This story was originally published and last updated .
Free-to-play games generally get a bad rap for a reason: they're exploitative, timer-filled hellscapes that use things like multiple in-game currencies and needlessly challenging grind requirements to advance beyond your first few hours or days playing. But there are some F2P titles out there we think actually set the bar higher, and don't try to turn you into a human piggy bank. Here are 15 we think even F2P skeptics like us can feel good about recommending.
The funny thing about comic book stories is that the usual roles of protagonists and antagonists are reversed: the villains are the ones who are proactive, trying to achieve something new (even if it is something awful), while the heroes are only concerned with stopping them. That's why people love a good villain - aside from being generally more fun to watch than the goody-two-shoes superheroes, they're also the ones who drive the story forward. It's also why games like Dungeon Keeper and Infamous are so popular: it's just more fun to be the bad guy.
I have to confess, despite being fairly well-rounded in all aspects of geeky culture, I'm clueless when it comes to One Piece. There's a stretchy guy and another dude who likes to eat his sword and a woman who can never seem to find her shirt and some kind of tiny moose-bear, and everybody wants this weird fruit. Or maybe treasure. Oh, and there are pirates! Whatever's actually happening in the anime, you can now relive your favorite stretchy-sword-bikini-fruity-pirate-moose moments in Namco Bandai's latest Android game, Thousand Storm.
Cynical One Piece fans might be expecting yet another licensed card game, as that seems to be the favored format for these kinds of tie-in titles.
Someone at Ubisoft really loves horses. Possibly to a creepy and/or illegal-in-most-jurisdictions degree. In 2014 the publisher released a mobile version of Howrse, a sort of horse-themed management/pirate math game. Then in 2015 they brought us Horse Haven Adventures, which may or may not be about a demonic princess riding the mythical Mares of Diomedes across a defeated and despoiled Earth. Now they're back with Horse Adventure: Tale of Estria, a third horse-themed game seemingly unconnected to the other two.
I kind of wish that Supercell, developers of the base-building IAPfests Clash of Clans and Boom Beach, would go into cartoons or movies. The 30-second commercial skits that they make to reel players into games are much more entertaining than the games themselves. But if wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak, so let's just take a look at the company's latest offering. Clash Royale is available worldwide today, after spending several months as a geo-limited beta.
Remember that one bit in Metal Gear Solid where the boss starts to mess with you, the player, and for a few minutes you wonder if A) the game is broken or B) you've actually gone insane trying to follow a Hideo Kojima plotline? GLTCH is that experience, boiled down to its essentials and turned into a mobile game.
The mechanics of the title are laughably simple: you travel around a TRON-inspired 2D grid grabbing points like a postmodern Pac-Man. Grab the blue stuff, avoid the red stuff - pretty basic. Powerups will let you clear the field, increase your speed, or go invincible.