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Years ago, you’d pay a flat price for a video game and get everything included. These days? You generally pay full price for the “base” game and then pay extra to unlock bonus content. Or you might download a “free” game only to be swindled by psychologically manipulative tactics that suck your wallet dry.
And because these tricks are so profitable, freemium games aren’t going anywhere. The good news is, not all developers are so greedy. Here are the best free games on Steam (one of the must-have apps for PC gamers) that don’t rely on scummy monetization methods.
15 Totally Free Games on Steam
You can download these games at no charge and play them without worrying about any pressure to spend money in-game.
1. Iron Snout
Rating: 98% | Genre: Fighting
You’re a pig in a forest. Fend off waves of wolves who want to tear you apart. It’s simple but fun, and between the different weapons and body parts dropped by attackers, there’s a surprising amount of replayability. Iron Snout is one of the best ways to kill time and one of the best free games on Steam.
Download: Iron Snout on Steam
2. The Expendabros
Rating: 97% | Genre: Action Platformer
The Expendabros is exactly what it sounds like: non-stop bullet-spraying action that’s as silly and campy as it is fun and fast. “High octane” doesn’t even begin to describe it, and you have 10 complete missions to play through as seven different characters. It’s hilarious and addictive, and it’s one of the best free single-player games on Steam. Does it get any better than that?
Download: The Expendabros on Steam
3. Eternal Senia
Rating: 97% | Genre: Action RPG
Eternal Senia is an RPG that anyone can play. The game is built on simplicity and straightforwardness, yet it’s deep enough to provide hours of enjoyment. It offers a complete experience, with puzzles, equipment, and a satisfying story. Eternal Senia was made in RPG Maker over the course of one year and is available to all for free.
Download: Eternal Senia on Steam
4. Alien Swarm
Rating: 94% | Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Alien Swarm is a cooperative tactical online shooter where you and your friends crawl through levels and solve puzzles while fighting off hordes of aggressive aliens. It’s fun but hard, and you’re bound to slam your table out of frustration at least a few times. Not a bad way to kill time when you’re with online friends.
Download: Alien Swarm on Steam
5. Shadow Warrior Classic
Rating: 94% | Genre: First-Person Shooter
Remember the original Doom? Well, Shadow Warrior Classic is kind of like that but crossed with a bit of Duke Nukem. It’s intense and gory and downright silly at times, but it holds up well even after 20 years (as well as an MS-DOS game can hold up, anyways).
Download: Shadow Warrior Classic on Steam
6. Sisyphus Reborn
Rating: 94% | Genre: Adventure Story
Sisyphus Reborn is a short game driven by its mysterious narrative and atmosphere. It’s all quite pointless, but maybe that’s the point. It’s the kind of game that’ll make you think, and even if philosophy isn’t quite your cup of tea, I promise Sisyphus Reborn will leave an impression on you. It only takes 30 minutes to beat. Why not give it a go?
Download: Sisyphus Reborn on Steam
7. The Desolate Hope
Rating: 91% | Genre: Action Platformer
Here we have one of the strangest games you’ll play this year. The Desolate Hope is quirky, to say the least, and so unique that it’s hard to even describe. It’s futuristic but also retro. It has RPG elements but isn’t quite an RPG. And the one-of-a-kind art style will blow you away. If nothing else, you should play it just for that!
Download: The Desolate Hope on Steam
8. You Have to Win the Game
Rating: 92% | Genre: Platformer
Looking for a healthy dose of 80s retro platformer fun? You Have to Win the Game will fill that void. It’s an exploration game so you won’t see much action, but don’t take that to mean it’s boring—“thrilling yet relaxing” is what you should expect. You can also ramp up the difficulty with the You Only Live Once mode!
Download: You Have to Win the Game on Steam
9. Sigils of Elohim
Rating: 92% | Genre: Puzzle
Sigils of Elohim is actually a companion mini-game to The Talos Principle. By solving the various puzzles in this game, you unlock bonuses for the other game. But even if you don’t have The Talos Principle (which is a great game), you can still enjoy this one for what it is: a basic “fit the blocks into a shape” puzzle game.
Download: Sigils of Elohim on Steam
10. Fistful of Frags
Rating: 90% | Genre: First-Person Shooter
While most multiplayer first-person shooters take on a military or futuristic theme, Fistful of Frags is unique with its Wild West setting. It features duel, free-for-all, and team modes to satisfy all kinds of playstyles, plus some interesting gameplay mechanics (e.g. dual wielding) and a unique scoring system.
