What are the best free Steam games? If you are bored and penniless, especially after the holiday season, you don’t need to fear a gaming drought. Steam is loaded with games to play without spending a penny (no, not like that). What’s more, many of them are very good indeed: games that are just as much fun to play as their full-price, wallet-destroying siblings.
In recent years, free Steam games have become the norm, with some even overtaking paid-for triple-A tiles as the leaders of the PC gaming hobby. Take a quick look at the platform’s most-played list and you’ll see that a significant proportion of the most popular and best PC games on the platform happen to be free-to-play. So, because we desperately care about the health of your bank account – and honestly worry about how much money you’re spending on your nasty gaming habit – we want to help you find all the best free PC games worth your time.
The best free Steam games are:
In World War II soldiers would often hear thunder in the distance and prepare themselves for rain, only for them to discover it was actually War Thunder; a tank game about planes and tanks shooting each other. Gaijin’s flight game straps you into a mind-shattering variety of authentic 1940s war machines and tasks you with surviving countless dogfights and land battles with other players.
It is a game that is constantly being updated and improved, with the biggest additions providing whole new types of vehicles like warships for massive naval battles. To help you make sense of it all we have put together a guide to the best War Thunder tier 1 planes, and a tank battles guide, too.
World of Tanks
World of Tanks has been around for over a decade now, but it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Wargaming’s MMO features over 800 vehicles, each one carefully designed to take on other tanks on the battlefield.
Players have access to five different types of vehicle: light tanks, medium tanks, heavy tanks, tank destroyers, and SPGs (self-propelled guns). In the large-scale battles, teams must work together as a well-oiled machine in order to crush the opposing team. If you enjoy the tactical side of tank warfare, World of Tanks is perfect for you.
World of Warships
While there are heaps of quality tank games available on Steam, prospective admirals have far fewer options. Fortunately then, there’s World of Warships, which is not only one of the very best naval warfare simulation games, but also a free Steam game. With over 500 of the titular warships for players to unlock, from destroyers and cruisers to battleships and aircraft carriers, players can rest assured they won’t run out of new toys to aim for. Not that you’ll notice the grind: the multiplayer naval battles of World of Warships are pure spectacle.
World War 3
We’ve got a few other first person shooters on this list, so what makes World War 3 unique? Well, as you can imagine, this is a game that uses elements of modern warfare as it gives you battles based on the concept of a third world war. The goal of The Farm 51 (the game’s developer) was to make a war game that was as realistic as possible, while still being a fun and enjoyable experience.
There are a number of real world locations in the game (Warsaw, Berlin, Moscow, Smolensk, and Polyarny) which you get to see reimagined as war-torn battlegrounds. Meanwhile, the amount of weapon customisation to be unlocked is extensive, with so much to unlock, and so many ways to adjust your weapons so they suit you better. As a final note, you also get to drive around in tanks and other cool vehicles. Which is nice.
Do you long for a free Steam game that is effectively one gigantic, endless spaceship dogfighting simulator? Star Conflict takes the idea of player-driven stories spawned by Eve Online and condenses it to a much more action-packed, combat-oriented experience with a much more gentle onboarding process.
When you are not skirmishing in nimble fighters or massive frigates, you can simply explore the beautiful, vibrant cluster of ancient worlds scattered through its sizeable void.
Funny free Steam games aren’t all that common, but CRSED, which started life as a joke spinoff for squad-based MMO shooter Enlisted, earned its place on this list through constant quality updates and its madcap sense of humour. While you’ll spend most of a match in PUBG tracking down a hefty set of plate armour, in CRSED (or, as it used to be known, Cuisine Royale) you just need to find a kitchen, strap some metal cookware over your vital organs, and you’re good to go. Regular content updates also keep things fresh and funny, with everything from historic figures to superpowered demons being rotated in and out of the free-to-play battle royale game.
Crossout is a post-apocalyptic MMO action game in which you craft and build monstrously-sized machines and use them to bash others in explosive online games. So it is basically what you used to do during your childhood with Lego, but with the magic of computers.
You can craft a wide variety of vehicles – from small, nimble buggies to rugged off-roaders – with an arsenal of weapons just as large: get your murderous hands on power drills, machine guns, and rocket launchers, or even stealth generators if you fancy a quieter approach. With an arsenal like that, it is easy to see why Crossout is one of the best free Steam games.
As you fight, you build your reputation with your chosen Crossout faction. In PvP or PvE (where you can even fight user-created bosses) engaging in some good ol’ shooting will grant you new parts and blueprints to continue your vehicular crusade. If you need a hand getting started, just consult our Crossout beginner’s guide.
