The Steam Summer Sale is now past us, and many of us who participated are still looking at our libraries in awe regarding how many games we were able to acquire for the amount we paid. But as we look at the list, we realize that many were impulse buys, and some we’ve already beaten. So you want to play something else? That’s completely understandable. There’s just one issue: money. And that’s understandable too! You can’t give Steam all of your money! But what’s a fella to do? Well, here are some of Steam’s best free-to-play games that are waiting for you to put your wallet aside and start playing right now.
Lord of the Rings: Online
This MMO set in Tolkien’s fabled Middle-earth started out with a subscription model as almost all games in this genre do, but this proved to be dumber than Frodo on Weathertop. You remember, right? The Nazgul came up to him, so he dropped his sword, fell back, showed the Nazgul the one thing they’re looking for, and then put it on. But since adapting a free-to-play system back in 2010, the game’s popularity has soared, making it the third most played MMO back in 2010, and currently the most popular free-to-play one. The game makes it simple to quest and adventure solo, but is much more rewarding when working with a fellowship or joining a kinship, which is the equivalent of a guild. With an intuitive, realistic, and beneficial crafting system, a deep instance and dungeon system, and ferocious monster play to keep things interesting, this game is so worth the $0/month to play.
Team Fortress 2
This one’s going to be short, just because I assume you already have this game. But just in case you know nothing about the class-based FPS scene, TF2 stood alongside Portal in the Orange Box package that was included in the Half-life 2: Episode 2 release. After the release of the Orange Box, the game was available on its own on Steam for a little less than ten dollars. It went free-to-play in June 2011 and is up there as one of the most popular online shooters available. With a cartoonish art style, a much appreciated injection of comedy, and a ton of different classes and weapons, Team Fortress 2 takes a step away from the circle of gritty, realistic shooters that flood the market. And not only is this different from the others in terms of graphics and gameplay, TF2 won’t cost you $60, or any money for that matter. But play with some peers, and things will get competitive. And you will lose some friends.
An underappreciated top down shooter from Valve, this co-op based alien hunt requires the use of teamwork and squad-based tactics to keep you and your mates alive. Alien Swarm features a fantastic arsenal of weapons including shotguns, machine guns, and flamethrowers. Each squad member has a role that comes into use during every mission, from the tech guy slicing a panel, to the demolitions man setting….demolitions, to the heavy weapons guy…well it’s pretty obvious what he or she will be doing. This is a perfect game for four friends and an internet or LAN connection, and if you have no friends, you can easily find and join a game online at any difficulty. And don’t forget to check your corners…
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to outstanding free-to-play games that you can play through Steam. Next time on the Best of Steam’s Freebies, who will win the title of best free-to-play superhero MMO in the battle between DC Universe, Champions Online, and City of Heroes? Well here’s a hint: City of Heroes isn’t on Steam, and is also awful. So it won’t be that one. And we’ll also take a look at some other free-to-play shooters that are definitely worth your time. Thanks for reading, and I’m sure some of your bank accounts will thank you too.
Scott Robertson started his own blog (The Fifth Player) in early July 2012 after gaming for nine years. He certainly took his sweet time, didn’t he? In his free time, he can usually be found playing Skyrim, NBA 2K11, Killing Floor, or Team Fortress 2. You can find him on Xbox Live as Scotsman716 or on Steam as Reverend Jones.