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Video games can quickly become an expensive hobby. From buying the latest console to staying up to date with your online subscriptions, there’s no shortage of ways to lose track of your budget. If you know where to look, however, it’s possible to turn gaming into one of the most frugal hobbies on the planet. Free-to-play games are a great option, for one.
Whether you’re seeking a deep RPG or a fast-paced shooter, these 12 free-to-play games are an affordable way to get your gaming fix. Some have been on the market for nearly a decade. But 2022 is shaping up to be another great year for all of them. In fact, many are more popular now than they were years ago. That means it’s a great time to check out these long-standing favorites.
From Fortnite and Genshin Impact to Lost Ark and Rocket League, here are the best free-to-play games to start playing in 2022.
Fortnite is more of a cultural phenomenon than a video game. Having collaborated with Marvel, Marshmello and even John Wick, there’s no telling what this coming year will bring. One thing that’s all but guaranteed, however, is that Fortnite will continue to dominate the world of gaming. It’s one of the most popular free-to-play games by far.
Epic Games hasn’t said much about its future plans for Fortnite. Based on historical trends, however, we’ll likely see a few dramatic changes to the island, the introduction of new characters and more high-profile partnerships. Everyone under the sun seems to have jumped into the battle royale, but if you’re one of the few holdouts, consider joining the action in the coming months.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Valve is no stranger to crafting high-quality games, and nowhere is that more evident than with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The title switched to a free-to-play model a few years back, and since then it has consistently ranked as one of the most-played games on Steam. The competitive shooter isn’t for the faint of heart, however, as respawning is deactivated for most game modes.
Global Offensive also comes with a steep learning curve, as a large portion of the community has been playing the game for years and there’s little room for error. But if you don’t mind a challenge, few competitive games can provide you with as much fun as CS:GO. The coming year should be another great one, too, as plenty of tournaments and updates are planned over the next 12 months.
Guild Wars 2
Originally billed as the game to finally dethrone World of Warcraft, it should come as no surprise that Guild Wars 2 still has a thriving community nearly 10 years after its release. Constant updates as well as a free-to-play model turned the game into one of the most successful online titles of the past decade. Things are only looking up in 2022.
While the entire base game is free, anyone who gets hooked on the action can pick up expansions to further explore the colorful world of Tyria. This year’s long-awaited expansion is titled End of Dragons, and it’s bringing a gigantic, two-player combat mount, a new region to explore and several elite specializations for you to further develop your character. It’s a great game for casual players, too, as it lets you discover the world at your own pace and has plenty of activities that are well-suited for short play sessions.
Both RuneScape and its spin-off, Old School RuneScape, offer a large portion of their worlds for free. A variety of skills such as Agility, Construction and Farming are locked behind a monthly subscription, but classic options such as Fishing, Cooking and Woodcutting are available to all players, giving you a taste of what you can expect if you opt for a premium account.
If you’re looking for an MMO that’s a bit more modern and carries plenty of quality-of-life updates, consider diving into RuneScape. Old School RuneScape, meanwhile, is a grindfest that’ll give you your daily dose of nostalgia and provides enough content to literally keep you playing for more than a decade. And despite the two games already carrying thousand of hours’ worth of content, Jagex is constantly pumping new quests and mechanics into both titles. They’re both excellent free-to-play options.
In fact, a new limited-time event was just launched for Old School RuneScape, making 2022 the perfect time to dive into the fun.
Fortnite might be the most well-known battle royale, but it’s far from the only worthwhile game in the genre. In fact, folks looking for a more nuanced FPS (or anyone who can’t be bothered with Fortnite‘s building mechanics) will find a lot to love about Apex Legends.
Its world has changed radically since it first launched in 2019. There are several new Legends, map updates and gameplay tweaks keeping things fresh. Free battle pass tracks give you plenty of gear to unlock while you play, although dedicated fans can pick up a premium track for additional items. Regardless of how much money you drop, you can rest assured 2022 will be another great year for this established FPS.
