Best free games to play today
Update: Eager to experience a surreal collection of fan-made mini games featuring an iconic video game mascot? Number 26 will turn stomachs!
Gaming is an expensive hobby. Consoles cost hundreds, and gaming PCs can easily run to over a grand. However, once you’re set up with a rig, the amount of games you can get for free is staggering. Sure, to play the latest AAA console smash, you’re going to have to put your hand in your pocket, but there’s a different route too.
As well as an army of top free-to-play online games that attract players in their thousands, if not millions, there are scores of freeware titles you’d be mad to miss. Everyone from EA to the tiniest indie developer has something to offer.
It isn’t just new games that make the cut either. Some of the greatest titles to ever grace the gaming world are now free to own and play to your heart’s content just like you never used to because they all cost too much money back in the day. There’s even a glut of early browser-based classics that were once the preserve of school kids countrywide attempting to offset the boredom of maths on a Wednesday afternoon
We’ve gathered together over 100 of the best free games available for the PC, and some on the Mac, from browser Flash titles and giant sprawling MMORPGs to sporting classics and fiendishly difficult puzzlers. And there are a few games here that you used to have to pay top dollar for, thrown in for good measure. Of course let us know if you find any of those pesky dead links or whether we’ve missed your favorite one off.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article
1 – 4
1. Planetside 2
Two years before Destiny, back in 2012, we had
67. Life in the West
Contrary to what the name may suggest this game is not a simulation about what it’s like to live in Western Europe or a comic book series that allow you to wander around the Wild West. Life in the West is a mock-up of Kanye West’s Twitter account where you spout unadulterated nonsense and get rewarded for it.
The faster you type the more Kanye Points come your way and with those points you can buy new followers such as Xzibit, Barack Obama and our personal favourite Fake Kanye. Some of the Tweets are genuinely quite funny and if nothing else the authenticity of the interface makes you feel like you’ve become king Kanye for the day.
68. Back to Dinosaur Island 2 demo
From the makers of the Crysis series comes a free-to-play demo that has more than a hint of Jurassic Park about it. Crytek’s Back to Dinosaur Island 2 virtual reality demo may not be a fully-fledged game, but it’s well worth checking out if you already have access to an Oculus Rift DK2 headset.
More than a visual showcase, it sees you traverse a dangerous mountain wall surrounded by Pterodactyls and other flying dinosaurs, all of which look stunning in Crytek’s CryEngine. By tilting your head you’re free to look around while being winched up the mountain by a zip line. Once at the summit, you come face-to-face with a tree munching Brontosaurus, and it’s breathtaking stuff.
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69. New Star Soccer
One of the best football games on any smartphone platform is New Star Soccer and it can also be played for free in browser.
Take your player from the Conference North or South all the way up to the Premier League and live the life of the footballer along the way in this addictive top-down football simulator.
70. Racehorse Tycoon
Owning a racehorse is beyond almost all people unless you’ve tried your hand at Racehorse Tycoon. It doesn’t have the extensive feel of Rollercoaster Tycoon or Transport Tycoon but what it loses in simulation it more than makes up for in good old fashioned fun and straight out addictiveness.
Pick a horse, trainer, mode of transportation and even the food for your horse to guide him to victory. There’s even the chance to place bets on any horse competing and satisfy your gambling urges.
71. Ambulance Madness
On Grand Theft Auto there was always that one friend who would insist on stealing the first ambulance they came across and then running down as many people in their path whilst another person wondered what it would be like to run missions as an ambulance driver.
The latter will find their place in Ambulance Madness where you use a GTA-esque top-down view to drive to patients and treat them on the way to hospital. You’re against the clock and the patient’s health goes down rapidly so don’t crash into any cars on the way to the hospital as they will slow you down rapidly.
Where Nintendo GameBoy games do well online, the same can be said for the ones that used to be magically built into tables like Asteroids. Nothing has changed from the old version of Asteroids to this one with the aim still to break up the pieces of rock using your spacecraft and to avoid being destroyed by UFOs.
The arrow keys make it even easier to play than with a sticky joystick and buttons that have been scarred by years of spilled beers.
