If you just finished up your latest video game, and you’re wondering what to buy next for your PlayStation 4, perhaps you just need to look within. No, not in a philosophical way. Maybe instead of buying that $60 game that you’ve been eyeing, take a gander at the PSN store and discover the free section.
While many free games may not seem worth your time, you may be surprised at the quality of some of the free-to-play PS4 games. After all, it won’t cost you anything to download any of them and take them for a whirl. They are at least worth that, we promise. If you’re an Xbox One owner, don’t fret; there are plenty of free-to-play games on Xbox One too.
‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’
Fortnite really doesn’t need an introduction at this point. It’s by far the most played game across the globe. That also means it’s the most popular free game on PS4.
The 100-person battle royale, filled with cartoon silliness and elaborate building mechanics, has become more than a game over the past year or so. It’s a cultural phenomenon. The third-person shooter is easy to pick up and play, and you’ll never have a problem finding a lobby filled with eager competitors.
Published by Ubisoft, Brawlhalla is a free-to-play fighting game in a similar vein as the Super Smash Bros. series. The objective: Knock other players off the stage using one of the game’s 40-plus cartoon fighters.
Brawlhalla has simplistic controls making it easy to jump in on the action. Like Super Smash Bros., weapons fall from the sky. Each character has their own play style, and Brawlhalla features a multitude of game modes and stages.
Each week, a batch of six fighters are playable without spending any money. If you like what you play, though, you can spend $20 to unlock all current and future characters.
Bethesda’s free-to-play management sim is the best Fallout game since Fallout 4. Yes, we’re throwing shade at Fallout 76, but Fallout Shelter is actually a very good game. It debuted on mobile and was later ported to consoles, including the PS4.
Fallout Shelter tasks you with managing your very own vault. You must manage the population, resources, and amenities. Basically, you need to make sure everyone not only survives but is a happy and productive member of your growing community.
While microtransactions are available, you can play Fallout Shelter without spending a dime and it’s still a good time. Fallout Shelter feels like a game you can revisit for short spurts each day. It’s not overly strenuous or complicated, but it is satisfying to watch your vault grow and thrive.
In Warframe, players take control of members of the Tenno race, ancient ninja-like warriors that woke from a lengthy cryogenic slumber to find the world at war with multiple factions, including a frightening race of human clones. Since its 2013 launch, the third person co-op shooter has been all about the grind.
Armor suits known as Warframes serve as highly customizable character classes, with more than 30 to choose from. Each suit has four active skills and one passive skill that players can switch back and forth from. Weapons, of which players wield three, can be upgraded and tweaked via loot dropped by enemies.
There’s a competent PvP mode, but Warframe is primarily a PvE experience. Up until now, Warframe has tasked players with linking up and fighting through randomized linear levels, completing objectives along the way.
Now may be the perfect time to jump into Warframe and learn the ropes, as later this year, its identity will receive its biggest overhaul yet. The next major expansion, Plains of Eidolon, will introduce player hubs (a la the Tower in Destiny) where you can meet fellow Tenno and join up for specific missions. Fast and fun (if a bit repetitive), Warframe is one of the most popular free-to-play games on PS4, and for good reason.
‘Let it Die’
Let it Die is a grueling action game that attempts to deliver Dark Souls–esque difficulty in a twisted world brought to you by Grasshopper Manufacturer, the maker of Killer7 and Shadows of the Damned.
With the guidance of a skateboarding grim reaper called Uncle Death, you embark on a daunting journey up the Tower of Barbs (a structure that literally cuts through clouds). Filled with quirky characters like Mushroom Magistrate and Kommodore Suzuki, Let it Die is surprisingly rich in narrative for a free-to-play title.
The thing about Let it Die is you’ll probably love it or hate it. The combat itself, with simplistic one button attacks and weapons that break almost as quickly as it took you to scoop them up, isn’t likely to impress many. That, combined with the game’s devastating difficulty, blends into a game that may not work for everyone, even the Dark Souls fans who should theoretically make up the game’s core fan base.
But for those who stick with it, Let it Die may offer dozens (if not hundreds) of hours of intense fights — and maybe frustration. Certainly, if you are a fan of No More Heroes creator Suda51, Let it Die’s aesthetic alone might be enough to keep you playing.
‘DC Universe Online’
If you’ve ever wanted to create your own superhero, DC Universe Online for PS4 offers a robust character creation system. You can build your own hero or villain, which determines whether you fight on the side of Future Batman or Future Lex Luthor inside the Multiverse.
The PS4 version, which launched shortly after the console debuted, largely mirrors that of its PC and PS3 counterparts. Throughout your time in the story mode, you’ll partake in a series of open world quests, often given to you by heroes such as Batman himself.
The best portions of the story mode, however, take place at the end of each “chapter,” which have you team up, by yourself or with friends, with iconic heroes (or villains) to take down iconic villains (or heroes).
While the leveling system may feel a bit limited compared to other MMOs, the joy of customizing your own superhero keeps the experience engaging throughout. After the main story wanes, you can participate in raids and co-op-centric missions, along with PvP matches.
Once you max out your character, you may not feel a need to come back, but the ride is well worth the price (free!). With engaging real-time combat and a large universe to explore, DC Universe Online should be played by comic book aficionados and action game fans alike. DC Universe Online consistently updates with new events and challenges.
In terms of perspective, controls, and aesthetic, Planetside 2 will be familiar to anyone who has played a popular FPS franchise in recent years (Halo, Call of Duty, etc.), but in practice, Planetside 2 diverges largely from other modern FPS titles.
When you set out, you choose to fight for one of three factions, each of which is fighting for control over the planet Auraxis. Instead of featuring multiplayer matches in enclosed maps, Planetside 2 drops you into its large open world. In order to survive, you must work with others in your faction.
Make no mistake, Planetside 2 isn’t meant to be played solo (although you can try). To gain ground, your faction must take control of enemy outposts. The key here is that outposts can only be secured in procession, you can’t simply wade out deep into enemy territory. Hence, the emphasis on teamwork.
Be warned, it takes time to get acclimated, but once you get the hang of it and level up a bit, you’ll be in the thick of it with more than a hundred players from three different factions duking it out. Throw in land and air vehicles, and a differentiated open world, and you’ve got yourself a worthwhile free-to-play FPS waiting for you on PS4.
In what is undoubtedly the first truly revered MOBA to grace consoles, Hi-Rez’s SMITE successfully transferred the feel of MOBA to consoles — no small task, considering that mouse and keyboard is generally considered a requirement for a MOBA.
You’ll choose between almost 90 different gods drawn from eight different “Pantheons” such as Greek or Norse mythology. Each god belongs to one of five character classes: Mage, Hunter, Assassin, Warrior, or Guardian.
Unlike Dota 2 or League of Legends, SMITE gives players a more traditional behind-the-character camera angle (like a 3D action game). But like those MOBAs, SMITE has a pretty steep learning curve, meaning that it will probably take a little while for you to get your bearings.
Thankfully, besides the wealth of character and customization options, there’s a myriad of game modes to choose from. Teams can be composed of three, four, or five players, and along with the standard MOBA lane-based format, there are options like Arena, which tasks players with escorting little minions across the enemy line. While not for everyone, SMITE is certainly one of the most polished and beloved free-to-play games on PS4.