Although it’s been available in some regions for years, 2022 marks the first time Lost Ark will arrive in the United States. The top-down RPG already has fans excited. Early gameplay previews reveal a game that’s a unique mixture of Diablo and World of Warcraft. It’s also entirely free.
A variety of cosmetics and exclusive gear are available for purchase, although countries that currently have access to Lost Ark claim it’s incredibly friendly to players who don’t want to spend any cash. So, if you’re looking for a shiny new game to sink your teeth into this year, look no further than the latest from Smilegate and Amazon Games.
Warframe can be a bit intimidating to newcomers. Still, 2022 is a great time to jump in. Not only is there an established community to show you the ropes, but new players continue to join every day – making it easy to find someone to play through the game with.
As a fast-paced, third-person shooter, you’ll need to hone your reflexes in order to survive the hundreds of enemies infesting every map. You’ll never run out of content to explore, either, as plenty of new content is planned for 2022. In fact, the end of 2021 brought about one of the biggest expansions in Warframe history, so you can sleep easy knowing the title is still getting full support from Digital Extremes. It is, by far, a legendary free-to-play title.
After a few delays, Halo Infinite was finally released at the tail end of 2021. And while the single-player campaign is a premium, paid experience, its multiplayer mode is entirely free. It features the same iconic gameplay that put the series on the map, with plenty of tweaks and new content. That’s exactly what you want from a great free-to-play game, after all.
343 Industries is keeping a very close eye on the game, and plenty of changes are planned over the next few months. Aside from those updates, you can also look forward to new battle passes that will bring new rewards and cosmetics for completing various in-game challenges. Perfect for veterans and newcomers alike, Halo Infinite will continue to be ridiculously popular for the foreseeable future.
It’s hard not to smile when driving a rocket-powered car. Throw in constant updates, a boatload of customization options and a surprisingly deep competitive mode, too. That all makes it obvious why Rocket League continues to be such a hit. The title recently switched to a free-to-play model. There’s only been more renewed interest in the title over the past year.
Going free-to-play is only partially responsible for the game’s popularity – the other ingredient is its regular collaborations, limited-time game modes and communication from developer Psyonix. Rocket League saw no shortage of impressive partnerships last year (including one with Mercedes Benz), and we’re curious to see what the game has in store for 2022.
Bungie has big plans for Destiny 2 this year, with The Witch Queen expansion arriving in February. This gigantic update will introduce the Glaive weapon type, a new crafting system and more new story to unravel. Of course, much of the content will be locked behind a paywall. Still, free-to-play gamers will have plenty to sink their teeth into.
There’s a vibrant PvP scene in the world of Destiny 2. But there’s plenty of story content, open-world environments and cooperative PvE for the entire community. You don’t need to have purchased the latest expansion for that. We’d recommend downloading the game for free and seeing what it has to offer before springing for paid DLC, although the Destiny faithful will tell you that picking up the expansions is worth every penny.
The battle royale that started it all is now free-to-play. Jump into a sprawling world filled with vehicles, weapons and deadly adversaries. PUBG: Battlegrounds remains a staple in the genre despite stiff competition from Apex Legends and Fortnite. The move to a free-to-play model has bolstered its numbers in a big way.
There’s just something about PUBG that just makes it fun. You can definitely enjoy the chaos solo, but gathering a few buddies together before parachuting into the world of Erangel makes it even better.
It no longer achieves the fanfare it did when it launched a few years ago, but Genshin Impact is very much alive and well. The third-person RPG continues to be one of the most popular games on PC, PS4 and mobile. There are new updates and characters giving players reason to return every few weeks.
MiHoYo kicked the year off with The Alps Waypoint Lighting Ceremony. It’s clear the team isn’t running out of content for the coming year. Genshin Impact is a perfect fit for anyone seeking a high-quality RPG that doesn’t carry a $60 price tag… just be careful not to get carried away if you spend money on its deep gacha mechanics.
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