By Grant Brunner on June 25, 2015
Free and free-to-play games have been popular on the PC for years now, but it wasn’t until recently that the console makers had any interest at all in that business model. But now that the PS4 and Xbox One are little more than specialized gaming PCs, we’re starting to see an influx of ports. And as such, I wanted to see exactly how these games stand up.
To get started, I logged into PSN, and downloaded all of the free games currently on offer. After a few dozen gigs trickled slowly into my PS4, I was ready to go. I explored each of the games to get a feel for the value proposition, and quickly found that some titles are much better than others. However, there’s a decent amount of variety here, so you’ll most certainly find something to enjoy.
AirMech ArenaAirMech Arena, at its core, is a frantic implementation of the real-time strategy formula. It’s never going to live up to the insane amounts of polish and multiplayer balance that Blizzard achieved with the StarCraft franchise, but it’s an enjoyable and accessible take on the RTS format nonetheless.
What about the cash shop, though? You can spend up to $150 in a single purchase, but that’s an absolutely ridiculous option. Unless you’re an independently wealthy RTS fanatic, there’s no reason to spend that much on this game. The $10 starter pack, however, seems like a pretty reasonable package. If the game gets its hooks into you, dropping ten or twenty bucks to outfit yourself with some new gear seems much more acceptable.
While Hustle Kings started its life as a standard release on the PS3 and Vita, the PS4 release is free-to-play. You get access to a single-player career mode, one-on-one online matches, and online tournaments from the get go, but you need to wager in-game currency to play against real people. It’s aesthetically appealing, easy to control, and a pretty solid representation of playing real pool.
You can earn currency by performing well in the game, but you can spend between $1.49 and $20 at a time to stock up on credits. Additionally, you can drop $5 for the 8-Ball Exhibition Pack, and play a laid back game of 8-Ball with a friend.
Invokers TournamentIn a way, this game is a mix between Diablo and DotA. While it’s pitched as a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), the moment-to-moment gameplay feels a lot like the consolized gameplay from Torchlight or Diablo III. It definitely doesn’t have the same level of complexity as League of Legends or Dota 2, but that’s fine by me. If you’re curious about the genre, but hesitant to jump into the deep end, this is a solid “my first MOBA.”
As for the real money options, you have three ways to spend: costumes, subscriptions, and in-game currency. Costumes cost between $1 and $8, $10 will get you a six month subscription, and you can blow up to $15 a shot on currency. None of this is necessary, though. The cash purchases mostly just facilitate convenience and customization.
Planetside 2Described as a massively multiplayer online first person shooter, Planetside 2 has been beloved on the PC since its launch in 2012. And after a long wait, console gamers finally have an opportunity to join in as well. While the gameplay and goals of Planetside 2 are about as straightforward as you get, the draw here is the scale. Thousands of players can meet in the same world, split into three factions, and fight to control the most territory.
You can spend anywhere from $5 to $85 at a time on in-game currency and item packs, but the team at Daybreak have done well keeping the game balanced between free and paying members. If you’re just here to have fun, there’s absolutely no need to spend a dime.