Neverwinter is the MMO take on Wizards of the Coast’s genre-defining tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, taking you to the Forgotten Realms and pitting you against hobgoblins, kobolds, and much, much worse. It is a surprisingly robust action-MMO, with a strong emphasis on skill-heavy combat and a pretty world to explore.
There is a bit of a push for players to buy things in the in-game store, but you can do everything without paying a penny. That even includes playing the frequent expansions, such as the recent Jewel of the North update that adds a new Bard class and refines the leveling system.
Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online is an MMO set in the unmistakable sci-fi world of the starship Enterprise, where you are given a ship, a crew and sent off on sci-fi adventures that feel authentically Star Trek. Though it’s ever-ageing, it continues to get regular free updates that add new, elaborate episodic missions, additional gear, seasonal events, and even the crew of Deep Space Nine in Star Trek Online.
The story also has a tangible impact on the evolving galaxy. While there is a cash shop and premium ships, the game continues to be extremely generous toward free players, allowing them freedom in their exploration of the final frontier.
Wizard101 is a fantasy MMORPG that has been captivating players for over a decade. In it, you play as a student of the Ravenwood School for Magical Arts. You choose whether you want to specialise in Fire, Ice, Storm, Myth, Life, Death, or Balance, which then determines the magical abilities that you’ll develop during your time within the world of the Spiral.
The game’s world is huge and you’ll find yourself visiting a variety of locales, including snowy outposts, cities under the sea, ancient Egyptian-style desert communities, and much more besides. The game has quite an enticing storyline too, with more depth than you might have expected, based on its cutesy art style.
Final Fantasy XIV
Yes, that’s right: you can play Final Fantasy XIV for free. The most recent MMO incarnation of this iconic Square series has won over a sizeable number of fans. Even if you’ve never played any Final Fantasy games before, it could be a good place to start. Set in the sprawling world of Hydaelyn, this is one of those MMO games that are fun to play even when you’re keeping yourself busy running errands for villagers, going fishing, hunting, or passing your time in one of countless other ways.
Of course, there is still a huge and compelling story at the heart of the game. You’ll easily spend around 120 hours on the Realm Reborn storyline that was part of the base game, but on top of that, Square has periodically added new story expansions, so now after that you can play through Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers, and Endwalker – some of which are even longer than the base story itself.
While you can only get up to level 60 without paying, that’s an enormous amount of content, so we definitely recommend taking it for a spin.
There aren’t a lot of grand strategy games among the free games on Steam, but one of the few that you’ll find there is Supremacy 1914, a fantastic game that allows you to play as any of the nations that were involved with the First World War. As an MMO, you could be playing with up to 499 other players, and with all of you using your strategic minds to secure victory, you’ll find yourself involved in very deep, intricate games.
It’s a really impressive game that history fans will really enjoy. There’s so much packed into it, and every playable country is a little different, with resources and munitions ranging between all of them. You might want to get to know all of them through different games, or maybe you’ll want to consistently use the same one in order to really master it. Either way, you’ll easily spend tons of hours in it.
Call of War: World War II
Following a similar mould to Supremacy 1914, Call of War: World War II gives you a chance to determine the outcome of what was potentially the biggest global conflict in history. With ten playable nations to choose from (including the US, Russia, and Germany) and all of them offering armaments and munitions that are accurate to the time period, it’s a game that offers a lot of variety and one that will put a smile onto the face of history buffs.
As a long-term strategy game, you won’t be doing little skirmishes in a single session – instead, you’ll be returning to a single game over multiple IRL weeks. Because of the depth and scope of each game, it really encourages you to think strategically and plan for the long-term consequences of your decision. It’s a game that’s easy to become invested in, and before you know it, you’ll be waiting for the school/work day to be over so you can get back to it.
Conflict of Nations: World War III
Conflict of Nations: World War III is actually quite similar to the last two games on the list, except that while they focus on the first and second world wars, this one is based around a potential third world war. Set in a future where the global situation has deteriorated to such an extent that all the countries now exist in a state of all-out war, and you get to take control of one of many available nations.
They all have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, with some having a clear advantage over others, whether that’s because they have more cities and cover more land, or because they have a strategic location on the map. A game will easily last for weeks, and probably even months, and as you delve into this strategy game for the long-haul, you’ll need to use all of your expertise in order to cement yourself as a global superpower.
Goose, Goose, Duck
If you like Among Us, you’ll like Goose, Goose, Duck, a new social deduction game in the style of the popular, aforementioned multiplayer game – only imposters are now devilish ducks.
There’s little to say about Goose, Goose, Duck if you’ve already played Among Us, as it is essentially the same – even down to your duties and kill mechanics. If not though, it’s a great chance to give cartoonish social deduction games a try, being free to play and all. Under the assumption that you’ve been living under an airship for the last few years, you load into a game as either a goose or a duck. If you’re the former, you’re the good guy, bumbling around trying to complete your duties. The latter are the baddies believe it or not, and you must try and stop the geese fulfilling their tasks – by any means necessary. Simple, silly fun, best played with friends.
