First-person shooter (FPS) games have been a staple in the gaming industry for decades, serving up some of the most memorable games from decades ago. They were one of the most popular genres of the past and continue to remain relevant.
Over the years, FPS games have evolved in various ways to keep players interested. The inclusion of multiplayer co-op was the first of such innovations, and the battle royale mode has been one of the most successful.
As of late, the free-to-play model of releasing games has become quite popular, with FPS games getting this treatment the most due to their cost-effective development and use of fewer resources. In today’s world, there are a plethora of free-to-play FPS shooters out there, and here are 10 of the best options.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s opinion.
10 free-to-play FPS games players can jump into in May
1) Apex Legends
Respawn’s Apex Legends took to the gaming stage back in 2019 as a free-to-play FPS battle royale game. Featuring a three-player team format, the game has since evolved to have a duos mode, an arcade 3v3 mode, as well as other recurring time-limited modes being spotlighted every season. The game offers a plethora of characters to choose from, giving players a chance to find the best possible match for synergy amongst the team.
Apex had one feature, however, that made it stand out amongst other battle royale games. Each playable character had three abilities that could be employed on the battlefield, categorized as passive, tactical, and ultimate abilities. With each season, Apex adds a new character, and the playground always feels dynamic. As of May 2022, there are a total of 21 available characters to choose from.
2) Destiny 2
From the developers of the original Halo games, Bungie, Destiny 2 is the co-op FPS looter-shooter that is the go-to for fans looking for the best gunplay in the industry. With Destiny 2, Bungie delivered fast-paced gunfighting with futuristic weapons.
Players may choose from three main classes: Titan, Hunter, and Warlock. Additionally, each class also has access to a multitude of sub-classes and abilities to be employed as offensive or defensive measures.
With new story DLC being continually added over time, Destiny 2 has managed to find its foothold in the playerbase.
3) Halo: Infinite
343 Industries took over the development of Halo from Bungie after Halo: Reach and has since had somewhat of a problem at the starting line. Halo 4 and 5 were not well received by fans, so the developers took their time with their next outing. Halo: Infinite came out in late 2021 and met fan expectations (mostly) for the first time in 343’s history.
While the campaign was probably one of the better ones in the entire series, the free-to-play multiplayer took the spotlight as well. While lacking a few features from the original, Halo: Infinite’s co-op and PvP multiplayer was a much-needed revival that fans enjoyed.
Mjolnir customization was at its peak, while the action and gunplay were in sync with the older Halo games. There were a host of modes to play around with, as some of the classics like Big Team Battle and Capture the Flag made a return. Currently, this FPS multiplayer is in its second season of content.
Ironsight is a relatively unknown free-to-play FPS, stylistically resembling the older Call of Duty games. Developed by Wiple Games and released in late 2019, it has made a niche for itself among players due to its budget-friendly nature as well as low system requirements, making it accessible to people without the strongest hardware.
The game features a clash between two warring factions, with players embodying a combatant on any of the two sides. With minimalistic gameplay focused purely on the reliability of a good shooter, the game boasts a plethora of weapons and customization options as well. Ironsight offers a simple yet enjoyable experience for people who are more fond of old-school shooters.
5) PUBG: Battlegrounds
PUBG: Battlegrounds, while not being the first game to incorporate the battle royale model, was the first commercially successful one. The game allows players to drop into an expansive map, collect required gear, and hunt down other players, with the goal to be the last one standing.
While initially an experience one needed to pay for on PC and consoles, as of January 2022, PUBG underwent a change and became free-to-play on all platforms. Similarly, this game was a third-person shooter at launch but later went on to incorporate the FPS style as an optional camera setting. Since then, it has added a first-person-only mode that matches the player with other people in a first-person-only game.
The simple promise of Splitgate was “Halo meets Portal.” The sheer amount of fun of being able to successfully use a portal to land a kill shot is addictive enough to keep players coming back. Developed by 1047 games, this free-to-play FPS is one of the most innovative shooters out there, in that it relies on the creativity of its players, who are tasked with deciding how to best utilize the portal mechanic.
Set in a generic sci-fi setting, Splitgate won’t offer much in the way of story or flashy gameplay, but it promises an engaging experience in the arena. Players square off in a 4v4 manner, with only their weapons, portals, and wits to count upon. While the portal mechanics may be a little tricky to get a handle on, once mastered, the game offers a whole new experience.
7) Call of Duty: Warzone
The first Call of Duty battle royale installment was Blackout, a game mode added for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Upon its success, developers Infinity Ward and Raven Software later delivered Call of Duty: Warzone, which was a standalone, free-to-play game centered around a multiplayer experience: the Battle Royale and Plunder modes.
Battle Royale consists of 150 players fighting it out on a substantially large map. Plunder mode sees players in teams collect the most cash to win. Additionally, time-limited modes keep getting thrown in every now and then to keep things interesting.
Warzone also regularly incorporates new content into its gameplay through various events. Many such events have tied into previous and recent games. The latest event does things a little differently, tying into the 2021 movie Godzilla vs. Kong.
Riot Games, of League of Legends fame, released Valorant in 2020, as a sort of amalgamation of battle arena games with shooters. Like Apex Legends, Valorant also plays with different characters and abilities, with a reliance on synergistic gameplay.
At launch, Valorant consisted of the plant and destroy mode, along with a few variations. Deathmatch was added two months down the line, many variations of which were also included in the subsequent months.
Players enjoying simple strategic shooters will appreciate Valorant’s core gameplay, as it never gets too much at a time. However, its diverse roster of playable characters makes it stand out from other entries in the FPS genre.
From FPS veterans Crytek, the minds behind the Crysis series, comes Warface. Released all the way back in 2013 for PC, it has since seen somewhat of a resurgence, with it being released for PS4 and Xbox One in 2018 and then again for the Nintendo Switch in 2020.
This free-to-play FPS works heavily on a class-based approach, with five playable classes to choose from. Each class has unique abilities which need to be utilized with precision and coordination for players to gain the upper hand in matches.
While Warface has traditional PvP modes like Deathmatch, Free for All, and Battle Royale, it also features a PvE mode (complete with missions and various rewards). Since its release, Warface has received favorable commendations, with reviewers calling it a fun experience and praising its multiplayer elements.
10) Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
CS:GO, by Valve, is the latest outing in a game series that set the bar for online FPS multiplayer games decades ago. Released all the way back in 2012, CS:GO was initially a priced game for many years. It was only in 2018 that the game took the free-to-play approach and opened itself up to a larger playerbase.
CS:GO is simple in terms of core gameplay, which has not evolved over time. However, through many updates and patches since launch, the game does feel relevant. Various UI updates have made it more accessible to newcomers, while new types of modes and maps have also been added over the years to introduce some diversity.
CS:GO is still one of the most popular games in esports, with tournaments being hosted by many different agencies, as well as Valve itself. CS:GO’s popularity still shines to this day, even among the multitude of online shooters on the playing field.