Namco Bandai’s senior vice-president for Europe, Oliver Comte, reckons that “Free to play games can’t be high quality”. Well, I disagree and I’m going to prove myself right by trawling the internet and recommending some great games that you can go away and play for free right now. Come back every Friday and I’ll have something here to help fritter away your afternoon.
To start with I’m taking the easy route and picking unquestionably the best game that is available for absolutely nothing: Team Fortress 2. Some people might think that’s cheating because Team Fortress 2 started out as full priced retail game but I don’t care. It was good value at launch and it’s extraordinary value for free, especially considering how far TF2 has come since it first rocket jumped onto Steam back in 2007. There have been an astonishing 274 updates applied since then introducing new maps, games modes, weapons, items and of course hats.
For the uninitiated Team Fortress 2 is a team based multiplayer shooter with nine distinct classes. Each class has their own specialised weapons and equipment to aid the team in different ways. The Medic can heal other players with his Proton Pack of hit points; the Engineer can place turrets, teleports or dispensers around the map; the Heavy is slow and cumbersome but can withstand a lot of abuse where as the Scout is nimble but comparatively flimsy; the Spy can disguise himself as an opponent and sneak behind enemy lines and the Pyro, Soldier, Sniper and Demoman all have their own unique ways of obliterating the other team.
Games are fast and frantic but you have to work together to achieve the objectives and win the rounds, points for individual players are awarded for contributions to the team rather than a straight up kill/death ratio so there’s really no incentive to run off and do your own thing. Like most Source engine game it looks fantastic and will run on pretty much anything. The stylised look has ensured Team Fortress looks as good now as it did on release and it fits perfectly with the cartoon antics of the game with rockets being used to juggle other players and Spies sneaking around with a cardboard mask for a disguise.
Online multiplayer doesn’t get much better than this and it will continue to be updated and improved for a long time to come. For free, you really can’t go wrong here. And if you’re not happy with that, or if you are already regularly pushing carts and uber charging with the rest of us, then come back next week and I’ll have something else to share.