If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet and you want to enjoy gaming there are hundreds of completely free computer games available online, ready to download to your desktop PC or laptop. So in no particular order, here’s a list of some of the best free computer games you can play without spending a single penny.
Top 10 free PC games
The Tribes games have been around for about 11 years now, and the developers have decided to make their newest release, Tribes Ascend, free to play. At first glance, you might mistake it for your average first person space shooter, something similar to the Halo franchise perhaps. Once you see it moving it’s a different story – Tribes moves at breakneck speed, allowing players to ‘ski’ down slopes and use a jetpack to quickly shoot up the other side. The game becomes a much deadlier version of “tiny wings” where speed and accuracy reign supreme.
Check out this introductory video, for a taste of the Tribes Ascend action:
As with any free-to-play game you can add money to it if you want to. Purchasing the in game cash ‘gold’ allows you to unlock more weapons and character classes a lot quicker than you would usually and also gives you a small boost on the XP you earn. If you find yourself playing Tribes Ascend regularly then it might be worth adding a couple of pounds to the game, but it’s so well balanced at this point that anyone can have fun without feeling outgunned by the paid players.
Also try: Global Agenda
Team Fortress 2 has been around so long now it has no right looking as good as it does. Originally something you would have to pay for, Team Fortress went free-to-play in 2011 and attracted a whole new crowd of players. At its heart is a basic multiplayer first person shooter, but that’s part of what makes it so addictive and playable. It’s easy to get into and learn the basics, plus the game provides tutorials and handy hints along the way. If you want to get deeper into the game you can pay to buy loadouts. These give you different weapons and accessories that can be used in-game. Every loadout has it’s downsides, keeping the game very balanced, even if you’ve never bought a single piece of additional content.
Check out the Team Fortress 2 intro video
Also try: Micro Vaults, Quake Live
Nitronic Rush is kind of like what would happen if you managed to bring a Bugatti Veyron into the world of Tron. It’s an arcade time trial game, where the track hates you and wants you dead. Obstacles sprout from the ground, and missing sections of track become more and more common as you travel round it. Fortunately, you have a couple of handy gadgets built into your vehicle. Rockets burst from the rear and a pair of small wings allows you to glide across more open sections. You can’t use these forever, but it’s not long before they recharge and you’re powering down the next straightaway. Just make sure it’s not directly into a wall. The game is completely free and even comes with a couple of gameplay modes, including a stunt course where you can flip and spin your car to your heart’s content. Well worth a try if you’re looking for some arcade fun.
For fast-paced racing thrills, check out the Nitronic Rush intro video:
Also try: Trackmania Nations
Collect the pages. That’s all you have to do – wander around and collect the pages. I kept telling myself this over and over, while I was playing Slender. This free, first person horror game from Parsec productions is one of the most terrifying games I have ever played. Slender has a simple concept and short play time, but it’s a masterclass in building tension and something that any horror fan should check out at least once.
Turn the lights out and play through headphones for the full experience and remember, it’s only a game… isn’t it?
Those who think video games have become too easy these days should check out Spelunky. Spelunky is a ‘rogue-like’ cave explorer, which means that every time you play it the cave has a different layout. You never know what might be behind that next rock or at the bottom of a short fall. It also means you get one life. As soon as your health meter runs out (and believe me it will often) you get put right back at level 1 where you started. Despite this though it keeps you coming back for more, with the same kind of sadistic charm that players might remember from games like Super Meat Boy or N+. Part of this is due to the amount there is to discover in the caves. From damsels in distress to grumpy shopkeepers that are more than capable of looking after themselves, there is plenty to find.
Spelunky also taps into to that high score mentality. You just need to collect that little bit more gold to get a higher score than last time. Whatever it is that keeps you coming back, be prepared to die over and over again. A version of this game has just been released on XBox 360, but the original PC game is still completely free to download.
Also try: Cave Story
Though it may not be the most graphically intensive game on this list, those that download and play Battle For Wesnoth have found a surprisingly deep and exciting turn based strategy game. . Anyone that’s played games like Civilisation or the Might and Magic series will feel right at home, but here the focus is much more on combat and wiping out the other armies on the map.The fantasy theme means its not just swords that clash, but magic and monsters can be called in to join the fray. The battles can be epic and although there are plenty of single player careers to get through, it’s the 8-way multiplayer that can get really crazy. If you’ve got some time to kill and some like-minded friends, give Battle for Wesnoth a download.
