Free-to-play gaming has acquired itself a bad rap. In many cases, the negative reputation is well earned. “Hardcore” gamers have been pushing back for some time against the popular fad of “free-to-play” that originated from mobile gaming. There was once a time when $60 was the price of admittance for a complete gameplay experience, but this was before game publishers realized there was more money to be made in the form of microtransactions.

Microtransactions have become the new norm, infesting console and PC gaming alike. They have even wormed their way into franchises that weren’t built specifically for the model such as Halo, Grand Theft Auto, and Gears of War. The system has its defenders with people citing the increasing costs of game production and server maintenance as justification, especially for those titles you are already paying a premium price for on launch day. The fact remains that a $60 video game will more than likely have some hidden extra costs these days, at least if you want access to the entirety of your game.

Many free-to-play titles make their money off of individual gamers that spend ungodly amounts of money on the games they’ve become addicted to. The industry even has a title for this kind of gamer: WHALE. There’s also the inherent problem with balance some free-to-play games face, especially when they implement in game systems that could be perceived as pay-to-win(a system where players can spend real life currency to gain an advantage over those who choose not to pay).

While there are plenty of games that suffer from the typical free-to-play stigmas, I would still encourage trying out those titles that peak your interest. There’s little risk in trying one of these titles because they are all free.While it’s true that many of these games incentivize paying to reduce grind(the process of repeating a task for experience points or in-game currency), the rewards can be unlocked by spending more time playing the game. There is a level of fairness to the system, especially if the only thing you buy are cosmetic items and not advantages over other players.

The next four titles are free-to-play games I enjoyed playing, some of them making it on my personal list of favorite multiplayer games. I’ve thrown both time and money(to varying degrees) at all of these games and have remained confident in those investments. The developers of these video games treat their titles like a service, with additional content and balance changes continuously being added to their games through monthly patches. The game you play in January may look completely different by December and that’s the most exciting part, in my opinion. They are constantly being worked on. Unlike most of my lists, these games are in a specific order based on how much fun I had and how irksome it’s free-to-play qualities are.

 

4)Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Year
Early Access

Developer
CD Projekt RED

Platforms
Windows, PS4, Xbox One

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Notes

When I heard that CD Projekt RED was developing a free-to-play title based on a mini card game within its epic fantasy game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I thought the game was sure to suck. Not only have they improved on the card game in almost every way, the art design in this game is stunning. The title is still in closed beta and is not a finished product, but you can sign up for access here. They really blew away my expectations as I’ve never been into card games and I never even played Gwent when it was introduced in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

This is a game that rewards strategic thinking and cunning use of the cards in your deck, something I appreciate in a market saturated with cookie-cutter first person shooters. My biggest issue with the game is its microtransactions which unlock random card drops. It was very clear, especially in the earliest days of the beta, which players were investing money into card packs and which ones weren’t. Still, I felt the game was fun enough to include on the list.

The following is a tutorial for Gwent, posted by ReformistTM on Youtube. Check out his channel!

3)Warframe

Year
2013

Developer
Digital Extremes

Platform
Windows, PS4, Xbox One

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Notes

Does playing as a space ninja slaughtering hundreds of enemies in a single level sound appealing to you? Then Warframe is the game for you! Warframe is a solid cooperative, 3rd person shooter, action game that’s just damn fun to play. Players control members of an ancient warrior race known as the Tenno who have awoken from centuries of dormancy to a solar system ravaged by the fires of war. Players can choose to embark on missions solo, but the heart of Warframe lies in its community and multiplayer. Up to four space ninjas can join any unlocked mission to fight AI enemies. Flipping around, defying the laws of gravity(and the constraints of physics), and dancing over the corpses of your fallen foes has never looked this cool.

Warframe has a decidedly unique sci-fi/fantasy aesthetic that instantly separates it from other free-to-play titles. The world and lore of Warframe are fascinating but don’t expect every question to be answered. The breath of instruments to murder with is spectacular. Space katanas, bo staffs, shuriken, bows, assault rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, sniper rifles… The list goes on and on. There is also a shit ton of warframes(characters) to unlock and choose from. All this adds a bit of an RPG element to the game. Honestly, there is so much to do for new players that it’s almost intimidating. It doesn’t help that the tutorials are text based, but after a few hours of game time, you get the hang of it.

The worst part about the game is how grind intensive it can be. It really depends on if you are someone who enjoys that kind of experience. For me, the gameplay is engaging enough that I don’t mind the grind, but others will find it tedious.

The following is part of a beginner’s guide series posted by Tactical Potato, my favorite Warframe streamer. His guide is great for people wanting to learn more about the game.

Sorry about missing my post for Thursday, but I was not happy with the article I had written. Rather than post something subpar and unrepresentative of the work I am capable of I chose not to post until I got it right. I literally redoubled my efforts and wrote enough for two posts! The second half will be posting tonight at 2000(8 PM) EST. Thanks for understanding and all the support.