Free-to-play offerings are rapidly moving beyond the adorable, anime-inspired, massively online role-playing games and even the pay-to-win pricing structure. With so many big-budget titles hitting the market, it would be easy for a few of these oh-so-great experiences to slip under your radar.
The free-to-play model seems primed to explode at any moment as developers are finally beginning to discover its potential. From first-person shooters to MMORPGs to real-time strategy mainstays, a game is out there to fit your play style.
Let's take a look at five titles that deserve your attention.
1) The Lord of the Rings Online
The Lord of the Rings Online is now officially free to play up to level 65. The game features some of the best player-versus-environment content out of any MMORPG and provides a world that is both huge and fun to explore — even though the graphics are a little outdated.
After five long and great years, developer Turbine continues to pump out great content updates on a frequent basis from expansions to simple, yet fun, seasonal festivals. This game is able to satisfy any kind of MMO player out there.
2) Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 is a team-based, first-person, multiplayer shooter developed by Valve Corporation. If you're looking for some simple-minded, free-to-play fun, then this is the perfect game for you.
The cartoonist-styled graphics are wild to look at, and the title runs on almost any computer. Players can choose to play as one of nine classes, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. From enjoyable game modes to a wide selection of maps to engage, you'll never run out of ways to hone your skills.
3) Blacklight: Retribution
Blacklight: Retribution borrows certain gameplay elements from Call of Duty, Crysis, and F.E.A.R. Multiplayer is an absolute blast, offering capture-the-flag and control-point game types to play while throwing in some unique twists.
Retribution is capable of pumping out breathtaking visuals since it was developed entirely for DirectX 11 via Unreal Engine 3. The graphics push the limits of what we'd typically think of when we hear the term "free." If you are a fan of shooters, then you should feel right at home when playing this game.
4) APB Reloaded
In APB Reloaded, you take on the role of either a Criminal, who is hell-bent on causing havoc and making money, or an Enforcer, tapped by the city to keep order. The massively multiplayer shooter is one big, fun-filled fight between the two sides. If you're looking for a good time, Reloaded is a great choice.
5) Age of Empires Online
Age of Empires Online is the next chapter in the best-selling real-time-strategy franchise.The game features some of the greatest ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, and Celts with more being introduced all the time.
The game adds new social interaction, customization, and MMORPG gameplay to an evolving and persistent world. Play cooperatively or competitively, craft and trade items, and level up by completing quests, all while maintaining the wonderful RTS elements you've grown to expect from the series over the past few years.