8 Great Free-To-Play Games to Start Your F2P Journey
Tribes is the forerunner of every large-scale shooter on the market, and a good Tribes game hasn’t been seen since Tribes 2 released in 2001. At least, until Tribes: Ascend. HiRez managed to perfectly nail the combination of speed and teamwork that made the original Tribes games so endearing, and that’s no small feat. The core experience of Tribes: Ascend is polished and tuned until it purrs. The best mode, of course, is Capture The Flag, that FPS classic so beloved by players of Tribes, Unreal, and Quake everywhere. While the core Tribes experience is quite fantastic, there are a few failing points, with the biggest ones being balance and grind. Unlocking every class and getting new gear takes a ridiculously long amount of time. If you don’t mind this sort of slow, chugging metagame experience, then Tribes: Ascend will give you an absolute thrill.
The first modern RTS – the game that inspired some of the best and brightest in the industry to create the seminal games of the genre – was Herzog Zwei. A relatively unknown cult game for the Sega Genesis, it combined action and strategy in a way that most players had never seen. Now, Airmech seeks to revive the classic RTS formula, and it’s doing a fine job of it. Airmech pits up to six pilots (3v3) in instense strategic battles against each other. You produce units and then give them orders which they act out of their own accord. The pilots aren’t just strategists, though; if you are so inclined, you can chase down enemy Airmechs and slug it out on the ground with your troops. It puts you directly into the fray instead of just commanding it from afar, and that’s both exciting and dangerous. It’s currently in open beta on Steam, but it’s polished enough that it may fool you into thinking it has already been released.
Vindictus is surprising. While most MMOs claim to have exciting action combat, Vindictus is the only game I’ve ever played that actually delivers. It’s a fairly simple game, at its core: hop into a boat to a battle, and then beat the snot out of everything that picks a fight with you. What really makes it shine is just how satisfying that combat is. Slash a guy to pieces, pick him up and break his back, or chuck rocks at him; you can injure your enemies in a wide variety of ways. While the grind can get a bit tedious, the game is just so fun that it’s hard to mind. Vindictus is also unusual in that there are two incarnations: Vindictus and eXtreme Edition. Vindictus is slower and more methodical, while Vindcitus XE is more akin to games like God of War or Devil May Cry. US players don’t have access to Vindictus XE, but European and Asian players do.
I’ll admit: I have a soft spot for Battletech. I really love big, tough, dangerous robots, and the ‘Mechs of the Battletech universe hit that proverbial spot. Mechwarrior Online is doing its best to woo me in with its stellar ‘Mech designs and unrepentantly difficult gameplay, and I can’t say that I’m not impressed. MWO is the first real Mechwarrior Game since FASA was dissolved by Microsoft, and it follows all the conventions that Mechwarrior fans are used to. Heat management, locational damage, and gigantic hulking metal death machines are all present and accounted for. There’s also the interesting concept of the world playing out in real-time, which means that over the course of the next few months we will be getting plenty of lore updates and preparations for the Clan Invasion of 3050. While MWO captures the essence of big stomping ‘Mechs quite well, it does falter in a few areas due to its beta status. Options are still a bit limited, as many ‘Mechs haven’t been introduced. There is only two game modes, both of which revolving around last-man-standing deathmatches with points to grab and hold. It’s also a bit unstable, although recent weeks have improved this a bit. If you can deal with a game being rough around the edges, Mechwarrior Online will certainly please.
While these are my personal favorites, there’s still a good number of high-quality free-to-play games out there. Titles such as Dungeon Fighter Online or Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE Online may not be as finely polished as the ones on this list, but they are still great games in their own right. So get out there and explore the free-to-play realm. You won’t be disappointed.