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October 5, 2017

Wage war on a budget with 10 fun and free first-person shooters for PC and Mac

by John_A

The landscape for free-to-play shooters is more robust and impressive than ever before, lined with an assortment of notable hits like Team Fortress 2 and the interstellar Planetside followup. They may not offer the same production values as the newest Call of Duty or Halo release, but then again, they won’t cost you upwards of $60 either. Here are our top picks for the best free first-person shooter games, so you can frag fools and save money.

Blacklight Retribution (Windows, PlayStation 4)

Blacklight Retribution offers the simple perk to every player right out of the gates. Among its novel features, the game also offers a wide variety of intense game modes, highly customizable weapons and armor, and futuristic technology that will keep you playing and upgrading for a long time. The visual and graphical interfaces are gorgeous, while the convenient weapon depots and hulking hardsuits provide additional means of playing the title’s nine maps and seven classic game modes.

Players also earn points in a variety of ways throughout matches to enable in-game perks, such as health replenishment and heavy artillery, furthering the gameplay alongside the thousands of available gun combinations and mod attachments. However, permanently earning in-game bonuses takes time, so simplicity will have to do for a good while.

Download now from:

Steam

Team Fortress 2 (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

Boasting beautifully-rendered graphics and a well-balanced class system, the lauded Team Fortress 2 still appeals to casual gamers and pros alike, garnering what is still one of the largest player bases on the Steam marketplace more than seven years after its initial debut. The game is a steadfast hybrid of fast-paced combat and intense strategy in which every one of the game’s nine classes exhibits its own powerful strengths and crippling weaknesses.

Game modes are straightforward, primarily pitting two teams against one another in an effort to move a cart, capture select points, or steal a briefcase. It’s highly competitive in nature, but it still caters to all skill levels. Like most multiplayer titles, it’s about exploiting the Achilles heel of your enemies while protecting your own, but it still relishes a stylized brand of humor that has become iconic for the Team Fortress brand. Few games have held up as well over the years, and to be honest, few probably will.

Download now from:

Steam

Red Trigger (Windows)

Born as Maxime Vézina’s final college assignment, Red Trigger plays like anything but a student project. A simple white, blue, and red color scheme gives players a platformer with a toned-down Portal aesthetic. You wield a lone gun used to shoot red platforms which either expand or retract. The platforms can be used for defense or to move forward. Your ultimate goal is to decimate a computer system with the self-injected eponymous virus by reaching the end of each stage. Solving puzzles is half the battle, as the platforming elements, much like Portal, become the main barrier to progress.

While it isn’t a violent shooting gallery, Red Trigger is a gunplay-driven first-person puzzler: Impressive and charming, it will scratch an itch for precision shooting and puzzle solving for the price of nothing but your time. The experience lasts for about an hour, so it’s the perfect free-to-play game to tinker with on an evening when you just can’t figure out what to play.

Download now from:

Steam

Tribes: Ascend (Windows)

In Tribes: Ascend, players maneuver using a jetpack and skis, traversing massive environments at breakneck speeds, whether by their own accord or using a variety of in-game vehicles. The game features a wide variety of modes, and nine unlockable classes, each of which offers its own distinct set of weaponry and skills obtainable through the game’s progression system.

The enormous maps are also a great fit for the objective and defense-based game modes, focusing on a breadth of aerial dogfights and mid-air explosions, instead of emphasizing cover and well-rehearsed strategy like most titles. Furthermore, the character models are finely polished, and the gameplay allows up to 32 players to compete in hallmark game modes such as capture the flag, team deathmatch, and five-on-five arena battles. The menu navigation and feature set may not define it, but the high-speed combat and Tribes: Ascend‘s consistently-expansive updates certainly do.

Download now from:

Steam

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory picked up quite a bit of steam since it was originally released as a multiplayer-only title in 2003. It garnered considerable support for its classic ranking and experience system, die-hard community, and innovative class system — even though the graphics were never quite on par with competitive offerings, even then.

Easy to play but difficult to master, the game allows players to take on the role of either Axis or Allies, pitting them in team-based combat spanning a variety of objective-based scenarios. Up to 32 players can choose from one of five distinct classes and compete on three maps, each of which is linked to an over-arching campaign. However, the title’s true lasting appeal lies within the aforementioned class system, providing a welcome set of battlefield promotions that come coupled with enhanced skills and additional weaponry such as land mines and the mobile MG-42.

Download now from:

Splash Damage

Planetside 2 (Windows, PlayStation 4)

With planet-spanning battles and three diverse factions, Planetside 2 ups the ante on everyday first-person shooters. Everything the player does affects their faction’s success in battle, from killing enemies to buying vehicles and taking enemy control points, all of which takes place on a massive scale featuring lean animation and exceptional skill trees. The diverse combat ensures no two matches are ever the same, placing players against one another in custom tank battles one minute, and urban firefights and aerial onslaughts the next. It all gives players the opportunity to unlock weapons, attachments, skills, and other components through the game’s intuitive leveling system.

The core of Planetside 2 revolves around holding crucial territories and claiming key resources, with hundreds of players fighting it out over the course of multi-day and week-long battles. Turning the tide takes teamwork — and sometimes being a cog in the machine isn’t so bad.

Download now from:

Steam

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