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73. AdVenture Capitalist
Anyone that’s owned a lot of diverse businesses will be put off by AdVenture Capitalist but for the rest of us there’s plenty of fun to be had. You start off your entrepreneurial life selling lemons from a stall and attempt to eventually make your way up to ownership of an oil company with some pizza, donuts and ice hockey along the way.
Eventually investors will circle and try to grab a piece of the action, and for a game that starts off as a glorified click-a-thon it’s surprisingly addictive.
74. Stick Cricket
Cricket remains one of the few sports that England can lay claim to being in the top 10 of after having a hand in inventing it. Stick Cricket is the internet’s best representation of leather on willow and it’s all about the timing.
The names of the players are a few years old yet any cricket fan worth their weight will have a smile on their face at this fact and if that doesn’t please you then the gameplay definitely will.
75. Promotion Wars
Wrestling used to be up there alongside UFC in the contact sports ranks in the 1990s and 2000s when the feuding parties of WCW and WWF were separate and it created quite a stir. Promotion Wars beams you back to that time with a management sim that is basically the same as the earlier versions of Football Manager except that you are managing a wrestling promotion as opposed to a football club.
It covers everything from signing players, creating stables and establishing feuds to booking shows and deciding the results before hand. A hearty band of developers have opened up a Promotion Wars 2014 website and forum where the game is offered along with a number of different scenarios that make it remain relevant and thus it remains one of the better free management sims out there.
76. A Grain of Truth
Adventure based games that require you to simply click and explore never get old, and A Grain of Truth follow this lead as you make your way across the endless plains of grass capturing stones and cloud along the way.
Your task is to guide Myosotis, the heroine of the tale, across the grass and take in everything that comes with it. There are small puzzles to solve, areas to examine and cloud catchers to climb, with enough here for even the most seasoned of gamers to get stuck in to.
77 – 80
77. The Crooked Man
Bleak, intriguing and scary in equal measure, The Crooked Man is an indie RPG with a horror slant. You play as a David, who has moved into a creaky new apartment. It soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems, and before long you’re facing decisions based on real-life fears: dimentia, death, loneliness and expectations, to avoid being killed by The Crooked Man. Featuring an eerie soundtrack and hard-hitting dialogue, it’s one freaky adventure that you’re not likely to forget in a hurry.
78. Big Mama’s Salon
From the outset Big Mama’s Salon doesn’t strike you as something that’s worth a second look, but after you’ve given our first haircut we can see why this one has quite a following. Your task is to help Big Mama to serve customers in her new salon that grows as she becomes more successful.
Click to clean, cut and dry plus attempt to keep your customers from getting frustrated by offering them magazines. You even have to click to get the money at the end of it and the frenetic clicking of the higher levels will make you feel like you’ve actually been cutting hair all day.
79. Earn To Die
Zombie apocalypse makes a great subject for games and movies alike, which is exactly what you’ll find by playing Earn to Die. The aim of the game is simple: use a car to plough through zombies and earn money depending on how far you get or the way that you manage to knock them out.
At the end of each day there’s the chance to upgrade your vehicle with cool extras such as turbines, guns, huge tyres and fuel. The further you get the better the decrepit heaps aka cars become and the better your ability to smash up zombies. All in all it’s basically an afternoon out on the Hills Have Eyes set.
80. 18 Hole Crazy Golf
Crazy golf doesn’t just have to be something reserved for seaside outings thanks to the quirky 18 Hole Crazy Golf.
The levels start off very easy but get progressively harder so that you’re attempting to get past all manner of obstacles including bunkers with nothing more than a trusty putter and golf ball. There’s really nothing more to it than that.
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81. Shop Empire 3
Reports of the demise of the high street are greatly exaggerated in Shop Empire 3 where you build up medieval looking multi-storey shopping centres to service the citizens complete with elevators and all the staff that you would expect to see.
Shoppers often chat away to each other all about your shopping centre and the ultimate aim is to make as much money as possible whilst at the same time keeping your shoppers happy.
82. Zombie Trailer Park
When the time finally comes and we have to start fighting zombies then there are enough games to prepare us for this eventuality to mean that we can fight them off, right? Zombie Trailer Park is another of that category and involves you operating a trailer park in the most efficient way possible by building trailers where zombie fighters are created.
