Free-to-play games for the PS4

We all love a free game. Of course, a lot of “free” games aren’t really free, opting instead to use a business model that earns money from in-app purchases, but there are still plenty of games out there that you can get plenty of enjoyment from without having to spend a penny. While we’re not big fans of the whole microtransaction system, spending a little bit of money to support a game that you enjoy playing isn’t a big deal if you haven’t paid anything for the game in the first place, so don’t completely write off any game that includes in-app purchases.

We’re putting together complete lists of all of the free-to-play games currently available on your favourite consoles. Today, I’m looking at the PS4. There are a lot of free-to-play games currently available on the PS4, so I’m going to give you our thoughts on our favourite free-to-play games that are available and then list the remainder.

Apex Legends

Released completely out of the blue on Monday 4th February 2019, Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale first-person shooter from Respawn Entertainment that is set in the Titanfall universe. Apex Legends draws inspiration from several games, taking the basis of Fortnite: Battle Royale and combining it with COD-inspired gunplay (thanks to the fact that Respawn was founded by Infinity Ward’s co-creators) and the hero-based gameplay of games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six: Siege. Apex Legends features a roster of playable characters, each with their own unique set of abilities that make them more suited to different roles, such as damage-dealing or healing. While team composition isn’t vital, having a balance of attacking and defensive characters greatly increases your chances of victory, making Apex Legends the most tactical battle-royale game so far. It features numerous quality-of-life improvements over other games in the genre, such as the ability to ping items (a feature that Fortnite has since stolen) and having one player control the teams drop, and giving players the ability to respawn teammates at respawn points is also a much-welcomed addition. Apex Legends has had a phenomenal start, hitting the 50 million player mark in just one month, which is three months quicker than it took Fortnite to reach the same milestone. Apex Legends is a worthy adversary to Epic’s giant, and it is an absolute must-download for anybody that is looking for a free-to-play game, especially as the games microtransactions are entirely cosmetic and completely unobtrusive.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Released in 2018 as a demo for Life Is Strange 2, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit captures the innocence and imagination of youth perfectly as it follows 9-year old Chris Eriksen who creates his own superhero alter ego Captain Spirit. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit isn’t long—you should be able to complete it in under 2 hours—but it tells a charming and compelling story, and the choices you make throughout have implications for your story in Life Is Strange 2, which Chris also features in.

Brawlhalla

Brawlhalla is a platform fighting game that is mainly focused on online competition and is quite clearly inspired by Super Smash Bros. The game offers ranked 1v1 and 2v2 online play as well as 4-player online free-for-alls and 8-player 4v4 or free-for-alls. As a free-to-play game, Brawlhalla features a weekly rotation of 8 characters out of the full roster of 43 for players to use for free. If players wish to unlock characters to use permanently then they can do so by using in-game currency which can be earned through playing the game, or by spending £15.99 to unlock all past, present, and future characters. The newest playable character to be added to the game is the legendary Rayman, who was added to the game in November 2018 after developer Blue Mammoth Games was purchased by Ubisoft. Cosmetic items are also available for each character and are bought using Mammoth Coins, which can only be gained by buying them with real money. Regardless, Brawlhalla is a well made and enjoyable platform fighting game that can be thoroughly enjoyed without having to spend a penny, so much so that the game even has it’s own annual World Championships.

Crossout

Crossout is a post-apocalyptic MMO-action game developed by Targem Games. Crossout is set in 2047, twenty years after a catastrophe wiped out civilization. Now, factions are emerging and doing battle (it’s all very Mad Max), and players are tasked with creating and upgrading their own vehicles—known as battle machines—to take into combat and destroy opponents in online PvP battles. Players can customize their vehicle with all manner of parts and weapons, including armour, chainsaws, rocket launchers and stealth generators. Crossout also features advanced damage mechanics that allow players to damage any part of an enemies vehicle and instantly see it affect their vehicles performance. On the microtransaction front, Crossout can be enjoyed without spending a penny but there is a serious grind to earning in-game currency to unlock better vehicles and items, or you can make a real-money purchase to unlock these vehicles and items instantly, and they don’t come cheap. There has been quite a lot of debate about whether Crossout is “pay to win” or not, and it’s a matter of opinion, but it’s undeniable that there is a strong encouragement for players to spend money to progress quickly and not get left behind.

DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online is an MMO-action game set in the fictional universe of DC Comics. Players create their own unique hero or villian and fight alongside iconic characters from the world of DC Comics, such as Batman, The Joker, and Superman. Think City of Heroes (remember that? great game) with DC characters thrown in. Sounds awesome already, doesn’t it? You can play all content for free up to a certain point, at which point you will either have to buy new episodes for real money or pay for a monthly subscription which unlocks all episodes and provides additional benefits such as extra inventory space and bank slots. The game itself is quite old now, having released for the PS4 way back in November 2013 (it originally released on PS3 and PC in early 2011) but it’s still strongly supported – its most recent expansion, Atlantis, was released in November 2018. The game still has a healthy population, thanks in part to the fact that DC Universe Online features cross-play between PS4 and PC players.

Dreadnought

Dreadnought is a combat flight-simulation game that allows players to control and command massive capital ships, taking them into battle against other plays in space and in the skies of different planets in team-based warfare. Dreadnought is surprisingly tactical, with teamwork, strategy and positioning playing an important role. Dreadnought does feature microtransactions that are mainly cosmetic in nature, and players can also pay for time-limited “Elite Status” which increases credits and reputations earned from battles by 50% and also grants an increase of 5% for everyone playing with you. Dreadnought is most definitely not “pay to win”, it’s pay to progress quickly or play for free and face the grind.

Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter is a completely different way for players to enjoy the world of Fallout. Players act as an Overseer, building and running their very own vault in this management simulation that tasks players with running a successful vault, keeping their Dwellers happy by satisfying their needs for food, water, and power. Fallout Shelter first released on mobile back in 2015 and earned Bethesda a whopping $5 million from microtransactions in just two weeks and has since earned in excess of $90 million. Those aforementioned microtransactions are completely unnecessary, serving instead to speed up an otherwise slow process for those impatient players amongst us. Fallout Shelter was well received as a different type of Fallout game, with particular praise directed at its art style, but has faced criticism for it’s lack of depth and it’s lack of any kind of ending.

Fortnite Battle Royale

What do I even need to say about Fortnite? Epic’s battle royale game has completely taken over the world. Polished, fun, addictive, and with a unique building mechanic, Fortnite Battle Royale is arguably the ultimate free-to-play game and the greatest free-to-play game ever released. Microtransactions are present but are entirely cosmetic, with seasonal battle passes offering great value to players who want to unlock additional items. Fortnite has been an absolute worldwide phenomenon, attracting the likes of Drake to streaming services and contributing to Epic banking a mouth-watering $3 billion worth of profit in 2018.

GWENT: The Witcher Card Game

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is a collectible card game derived from the card game of the same name that featured in both The Witcher novels and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Having been in an open beta state for a long time, Gwent finally released for PC in October 2018 before making its way to the PS4 in December 2018. Players must choose from decks that belong to different factions, with each faction having a different “leader” that has their own unique abilities and each deck having it’s own distinct play style. It has received a positive reception since its release, with particular praise aimed at the replayability, depth of strategies, the emphasis of skill over luck and the generosity of in-game currency rewards, which lowers the necessity for spending large amounts of your hard-earned cash. Although there were some criticisms over the slow pacing of matches, the noticeable absence of Hearthstonethe undoubted daddy of collectible card games—on consoles makes Gwent an absolute must-have for any PS4 players who are fans of the genre.

H1Z1

H1Z1 has a fractured history. Starting out as an early access post-Zombie apocalypse survival game (similar to the likes of Day-Z), the game was ultimately split into two different games – H1Z1: Just Survive, which continued the post-Zombie apocalypse survival game, and H1Z1: King of the Hill, which took the game into the last man standing battle royale genre. Just Survive was ill-fatedbeing discontinued from sale and having the servers shut down towards the latter months of 2018but King of the Hill renamed to be simply titled H1Z1 and finally left early access in February 2018 before making its way to the PS4 in August 2018. H1Z1 follows the same concept and process of every other battle royale game you’ve ever played; it’s a solid effort, and microtransactions are purely cosmetic, so there’s no form of pay-to-win involved. H1Z1’s biggest problem is that it spent too long in early access, meaning that by the time it released Fortnite had already steamrolled all other competition. At the time of it’s initial release, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds wasn’t available on the PS4, so H1Z1 enticed a lot of players and offered a more realistic alternative to Fortnite, but now that PUBG is available on the PS4 it’s difficult to recommend H1Z1 over it’s competition. Of course, PUBG isn’t free to play, so if you’re still looking for a free to play battle royale game but prefer a more realistic approach then H1Z1 is the game for you.