Download: Fistful of Frags on Steam
11. Endless Sky
Rating: 90% | Genre: Open World
Not to be confused with No Man’s Sky, Endless Sky is an open-world game where you explore, trade, and fight in space as a ship. Unfortunately it’s not a multiplayer game, but the main storyline takes about 10 hours to beat and then opens up to hours of more fun, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. (I’m joking, it’s free!)
Download: Endless Sky on Steam
12. Port of Call
Rating: 89% | Genre: First-Person Adventure
You board a ship, you don’t remember who you are, and nothing is what it seems. Port of Call only takes about 30 minutes to beat, but those minutes are well worth the download if you enjoy horror and suspense. If nothing else, it’s an interesting experiment on whether short narrative games can succeed—and I think Port of Call proves it to be true.
Download: Port of Call on Steam
Rating: 88% | Genre: Action Platformer
Teeworlds is like Kirby meets Mario meets Quake. In this multiplayer platformer arena game, you play as one of many cute little ball-shaped people trying to kill other ball-shaped people. The grappling hook mechanic introduces an exciting physics component on top of the weapons and game modes, which include Deathmatch and Capture the Flag.
Download: Teeworlds on Steam
14. Super Crate Box
Rating: 89% | Genre: Action Platformer
Super Crate Box puts you inside a box arena with no way out and sees how long you can survive against endless waves of monsters. Enemies you fail to kill respawn and move faster every time. Various weapons spawn around the arena at random, each one having different advantages and disadvantages. A fun arcade-y experience, for sure, and of the many fun free games on Steam, this one sits near the top.
Download: Super Crate Box on Steam
15. TrackMania Nations Forever
Rating: 86% | Genre: Racing
No other racing game franchise offers a better, more satisfying experience than TrackMania. This particular game is the only free title in the series, but with 65 fun stock tracks, an in-game track editor, an in-game video studio for recording footage, and multiplayer capability, TrackMania Nations Forever is simply amazing.
Download: TrackMania Nations Forever on Steam
The 5 Best Free-to-Play Games on Steam
Unlike the above, these games include in-game purchases. But they do so in a way that isn’t invasive, so you can still enjoy them without spending any money. However, you will need to make an in-app purchase if you want Steam Trading Cards.
16. Team Fortress 2
Rating: 93% | Genre: First-Person Shooter
Team Fortress 2 played a huge role in popularizing the whole “pay for cosmetics” business model, and even after all these years remains one of the best free-to-play games on Steam with the fairest monetization methods. You can either buy cosmetic-only items or dropped/unlockable items that do change gameplay but are never strictly better than the default loadouts.
Download: Team Fortress 2 on Steam
17. Path of Exile
Rating: 92% | Genre: Action RPG
In a lot of ways, Path of Exile is what Diablo 3 should have been. Most notable is the fact that Path of Exile is completely free and committed to an “ethical monetization” model. It has no gated content and no pay-to-win perks; only cosmetic items that are entirely optional. Is there any wonder why Path of Exile is still going strong? This is free-to-play done right and easily one of the top free games on Steam.
Download: Path of Exile on Steam
Rating: 92% | Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Often described as a “poor man’s Destiny,” Warframe is a multiplayer cooperative PvE first-person shooter that sets you off to complete narrative missions and quests. It also has a PvP mode for those with a competitive itch. Yet despite the game’s success, the developers have never pushed a hard monetization model. Anything you can buy, you can also acquire in-game, and it’s never a grind because the game itself is fun.
Download: Warframe on Steam
19. Dota 2
Rating: 85% | Genre: MOBA
Dota 2 is the second most-popular MOBA in the world. But whereas League of Legends (its main competitor) forces its players to grind and grind to unlock champions, Dota 2 gives all players access to every hero right from the start. You only spend money on cosmetics, and yes, Dota 2 cosmetics are truly cosmetic! They have zero effect on gameplay.
Download: Dota 2 on Steam
Rating: 83% | Genre: Team Arena Brawler
Imagine the Arena PvP mode in World of Warcraft but with a top-down scheme, every ability replaced with skillshots, no mana, and no random numbers. Well, that game is called Battlerite. It distills team-based PvP gameplay down to its essence: outplay the other team and kill them before they kill you. As a free player, you have a limited champion rotation with the ability to unlock champions with in-game currency earned through playing.
Download: Battlerite on Steam
What Are Your Favorite Free Steam Games?
These games will provide you with dozens of hours of awesome gaming at zero cost. They prove that you don’t have to pay a ton of money for an enjoyable game, so why not check them out? You could find a new favorite.
If you’re willing to spend money on a deserving game or two, take a look at these top indie games you can buy on Steam. For more, check out the best free games on Linux, as well as /r/FreeGamesonSteam on Reddit.