Developer: Hawken Entertainment Publisher: 505 Games
Big bastard mechs fighting each other: a simple idea not executed often enough in video games. While Hawken doesn’t have the fluidity of something like Titanfall 2, it’s still a good time in its own right. It’s also a lot more tactical than meets the eye, meaning that you will have to have a plan of attack before you take the fight to other mini-Metal Gears online.
While its PC version may have been shut down, Hawken still enjoys some popularity as a PS4 free-to-play game. It’s a little rough around the edges and not exactly gorgeous to look at sure, but with a generous monetisation model and plenty of maps to constantly explode in, Hawken is a game that will tide you over for a short while during the release schedule’s quieter spots.
Developer: KRAFTON Publisher: Gameforge/En Masse Entertainment
Similarly to Neverwinter, Tera is an MMORPG that’s fair with its monetisation and packed with content. Previously found on PC, Tera’s transition to PS4 has been a fairly smooth one with plenty of players picking up its quick combat and deep systems. There’s the obligatory clunkiness of mapping a keyboard to a controller to be aware of, however.
Tera comes with a fairly sized world to explore and a level of customisation that’s sure to suck in the detail orientated. It’s easy on the eyes thanks to its anime stylings and also has a pretty dedicated community, so it’s certainly worth checking out. Tera may not have the same inescapable hook as other MMORPGs, but it’s perfect as something to dip into now and again.
Developer: Targem Games Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
While Sony sleep on a new Twisted Metal game, Crossout is a good replacement to scratch that vehicular mayhem itch. A multiplayer car combat game with a bad attitude, Crossout pits you against other combatants and asks you to lean on your creativity with different weapons to gain the upper hand.
Unfortunately, that creativity also comes with a price: a pretty damn steep one at that, too. If you don’t put any money into Crossout, you are unlikely to have much fun with it if you’re trying to play it competitively. That being said, if all you want to do is live out your Mad Max fantasises, it will tide you over for a short while without separating you from your wallet.
Developer: Gamigo AG Publisher: Trion Worlds
Repeat after me: it looks like Minecraft, but it isn’t Minecraft. Trove is not Minecraft. Trovecraft is no–ah, hell. Let’s not lie to ourselves here. At its essence, Trove is an “alternate” take on the mechanics and artstyle that Minecraft the giant that it is with its own unique selling point being that it’s free.
If you have kids who have been misbehaving, take away their Minecraft and make them play Trove instead. Here’s a tip: make sure you add some pretty strong parental controls to stop them from buying all the Chaos Chests, Party Animal Pinatas, Gem Booster Boxes, Greater Neon Caches, Radiant Sovereigns, Patron Points and so on.
15. Fallout Shelter
Developer: Bethesda Publisher: Bethesda
Such a simple and effective concept that Westworld copied it (and wound up in trouble for doing so), Fallout Shelter tasks you with overseeing your very own Vault in the Fallout universe. If you’re tired of the heaviness of the mainline games and just want to select some things on occasion, Shelter should be your next port of call.
In terms of its F2P monetisation scheme, it’s not so bad. Originally released as a mobile game, Fallout Shelter is essentially a tapping simulator filled with waiting times. It’s not as oppressive as some of its peers, however, meaning that you can build the Vault of your dreams with just a little bit of patience. There are loot crates, but these are totally optional — it’s worth playing Shelter for the funny quips from dwellers at the very least.
Compared to the other entries on this list of the best free PS4 games, The Awesome Adventures has not strings attached. There are no microtransactions or loot boxes, just a simple narrative told well for the grand price of nothing. Not many publishers and developers would give away a well-realised game entirely for free, so credit has to go to Square Enix and DONTNOD.
However, Captain Spirit doesn’t cut any corners that you might expect. While it’s certainly short, it packs a punch over its three hours of gameplay and hints at what’s to come in the rest of the Life is Strange universe. Imagination is the aim of the game in Captain Spirit as you play a young boy who seeks to escape recent trauma — something all of us would do if we could.
“Captain Spirit’s aesthetic and construction is very much in line with what DONTNOD is revered for. Their ability to create tranquil atmospheres that bolster their narrative remains second to none. There are few examples of ‘show not tell’ storytelling more elegant than The Awesome Adventures of Captain which can be enjoyed by fans of the Life is Strange series, as well as anyone who enjoys narrative-driven experiences.”
It’s quite crazy that the expanses of open space hadn’t been fully embraced by a Star Trek game until Online came along. Star Trek Online, while incredibly rough in its early days, is one of the best free PS4 games and and also one of the best ways to approach the Final Frontier.
Behemothic in scale and content, Star Trek Online has its sharp edges and doesn’t exactly favour tight purse-strings for its PVP. However, with that side of the game being optional and the spacefaring and narrative costing you a grand total of zero pennies, Star Trek Online is worth checking out by even those only slightly interested in Roddenberry’s universe. Even if you aren’t investing money into the game, you will gain access to the semi-regular content additions all the same.