Hawken

Big, badass, customisable mechs equipped with loads of weapons battling it out in classic game modes like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Siege – what’s not to love? Hawken began it’s life on PC way back in 2012 before the original developer, Adhesive Games, went bump and Hawken was eventually bought by Reloaded Games, who subsequently (and a tad controversially) ported the game to consoles in 2016 and then shut down the PC version in early 2018. As an FPS, player skill is important in Hawken, which helps the game avoid any kind of pay-to-win scenario, but there are microtransactions in the form of cosmetic items and paying for boosts to avoid grinding, but if you’re good enough then you can have plenty of fun in Hawken and compete with anyone without spending a penny. Hawken does suffer from some technical and stability issues, but if you can look past these then there’s fun to be had here.

LET IT DIE

Let It Die is a hack and slash roguelike that tasks players with ascending through procedurally generated levels to reach the top of the tower, and it features a skateboarding grim reaper who goes by the name of Uncle Death. Stop wiping your eyes, you didn’t read that wrong, I’m 100% serious. Let It Die is absolutely absurd, but it’s also a very solid and enjoyable effort that features Dark Souls-inspired combat. The games microtransaction system is understandably polarizing, manifesting itself in the form of continuing following death; when you die, you have three choices: start all over again with a new character, spend in-game currency to revive your character, or spend Death Metals (which costs real money) to instantly revive yourself in the exact same place that you died. As you can see, you don’t have to pay to revive, but the further you get into the game the more likely you are to die, and the more vital it is to instant revive, making it very tempting to reach for your wallet. Death Metals can also only be bought in bundles, with the smallest bundle being 10 and costing about £4. Regardless, it’s perfectly possible to have countless hours of fun and enjoyment with Let It Die without having to spend a penny.

Neverwinter

Neverwinter is an MMORPG set in the massively popular universe of Dungeons & Dragons. There are over a dozen races and eight classes to choose from, and the game follows all the same mechanics of all of your favourite MMO’s: the trinity system in dungeons (healer, tank, dps), repetitive fetch quests, and endless grinding. Grinding is most definitely the name of the game, but there’s obviously a microtransaction system involved that can help you to get better gear and progress through the game faster, but if you don’t want to pay then everything in the game is obtainable by investing time rather than money if you’re willing to do so. To get maximum enjoyment from the game you will most definitely need to play with some friends and get involved with a guild, but that could be said about any MMO.

Paladins

Paladins is a team-based competitive hero shooter from Hi-Rez shooters. Players choose from a roster of 39 “Champions”, all of who have different abilities and playstyles, in team-based competition across 3 game modes: Siege, where players fight to capture an objective and then push a payload; Team Deathmatch, which doesn’t need an explanation; and Onslaught, where players battle to control the objective to gain points. Team composition, strategy, and coordination are absolutely vital to be successful. Sound like Overwatch? That’s because it is. Paladins faced a considerable amount of controversy upon it’s release amid accusations of being an “Overwatch clone”, an allegation that Hi-Rez Studios has consistently denied, citing Team Fortress 2 as more of an inspiration for the game. Regardless, Paladins is a great game in it’s own right, and a great free-to-play alternative to Blizzard’s shooter. As a free game, Paladins (much like Brawlhalla) offers players 5 permanently unlocked Champions to play as for free, with temporary access to a further 4 Champions that rotates every two weeks. Players can unlock new Champions individually using in-game currency earned from playing a LOT of games, or using Crystals, which act as the games premium currency. Each character unlock equates to a cost of about £4, or players can purchase the Champions Pack which unlocks all current and future Champions for a one-time fee of £24.99.

PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2 is a massively multiplayer online first-person shooter which sees thousands of players, who are split up into three factions, doing battle for territorial control of the planet Auraxis in massive battles that can last for days or even weeks. PlanetSide 2 features both a class system and skill trees, allowing players to customize their soldier to suit their own preferred playstyle. PlanetSide 2 has a high skill ceiling and you’re likely to jump in against veterans at this point so don’t expect it to be easy going, but stick with it and you’ll soon be having a blast. PlanetSide 2 features microtransactions in the form of in-game convenience items or cosmetics such as camo for your weapons. There’s also a premium monthly subscription available that offers perks such as +50% XP and resources. Practice makes perfect though, and if you spend enough hours with PlanetSide 2 and hone your skills enough then you’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of the game without spending a penny. Although it debuted on the PS4 back in 2015 it still has a very healthy population, and it has received great critical praise and numerous awards throughout its lifespan.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Lite

PES 2019 Lite is a stripped back free version of PES 2019. This free version gives players access to offline exhibition matches, skill training and PES League mode, which includes 1v1 or co-op competitions. PES League also gives players the opportunity to qualify for global events by participating in co-op 3v3 Online Championship time-limited tournaments. Crucially, PES 2019 Lite also gives players full, unrestricted access to myClub mode, which allows players to build a team of current footballing superstars as well as various legends such as David Beckham or Ronaldinho. Essentially, myClub is Pro Evo’s version of FIFA’s Ultimate Team—microtransactions included—which is how Konami earn revenue from their free offering. Regardless, if you’re only interested in playing PES 2019 for the myClub mode then it makes a lot of sense to access it through the free version rather than buying the full game just for the sake of one mode.

SMITE

SMITE is a MOBA that is unique in the fact that it is played through a third-person perspective rather than the traditional top-down viewpoint of most MOBA’s. In Smite, players take part in 5v5 battles, choosing from a roster of gods and mythical figures to play as such as Thor or Medusa, all of which have their own unique powers and abilities. SMITE received very good reviews upon release and there’s even an annual SMITE World Championship. Players can unlock new gods to play as using favors, which act as the in-game currency, but if you can’t be arsed to spend your time unlocking gods then you can buy the Ultimate God Pack bundle for £18.99, which unlocks all present and future gods. There are also numerous other microtransactions available to buy in-game, but these are purely cosmetic and don’t affect gameplay in any way.

TERA

TERA is an MMORPG that first released on PC way back in 2012 before finally making its way to console a staggering 6 years later. Because of that it does feel a bit, well, outdated in the graphics and UI department, but it’s still a very fun MMO to play thanks largely to its real-time action-focused combat, which differs greatly from the usual turn-based combat or numbers game of the majority of MMO’s. The other main attraction of TERA is that it’s entire raft of content is completely free to play; that’s not to say that there aren’t microtransactions—there are cosmetic microtransactions galore to buy and an optional monthly subscription that awards things like faster levelling, fast travel and extra gold—but it is perfectly possible to enjoy all of TERA’s content without every spending a penny, as long as you’re willing to invest the time, of course. TERA received good reviews on its initial release, and its console player count reached 2 million players within two months of release. It does suffer from the age-old problems that all console MMO ports suffer from, like button mapping and chat box functionality, and it’s age is starting to show, but if you’re looking for a solid, fun, free-to-play MMO with unobtrusive microtransactions then you could do far worse than TERA. 

Warframe

Warframe is a cooperative third-person shooter that released back in 2013 and has only got better with time. The game has had so many updates, improvements and additional content added that it now ranks as one of the most complete free-to-play games ever developed. Set in the future, players control the members of the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors who have awoken from a century of cryosleep. The player creates their Tenno character, which includes a basic armor unit called a Warframe, which provides the player with special abilities, basic weapons and a ship. Missions can be played alone or with up to four players, and will see players traveling to a vast array of planets and locations within them. The game can be quite complex and it is most definitely best played with a group of friends, but if you’re a lone player then it features a great, friendly, community that is very welcoming to newer players. Microtransactions are present in the form of things such as cosmetic items and extra inventory slots, but the game is most definitely not pay-to-win – everything can be unlocked if you’re willing to put in the time and face the grind to do so. Warframe comes highly recommended.

War Thunder

War Thunder is a vehicular combat game that features cross-play with PC players. In War Thunder, players can control over 1000 highly detailed military vehicles including planes, tanks, warships and combat helicopters, all of which feature their own cosmetic items and upgrade tree, and you can even upgrade your crew that control the vehicles. War Thunder has received great praise for its selection of vehicles, it’s historic maps and its visuals, but it’s handling of microtransactions are quite contentious. Players start with a small collection of vehicles to choose from but must unlock others by using in-game currency which can be earned by playing the game. Unfortunately, it does take a very long time to unlock vehicles, which does push players towards either spending real money for a Premium account (which offers things like increased XP) or buying vehicle packs, which are, quite frankly, absurdly priced. War Thunder is a very well made game and it can be a great deal of fun, but you should expect to hit a bit of a pay wall that may be hard to look past.

