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The free-to-play revolution is gaining momentum every month. Many of the games are still titles that allow developers to easily place a price on game mechanics, items or units – but some action games are in the mix, as well.
Let’s have a look at six free-to-play action games currently available that are well worth your time.
Early hype for Global Agenda considered it a mix-up between Tribes, Team Fortress and an MMO. I played the game at launch and enjoyed it quite a bit, but small-time developer Hi-Rez Studios was clearly having trouble obtaining the critical mass of gamers required to sustain a subscriber base.
As a result, Global Agenda quickly went free-to-play. Those who decide not to pay anything can be competitive in this game, though there is a leveling system that is difficult to progress through without forking over cash every now and then.
But that’s not really the point. The point is that this game is a lot of fun. Though it involves RPG mechanics, there is significant skill involved. Comparisons to Tribes and Team Fortress are accurate, at least so far as the focus on team-work goes. Team tactics and smart play tend to be reward just as well as quick reflexes.
The space-shooter genre isn’t exactly red hot right now, which makes every new entry worth consideration. Moon Breakers is the latest offering aimed at those starving for space combat and it’s the first 3D space shooter that’s free-to-play (excluding the FreeSpace 2 source code project).
Moon Breakers is actually a game with browser-based origins that is now available on Steam as well. The gameplay is quite simple. There are two teams duking it out in space over various objectives. If you’ve played a shooter in the last ten years you’ll understand what’s going on quickly.
The game’s not complex, but the controls work well without a joystick, the game is easy to start playing and can run on many modern systems. Though you start off with a weak fighter you can earn credits in-game and eventually deck out a capable ship. Or you can pay and have immediate access to the upgrades you want.
Super Monday Night Combat is a blend of third-person shooting with MOBA mechanics that creates an interesting and rather unique title. You may have played a game like this before, but it probably wasn’t as well executed. Indeed, Super MNC’s attractive graphics and above-par sound quality make this one of the more polished entries among free-to-play games.
While the shooting element makes this an action game, there’s also significant strategy involved. Pushing back the enemy means finding a way to stop the flood of non-player characters while also watching out for, and countering the tactics of, players on the enemy team. Reflex will help, but you also need to keep tabs on how your actions will help your team win.
Flaws? Matchmaking isn’t the best and the interface can be unwieldy. The game might feel unforgiving, or at least confusing, as a result. Still, Super MNC has fewer rough edges than most titles available in the free-to-play arena.
It’s hard to believe that this action game has been around for nearly five years. Team Fortress 2 is arguably the standard that all other team-based shooters have to benchmark but, in spite of that and its continuing popularity, Valve decided to go free-to-player in June of 2011.
The basic gameplay is still the same. The main differences are in the items available, how many of them can be acquired and how they can be obtained or used. Items weren’t much of a concern when Team Fortress 2 released but over the years Valve had added a significant RPG element to the game with functional and cosmetic upgrades that can bend class mechanics or simply make your character stand out.
Valve has been committed to making sure that items don’t make players overpowered and has been most successful in this endeavor than other developers. As a result, Team Fortress 2 has been as successful as a free-to-play action game as it was as a stand-alone paid title.
Gamers have waited over eight years for a proper new incarnation of Tribes, which was last paid proper tribute by Tribes: Vengeance. Now it’s here courtesy of Hi-Rez studios, developer of the action-MMO Global Agenda.
Tribes: Ascend has received praise for its re-creation of the unique jet-pack oriented gameplay of the original Tribes, a feat that is certainly worthy of praise. The game is also decently polished for a new free-to-play title. It includes excellent graphics, a robust interface and decent match-making.
Most criticism has so far focused on the game’s lack of balance and a ranking system that doesn’t seem to properly reward multiplayer teamwork. These are fairly minor downsides that have at one point or another been thrown at nearly every team-based shooter. This is clearly one of the best free-to-play action titles overall.
This game is a pseudo-simulation that has slowly gained popular among both action gamers and fans of historical games. Set in World War II, World Of Tanks includes a long list of vintage war machines that players can obtain via in-game rewards or purchase with real money.
World Of Tanks is a slow game in pace. The old Mechwarrior games are the best comparison. Tanks take damage as they fight, losing systems like the engine, a tread or gun turret control. The lighter tanks that gamers start with tend to explode easily but the heavier tanks can take significant punishment.
This game isn’t meant to be a full simulator. Instead it’s a compromise. There’s enough simulation (such as armor penetration and gun physics) to introduce a significant tactical element, but also enough action to keeper shooter fans engaged.
These action games should be enough to keep even hardcore action fans engaged for hours on end. Is there an excellent free-to-play title missing from this list that you’ve enjoyed? Let us know in the comments.