18. World of Tanks
Developer: Wargaming Publisher: Wargaming
A game so transformative that it’s more than “just” a game about tanks, World of Tanks is a PVP featuring old school tanks. Just in case you don’t feel like motoring around Vinewood in a Rhino was a tad too unrealistic, World of Tanks is probably a much better alternative.
Wargaming’s money-spinner has actually been going for many years after first launching on PC in 2011 and many different platforms since. Its longevity is down to the barrage of content changes Wargaming diligently push out, as well as how much money it brings in each year. It’s not the friendliest of games if you’re wanting a balanced experience without flashing the cash, so keep that in mind.
19. Planetside 2
Developer: Daybreak Games Publisher: Daybreak Games
I have to be honest with you here: it’s been a long time since I jumped in to Planetside 2. The gigantic FPS game does not, however, allow you to simply “jump in”. Its battles are massive, long-form affairs that you may need to nap through to see the end of. It currently holds the record for having the most amount of players in any FPS game, so you know it isn’t messing around.
Playing a game of Planetside 2 may appear a little bewildering at first, though it’s something you do eventually warm to (even if you never fully know what you’re supposed to be doing). The perfect FPS game to mess around in, and a good example that free PS4 games don’t necessarily have to pull back on the scale to impress.
Developer: MercuryStream Publisher: MercuryStream
If you don’t recognise this game, it’s probably because it used to be called Raiders of the Broken Planet: a paid game that really flattered to deceive when it launched and never mustered a huge playerbase. While you would be hard pressed to suggest that the fresh lick of paint and a new business model has been a revelation, it’s at least made the experience far more approachable.
The unique hook of Spacelords is that you play as either the good or bad guys in a story-based campaign in 4v1 multiplayer, but you can turn to the dark side if you so wish. It’s a novel idea with some tight shooting backed by a pretty distinctive (if questionably ugly) art style. Those who enjoy Warframe may get a kick out of Spacelords.
21. Apex Legends
Developer: Respawn Entertainment Publisher: EA
The game that finally woke Epic from their inertia, Apex Legends has created plenty of competition for Fortnite and company since it launched as a free PS4 game. It’s been a roaring success, going on to reach 25 million players in just under a week and being the talk of Twitch. Its longevity has come into question a few times, but with constant updates on the way and that “one more match” appeal, it may go the distance.
A squad-based battle royale that has plenty in common with the likes of Overwatch, Apex Legends has a tonne of little innovations (pinging, respawning) that make it feel completely fresh despite the genre being a little overexposed. Even those tired of battle royales in general have found something to love in Apex Legends, and its outlook for the future is looking very bright indeed.
“Even the most jaded of battle royale fans will find their interest rejuvenated by Apex Legends thanks to Respawn’s attention to detail, superior gunplay, and fantastic innovations, though the loot boxes and progression system certainly need addressing.”
22. Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters
Developer: Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo Publisher: Koei Tecmo
If it’s some basic and free fisticuffs you want on your PlayStation 4, Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters should be your first port of call. Make no mistake: it’s a considerably stripped down version of the main game that lacks many features, but Core Fighters is complete enough to let you know if it’s worth a full purchase based on the gameplay.
Players of this free to play title have a small handful of characters unlocked by default and a few of the game’s modes, but no campaign. You can choose whether to buy individual characters to bulk up your free download, but honestly the best idea would be to just outright buy the game if you want the fairest deal. Those gnarly sweat physics aren’t add-on DLC, which is nice.
Developer: Phoenix Labs Publisher: Phoenix Labs
Few first-time developers could hope for the success that Dauntless received at launch. Well, they’re technically not first-timers: Phoenix Labs consists of some of the most decorated names in the business, who have previously worked at the likes of BioWare, Blizzard, and Capcom. That experience truly shines through.
While the simple elevator pitch of “Fortnite meets Monster Hunter” has been parroted to the point of you feeling nauseated, don’t sleep on Dauntless. It’s a hugely fun time with or without you investing your hard earned money into it, and it’s only just getting started at this time of writing.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was such an expansive and uncompromising game that it’s believed there are still players trapped inside it years after launch. It doesn’t help that CD Projekt Red included Gwent, the best card game since poker. It’s so good that you will be addicted before you can say, “What now, you piece of filth?”
The standalone version of Gwent is very much worth your time, even if it may take you quite the long while to get the grasp of the unusual game’s ins and outs. Featuring tonnes of crossovers with the main game, including characters and factions, CCGs don’t tend to go down a storm on consoles like they do on PC, but Gwent is absolutely worth your time as one of the best free PS4 games around.
25. Destiny 2
Developer: Bungie Publisher: Bungie
Free from the clutches of Activision, Bungie have been hard at work on turning the Destiny 2 ship around. While the initial response to the game was good, a lack of content and familiarity meant that the game didn’t exactly soar. Now they’re on their own, Bungie are putting their players first.
One of the first things they did was release New Light, a free to start version of the game that actually gives you a tonne of content. Missions, strikes, Gambit, and much more are all available as part of the free version, and while the time may eventually arrive where you feel like you will need to pay to unlock more, Destiny 2’s low price means that you get your money’s worth.