The further you get the more persistent and larger the zombies get and it’ll be your job to stop them getting inside the trailer park to pilfer your goods.
83. Ultimate Football Management 13/14
The football management sim genre has been dominated by Championship Manager then Football Manager since the early 90s, yet there is one free game that goes by the name of Ultimate Football Management 13/14 that gets closer than any other.
You take control of a team in one of Europe’s top leagues and players are rated according to a star system, which all has to be taken into consideration when choosing your lineup. There’s an incredibly easy transfer system that makes buying anyone pretty simple and the game ends if you get sacked.
84. Pixel Box Worlds
Ever seen people playing Minecraft and wondered what all the fuss it about? Well now you can create 2D worlds in pixellated glory on Pixel Box Worlds without any of the intricacies that puts many off Minecraft.
Pick from pages of different small boxes to place on your landscape and before starting off it really pays off to look through some of the custom worlds to get the gist of what Pixel Box Worlds is all about. It’s not the most exciting of games but you can create some very cool looking landscapes.
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85. Road of the Dead
Yes this is another zombie entry but they make for good fun games so we figured, why not?! Road of the Dead sees you take the role of a worried citizen trying to escape the city limits, which have been overrun by, yes you’ve guessed it, zombies.
One word of warning: whatever you do don’t crash into any cars that are on fire as you will immediately blow up.
86. Pool Live Pro
Yahoo has recently done away with its online games, which included the addictive Yahoo Pool, and in its place is Pool Live Pro. If hustling is your game then there’s no shortage of opponents to play against considering anyone that signs on to play pool on Yahoo is open for a game.
As you get better you level up and gain locations to play pool instead of just the motorcycle hall. If playing pool is your thing then this game will be your new thing.
87. Decision 3
It often feels like zombie shooters could have a top 100 list of their own, although Decision 3 is another more than worthy member of the overall top list of games. The top down shooter is simple to play and sees you roam around a barren landscape with an army of civilians and soldiers to stave off the scores of zombies that only grow in number and ferocity as the game progresses.
The in-game animation sequences are exceptionally well drawn for a game that is definitely worth a look.
88. Mortal Kombat
Makes no bones about it. The original Mortal Kombat set a standard along with Street Fighter for the fighting genre and it’s the fully old school version of Mortal Kombat that you will find here.
Anyone that played Mortal Kombat way back when will recognise the soundtrack and the character names of Scorpion, Sub Zero et al. No fancy graphics have been added at all and the game feels slightly slow these days but nostalgia-wise this title still holds significant value.
89 – 92
Game download site Desura has some of the best deals around right now and one such game that has just become available is the heavily praised eCity. The game has a soundtrack similar to that of the iconic Sim City and without looking closely at the inner workings of eCity, you’d be mistaken for thinking it’s an imitation.
It’s anything but a Sim City knock-off, however, and offers gamers the choice of a number of scenarios that involve solving various issues that befall the community you choose to take control of. You’re tasked with everything from building power stations, through handling pollution and constructing utility networks to transporting citizens around the city and saving the population from natural disasters. And best of all it’s completely free.
Flash games are still one of the best ways to while away the hours when you’re supposed to be completing that assignment or piece of work. Huebrix is one that has been around for years yet is alongside the likes of 2048 in providing an offering that is extremely addictive while at the same time having plenty in terms of playability.
The aim is simple: Fill up the box with one or more colours using only the number of blocks of each colour that you’re given. You’ll soon find out that even though it starts off easy this game gets progressively harder until you’re at the full hair-pulling-out stage.
If Huebrix floated your boat then another in the same class is the similarly laid out flash game Cubilus. Simplicity is at the heart of Cubilus and even though it doesn’t come with an instruction manual it soon becomes clear what the aim of the game is.
Presented with a number of different cubes that feature different logos or colours, you have to match them up with the corresponding colours or symbols on the other side of the box. After starting off incredibly easy and making you wonder why you’ve wasted any time playing, this game soon progresses to a number of incredibly hard levels that are borderline unplayable. You have been warned!
