Sometimes we all find ourselves needing to pay rent or put pennies in the meter when we'd rather be treating ourselves to some new, shiny toy, and that's sad. It's very, very sad.

We aim to be the tissue that dries your tears; bringing you some titles you've never heard of and reminding you of others that you probably haven't played in a while. Cheer up, buttercup: videogames have never been so affordable.

 

Planetside 2

Best free to play games Planetside 2

JETPACK.

There are other classes, too, but you don't care about those. You care about light assault. You care about jetpacks.

Hurl yourself from an 83rd storey window. Plummet towards unforgiving earth. Watch it race up to meet your boots – thirty feet, twenty feet, fifteen, ten.

JETPACK.

You land lightly; unscathed and self-satisfied. Then one of your own teammates hits you with a tank. That's okay. You wait a few seconds. You respawn. You leap.

JETPACK.

What do you pay for?

Guns and goodies and extra character slots, oh my! But not essential. Shoot. Run. Earn points. JETPACK. All free.

 

Stronghold Kingdoms

Best free to play games Stronghold Kingdoms

Haven't you always dreamed of owning a little medieval village in the sun? Firefly Studios knew that about you before you did; that's why it made Stronghold Kingdoms. It's a chill little strategy game you check in on throughout the day, so you can feel quietly proud of how prosperous your tiny village is growing.

‘My coffers are fat’, you think, ‘and my tree branches overflowing with apples. My walls fairly bristle with archers and that wolf pack will bring me two hundred honour.

‘Perhaps I'll start brewing my own beer.’

What do you pay for?

Ponying up for premium tokens nets you stuff like build queues and auto-scouting/foraging/etc. You know, in case you hate that tedious 'playing the game' part of playing a game.

 

Team Fortress 2

Best free to play games Team Fortress 2

We knew you expected to see this heavyweight here somewhere, and we couldn't bear to disappoint you. Just the thought of your little crumpled face tore our heartstrings.

Two teams. Two bases. Nine Classes. Sometimes there are carts. Sometimes there are flags. Always there is glorious, goofy gore. Just point yourself towards the sound of explosions and relax into Valve's cleanly-crafted, top-of-the-range, first-person shooter multiplayer killfest.

What do you pay for?

For god's sake, run around a bit and scoop up the freebies. How many hats does one player need? (More than you could ever imagine.)

 

DoTA 2

Best free to play games Dota 2

Don't fret; this is the final float in the Valve victory parade.

DoTA 2 can be a wee bit unwelcoming to newcomers – its learning curve is less 'climb that hill!' and more 'scale that erupting volcano!' – but if you keep pushing, you'll tumble through to an exquisitely violent, unforgiving wonderland.

And with a playerbase of approximately everyone who ever was or shall be born, you'll never run low on playmates – even if you avoid the creepy ones who never grew out of torturing flies.

What do you pay for?

Cosmetic upgrades. Again. We're beginning to think Valve might just be dabbling in this 'videogames' nonsense to fund an upcoming boutique.

 

atWar

Best free to play games atWar

It's like Risk, but everyone moves simultaneously, there can be up to 20 players, and you don't end up stabbing your grandfather over it. So not very much like Risk at all, really.

Also, Risk doesn't think that Sydney is the capital of Australia.

But if you'll look past that minor geographical hiccup, atWar is a quiet strategy sweetheart who can cater to both the impatient – one-minute turns – or the busy – 24-hour, ‘I'll-get-to-it-after-the-footie’ turns – player.

What do you pay for?

Some game creation options. Five strategy styles. Nowt you'd notice missing if no-one told you it wasn't there.

 

Path of Exile

Best free to play games Path of Exile

You're clutching the torn-off limb of a giant spider and soaked top to toe in the beast's...ichor? We're not certain if giant spiders have blood. We're pretty certain they're full of petrol or arsenic or something. Whatever. Back to the question.

You're clutching the blah blah blah, etc., spider joke: what do you do now?

If your answer is 'I seek out another to wrestle', then congratulations! Go play Path of Exile. It's a dungeon-crawler with a fearsome upgrade system and, let us remind you, a not-so-fearsome price point of less than something.

What do you pay for?

Pretty, pretty outfits. Cool swirly effects. Frog pets with teensy little crowns. Obviously.