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The 7 best first-person shooters you can play right now for free

If you love 'Call of Duty,' you should check out these free to play options.


Sherry Tucci


Posted on Aug 31, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 3:27 am CDT

First-person shooters are a necessity in any gamer’s library. Chances are you already own Call of Duty, Halo, and Battlefield, widely considered to be the top three FPS games of all time, but there are a plethora of shooters out there—and they’re free.

If you want to add a bit of variety to your FPS collection, check out these games, all of which are available on Steam. From fast-paced thrillers to strategy-based games, there’s an FPS for everyone.

1) Team Fortress 2

Quite possibly the best free to play FPS out there, Team Fortress 2 is still going strong despite being released in October 2007. Unlike many shooters of its time, TF2 employs a lighthearted and comedic gameplay, complemented by the wacky characters and animation style. Don’t be fooled, however: The game still requires skill and strategy if you want to win.

TF2 has nine different classes, separated by offense, defense, and support. Game modes include classics like Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and King of the Hill. There are also some less conventional modes, like Payload, which can best be described as “push the cart.” In addition to gameplay, hats are TF2‘s biggest selling point. Literally hats. You can collect and trade hats throughout the game to dress up your character in the arena, because why not?

2) Tribes: Ascend

Released in 2012, Tribes: Ascend is the most recent game in the Tribes universe. The others will cost you and are available on other consoles, but Tribes: Ascend is free to play on your PC.

The game pays homage to some of the original Tribes games by implementing telltale features, such as jetpacks and skis. Tribes: Ascend has been praised for its fast and dynamic gameplay, making for exciting rounds. Because of the speedy pace, Tribes: Ascend calls for some skill but ultimately rewards players with a sweet satisfaction of nailing a target spot on. (No 360 scopes here.)

3) Planetside 2

If you’re looking for a warfare-style game, Planetside 2 may be for you. Faction-based fighting serves as the center point of the story and requires you to choose one of three factions to fight for as you play. Planetside 2 has earned some applause for its depiction of war and an individual soldier’s role in it.

The game is available on both PC and PlayStation 4. There are some complaints about Planetside 2, however, including downgraded graphics from the PC version to the PS4 version. In terms of the narrative plot, you’re basically thrown into the fire and have to learn as you go, but it does contribute to the feeling of war—entering a preexisting conflict and having to learn about the factions as the game progresses. Dogfights are definitely a plus, though, making for some unrivaled gameplay.

4) Dirty Bomb

In the realm of class-based gameplay, Dirty Bomb puts some unique spins in its mercenary lineup. The game sets you on a team whose primary focus is to save London from a string of dangerous dirty-bomb attacks. The 19 distinct, playable characters all fit into the standard FPS classes, but each one has a specialty of his or her own. So while there is more than one medic-type character, for example, you may be granted different abilities depending on which one you choose.

Dirty Bomb focuses heavily on objectives, which means teamwork is an absolute must. One reviewer sums up the game’s primary values with a pretty straightforward mantra: “Don’t be a dick.”

5) Hawken

As a pilot on the dystopian planet of Illal, the mech-based warfare in Hawken gives a highly futuristic feel. Although you fight all your battles in a giant, robotic mech suit, the game still boasts a fast-paced experience. Hello rocket boosters and goodbye sluggish, bulky movements.

Hawken has six different game modes, including the classic team deathmatch. Other modes include a cooperative destruction mode, where you fight off waves of bots as a band of four, and missile assault, which is something similar to King of the Hill. The game also provides fairly extensive customization options for your own mech.

6) Red Trigger

In the same vein as Portal, Red Trigger is also a puzzle-based first-person shooter. The game’s graphics are pristine, albeit minimal, creating a bright environment spruced up with accents of red—the most important parts of the world. The player assumes a virus trying to corrupt a system, and your gun assists you in manipulating various red blocks to achieve that goal.

Red Trigger is the only indie game on this list and has finite gameplay, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy. The game began as a final project for a student at Montreal’s NAD University. It was released July 8 and garnered over 100,000 downloads within three weeks of its release.

7) Gotham City Imposters

The fun thing about Gotham City Imposters is that it’s not meant to be taken seriously. In fact, it doesn’t even take itself seriously. True to its name, players take on the characters of fake Batmans, off to fight the fake Jokers of Gotham City, or vice versa. It’s fun, silly, and intentionally chaotic.

The game offers a limited number of maps and modes, but the truly dynamic gameplay makes them last for round after round, giving a different experience each time. Gotham City Imposters has been described as the FPS to give you a break from FPS. It hits all the necessary requirements but gives players a fresh take on the genre. It’s also a whirlwind of pandemonium, playing as characters that would probably be rejected by the likes of Batman and the Joker themselves (in the best way possible). What else could you possibly want?

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*First Published: Aug 31, 2016, 6:00 am CDT