You can have a damn good time on the PS4 without spending a dime thanks to a number of free-to-play games populating the PSN store. Some of these free offerings rival what you’d expect out of a full-fledged $60 game, if not surpass them. Here are our picks for the most worthwhile F2P PS4 games.
After being stuck in development hell, Fortnite has become one of the hottest games of the year—and with good reason. While the main zombie tower-defense mode costs money, Fortnite is worth downloading for the free Battle Royale mode.
Many folks felt skeptical about BR’s obvious Battlegrounds inspiration, but the game has blossomed into an excellent standalone experience. Yes, you spawn on an island where you desperately scrounge for weapons and resources in the hopes of surviving against 99 other players, but Fortnite has added its own twists to the formula. You can craft shelter or ridiculous contraptions. You can vault into the air with launch pads to reach new areas or get the drop on unsuspecting enemies. You can craft yourself a bush to hide in, which can lead to all sorts of absurd hijinks. And now there’s a wild new 50 vs 50 mode. Throughout all of these additions, Epic Games has also continually shown that they are listening to their playerbase when considering balance and bug fixes, all while being communicative about the changes. Fortnite’s happy-go-lucky vibe, coupled with a healthy, growing player base, make BR worth playing.
Hearthstone launched a renaissance in digital card games, but few have truly broken away from the Magic: The Gathering mold that inspired it. Gwent has, though. In the Witcher 3 mini-game turned standalone card game, each match plays out across three rounds and a battlefield of six rows. You trade turns with an opponent placing placing cards in a race to see who can rack up more points. Some cards, like the titular witcher himself, boost your score, while others produce weather effects or unleash spells that hurt your opponents. With hundreds of different cards and five factions to choose from, the game facilitates many different play styles, all brought to life through gorgeous art and fully-voiced one-liners. Though officially the game is still in beta, in practice it’s balanced and polished enough for prime time. While you can pay for new packs of cards if you want, using the ones the game gives you to start with and grinding for more from there is a completely feasible and satisfying way to build out a collection
Platform fighter Brawlhalla isn’t Super Smash Bros., but it scratches the same itch. Players face off on platforms with original fighters, like the cyberpunk gunslinger Barraza or the undead warrior Nix. Anyone who has the muscle memory for Super Smash Bros. can pick up Brawlhalla without much difficulty, but the game is welcoming enough for newbies to jump in too. Instead of each character boasting its own moveset, fighters battle with weapons like axes or scythes. There aren’t over-complicated maps. Also, spiking opponents is super easy and, since players can jump three times, a lot of the fighting happens off-stage—techniques usually reserved for seasoned Smash players. For $0, anybody can compete locally or online with a rotating roster of six characters.
- Cecilia D’Anastasio
Let It Die
Strap up, because this is a Goichi Suda game. Let It Die is a strange dungeon crawler full of personality, blood, and a skateboarding skeleton. But don’t let the pop aesthetic fool you. Let It Die is a brutal game with roguelike elements in which you traverse a monster-infested dungeon. Every life begins with you more or less naked and vulnerable, but as you progress, kill enemies and find random loot, you steadily become a more capable fighter. The trick is that you can lose it all in an instant, only to have to start over and climb through the ranks once again. If you manage to get far enough, you’ll have to face off against your own frenzied corpse—that is, assuming the corpses of other players don’t snuff you out first.
The best way to think about Paladins is that it’s a shooter similar to Overwatch, but with more of a MOBA bent. You can expect similar character types, except here, once you pick a champion, you can’t change it. Each champion has a card loadout that influences abilities, and as you progress through a match, you gain currency to further upgrade your skills. You’ll still be capturing points and moving the payload, but Paladins offers more control over how you play than games like Overwatch.
What started as a nondescript free-to-play shooter several years ago has managed to become one of the most engrossing multiplayer grindfests around. Warframe’s central campaign stretches across tons of different planets and missions that all combine to make a wonky space odyssey that’s irresistibly weird, like if Terry Gilliam directed a Destiny game. There’s an army of cyborg clones, mega corporations, infected mutants, and mechanical aliens, all of whom you’ll shoot, stab, or zap with space magic. Every mission (and you will play hundreds of them) is ultimately in the pursuit of collecting materials and loot for crafting ever more badass weapons. Fortunately, the game’s parkour element and fluid combat keep most of it from become too monotonous. This year, Warframe also added the Plains of Eidolon, a big open world area where you can fish, mine, and hunt alongside other players in addition to all the usual “go kill that dude for a reward” stuff. If you ever got trapped on a desert island, this would be the game to have with you.