What We Think: Top 5 Free to Play Shooters

Hearing that a game is free to play has completely opposite effects on people. In the first group, when they hear that an upcoming gaming is F2P, they're thrilled. No big launch day costs and simply pay what you want for the game.

To others, it's a curse. This group is plagued with fears that the game will not just be free to play, but pay to win.

Both sides have valid arguments, but the bottom line is this; free to play is the business model of today and microtransactions are not going anywhere. Even games that launch as a paid title end up converting to free to play eventually, it's the only way to stay competitive.

Why pay $49.00 for A when B is free to play?

With that being said, I gathered up the FPS General staff and we started debating about which F2P games deserved to be on a Top 5 List. Ultimately, we couldn't agree on anything. Thus, the next edition of What We Think was born.

Without further ado, click Read More to see What We Think the Top 5 F2P Shooters are, right now.


1. Team Fortress 2

Whenever a developer decides to go with the free to play business model for their game, it is my opinion that they should be forced to undergo an intensive 100-hour shock therapy session in Team Fortress 2.

This is how you do free to play, everything else has it wrong.

2. Uncharted 3 Multiplayer

When Naughty Dog announced their first foray into the F2P market by cutting out the multiplayer component to Uncharted 3 and releasing it separately, I wasn't sure what to expect.

What I didn't expect, however, was an incredibly flexible F2P model allowing you to systematically purchase level cap unlocks and even add on the SP campaign at your discretion. Naughty Dog is giving Team Fortess 2 a run for their money and I don't care WHAT Jonni says about that.

3. Offensive Combat

When Offensive Combat launched last year, my first impression was of a guy in a banana suit. As it turns out, that's not really the best first impression you can get of a game.

OC is much more than a banana suit simulator, it's a first-person shooter with quality microtransactions and addicting gameplay reminiscent of how hooked I can get on Call of Duty.

And with good reason, OC was designed by some of the very same folks who created Call of Duty from the ground up.

4. PlanetSide 2

When it comes to quality in a first-person shooter, you really don't need to look any further than PlanetSide 2. Sony Online Entertainment has the passion, determination, talent and dedication to create an amazing successor to the original PlanetSide.

This is a game we would gladly spend sixty bucks on, so the fact that it's offered up for nothing outside of optional purchases is a dream come true.

5. Battlefield Play 4 Free

Simply put, this is Battlefield without the unnecessary $60 price tag. Charging for games is SO 2011.

Easy Studios gets it. They also get that releasing classic Battlefield maps and weapons, pulled right out of some of the best BF games in the catalog makes for an incredible F2P experience.

1. Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 is descendant of the granddaddy of all free to play shooters, Team Fortress. It’s sometimes hard to believe that the gameplay Valve fine tuned in TF2 has essentially been played non-stop for the last 17 years. The game features timeless, cartoony graphics and absolutely nothing in the way of upfront costs or currency-locked gameplay elements - everything earned is a true sidegrade or better yet, a cosmetic customization.

2. Tribes Ascend

Tribes Ascend rightfully earns a place on this list for being the fastest paced free to play shooter. If the idea of travelling at 250 MPH and nailing a one in the million midair sounds appealing to you, then you should probably download this right now.

They just released a new bundle too which will let you purchase all the various guns n’ stuff for one reasonable price, if leveling and earning loot isn’t really your thing.

3. PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2 gets the number 3 spot because as a massively multiplayer shooter, it's top notch, the best around. But as a free to play title, it lacks a lot of the balance that other games on this list have struck between free and paid elements. It’s a tricky situation for Planetside 2 to be in, as it’s also the only one on this list that has a true character customizing leveling experience, but this just compounds the fact that at times, the balance is tipped towards pay 2 win, and less free 2 play.

4. Hawken

Hawken is a unique first person shooter in that you control not a person, but a mech.

