The best free games to play in 2021

Burn rubber, slay skeletons and survive the apocalypse without spending a cent.

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Video games can be expensive. That's why we hunt down the best deals every week to help you hold onto your hard-earned cash. But while cheap is good, free is even better, so we've gathered the best free games you can play right now, no strings attached. Whether you're playing on PS4, Xbox One, PC or mobile, these games offer up dozens of hours of entertainment without requiring you to pay a single cent:

Path of Exile

Play it on: PC

When Diablo III launched back in 2012, not everyone was happy with how it streamlined many of Diablo II's RPG systems, especially when it came to levelling up. Luckily for those players, the free-to-play online action RPG Path of Exile arrived on the scene just a year later, promising a deep monster-slaying, loot-grabbing adventure that stayed true to Diablo II's much-loved formula. With regular new expansions and one of the friendliest, most non-essential microtransaction ecosystems out there, Path of Exile is a shining example of free-to-play done right.

Let It Die

Play it on: PS4

From the twisted mind of Suda 51, creator of such oddball games as Killer7 and Lollipop Chainsaw, Let It Die is a hack-and-slash RPG that tasks you with fighting your way level-by-level up a trap- and enemy-filled tower. Like most of Suda's games, Let It Die is packed with absurdity, from starting you off with nothing but your underwear to providing tips by way of the skateboarding Grim Reaper known as Uncle Death. The game is ruthlessly tough, too, but if you approach each fight patiently and methodically, you'll have little trouble progressing without ever purchasing a single microtransaction.

Killer Instinct

Play it on: Xbox One PC

Fighting games aren't exactly known for their low barrier to entry, but Killer Instinct tried to change that when it launched as a free-to-play title back in 2013. Anyone can jump in and start biffing opponents with the current free-to-play character – which character it is rotates on a regular basis. All stages and modes are available to free and paid players alike, and you'll only need to spend money if you want to buy one of the game's 28 characters to fight as whenever you like. Even better, since Killer Instinct was designed with input from a number of top fighting-game competitors and developers, it doesn't pull any punches when it comes to delivering tight, responsive combat. Fighting games don't get much more accessible than this.

Fallout Shelter

Play it on: iOS Android PC Xbox One

Redesigning Fallout to work on phones is no small feat, but Bethesda pulled it off with Fallout Shelter. Sure, you might not be trekking across a vast wasteland or sniping Super Mutants with the aid of V.A.T.S., but overseeing a community of hapless vault dwellers captures the challenge of surviving the post-apocalypse in its own way. Juggling basic needs like food, water and power to keep your dwellers happy, training them up to better defend your vault from raiders, sending them out on quests to score precious loot – Fallout Shelter has enough meat on its bones to keep even the most ravenous Wastelander satisfied.

Forza Motorsport 6: Apex

Play it on: PC

While PlayStation has Gran Turismo and Xbox has Forza Motorsport, the PC has never really had a racing sim series with the same level of mass-market appeal. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex gives PC gamers a taste of what their own big-budget racer might be like, though. With 63 cars and 20 tracks taken from the full Forza Motorsport 6 game, Apex is both a tease of what a complete Forza game could look like on the PC and a satisfying racer in its own right.

Warframe

Play it on: PS4 Xbox One PC

There are a lot of class-based shooters out there, but Warframe manages to set itself apart through its focus on mobility and speed over pure shooting. Players can jump, slide, roll, and even run on walls as they engage in both co-operative and competitive missions across numerous planets in our solar system. The titular Warframes add another layer of tactical variety to the game, granting abilities like Matrix-style time distortion, Portal-like wormholes and a mystical weapon that literally kills enemies with music. Add to that the procedurally-generated maps that ensure missions are different every time you play them and it's no wonder over 26 million people have played Warframe since its launch in 2013.

DC Universe Online

Play it on: Xbox One PS4 PC

Batman's cool and all, but you know who's cooler? Drop-Bear Man. He's got all the sticky bombs, sleep darts and grappling hooks that The Dark Knight has plus his costume is modelled after Australia's deadliest and most elusive predator, the Drop Bear.

…okay, so Drop-Bear Man might not be the best idea for a superhero ever, but he can still beat the snot out of Scarecrow, Bizarro and the Joker in DC Universe Online. That's what makes the action-heavy MMO so appealing: with the ability to design your own hero or villain from the vast array of powers, weapons and personalities that make up the DC canon, DC Universe Online provides a versatile stage on which you can play out your wildest fan-fiction dreams.

Hearthstone

Play it on: iOS Android PC

Collectible card games are the perfect fit for video game adaptation. No longer do you need to clear time and space in order to get a match going; instead, you can be playing 10 matches at the same time and carry them around with you in your pocket, no loose cards or lost counters to worry about. Hearthstone capitalises on this with its accessible rules and its bite-sized matches, wrapping the whole thing in the bright and colourful humour of the Warcraft universe. Whether you want to battle your way to the top of the competitive leaderboard or simply squeeze in a few casual rounds against the CPU during your lunch break, Hearthstone is a worthy addition to your collection.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Play it on: PC

It might not be the Knight of the Old Republic mega-sequel it was originally pitched as, but Star Wars: The Old Republic still delivers an engaging narrative experience few MMOs can compete with. All eight character classes feature their own unique storyline full of the memorable characters and moral quandaries developer BioWare is so well known for. With more than a dozen planets to explore, plenty of companion characters to recruit and your own starship to fly, The Old Republic nails the thrill of exploring a galaxy far, far away.

Marvel Heroes

Play it on: PS4 Xbox One PC

Spearheaded by David Brevik, the driving force behind the original Diablo, Marvel Heroes shares plenty of DNA with Blizzard's seminal action RPG series. You pick your champion from a roster of over 60 Marvel characters, with big names like Spider-Man and Captain America as well as more obscure faces like Moon Knight and X-23. From there, you battle your way through key Marvel locations like Hell's Kitchen, Latveria and Asgard, levelling and looting your hero into a force of unstoppable justice. Even if you aren't the biggest Marvel fan in the world, Marvel Heroes is a rock-solid loot 'em up with more than enough variety to keep you invested for many, many hours.

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