6 Great Free-to-Play FPS Games For The Discerning Player

There are a ton of free-to-play shooters out there, and more are on the way. It can be a tough field to figure out thanks to all of these choices, but you aren’t alone. You’ve got me!

I’ve played countless shooters and MMOs over the years, and I’ve developed a good eye for spotting the games that are fun without breaking your spirit. These games may be free-to-play, but that doesn’t make them bad at all. If anything, it guarantees their continued development and support, improving them as time goes on. Their profitability also means that more and more quality titles will come from studios looking for a decent revenue stream, and a larger quantity of high-quality games is always a good thing. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in. These games aren’t in any particular order, so feel free to bounce around a bit.


Official Site

Red 5 may be made up of Blizzard veterans, but they sure aren’t just making a World of Warcraft clone. Firefallis their pride and joy, and it’s one of the better shooters I’ve played. It might not be in open beta yet (coming July 9th), but it’s a game you had better keep an eye on. It’s bound to be a big player once it finally launches.

Firefall is an open-world where you can go anywhere and kill pretty much anything from the very beginning, and the focus is very much on PvE. There are five different activities for the budding explorer: thumping, which is where you call down and protect a harvester to extract resources from the ground; dynamic missions, which are objectives like repairing crashed thumpers or destroying wildlife nests; events, which range from huge melding tornadoes to enemy invasions; and simply grinding against monsters. There is some PvP, but it’s not nearly as fun as exploring the world and doing whatever strikes your fancy.

The part that has me most excited, though, is the crafting system. Rather than having recipes fore exact items, you have generic recipes. The quality and stats of the item you make are instead dependent on the materials you put into it, with higher quality materials resulting in better equipment. It’s a cool system and I can’t wait to see it expanded further.


Official Site

Hawken is the complete opposite of its older brother Mechwarrior Online. Where MWO is a slow, tactical shooter, Hawken is a fast-paced shooter about insanely fast movement and great use of terrain. You can argue about which one is better, but both are great, and Hawken is definitely worth playing.

Hawken pits incredibly fast mechs  against each other in sprawling urban gunfights. Each mech has a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, and a special ability to bring to bear. For example, a sniper might have a medium-range rifle, an anti-materiel rifle, and a firing speed increase ability. Rather than going the “unique hardpoints, generic weapons” route of MechWarrior, Hawken tries to make every mech completely unique.

Much like MWO, though, Hawken’s big issue is a lack of variety. It needs far more maps and modes to really be great. Team Deathmatch seems to be the perennial favorite, but given that Hawken seems set on having unique roles for each mech variant, it would be a good idea to craft modes that take advantage of that. All in the future, I suppose

Planetside 2

Official Site

Planetside 2 pits three factions against each other: the Terran Republic (TR; alternatively, space fascists), a group of fascist peacekeepers who used to own Auraxis; the New Conglomerate (NC; alternatively, space america), a group of freedom-loving anarchists that want to be free even if it means starving to death; and the Vanu Sovereignty (VS; alternatively, space barnies), a group of transhuman scientists with an unknown agenda. Each side has their own unique quirks and gear, so it’s worth it to own one character of each faction.

The overall goal of Planetside 2 is currently absent, but the short-term goal is best described as “kill anything that isn’t on your side.” Platoons usually move from base to base, capturing facilities of strategic importance (like The Crown or Biolabs) and slaughtering defenders along the way. Defenders can always fight them off, though, and get a nice fat XP bonus for doing so. Toss in a decent collection of aircraft and land vehicles and you have a recipe for large-scale conflict.

Unfortunately, Planetside 2 suffers a little from the grind. It has eased up a lot in the past month or so thanks to the introduction of service ribbons, but you’ll still want to take advantage of every double XP event you can, as XP gives certs. Certs are used to both upgrade your weapons and get new ones without spending real money, so you have to make some hard choices on what you want. Alternatively, you can just splurge with a few bucks like I did.

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3 Comments on 6 Great Free-to-Play FPS Games For The Discerning Player


On April 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm

This list should be titled “6 Great Free-to-Play FPS Games For The Player That Wants to Grind till Your Eyeballs Bleed and Your Head Explodes”


On April 25, 2013 at 6:16 am

Firefall has some great adventure pve co-op play, but the rest are loaded with too much pay-to-win grinding.

Jango Bob

On April 26, 2013 at 5:05 am

@Heru – The grind on Hawken isn’t all that bad compared to other games to be honest and its not marred by P2W game trolls.