In terms of gameplay, it’s hard to beat the arena-shooter feel of Hawken’s lightning quick mechs, and despite the fact that the game remains in beta, the game is fairly well polished with lots of content. It’s biggest drawback right now is a relatively small player base, but I expect this to improve as it draws nearer to release.

5. Blacklight Retribution

Blacklight Retribution gets a spot on this list thanks to fast paced gameplay and fun shooting mechanics, plus a very reasonable business model that let’s new players try out everything they could want for very little time investment.

On top of this, the game is well balanced with no weapon modules that feel over powered. BLR’s defining features are the single moddable weapon that players customize both mechanically and cosmetically, as well as the built in “wall hack” that every player possesses.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, it actually works out better than you might think!

When it comes to my top 5, I decided to only include the ones I've played enough to say with certainty that they're worth your time. For all I know, Battlefield heroes is better than all these, but having not played it I can't even consider it for my list.

#1. Team Fortress 2

Not even a contest really, every F2P title should aspire to be half of what TF2 is. It has done everything right, from community contributions, modding, consistent content updates, a nearly perfect Micro transaction system. Mix that with the lovable characters and you have the number one Free to Play shooter.

It’s been the best for so long, and nothing comes close to topping it, in my eyes. It’s been around for some time and it’s never too late to play it. it’s great for quick sessions or long binges, if you haven’t tried it out by now then you’re not really a fan of shooters.

#2. Gotham City Impostors

You might be asking why this one is at the #2 slot? I can’t give you a solid reason. The customization of weapons is better in Blacklight, PlanetSide 2 looks better, Tribes is like a freaking roller coaster.

What does GCI have on those?

Simply put, it's fun. That’s all. Have you seen the opening sequence? I’ve never seen such an honest game before, no bullshit and simply more fun that anything else I’ve played in a very long time. It’s more fun than the #1 slot. For that reason alone it’s crawled its way up this list to number 2. If you haven't tried it yet you must.

No excuse, go try it out.

#3. Blacklight Retribution

A huge step up from Tango Down, Retribution offers what you would expect from most shooters but with one unique twist. They allow you to see through walls as a feature. On top of that the level of customization in your weapons is beyond anything you might expect.

It’s a solid choice if you’re looking for a game to play. Go get your friends together and play a few rounds.

#4. Planetside 2

If you want a huge open world experience, where anything you do will contribute to the success or failure of your faction, with persistent outcomes, and huge infantry and vehicle warfare, then Planetside 2 is your place to be. There aren't many shooters that can offer what PS2 does, and that’s massive scale.

There is a lot to the game and tons of stuff to learn and places to explore. Another great experience in F2P Shooters that offers what others can't.

#5. Tribes: Ascend

Tribes is hands down one of the most unique shooter experiences out there. Most games are high damage automatic hit-scan guns set in a modern military setting. Nothing wrong with that but it’s certainly refreshing to play something so fundamentally different, and that’s why this makes #5 for me.

Sometimes you just want to get away from the standard shooter games and fly around the word with a jetpack, the whole world becomes a roller coaster. Its a true blast to play a game like Tribes: Ascend where the focus is based around mobility, accuracy, and timing.

Having most of the weapons in the game be projectile based makes for an entirely different type of shooter, and one definitely worth checking out. They just released their GOTY edition, you should go have a look if you haven’t already and if you've played in the past you should revisit it. 

Editor's note: Jonni has been playing shooters since the beginning of time and, as such, is better than all of us.

1. Team Fortress 2

I don't think anyone can disagree with this masterpiece being in first place. TF2 is the flagship title at Valve and set the standard for Free-2-Play excellence. Anyone can enjoy the game due to the great variety in playstyles between the 9 classes (lets face it, even a 2 year old could get frags as a pyro!).

The game has a real money economy and extremely active competitive scene which have helped sustain the game over the years.

It may not be the prettiest game ever made but TF2's graphics have aged very well and serve their purpose to the letter. Team Fortress Classic is not ashamed of its son and loves it very much!