World of Tanks: Mercenaries

World of Tanks is a massively popular vehicular combat gamesimilar to the previously mentioned War Thunderthat focuses primarily on tanks (obviously). Similarly to War Thunder, players start with a number of free vehicles and work their way up, unlocking more vehicles and upgrading both them and their crew as they go. As always, players can grind their way up the tiers to unlock more vehicles or can pay for a premium account to speed up the process (by way of increased experience and in-game currency earned per battle) or by buying vehicles outright in bundles. The same principle applies here where you can have fun with World of Tanks without spending money, but you will have to invest a lot of time and deal with a lot of frustration – World of Tanks has a steep learning curve and a high skill ceiling, and the lower tiers can be a nightmare for new players. You can stick with the game and ignore your frustrations until you reach the higher tier, or you can reach for your wallet to speed up the process.

Those are our 20 favourite free-to-play games on the PS4 (in no particular order). As you can see, pretty much all of them contain microtransactions in some shape or form (as pretty much every free-to-play game does) but that shouldn’t put you off in some cases, as there’s plenty of fun to be had without spending a penny, and spending a little money shouldn’t be frowned upon if you’re getting hours of enjoyment out of a game (as long as you don’t go mad). There are plenty of other free-to-play games available on the PS4, and I’ve listed all of them all below:

Current as of 5th March 2019, according to the Official PlayStation Store

  • 3on3 Freestyle
  • AdVenture Capitalist
  • AirMech Arena
  • A KING’S TALE: FINAL FANTASY XV
  • anywhereVR
  • APB Reloaded
  • Armored Warfare
  • Atom Universe
  • Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 1
  • Batman – The Telltale Series – Episode 1: Realm of Shadows
  • Battle Ages
  • Battle Islands
  • Battle Islands: Commanders
  • Big City Stories
  • Blacklight: Retribution
  • Clicker Heroes
  • Defiance 2050
  • Dungeon Defenders II
  • DYNASTY WARRIORS 8 Empires Free Alliances Version
  • FISHING PLANET
  • Frozen Free Fall: Snowball Fight
  • Game of Thrones – Episode 1: Iron From Ice
  • Games of Glory
  • Gems of War
  • GUNS UP!
  • Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics
  • Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone
  • HEX: Card Clash
  • HiQ Ace
  • HITMAN 2 – Prologue
  • Honor and Duty: D-Day Open Beta
  • Hustle Kings
  • Indivisible ~Protoype~ Beta
  • Invokers Tournament
  • King’s Quest – Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember
  • Kitten Squad
  • Knights of Valour
  • Life Is Strange Episode 1
  • Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 1: The Order of the Stone
  • Minefield
  • NBA 2K18: The Prelude
  • Nebula Realms
  • Onigiri
  • Orcs Must Die! Unchained
  • Pinball Arcade
  • Pinball FX3
  • PlayStation VR Demo Collection 3
  • Pox Nora
  • Prominence Poker
  • Qello Concerts
  • Realm Royale
  • Rec Room
  • Resident Evil Revelations 2 (Episode One: Penal Colony)
  • SingStar
  • Skyforge
  • Slide N’ Go
  • Spacelords
  • Starlit Adventures
  • Star Trek Online
  • Stern Pinball Arcade
  • Switchblade
  • Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Trial Version
  • Tales from the Borderlands, Ep1. Zer0 Sum
  • The Assembly – Original Soundtrack
  • The Four Kings Casino and Slots
  • THE PLAYROOM VR
  • Toukiden 2 Free Alliances Version
  • Trans-Galactic Tournament
  • Trove
  • Warface
  • Warhammer Vermintide 2 – Closed Beta

So, there you have it, a complete list of the free-to-play games that are currently available on the PS4 as well some words about our favourites. I hope you found this list useful. Did we miss out your favourite game? Or did you spot anything that we missed or any incorrect information here? Let us know in the comments.

Chris is our resident FPS-obsessed football fanatic who, when not playing an FPS or FIFA, can probably be found spending the odd 100 hours or so building his perfect farm on Stardew Valley. Chris comes to you with a hint of cynicism and plenty of sarcasm.

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