Video games can be expensive. In fact, with the latest generation of console platforms, there’s a push to bring out video game titles with a $70 price tag. It’s not easy picking up the latest games but that doesn’t mean there are no free video game alternatives that can keep you busy. In this list, we’re going to highlight some incredible action video games that you should check into if you haven’t already played them. Of course, with that said, since these games are free-to-play you can expect some incentives to pay for in-game content to further flesh out the gameplay experience. If you’re looking for some other great free video games you should be playing in 2021 that’s not necessarily action-based then we have you covered as well. Check out our thirty best free video games to play in 2021 list right here.
For years Warframe has been a solid action third-person game that most would have compared to a free alternative to Destiny. It put players into this science fiction world where you stepped into an ancient warrior race. When trouble brewed, you were tossed back into combat to save the day and over the years there was a ton of content to chew through. Players could go through these missions as a more solo experience, but at the same time, the gameplay thrived with a group of friends going through the action-packed missions together.
Furthermore, this title had a ton of customization options so there were always plenty of choices in how you set your character up. While this game initially launched in 2013, it continues to see new expansions released to give players even more content. Not to mention that there is a push to get the game on as many platforms as possible. Earlier in 2021, we received the game on the Xbox Series X/S so you should have an easier time getting access to Warframe.
#14 Destiny 2
While for years Warframe was the game to be considered the free alternative to Destiny, it wasn’t long after Destiny 2 launched that the development team over at Bungie opted to make it free-to-play as well. I’m sure you are familiar with this game series to an extent, but it’s very much like Warframe with a first-person perspective. You have a wide assortment of missions and it’s set within a science fiction world. Humanity is fighting for survival and being a warrior of sorts, you’ll be battling against all kinds of hostile enemies. Of course, to get the full storyline and to keep progressing forward, this is a game as a service type of title now so that means having to pay for expansions and other DLC content.
With all that said, it can be a bit much to request players go back and play through the first Destiny to understand just where the storyline picks up from with Destiny 2 since the game went free-to-play. Fortunately, the developers thought about this and reworked the start of this game to offer insight on Destiny which should bring players a bit up to speed when they go through the rest of the game. Much like Warframe, the game is still supported with expansions that will take us through 2023.
#13 War Thunder
There are a ton of different vehicular battle games out there and if you’re on the hunt for some we would suggest looking at War Thunder. This game offers a battle with an assortment of vehicles ranging from different eras such as World War II. All players have to do is pick from the type of vehicle they would like to battle with such as a tank, naval crafts to different planes.
However, what you might also find of interest is the fact that this is not a game that is set strictly as an arcade title or a simulator. You have three game modes that range from playing the game simply as an arcade experience which is more fast-paced, then there are real battles that attempt to bring out more of the attributes to these different vehicles such as their turn radius or engine capabilities. Finally, there are the simulator battles which make the game as realistic as possible which might result in longer battles.
Where Warframe was a free alternative for Destiny, until Destiny 2 hit free-to-play, Dauntless is the free alternative to Monster Hunter. Monster Hunter is a franchise owned and supported under Capcom. We’ve seen several installments hit the marketplace regularly and this can be an intimidating video game series. Each installment seemed to have gotten more complex making it out to be a bit of a learning curve for newcomers. However, Dauntless offers a similar gameplay experience but arguably more toned-down mechanics. It’s often considered a hack and slash title where much like Monster Hunter, players are hunting down creatures to battle against.
In this game it’s all about finding a monster, equipping the best gear to use against it, and taking the beast down. You can even play with some friends to make it an even more enjoyable experience. After slaying a monster you’ll be able to use the resources it drops to craft better equipment. If you’re uncertain on whether jumping into Monster Hunter is a game series you’d enjoy, this is a perfect alternative to test the waters or simply enjoy Dauntless and all the content the developers bring out.
#11 Call of Duty: Warzone
When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released there were a ton of rumors, supposed leaks, and speculation that there was a battle royale multiplayer component coming out as well. It took a bit after the game was released before the developers unveiled Call of Duty: Warzone. A battle royale game that most players were anticipating. This multiplayer game mode would allow players to go against either squads or solos where the last player standing won the game. Just like your typical battle royale game, the title focused on players dropping down into a massive open-world map where you would scavenge for loot.
