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

Tribes: Ascend

Official Site

It took a few years for Tribes: Ascend to reach the point where I could really lose myself in it, but once it did, it came into my heart in a big way. Hi-Rez’s second title aimed to bring the classic Tribes formula back into the limelight and reinvent it for the modern player, and it succeeded.

Tribes is the forefather of all large-scale FPS games. It merges huge maps with vehicles, jetpacks, and base-building to create a unique fusion of strategy and shooting. While Tribes: Ascend lacks its ancestor’s complexities, it makes up for it in being both stunning pretty and accessible. Formerly difficult actions like skiing (sliding up and down slopes while use the jetpack) have been rendered so simple even a fresh player can understand them.

The most favored mode in the Tribes series – and Ascend is no exception – is CTF. Players must assault an enemy base – complete with defenses and a pissed off defense force – grab the enemy flag, evade being shot down on the way back home, and fly through their own flag. Of course, the enemy wants to do the same thing to you, so each match is a constant back and forth. While flag runners and chasers contest who gets to hold the flag, defenders prevent enemies from tearing apart base defenses or the generator that powers them.

Blacklight: Retribution

Official Site

I affectionately refer to Blacklight: Retribution as “dubstep Call of Duty.” It’s not an inaccurate comparison either; Blacklight has very similar pacing and balance to its distant cousin from papa Activision. Thankfully, it’s not content to sit and ape other shooters in a generic futuristic setting. There are some genuinely fantastic systems in place in Blacklight, and it’s worth playing at least for a while.

While the shooting mechanics are pretty standard post-Call of Duty fare, Blacklight takes some chances with its progression. Rather than unlocking guns wholesale like other games, you buy the parts piecemeal using your round winnings. Every gun has a number of parts, from barrel to stock to magazine, and it’s your job to build the gun of your dreams. When you’ve finally built a gun all your own – and maybe splurged a little to get some fancy camo for it to show off your gunsmithing skills – you’ll get the best feeling in gaming: the feeling of creating something unique.

Blacklight has a great stable of maps and modes to play on, including a relatively new 4-player co-op in case you get tired of seeing your head explode from enemy fire. You can find servers that run your favorite maps or modes easily thanks to the classic-style server system, and you can rent your own if you so please. I’m personally more inclined to just play on the defaults.

Gotham City Imposters

Official Site

Gotham City Imposters is the bastard child of Brink and DC Comics. Made by Monolith, it started out as a normal paid titles, clocking in at $15. A year after they released their first DLC pack, they figured going free-to-play was probably the better move, and now GCI is open to everyone. Strangely enough, the free-to-play version of GCI is quite literally the original retail version. The only difference is that you can pay to unlock the gear. This reduces the grind significantly.

GCI plays a lot like any military shooter of the past half decade or so: make loadouts and use them. The difference is that you have a lot of options to completely change how you approach the game world. Abilities such as rollerskates (sprint faster, slide around, and jump off ramps) and weapons like the parrot cannon (bird in your face!) give it a unique flair that no other FPS has managed to capture.

Where the other games on this list are actively developed, though, GCI hasn’t seen a developer announcement or post since last September. It has pretty irritating netcode issues thanks to poor Steam integration, and there have been no major patches or additions since it went free-to-play. If you can handle the complete lack of developer involvement, you should dive straight in. Servers are still up and people still play, so there’s no better time to get going than now.

Want to play some more F2P FPS games? This list feeling a little sparse? Here’s a few more decent ones that didn’t make the cut:

  1. Team Fortress 2Valve’s flagship title; class-based, team-oriented fighting.
  2. Battlefield Play4FreeF2P reimagining of Battlefield 2
  3. Mechwarrior OnlineMech game, more simulation than action
  4. Alliance of Valiant ArmsAsian-style FPS, emphasis on variety.

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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.