92. Ritmo EP
It must be said that students make some of the very best games around and Ritmo EP more than holds its own in this respect. Billed as “Super Mario meets Rock Band” the game involves collecting the notes to songs and working together with friends or simply by yourself to collect as many coins as possible.
The current incarnation is just the EP and the debut of the full-length game is still to come, with promises that it might well be on the Xbox by the end of this summer. Otherwise you can get stuck right into this one completely free of charge to decide whether it’s more like Super Mario or a better match for Rock Band.
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93. Vinland: Arctic Assault
Who doesn’t want to take control of their very own Nordic ship and blast their way through the waters of Norway to victory? That’s the aim of Vinland: Arctic Assault, and you assume the role of Leif Erikson on a mission to take him and his crew to the fabled lands of Vinland and eventual victory.
This free game is a top-down affair and is incredibly smooth to look at, and even though the only real obstacles early on are the icebergs, it still makes for a game that is challenging enough to keep the attention of even the most avid gamers.
94. Sage Fusion
Role playing games never get old and futuristic settings don’t come much better than the one offered by Sage Fusion. The futuristic universe provides the backdrop to the first episode of this series that involves two political forces fighting it out against each other for greatness.
Considering this is a completely free game it has enough content to keep the player engaged for a decent amount of time, and looks nice enough that you’d think it costs more than the price of fresh air.
95. Championship Manager 01/02
Football management sims are so close to the real thing these days that Sky Sports News have started to use the data collected by the scouts that provide the lifeblood of Football Manager. There was once a time, however, when it was nothing more than a game played by like minded football geeks the world over. The good news is you can relive those days once more.
These days CM 01/02 is available as freeware and there is a budding community building updates covering everything from rosters and stats to face packs and backgrounds. You can even play with the same rosters from back in the day. Football management sims haven’t felt this fun in a long time!
96. Cyclomaniacs 2
Cyclomaniacs2, if you haven’t already played the first incarnation, involves biking around various different circuits inside a theme park with the eventual goal to find Super Villains and of course save the girl.
Finishing higher up in races gives you various rewards to use in subsequent races and the narrator behind the whole show is one of the more witty that we’ve come across. All in all it’s an amusing little game that’s worth a coffee break’s worth of time.
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97. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
Now this is a big one. EA’s Origin service rarely disappoints when it comes to a free giveaway and it may well have surpassed itself by making not only Red Alert 2 available for free but also adding the Yuri’s Revenge expansion into the bargain.
This was the strategy game at the start of the current millennium and is a follow up to the wildly popular C&C: Red Alert. We probably didn’t need to tell you that though. In the update to the series you land in the early 70s and have to fight for either the Soviets or Allies. Even if you don’t fancy playing it now there’s nothing to stop you downloading it for a nostalgic rainy day. There’s no way you’ll regret it!
98. Cool Spot
Cool Spot was such a convincing videogame character back in the 90s that it’s easy to forget he was an anthropomorphized 7 Up logo. Created by Virgin Interactive’s American studio, platformers featuring the running, jumping, yo-yoing fizzy drink mascot were colourful, sometimes challenging and always filled with cheesy low-fi dance music.
Virgin has made the original Cool Spot from 1993 playable on the Internet Archive, so if you’re looking to kill some time, you know where to go.
Our UK-based readers will no doubt remember Robot Wars, which pitted home-made robots against each other in industrial-styled arenas. (If you’re based outside the UK, look it up on YouTube immediately.) Currently in Early Access stage, Robocraft is similarly based on the concept of building your dream flying or land-based robot and taking it to massive arenas in a bid to destroy your enemies creations. Featuring massive levels of customization and the ability to create some seriously odd-looking war machines, the amount of fun you can have in Robocraft is only limited by your imagination.
100. Total War Battles Kingdom
Real-time Strategy (RTS) games don’t come much grander than those in the Total War series, and the latest entrant, Battles Kingdom, is free-to-play. Currently in open beta on the PC, it’s also available to play on iOS and Android, so you can pick up where you left off when you’re away from your battlestation. Set at the turn of the 10th Century, Battles Kingdom combines army management with kingdom building to deliver a bite-sized RTS game you can pick up and play anywhere, anytime.