The loot you’re after included armor to weapons as you took out other competitors found on the map. Meanwhile, the game map itself would shrink down and force players closer together until as stated already, only one player or group was left standing. What was a bit different in this game was the Gulag. Earlier in the game, if you happened to die you could end up in the Gulag, a battle arena of sorts where you would wait your turn to compete in a 1v1. If you win the battle, you’re given a second chance with the bare minimum, forcing players to once again scavenge for useful. Best of all, this game mode was released as a standalone game for free so even if you didn’t own Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you could still play this battle royale title.
Keeping up with the trend of free alternatives, Brawlhalla is often awarded the title of being the free version of Super Smash Bros. Nintendo has been dominant when it comes to the platform fighting genre. With its long line of Nintendo IP characters it can toss into the game and the fact that they have managed to bring over plenty of other guest fighters into the mix, they have easily gained the character recognition. Meanwhile, there are an assortment of different themed levels and item drops to make matches competitive and fresh. Brawlhalla offers the same style of gameplay with a collection of unique characters, levels, and item drops as well.
There are even crossover characters as well so you do have some familiar IPs featured in the game. These included characters from Shovel Knight, Rayman, WWE, Adventure Time, The Walking Dead, and Tomb Raider to name just a few. Since the game was released, there has been plenty of positive fan feedback and we’ve even had big Esports tournaments get started up in Brawlhalla where the best players compete for some major grand prize money. This might not be a more traditional action game but it’s a thrilling title that we had to at least make mention of.
Riot Games is known for its MOBA title League of Legends, which is also free-to-play. For years, this MOBA game has continued to be a massive hit online and easily gaining new followers each day. However, after so many years of supporting League of Legends, the developers decided to bring out something new. The developers have plans for several new video game projects, but one that you can play right now is Valorant. This is a team-based competitive FPS title. You have different iconic characters with game modes to compete in but this is not just a traditional FPS title.
What you have is a hero-based shooter with each character having their unique abilities to use within the game. This is a very competitive and fast-paced game. You’ll find it often compared to the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gunplay with hero characters a bit like Overwatch. If you have a group of friends to play through this game with then the matches can be pretty thrilling. Of course, if you’re looking for a more casual action game then you might find this title to be a bit overwhelming.
#8 Apex Legends
Speaking of hero shooters there’s another game worth looking into and that’s Apex Legends. Apex Legends is a team-based hero shooter which was developed by Respawn Entertainment. If the studio name doesn’t ring any bells, these are the folks who made Titanfall and most recently, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Developing Apex Legends in secret, the studio surprised the world when they announced along with released Apex Legends, a brand new squad-based battle royale game.
Here players would work together and compete against teams as different hero characters. These heroes would offer something unique to the gameplay such as Bloodhound being able to see footprints left from enemy players, Caustic having toxic gas canisters to throw out, or Gibraltar having a dome shield to protect a squad for a short duration of time. Much like other team-based shooters, the game works best with players working together and understanding their character’s abilities.
Scavengers is a newer title that has just released into the marketplace earlier in 2021. This is a third-person shooter that offers PVE along with PVP combat. In this game, players are working together in the frozen wasteland to complete objectives and recover data. Of course, the world itself is full of dangerous NPC enemies along with wildlife. Your job is to go in, collect data, fight off the hostile enemies, survive the tundra, and battle against any other groups of players.
Meanwhile, a ship will land giving players just a small duration of time to reach the ship and board it for safety. It’s an early access title right now and it’s bound to receive plenty of updates and content to keep players going through the game regularly. Although, the development team is shooting for a full launch before 2021 officially wraps up so we might not see this game stick around in early access for too long.
#6 World of Warships
World of Warships is a free-to-play naval game. It’s a lot like War Thunder which we made mention above where you have a vehicular combat game with different weapons and eras to pick from. However, unlike War Thunder where you get tanks and planes, World of Warships is all about the naval war game. There are over 300 different historical ships to pick through and it’s a strategic game as you line up your ships to send over a powerful attack.