Its not like this game needed any explanation but there you go: NUMBER ONE! NUMBER ONE! NUMBER ONE!

2. Quake Live

Most people will probably disagree on this one. I am not most people. Firstly, for most players, QL is a free game. For paying a subscription you get a bigger map pool and the ability to start a server for yourself.

Quake has been the purest form of FPS skill for more than a decade in one incarnation or another. Quake Live being the latest in the franchise, it is basically an improved version of Quake 3: Arena with a few more weapons.

The game runs from the browser and anyone, even with a 10 year old PC, can run it just fine. The Quake series has always been about depth. Item/Map Control, keeping time with respawns, strafe jumping, a massive array of powerful weapons, awareness of your surroundings and sounds. There is almost too much to think about and that is exactly what Quake is for. It takes months if not years to learn and for that particular oldschool way of thinking the #2 spot does not do it justice.

Quake Live gets #2 and a shiny gold medal for sheer awesome.

3. ShootMania: Storm

ShootMania is still in beta but openly available on Steam. When it is released the primary game modes will remain free and for a small price you gain access to the map/mod making tool and all other game modes. The last true thoroughbred oldschool shooter. In my eyes ShootMania is Quake for todays generation. It is tough to learn, requires pixel perfect aim and precise map knowledge. ShootMania is not only fast-paced but also has an advanced movement system which takes finesse to control properly.

The most popular game mode (Elite) is a real LAN/eSport game mode with only 3 players per team and a guaranteed clutch moment every round. Map/Mod making tools are easy to use and motivate people to create their own content, test it with friends and take it public.

By now you guys have realised that I don't like your average "Modern Military Shooter" and so for me this is a logical choice as it is one of only very few modern FPS games that still go by the long forgotten mantra: easy is not fun! My praise goes out to Nadeo for doing the oldschool shooter community a huge favor and reviving the true shooter genre!

4. PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 1 was the first of its kind. An FPSMMO with 400 players per map, persistent battles and a leveling system. Everything you did impacted your faction as a whole which made it very hard to stop playing! It came out 9 years ago and the remaining die-hard fans only stopped playing because PS2 was coming. With PlanetSide 2, SOE has once again shifted the boundaries of what the FPS genre can be.

2000 players on a single map, complex bases, indoor and outdoor fighting with every vehicle type you can think of.

The 3 factions give everyone something to be proud of and have unique distinguishing features. Faction identity and the strong community behind it make for extremely heated conflict on the front lines.

It is, of course, completely possible to play the game 100% free without feeling like others have the upper hand because they spent money and the leveling system is set up in such a way that it is practically endless. Not to mention that like any good shooter, the better player wins a fight, not the one with the highest level.

All in all, PlanetSide 2 has its faults but with its amazing graphics, continuous developer support, endless battlefields and war-like atmosphere it truly deserves its spot in the top 5.

5. APB Reloaded

APB has had a checkered history with EA but everyone was happy to see it make a return under Gamers First. Enough said about that, though.

In its most basic form, APB Reloaded is GTA: Multiplayer. A 3rd person modern military shooter with cars in a big urban landscape. The customization options are truly amazing and even TF2 can't match those.

Your average player can play for free quite easily but the weapon renting system does force you to play a minimum amount per week to maintain your arsenal. For real cash you are able to buy permanent weapons, appearance customization beyond the basics and a few unique items which have only the smallest impact on gameplay.

You drive your car through the city with your homies in the back, doing missions against other groups of Baddies/Cops, firing your guns and generally behaving like trailer trash.

Over time this game has really matured into one of the few unique FPS experiences on the market today and lets be honest; nobody ever played Grand Theft Auto and DIDN'T want there to be a large scale multiplayer!

Now we want to hear from you! What are your Top 5 F2P Shooters?

Since pretty much all of our staff loved PlanetSide 2, we've got a handful of $10 Station Cash codes to give away. We'll hand them out to the best responses to this thread as a way to say thanks for sharing your Top 5 F2P Shooter list.



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