Before you begin your mission, check out the Battle for Wesnoth intro video:
Also try: Free Civ
Few games can claim to be officially NASA endorsed. In Moonbase Alpha it’s your job to repair the life support system that’s been obliterated by a recent asteroid. It can be genuinely stressful watching those precious last minutes of oxygen slip away as you try desperately to fix that last pump. But don’t worry, you are given all the right tools for the job, including repair kits, robots and a rover (read awesome space car). You can also join up with friends and bound around the moon together. This is where the game gets really fun. Whether you are working as a team to get the base fixed as quickly as possible or larking around taking the rover off for some sweet jumps, there are plenty of ways to have a good time. Either way, Moonbase Alpha is worth a download and it’s even available on Steam at the moment, with full Steam leaderboards – so go check it out!
Move over flight simulators, it’s time to take this shuttle into space! Watch the Moonbase Alpha video:
League of Legends is one of the most popular online games currently available and like everything else in this list it’s completely free to play. It is just one of the games in a rapidly expanding genre known as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). Purely multiplayer focused, this game pits 2 teams of champions against one another in a bid to push deeper into the other team’s territory and eventually destroy the closely-guarded crystal at the other end. It is a game of tactics, quick thinking and an even quicker mouse click. You play as one of the champions on each team and each champion has their own set of attacks and powers. On top of that there are smaller, non-playable characters that constantly spawn and run along three lanes on the field. It’s your job to push the other team back far enough that you can get these smaller characters to flood the opposing base. That is a very simplified explanation of what can quickly become a very tactical game.
Get ready to hone your battle tactics, with League of Legends:
League of Legends this might be one of the hardest games in this collection to just pick up and play straight away. With words like ‘jungling’ and ‘item builds’ being bandied around, it can take a while to start picking up all of the terms. Fortunately, there are some helpful video tutorials out there to get you started. Even if you watch the help videos I would still suggest playing against a computer controlled team before you start taking on real players. The League of Legends community is one of the most passionate out there and matches can get pretty heated.
Being a free-to-play game you are going to get a little more out of it by adding some dosh. For free you are given a selection of champions that rotates every month, so you can’t guarantee the character you have been learning with will be there next time you play. You can purchase these characters so that you always have them unlocked, along with extra outfits and cosmetic changes to each one. If it sounds like something you want to try, you can jump right in without having to spend anything at all.
Also try: Heroes of Newerth, Super MNC
Digital: a love story might be the oddest addition to this list. Less of a game and more of a digital novel, the game is told through the medium of 1980’s bulletin board posts (imagine a very early form of internet). It plays out a lot like an adventure game, with the text in each post guiding you on what to do next. It only takes about an hour to get through, and does involve a lot of reading, but it’s surprisingly engaging. You really feel like you have gone back in time and been given access to an early PC. If you can get past the old clunky interface the story is strong enough to keep you ploughing through and is well worth a look if you fancy a good old love story.
I couldn’t really finish a list of free PC games without adding an MMORPG in there somewhere. Dungeons and Dragons Online is one of the many Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games to have gone free-to-play in recent years and become successful. Not being a big player of these kinds of games, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy DDO is to get into. There are a lot less of the ‘fetch quests’ that seem to plague these types of games and this makes it a lot more action oriented than something like World of Warcraft. There is also an ever present dungeon master that narrates your tale for you. Far from getting in the way, this voice keeps the game moving along and feels a lot like the D&D you might have played by rolling dice on a table top. In fact, it feels so much like it that anyone who previously played D&D with the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rule set will feel right at home, thanks to the mechanics behind the scenes.
The controls and gameplay are easy enough that even inexperienced players can get a kick out of this game, but as with any MMO I would advise that you don’t travel alone. These types of games are much more fun when played with a group of mates, so if you’re going to jump in, I would gather a few friends together. You can add money to the game to purchase items from the DDO store, but a lot of the items can be found in the game world anyway, so it’s very easy to enjoy Dungeons and Dragons Online without spending a penny.
Also try: Lord of the rings online