You can even customize different aspects of your ship to make it more unique while also relying on your crew to improve the performance of the vessel. With that said, it shouldn’t come to much surprise that there are incentives to spend money within the game. After all, much like every free-to-play title, there’s a push to purchase content and in-game items to offer a bit of a buff while also supporting the development team to continue supporting this title.
Paladins for quite a few players out there is the free-to-player alternative to Overwatch. Chances are you know of Overwatch from how popular the game has been over the years. It’s a team-based hero shooter similar to Apex Legends and Valorant, each character offering something to the table. However, Paladins offers a bit more game modes to pick through than Overwatch and it’s not a battle royale game.
Those that want a more varied option on game modes where you and your team will use the different heroes to complete objectives or go through team deathmatches. This game did also spawn Paladins Strike along with Realm Royale, which is the MOBA and battle royale alternatives to the base Paladins game. If you find yourself enjoying Paladins then you might want to check out these extra titles as well.
You knew this game was going to be on the list I’m sure. We can’t forget about Fortnite, another battle royale game on our list but the one that sparked so much attention to the genre. There are now countless titles tossed out online to capitalize on this battle royale movement. You have big-name IPs joining in on the fun such as Call of Duty: Warzone to other new IPs altogether like Apex Legends. Epic Games brought out Fortnite which is a battle royale game with bright colors, a wide range of character skins, and a slew of emotes. Meanwhile, the gameplay is more or less similar to the other battle royale games mentioned already. Players are dropped down into the world where you’ll have to battle against other players either in squads or through solos.
As you touch down the ground, not only are you battling other players but you’re also searching for resources, weapons, and materials to build up walls that act as a barrier between you and other players or simply as a means to reach a higher level of verticality. What keeps players joining back into this game is the fact that seasons will change the game up whether it’s a new map or a brand new component to the gameplay itself. Likewise, there are a ton of crossover events that happen as well so you very well could see skins and content added in from movies, television shows, to video games.
#3 Genshin Impact
Genshin Impact is one of the big free-to-play hits that came out in 2020. This is a title that was often compared to the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with its visuals and even gameplay mechanics. Players in this game are thrown into a fantasy world where you’re following a character and their sibling who possess the ability to travel through different worlds but is suddenly stopped when an unknown god kidnaps one of the siblings. Now players are trapped within an unfamiliar world where you’ll have to figure out a means to defeat the evil god and rescue your sister.
As you can imagine it’s like an open-world RPG where you’ll meet all kinds of different characters with quests to complete. You’ll even find that this is a single-player game for a good portion of the title until there is an option to play cooperatively. Since this game was released there have been plenty of favorable reviews and fan feedback. Not to mention that it’s available on several different console platforms along with mobile smartphones.
#2 PlanetSide 2
PlanetSide 2 is a game that can be a great time killer. With this game, you’ll find that there is a massive scale battle. Here there are different factions all around trying to take over territory with gameplay ongoing. With this title, you can drop in and help your team out by trying to take over an outpost both as a ground soldier or taking on a vehicle. This is also a game that’s been around since 2012 so developers have continued to support this title over the years with new content and tweaks. With that said, if you want a chaotic futuristic wargame experience then you can’t go wrong here. Just prepare to go through the learning curve and expect plenty of deaths as you hone in on your skills.
#1 Path of Exile
Lastly, a game that you might find some enjoyment in is Path of Exile. This is a game that’s quite a bit like Diablo and has gained a massive fan base over the years. Played as an action RPG title players will get dropped into a dark fantasy world as you wash up within the continent of Wraeclast, a location that is home to exiles and ancient gods. To survive you’ll need to battle against all kinds of hostile enemies and creatures that lurk about. Meanwhile, there are plenty of characters to meet and complete quests for. With a rather robust skill tree, players can tweak their protagonist in a wide range of ways.
Of course, there is a ton of gear and weapons to loot as well. Since this game was released in 2013 there have been quite a few expansions released to give players even more content. We know that a big update is in the works for Path of Exile 2 which will bring in a new story arch but that might not come out until next year, 2022. This means you have quite a bit of gameplay to get through right now to ready yourself for Path of Exile 2.