Best free games on PS4 and Xbox One

By Staff, Friday, 12 January 2018 10:08 GMT

It’s the new year, and no one has any money.

An inevitable side-effect of the holiday season is a cash-strapped January, and when you’re tightening a belt that’s already gotten just that little bit tighter from festive over-indulgence, sadly, filling a gaming lull as well as your stomach gets even harder. So, when better to round up the best free games on PS4 and Xbox One?

We’ve added a couple of exclusives to the list based on your feedback. Kooky third-person brawler Let it Die joins the party, as well as fantasy hero shooter Gigantic.

From card games to MMOs and MOBAs, there are a plethora of free games that are a lot of fun, while still being easy on the wallet. Most are supported by premium microtransaction economies, whether that’s cosmetic character or weapon skins, loot boxes or booster packs. Some are more aggressive than others, so we’ll do our best to point out what needs paying for so you can invest your valuable time wisely.

We’ve played all that the PSN and Microsoft Store have to offer, and right now, these are some of the best free games on PS4 and Xbox One.

If we’ve left anything off, chime in below and we’ll add it to the list.

warframe

  • Warframe

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Warframe is a third-person, action-sci-fi MMO based around space-age combat-suits equipped with a stacked arsenal of swords, rifles, knives, lasers and bows. There’s capable gun-play, as well as slick parkour and melee fighting across a variety of missions, which, combined with the option to use stealthier weaponry, means that you can approach the game with a multitude of different play-styles.

While the action is fun, Warframe is quite complicated. There are deep crafting and upgrade systems for your suit and weapons, on top of tonnes of loot and customisation options to sink your teeth into.

It uses a premium currency called Platinum bought using real-world money. Platinum is primarily used for cosmetic items and colours, but can also be used to buy new weapons and warframes without gathering the necessary resources.

Warframe has come a long way since it first dropped in 2014. What was once a promising, but stodgily paced and cold experience is now a much more open, fully-featured game with a hardcore fan-base and dedicated development team. The recent Plains of Eidolon expansion added a large open world area to Warframe, along with new methods of traversal. This marked improvement speaks volumes of Digital Extremes’ commitment to Warframe. If you pick this one up, you might not put it down again.

brawlhalla-screen-03-ps4-us-30aug16

  • Brawlhalla

Platform: PS4

Brawlhalla is a free-to-play fighting game that’ll feel instantly familiar to anyone who’s played Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Consoles.

The aim of the game is to knock other characters – called legends – out of the arena to score points by dealing damage to them with various attacks and combos. Weapons and items are added to the mix to ratchet up the chaos, while each character uses their unique strengths and weaknesses to gain the upper hand.

The hitboxes take a little while to get used to, but Brawlhalla quickly becomes frantic fun both online and in local co-op.

More characters are available to unlock via currency earnt in-game, or you can pay a one-time purchase fee to unlock all present and future legends. There’s also a premium currency that’s paid for with real money, which you can use to unlock skins and other cosmetic items like taunts and KO effects. Purchases are refundable if you change your mind though, so developer Blue Mammoth Games certainly earn some points there.

Trove_Adventures_splash

  • Trove

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

While it might look simple, Trove is a surprisingly fun online sandbox RPG that blends elements of builder games like Minecraft with features of more traditional role-playing games.

You can choose from a good variety of classes to start, ranging from the melee-focused warrior to the range-wielding gunslinger, and explore cute, blocky environments fighting enemies, clearing dungeons and sniffing out loot.

The quick gratification of loot drops from dungeons is addictive and there are a decent amount of quests to get through. You can also break down blocks and scenery in the world for parts to build your own home with, as well as reach high places.

The monetisation of Trove is quite aggressive, however; when you open up the menu to access your inventory, the icon it defaults to is the in-game store. Once you’ve picked a starting class, others have to be unlocked using premium credits, and there are tonnes of items, chests and mounts that have to be bought – although you can grind for some with in-game coins.

orcs_must_die_unchained_update_july (5)

  • Orcs Must Die: Unchained

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Orcs Must Die is an interesting take on a tower defence game, where you take control of one of a varied cast of heroes from a third-person perspective, laying traps for an onslaught of baddies to happlessly wander into.

There’re loads of traps to experiment with and upgrade, as well as plenty of laughs from the genuinely funny script. Boss monsters and chaos trials – which place outlandish modifiers on the player, like forcing you to dance every time a boss is defeated – add even more to the mix, and while most of the emphasis is on teaming up with friends, you can play solo too.

In terms of monetisation, most of the items you collect, as well as hero skins, are obtained from loot boxes that are paid for with real money. You are given some through normal play, but paying is much quicker. The only way to upgrade traps is by getting a certain amount of them in loot chests, and you have to buy keys for chaos trials too. Orcs Must Die is worth your time – there’s certainly a decent amount of stuff on offer for free – but expect to be hassled to pay often.

fortnite_battle_royale_big_1

  • Fortnite: Battle Royale

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

The breakout genre of 2017, Fortnite: Battle Royale is one of the hottest games in the world right now – with good reason. If you’ve been curious about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds but not wanted to pay to test it out, then this is the game for you.

In the main battle royale mode, 100 players drop into a giant map, scavenge weapons and materials, and fight until there’s only one left standing. It’s tenser than the cartoony visuals would suggest, incredibly strategic and a whole lot of fun.

What differentiates Fortnite from other battle royale games is the ability to break down scenery to collect resources which you can then use to build things like barricades that shield you from fire.

