Every character in the game is free to play right off the bat, not even requiring you to play to unlock them. The game has the usual casual and ranked online matches, but you can still play offline practice and vs. matches against the A.I. as well. There are five modes that do require a purchase — arcade, survival, boss rush, local versus, and online friend matches — plus the expected cosmetics and special animations. Aside from being a great-looking game, it is one of the easier fighting games to get started with for those who admire the genre but might be hesitant to jump in out of fear of getting crushed by other players.
Path of Exile
Before Diablo 3, the true sequel to Diablo 2, at least in the eyes of the fans, was Path of Exile. This is another title where coming in late has major benefits. Originally launched in 2013, PoE had plenty of content right out of the gate. There was a three-act campaign that alone could last well over 20 hours without going into end-game activities, but today has reached 10 acts and an almost overwhelming amount of content to enjoy after completing the story. Then there are the leagues, which regularly add new loot, challenges, and rewards to keep you coming back. Even without leagues, the pure joy of ripping through mobs and mobs of enemies with dozens of spells and abilities has never looked or felt as good since … well, Diablo 2. Everything else — the quests, co-op, hideout customization, and even PvP modes — are just icing on the cake. This style of action RPG is almost nonexistent on consoles, but thankfully we have one of the best with Path of Exile.
Where Path of Exile is the free-to-play Diablo, Dauntless is the free-to-play Monster Hunter. While it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two in terms of overall content, polish, and range of mechanics, Dauntless does manage to punch above its weight class in terms of getting all the basics right. Do you want to hunt giant monsters with your friends? This game will satisfy that itch, and do it well. There’s basically no story to mention here, and your kit is much less complex than in Monster Hunter, so you’re able to get down to hunting much faster. In terms of hunting, it works just like you hope. You and your friends will track down massive beasts, slay them for materials, and then use those materials to make new weapons and armor so you can hunt an even bigger monster. There are six weapons to pick from and upgrade, and all are fun to use in their own unique ways. The monetization model focuses on a paid battle pass, because of course that’s included, plus new colors, emotes, and boosters that can increase how much material you get from slaying a monster. Nothing too egregious, especially since grinding out monsters is where the fun is.
Perhaps the biggest free-to-play RPG to come out in 2020 was Genshin Impact. What made this title stand out from the crowd was just how much content there was to actually experience before the game even began to push its monetization on the player. You get a pretty substantial RPG story to go through, a big open world to explore, side quests, daily and weekly quests, and all the typical free-to-play systems you expect. The gameplay and art style lead many to think of it as a Breath of the Wild clone, but beyond the surface level, the two games aren’t all that similar. Yes, you can climb anything and have a glider, and both have an upgradable stamina meter, but combat, loot, and everything else are fairly different. As an action RPG, you can sink a lot of time into Genshin Impact without feeling the pressure to buy anything. That said, the gacha mechanics they do have aren’t great, so know that before getting too invested.
Before Overwatch made the hero shooter genre mainstream, Paladins was already building a great game and community around the same concept. It was in beta up until 2018 and focuses on a cast of characters that combine fantasy elements with modern shooter mechanics. There are a massive 47 champions in the game, and each one is just as unique as the Overwatch cast between their four or more abilities, ultimate, primary weapon, and three talents. Playing for free, you can choose between the six default classes, plus four others that rotate every two weeks. While you can use real money to unlock characters of your choice, you can also use the currency you earn by playing to purchase them over time. If you’ve gotten tired of the bigger hero shooters, or need something fresh with a lot of content to hold you over until Overwatch 2 eventually releases, Paladins may end up being your new favorite.
Back on the battle royale scene, Spellbreak didn’t get quite the attention it deserved when it came out. It takes the normal battle royale model, shrinking play zone, team play, gathering loot, and all of that, but frames it around mages fighting it out. You pick a primary and secondary element for your caster that each give you different primary and secondary attacks. What’s so fun about Spellbreak is that all the elements you have can be combined for new effects. Have a wind and fire spell? Combine them for a flaming tornado. What about frost and stone? Hurl a massive iceberg that leaves frost on the ground. Toxic and lighting? Cause the poison cloud to catch fire and deal even more damage to anyone inside. As you progress through a match, you will also level up in addition to picking up items and scrolls, plus an entire rune system you set before dropping in, which encourages tons of creativity and constantly tweaking your loadout.
All right, we couldn’t in good conscience have a list of free games without including the king of the entire free-to-play market. By now, just about everyone knows about Fortnite, but if not, it isn’t too hard to grasp. It is a third-person shooter battle royale featuring almost infinitely customizable characters, looting, material gathering, and building. The building aspect is the only real pressure point some people have with the game, since fast and smart building ability is arguably a more important skill than shooting. And it is tough to learn how to do well, especially when you see people instantly construct a two-story base the moment they hear a shot in their direction. On the other hand, you can’t deny all the other reasons the game has to keep you playing, with the recent Marvel crossover event in particular being the biggest in the game’s history. The daily and weekly challenges and battle passes also give you alternative objectives to just killing and winning so you can always accomplish something in a game. Even when Fortnite isn’t leading the charge on innovating in the battle royale genre, they are quick to adopt new features other games have into it, allowing it to stay relevant and fun season after season.
Read our full Fortnite: Battle Royale review
PS Plus Collection*
This final recommendation comes with the asterisk of not technically being free. The PlayStation Plus Collection brings 20 fantastic PS4 titles, first and third party, to the PS5 if you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber. So, while technically not free, most people do end up subscribing to PS+, and if you do there are some outstanding games here you shouldn’t overlook. Here are just a few of the ones we recommend, but take a look at the full list to see if there’s a game on there you missed out on.
- God of War
- The Last of Us Remastered
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
- Persona 5
- Resident Evil 7
- Batman: Arkham Knight
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- The best free PlayStation 4 games available today
- The best multiplayer games on PC
- The best PS4 games you can play right now
- The best co-op games for 2021