As a console with an ever-growing library, you can rest assured that the PS4’s free games are pretty comprehensive in their scope. If you don’t have the cash to spare on the new big thing, there’s nothing wrong with picking up a free game to tide you over — just as long as you don’t fall down the rabbithole of microtransactions.
The conversation about free-to-play games is shifting, if only slightly. Games like Fortnite have proven that you can have a pretty compelling game without making your wallet feel lighter. Free console games tend to go down the cosmetic microtransaction route, which sadly can’t be said for smartphone games. If they released a Harry Potter game on PS4 where you had to pay to save a child, that might not go down well.
With that in mind, if you’re bankrupt from buying every edition of Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back imaginable or just want something new to download, here’s a sample of the best free games on the PS4.
The Best Free PS4 Games
1. Fortnite: Battle Royale
Developer: Epic Games Publisher: Epic Games Microtransactions? Yes
A game so maddeningly addictive that it’s probably on the state of Hawaii’s watchlist, Fortnite is arguably the biggest thing in gaming right now. And it’s completely free, unless you desperately need to dress up as a dinosaur to unleash your inner Jurassic Park.
While its premium skins are certainly on the premium side, none of the microtransactions in the game will affect gameplay in a noticeable way. In fact, depending on the skin you choose, you may end up sticking out like a sore thumb on the battlefield. If you’re yet to see what all the fuss is about, you may as well dive in — and then dive out when you realise all teenagers in the world are better at it than you will ever be.
Developer: Daybreak Games Publisher: Daybreak Games Microtransactions? Yes
The game that popularised battle royale as we know it wasn’t expected to land on PS4 in such a solid state, but it did, minus the obligatory server outages with 1.5 million players trying to connect to the game within the space of 24 hours. That’s a lot of people that want to kill other people.
Coming across like the midway point between PUBG and Fortnite, H1Z1 on PS4 is a tinkered version of the old PC favourite with changes introduced to suit the game better to console. It’s rather easy to pick up and play, but crazy difficult to be “good” at. It’s stuffed with cosmetic microtransactions, but you can quite easily overlook them as a lot can be unlocked through natural play.
“Though it’s not without fault, and will likely do little to take away from Fortnite’s ever-growing popularity, H1Z1 on PS4 is a worthy addition to the crowded genre. Plus, it’s free. Can’t complain with that.”
Without doubt the best option for a MOBA on console, especially now that Paragon has gone the way of the dodo — ironically, it probably wasn’t helped by the first game on this list taking up all of Epic’s attention. SMITE is a great entry level MOBA, but your enjoyment of it will ultimately be determined by how open you are to the genre overall.
It’s a huge battle of gods from different pantheons of mythology, all rationalised by defending towers. SMITE is a silly concept that will lure you in with a steep learning curve that’s enjoyable to climb up and a pretty dedicated community to support and berate you at once.
I searched the depths of my brain and tried to find a door to lock the Overwatch comparisons behind, but it’s impossible: Paladins is always going to be unofficially married to Blizzard’s monolith in one way or another. It’s not hard to see why that’s the case, either.
Sharing more than a few strands of DNA with Overwatch, Paladins is affectionately dubbed the “peasant” version of the hero shooter. While the step-down in quality is pretty obvious, Paladins still has tight shooting and an emphasis on teamwork that’s worth checking out, if only to figure out which Overwatch characters they were inspired by with their roster.
Developer: Digital Extremes Publisher: Digital Extremes Microtransactions? Yes
The perfect example of how you can pull your struggling game back from the brink, Warframe is a constantly updating and evolving online RPG where the main aim is to look sassier than all the other cyborg ninjas. It’s basically one long fashion show, but there’s a lot of content to distract you from looking like the baddest bitch in all of the galaxy.
However, it’s absolutely worth mentioning the Warframe grind. You won’t feel compelled at all to open your wallet for the game for its early goings, but it reaches a point where it just seems to be mandatory after dozens of hours. A shame, but that’s still dozens of hours of spacefaring nonsense that could quite easily engulf your life for free.
Developer: Cryptic Studios Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment Microtransactions? Yes
As far as MMORPG games go, Neverwinter may just be the perfect entry point. It isn’t overbearingly robust in its systems or just a lazy PC port, which means that it’s one of the MMO titles on the console that you can simply pick it up and play without having to consult several mystical tomes.
Despite being free, it isn’t afraid of doling out tonnes of content, either: it has all the expansions previously available on PC ready from the moment you start the game. However, it’s worth mentioning that you will hit a paywall eventually to make less grindy progress, but as it’s just a game that you can dip in and out of occasionally, it’s not that big a deal-breaker.
7. Hitman 1 & 2
Developer: IO Interactive Publisher: IO Interactive/Square Enix Microtransactions? No (full game unlock)
Say what you will about Hitman’s approach to content, but it’s hard to argue against it having some of the best gameplay of the series to date. Featuring massively open levels with plenty of ways to approach your targets, it’s a stealth game that rewards exploration, and also drowning people in toilets.
For the grand sum of nothing at all, you can download the intro to the game, which gives you an eminently replayable level to mess around in until you eventually get hailed as a Silent Assassin. Failing that, you can always try to make a penis shape out of dead bodies, which is what video games were quite clearly created for in the first place. The other episodes of Hitman are periodically up for free for a limited time, too, so keep your eyes out.
Don’t let the horrifying screenshot above fool you: PES 2018 is a beautiful representation of the beautiful game and its free-to-play version offers plenty of bang for your no bucks. A lot of single-player content has been stripped out, but you can still play exhibition matches, which is perfect if you’re sick of FIFA for being FIFA.
The main goal of Konami’s in releasing a free version of PES is to effectively push players towards MyClub, which is littered with microtransactions. It’s a lot like Ultimate Team without the polish or solid servers, so if that’s something you hate about FIFA, swerve it in PES. If you haven’t played a PES game in years or ever, you may as well jump back aboard for Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 Lite.
PES 2019 and 2020 also have a free PS4 version up for grabs, which will probably be the case for every PES going forward.
Developer: Blue Mammoth Games Publisher: Ubisoft Microtransactions? Yes
In a sea of Smash clones, Brawlhalla is one that doesn’t come anywhere close to matching Nintendo’s franchise, but it’s still some fun all the same. If you don’t want to dust off the Gamecube and search around the attic for your Wavebirds, Brawlhalla is a PS4 free-to-play brawler that’s worth checking out for your social nights.
Featuring an absolutely gigantic roster of characters, Brawlhalla’s main method of monetisation is to offer characters for free in a weekly rotation and then nudge players towards the game’s shop to buy more. It’s a pretty fair model, though you can also buy extra skins for your characters if you’re so inclined. Brawlhalla is lightweight fun, but not ideal if you’re playing against friends with bad tempers if you’re just going to cheese them off the map.
Long in the making, Grasshopper’s utterly bizarre mish-mash of concepts and ideas is a surprisingly deep hack and slash with roguelike elements. While it was a little rough at launch, the developers have been listening to fan feedback from the start to the point where Let It Die is now just a great game, free-to-play status or not.
The story is bonkers with just about the only scrap of info about it I have retained being that you meet Uncle Death and have to grind your way to the top of a tower. Let It Die isn’t going to be a game that’s going to immediately make a lot of sense, but Soulsborne fans will definitely get a kick out of it. Just be careful with mushrooms in what’s surely a contender for the best free open world game.