Steam sales make it terribly easy to end up with a massive backlog, but sometimes all we want is to download a game and play without having to pay an upfront fee. Having a good sense of the best Steam free games is instrumental in making the right pick and this list covers the most popular free-to-play titles currently on Valve's storefront.
As it turns out, there's a pretty varied selection of free-to-play releases on Steam. From demanding MOBAs to loot-driven RPGs and hero shooters, the best Steam free games list has something that's bound to please everyone.
The Best Steam Free Games List
Below, you'll find the 10 free games that sit at the top of Steam's charts, going by concurrent players. These ranking may shift as new contenders enter the fray and old games receive new content updates.
Regardless, picking a game from the list below will keep you busy for at least a couple of hours as you learn the intricacies of their mechanics and the best strategies to push forward.
Seeing as they're all free-to-play titles, it's safe to expect some form of in-game monetization. The exact items offered differ from between games.
Most of them sell cosmetics or various quality of life improvements that only become necessary if you decide to play the game for longer periods of time.
Others, like Lost Ark, do include microtransactions like crafting materials that could end up affecting actual gameplay.
Whether or not that's a dealbreaker is all up to you, but you should, nonetheless, be able to squeeze a couple of hours of quality gameplay before hitting those walls.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Released back in 2012, the latest incarnation of Valve's team-based multiplayer first-person shooter series is still going strong. Not only is it one of the most played titles on Steam, but it also has a healthy competitive scene that boasts frequent E-sports events.
Its high-stakes action is complemented by a satisfying if a bit steep, learning curve, which makes mastering each weapon's recoil and learning the layout of its maps feel great. Featuring weapons both old and new, modding potential, and also a battle royale mode, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is worth considering if you're looking for a free-to-play shooter that constantly keeps you on your toes.
Lost Ark was available to Korean audience for years prior to its 2022 launch in other regions, which also saw it blast straight to the top of Steam's most played games list. The anticipation surrounding this free-to-play MMORPG was palpable well before release thanks to a mixture of gorgeous visuals and large class variety.
Its isometric camera also added some Diablo flavor to the mix as did the scores of enemies players defeat on a regular basis. Some of its microtransactions do push it towards the pay-to-win territory, however, that hasn't seen its popularity take too big a blow in the months since launch.
Dota 2 is one of the most popular MOBAs around and a successor to the original Warcraft 3 mod that had its fair share of fame. Out for almost a decade, it features a sizeable roster of heroes, all with their own abilities and playstyle that take a good while to master.
You'll not only need to figure out the best item builds for the hero of your choice, but read enemy movements, react to their use of abilities, and, most importantly, work with your teammates to destroy towers and push forward across three lanes. Dota 2 has remained one of the most popular free-to-play games on Steam throughout the years and, even if some updates sparked enough controversy, it's one of the best free games you'll find on the platform.
You might have heard about this one when the battle royale craze was kicking off and it was named PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. One of Fortnite's main competitors its shift to free-to-play came with a rather questionable name change.
The high-risk high-reward battle royale gameplay is still there, as is the fun of getting used to its different weapons, traversing its maps on foot or using vehicles, and teaming up with others as you fight to remain the last man (or squad) standing.
A surprise release from Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts, Apex Legends is a free-to-play first-person shooter battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe. While Titans don't make an appearance, the game features playable characters with different active and passive abilities, much like a hero shooter would.
A total of 30 squads of three players duke it out across several maps that feature a variety of terrain types. To emerge victorious, you need to scavenge for loot, prove your steady aim, and evade the deadly ring that periodically reduces the size of the playing field. Originally available solely through Origin, the game has since made its way to Steam.
Another formerly premium AAA game turned best free game on Steam, Destiny 2 continues Bungie's sprawling sci-fi saga while opening it up to a broader audience than ever before. Whether you're more of a tanky Titan, spell-slinging Warlock, or accurate Hunter, each class comes with a number of different sub-classes that let you pick just the right gameplay style for you.
Destiny 2 comes with lots of PvE and PvP content, however, if you're looking to experience as much of its story as possible, you'll have to purchase expansions. In addition, developer Bungie also periodically vaults content, making it inaccessible for a period of time, as the game keeps moving in new directions.
Team Fortress 2
Nine distinct classes full of charisma, a good handful of modes and maps, alongside the level of quality expected from Valve titles make this over-a-decade-old game an absolute must-play for fans of team-based first-person shooters.
It’s seen plenty of updates over the years, adding lots of new, wacky weapons plus cosmetic items, and still boasts a healthy playerbase. The inclusion of matchmaking might have reduced the number of tightly-knit communities, but Team Fortress 2 is still one of the most active free-to-play first-person shooters on Steam.
War Thunder is a military MMO that focuses on vehicular combat across land, air, and sea. Players get to pick between 2000 vehicles that saw combat from the early 20th century to modern day and control them across multiple scenarios focusing on different combat situations.
Alongside its sizeable roster of vehicles, War Thunder also boasts PvP and PvE modes that should help you scratch that itch for warfare.
Who doesn’t want to be a space ninja? Well, there’s bound to be someone out there but I'd argue that they don’t know what’s fun. For everyone else, there’s Warframe. Digital Extremes’ unusual co-op third-person action game lets you mow down aliens as one of many cool-looking space ninjas wielding a vast arsenal of weapons that includes assault rifles, bows, throwing knives, nunchucks, and more.
It’s very much a game that lets you set your own goals and the introduction of more open areas in later expansions gives plenty of content to play through.
Path of Exile
Grinding Gear Games’ ARPG has comfortably seized a place among the genre's best titles and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Constantly refreshed with new leagues that reset progress and add new gameplay elements, like entire new dungeons or item types, it gives plenty of reasons to return regularly.
Add to that an in-game economy reliant on currency also used for modifying items, a massive passive skill tree, as well as plenty of active skills lending themselves to a large number of builds, and it's easy to see why Path of Exile is one of the best free games on Steam.
For even more free games, have a look at what the Epic Games Store is giving away each week.
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