PROJECT: Playtime was the late 2022 release from MOB Games, the developer behind the viral success Poppy Playtime – and it’s already shaping up to be just as popular. Like its predecessor, Project is a survival horror game based in a toy factory, only this time you’re not working alone. If single-player scares have you a little too afraid then, you can hide behind the relative safety of five friends in Project: Playtime, as you go up against one vengeful toy – controlled by another player – in the latest asymmetrical horror game.
Conqueror’s Blade offers a devilish blend of top-down battle strategy and third-person fighting that few other war games dare attempt. The medieval MMO receives regular updates and support from developers My.Games, so you won’t get bored, with each new season bringing fresh units, areas of the map to explore, and new epochs to delve into.
Season 9 invites you to incite a rebellion to liberate The Borderlands, with the help of three brand new Seasonal Units. Of course, you can loosen your pursestrings to splash out on a battle pass or cosmetic items, but the core of the game is entirely free.
Tower of Fantasy
Looking for the next big open-world action RPG hit after Genshin Impact? Well, look no farther than Tower of Fantasy. While the general formula may not exactly be original, this anime game offers a new take on a style of game that resonated with millions of players. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Tower of Fantasy features a sci-fi setting, with a story that focuses on humans living on the planet Aida hundreds of years in the future. What you do there is up to you. Want to gallop across the countryside atop a robotic unicorn? Want to do battle against monsters with your friends? Want to gather ingredients so you can follow recipes and become a culinary expert? This game will keep you occupied for a long time, because there’s so much to do.
Warframe lets you play as a space ninja, and that is probably all that you need to know to start getting excited. Beyond that, it is a third-person co-op affair that pits you against goons and other space ninjas, all wearing fancy ‘warframes’ that provide special abilities. It is a slick action game with a hint of Destiny about it, thanks to its buddy-up mission design and shared-world social environments. Part of the attraction is perfecting your own Warframe build so you can clear levels and grind faster than anyone else.
There may be a bit of grind involved if you want to craft the coolest gear, but you will be slicing people in half and powersliding around on your knees for most of that, so don’t be too concerned. Despite being nearly a decade old, there are still regular content updates added to Warframe, and a huge number of concurrent players, so it’s never too late to start, and you won’t be short on other players to team up with. Try the latest update, Veilbreaker, for a brand-new single-player quest line.
Amazon Games and Smilegate launched the free-to-play MMORPG Lost Ark across the west in 2022, following an initial 2019 launch in South Korea. Since then, hundreds of thousands of players have descended upon the world of Arkesia, cementing Lost Ark as one of the best MMORPGs. And it’s no wonder, as Lost Ark is one of the best-looking fantasy MMOs around, on top of being packed full of bosses, raids and quests. In fact, you can read just how much we love it in our Lost Ark review.
With 20 Lost Ark classes to choose from, ranging from MMO essentials like Bard, Paladin, and Sorceress to unique entries like Gunslinger and Wardancer, there are loads of ways to make your Arkesia experience your own. Smilegate are pretty good at listening to community feedback as well, adding more gender options for classes, regular content updates, and loads of free Twitch Drops and Prime Gaming goodies to keep you coming back.
Don’t be fooled by its blocky, Minecraft-like aesthetic, Trove is a hardcore MMO for players that live for the grind and action-adventure combat. In Trove you start by picking from a selection of fantasy-inspired classes and set off across a series of realms, constantly leveling up, fighting cube-y monsters, delving into dungeons, and unlocking new gear, which you can show off back at your home base. If you’re a hoarder at heart then Trove will appeal to you.
Albion Online is a sandbox MMO in which characters don’t belong to specific classes, allowing for a more adaptable playstyle where you’ll need to progress your character and adjust your combat style by gathering resources, buying and selling gear, and slowly building up your loot stash. It’s no surprise players are sinking hours into this free MMO; the world has a lot to offer including deadly fights against other players, different biomes to explore, and a loot system that drives players from the comfort of any one area in Albion’s expansive map.
Albion’s the name and PvP’s the game, so don’t get bogged down in farming and riding your horse into the great unknown, ambushes are common and brutal, so come prepared, but not too prepared, as the unforgiving full-loot drop system on death can be incredibly frustrating.
One of the great MMOs of our time, EVE Online is now available to play without a subscription fee. This means that literally anyone with a PC can start their own voyage of discovery within the vastness of space. The only question is: who will you be? Unlike class-based fantasy RPG games, EVE isn’t about being a ranger or a warrior and saving the world. It’s about becoming a cog within a huge, player-controlled universe.