There’s also a PvE story mode, but you have to pay for that, as well as premium cosmetics that you buy with real money. These alter the look of your character, the parachute you drop into the arena with and the pickaxe you can use to gather resources, but give no competitive advantages.

smite

  • Smite

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Smite is a multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA, themed around gods and religious mythology.

With a huge player base and deep metagame, Smite is a great choice to get into MOBAs on console, boasting a massive list of gods to choose from, each with their own unique abilities, and a few distinct character classes and roles to learn. There are front-line warriors, nippy assassins, tanky guardians and range-focused hunters and mages.

There are multiple game modes to choose from as well, and thankfully, you get some high-tier characters for free, so you’re not going to get stomped by people who’ve paid for access to more stuff.

Smite’s premium currency is called gems and is used to unlock additional gods – although you can grind to get them too – as well as skins, emotes and voice packs for characters.

world_of_tanks

  • World of Tanks

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

World of Tanks is something really different in the online war shooter space. Piloting one from a vast array of 20th century tanks, you can battle other players online or take on a PvE story mode featuring comic-book style cutscenes.

Patience is key. World of Tanks isn’t a twitch-shooter like Call of Duty, your firing reticle tightens slowly, while the limited maneuverability means that it feels like nothing else out there.

It’s also worth mentioning that the latest version of World of Tanks on PS4 is an especially chunky 50GB download, so make sure you’ve got space to spare.

World of Tanks’ microtransactions are also particularly aggressive, with gameplay affecting tanks and ammunition available for purchase on top of cosmetics. However, there’s still a lot to enjoy for free in World of Tanks, like its extensive upgrade system, where you gain experience by playing with certain tanks and move up through a flowchart of iterative models until you reach the most powerful.

gwent_screen

  • Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Starting life as a mini-game in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, stand-alone Gwent is a revised and expanded iteration of the addictive one-on-one card game.

The aim of Gwent is to win two out of three rounds by having a higher score on your side of the board than your opponent. Different cards have different effects, like dealing damage to other cards or summoning copies of themselves.

Fans of the main Witcher series of RPGs will love the nostalgic sound effects and brilliantly animated card designs, and there are single-player adventures, challenges and timed events to go with the player-versus-player action.

You can buy more cards with real money via “card kegs”, but the game’s more generous than most with dishing them out for free.

path_of_exile_xbox_one_screen_1

  • Path of Exile

Platform: Xbox One

Path of Exile is an action-RPG in the classic mould of games like Diablo and Torchlight, where you play as an Exile on the road to revenge in a dark fantasy world.

Path of Exile has a massive range of possible character builds because of its mix-and-match skill gem system, while also offering a seriously meaty (we’re talking 30-70 hours here) story campaign.

Path of Exile is supported by a premium currency bought with real money, which you can use to buy cosmetic items like pets, weapon and armour effects, and decorations, as well as upgrades for your in-game stash.

If you’re into dungeon-crawling, loot, or just RPGs in general, then Path of Exile is worth your time – let alone for free.

paladins_screen_1

  • Paladins

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

Paladins is a first-person hero shooter, similar to Overwatch, and is developed by Hi-Rez Studios, the same company as Smite.

It’s currently in early access beta, so a little rough around the edges, with simpler maps and less polish than pay-to-play games in the genre, but still captures the same need for quick decisions and intense team fights.

The microtransactions are a little heavy-handed, with many heroes locked behind a pay-wall, which can leave you feeling like you don’t have a counter to some opposing characters. While the recently implemented card system – which can increase damage or reduce the cooldown of abilities – gives players with upgraded cards a demonstrable advantage in-game. The only way to upgrade cards is to open duplicates of them in loot chests, so people that pay will feel more powerful much, much quicker.

With that said, there’s no substitute for skill – and these effects are capped in ranked play – so if you like the look of Paladins, there’s definite fun to be had.

let_it_die

  • Let it Die

Platform: PS4

From madcap game director Suda51, Let it Die is a third-person hack-and-slash full of punk rock and ’80s action movie-inspired charm. Under the guidance of skateboarding grim reaper Uncle Death, players must climb the mysterious Tower of Barbs, overcoming progressively more deadly traps and adversaries.

Let it Die is best described as a “rogue-lite”. There’s permadeath – you control disposable “fighters” of varying types who can be upgraded as you advance – as well as elements of procedural generation and randomised loot.

The combat is an acquired taste, with deliberately rigid animations and pacing. It’s cliche to say something has Souls-like combat nowadays, but here the comparison’s apt. If you’re into high difficulty games that take patience to master, then Let it Die is for you.

As for microtransactions, you can buy in-game food, power-up items and armour – but the main thing is a premium currency called “Death Metal”. Death Metal act as continues, letting you come back to life when you’d normally lose a fighter. Death Metal is given out routinely as a log-in bonus, but given the difficulty of the game, these are something you’ll be tempted with a lot.

Gigantic_AirshipSupplies_Screenshot

  • Gigantic

Platform: Xbox One

Gigantic is a hero shooter where you battle alongside a team of other players to help your Guardian defeat the enemy team’s. You do so by combining your character’s unique strengths and weaknesses with your teammates’, while summoning allied creatures to aid you in battle.

The aim of the game is to gather power for your Guardian by killing opposing players and creatures. Once powerful enough, your Guardian will expose your opponents’, giving you the opportunity to attack.

Gigantic is played at a frenetic pace, and incorporates mechanics from MOBAs, like in-game character upgrades. This means that it feels like a cross between Paragon and Paladins – with a lively fantasy flavour to the stylised heroes.

You can unlock more characters through gameplay, or by paying a purchase fee to get them all. “Rubies” can also be bought for real money and exchanged for heroes and skins.

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