So will you be a trader and help bring much-needed items to others? Or will you rise through the ranks of a corrupt corporation and engage in tactical sabotage against your enemies? These are just two of the countless thousands of paths that are available to you in this incredible, unrivaled MMO.
The first official auto chess game out of the blocks following Drodo’s Dota 2 mods, Dota Underlords, Valve’s mobile and PC effort set a high starting bar. It’s a bit more user-friendly than its custom inspiration and veteran players of the notoriously tough MOBA will feel right at home.
One of the crucial differences this free Steam game has to its big rival, Riot’s Teamfight Tactics, is the Dota Underlords items system. Rounds one, two, three, 10 and every fifth round after that are creep rounds that give you the choice of three items. Valve have also introduced the powerful presence of the Underlords themselves to each players’ team, providing each lineup with significant additional buffs and damage, according to the skills you select for your Underlord each game.
Smite is a MOBA with a twist: you control your religion-influenced gods like you would in a third person action game, with the camera positioned behind them. This makes Smite feel a very different kind of 5v5 game, and the differences do not stop there. Smite has numerous modes, including the team deathmatch-influenced Arena. That said, it has still got plenty of familiar stuff: lanes, creeps, and items are all present and correct, and the pantheon of gods is being ever added to. If you are just getting started, check out our Smite beginner’s guide.
One of the breakout stars of 2022, Marvel Snap gives deck-building, card battler fans a brand new collection to get into, this time featuring everyone’s favourite superheroes. In fact, it’s so good it’s even converted Marvel fans to the card-battling genre and vice versa, so you don’t need to be a fan of both to try it. Despite being in early access, the PC version of Marvel Snap plays brilliantly, with just a few occasional bugs here and there with the main menu. Essentially, it’s the mobile format ported to your bigger screen, but that does at least allow you to experience the sounds, animations and colourful artwork in all their glory.
This free game does have cross-platform support, so you can also play across PC and mobile devices, keeping your progress and your collection with you as you switch between them. And as you build out your collection, familiarise yourself with the best Marvel Snap decks to build out, whichever level or Marvel Snap pool you currently reside in.
It may get a lot of stick for looking like Overwatch, but Paladins has got its own take on the hero shooter formula. Using a deck of cards that imbue special passive abilities, you help your team capture control points and escort a siege engine to the front door of an enemy fortress – read our Paladins beginner’s guide for some advice on this system. Paladins Champions level up throughout a match, with each new level upgrading their skills by drawing new buff cards. Afterwards, you can open chests, pick up more cards for your decks, and voila, you’ve got a new favourite free Steam game.
Path of Exile
Considerably more grim and gothic than other action games out there, Path of Exile is also blessed with one of the most compelling levelling systems seen in an RPG. An impossibly large and liberating grid of abilities and improvements awaits, ready to allow you to enhance your character in any which way you see fit. To unlock those tantalising abilities you’ll need to battle your way through the monster-infested world, making use of a combat system that is (whisper it now) possibly a bit better than Diablo III. On top of all that it also gets a massive expansion and new competitive league every few months, which will keep you busy while we still wait for the Path of Exile 2 release date, the huge upcoming expansion to the base game.
Team Fortress 2
What can one say about Team Fortress 2, Valve’s mega-popular, constantly evolving shooter? It has many hats. It is also extremely refined, always full of players despite launching in 2007, and gets frequent updates to fatten the game up with even more hats, modes, and maps.
But despite how much the game has grown in the nine years since it launched, it remains easy to pick up, especially if you have some chums to play with. The package itself now feels infinitely huge, with a great variety of game types, from the classic capture point Red vs. Blu games, to co-op Mann vs. Machine, where players band together to keep waves of murderous robots at bay.
Dota 2 is massive, second only to League of Legends in the realm of MOBAs. Millions of people seemingly play it constantly, always coming back to check out new characters and patches. As a MOBA with roots in the origin of the genre you know exactly what to expect: an eclectic roster of Dota 2 heroes, a huge list of powerful items, ten players, three lanes, and a massive emphasis on skill. You could spend days and days just thinking about the metagame, not to mention honing your talents by spectating the biggest matches come tournament season. Budding players need to get started somewhere with this free Steam game, so check out our guide to the best Dota 2 heroes.
And there you have it: the very best games available on Steam that will cost you absolutely nothing. And since they all come at everybody’s favourite price, it means you can play even more games than before. From terrifying horror games, to logical war games, and colourful FPS games, why not try them all and see which ones are for you? It’s not like it will cost you anything but a little RAM, and you might even discover a new favourite.
This story originally appeared on pcgamesn