The rise of phone gaming has brought with it one nasty side effect: free to play (F2P) games. The games are free yet they represent the biggest cash cows of the industry. The secret is locking away content and sticking the key behind daily grinds or purchases made with real money. While we had a few on Xbox 360, F2Ps on Xbox One have really started to gather steam. All kinds of genres are represented, from Clash of Clans-style strategy games like Battle Ages
to MMOs like Neverwinter
and we've even got our very own MOBA in SMITE
New titles are coming all the time with the most recent being what one community member affectionately called "ghetto Titanfall
). Now I'll make no comment on whether or not that statement is true as I haven't played the game, but he hadn't either. I bring it up because the comment represents the general attitude of gamers - that F2P games are always low quality with gimmicky gameplay designed to punish you for not spending a lot of money. I'll admit that many, probably even most, F2P games meet this exact description, but not all of them. So today's TA Top Five is dedicated to those F2P games that rise above the filth. Those that are worthy of our time and that we should hope make their way to Xbox One.
League of Legends
This is probably the most famous and popular non-mobile game in the world. The PC title has millions upon millions of fans who spend hours dedicating their time and money to the game on a daily basis. The game is so successful that it thrust an obscure genre, the MOBA, into the limelight and spawned countless copy-cats. While free to play, the game makes its money by offering new champions and skins for sale. This could have been disastrous, but thanks to a constantly rotating selection of free champions and the ability to unlock them at a reasonable rate simply by playing the game, one never feels like they need to spend money.
So a game this good should have made the top of the list. Why didn't it? I am not sure the game would port well to the Xbox One. It's a traditional MOBA which means it controls like an RTS. With its fast pace, it seems the game would need to control more like a hack and slash, which would seriously the disturb the balance of the game. Microsoft has made mention of it a few times recently - so they might have have something in the works - but for now, this game gets an honorable mention for being the most successful F2P game that actually respects its players.
Planetside 2 is an interesting FPS where players play in an open world as one of three factions. The hook of the gameplay is the massive battles that make Battlefield
feel small-time. A player doesn't play on a team - they play in a true army. With dozens of weapons and vehicles to choose from, any player can find what they're comfortable with and be an asset to their army. The game has been available on PS4 for a while now and was originally exclusive because Sony owned the developer Daybreak Game Company
, but the developer recently split and has already released one title for Xbox One, DC Universe Online
, so it's not outrageous to hold out hope for a release of Planetside 2
Tera Just one of many fearsome foes you'll need to take down.
is a traditional fantasy MMO with a free-form combat that doesn't require targeting. It's more of an action game played in the shell of an MMO. Unlike its closest competition Neverwinter
's combat truly is action-based. Players will need to dodge and jockey for position. Moving targets require proper aim and skillful combo attacks are rewarded with bonus damage. It's the kind of combat we're used to in an action game, but with the added benefit of being in a F2P MMO. Because of this, Tera
is in a somewhat unique position of being very accessible to consoles - it even has controller support so it certainly would work.
is a third-person shooter MOBA that is currently in paid-access alpha. It's the newest title from Epic Games, who broke away from Microsoft so that they could focus on something other than Gears of War
. MOBAs are something of a unicorn on console. Yes, we have SMITE
, but as discussed above many of the staples of the genre simply don't work. Epic has a background in both console and PC, so they hope to be the developer that can develop a MOBA to suit the needs of both ecosystems. So far, the game is really quite good with the right amount of depth while still being accessible.
The game is currently available on both PC and PS4. The original reason for the absence of an Xbox One version was a need for cross-platform play. With Microsoft's recent change of heart on that subject, it seems there's no reason at all we shouldn't see this one making its way over to Xbox One.
3. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic A classic tale of Jedi fighting against the Sith.
is Bioware's take on an MMO. It's fairly typical on its face - there are tanks, healers and damage dealers and two factions. Gameplay revolves around questing to level up with some dungeons and PVP. The end game centers on raids and organized PVP. The gameplay is clearly designed for PC and would take a major rework to get onto consoles, but it would absolutely be worth it. Why? Because this is as close to a sequel to Knights of the Old Republic
as we will ever get.
It's a Bioware game, and that means there is a focus on the story. In addition to an overarching story, every zone has its own story you can experience. You'll make moral decisions that will affect the game world and story as you experience it, despite being an MMO. It's really quite a neat experience, and even when playing solo it's extremely enjoyable simply to ride the story from zone to zone. The best part is that you can get that full story experience completely free with really no incentive to spend money. It's a Bioware game at its heart, and it's worth coming to console for that fact alone.
2. Path of Exile
Path of Exile
is essentially a hardcore version of Diablo 3
. When Diablo 3
released, many of the core fans were outraged at how simple the game was after the deep gameplay of Diablo 2
. Path of Exile
used this moment to slip through and gather its own fan base. While Diablo
on console is simple and easy to understand, Path of Exile
is a complicated behemoth. The passive skill tree boasts 1325 different skills you can select to improve your character, forming quite an impressive web. This incredible depth is the game's primary hook.Diablo
showed us that this type of dungeon crawler does indeed work on console. Path of Exile could likewise work. Some of the abilities might need to be slightly modified, but the only challenge in porting it over to us would seem to be the intense management aspects of the game, from the skill tree to even the inventory. It would be no easy port, but in the end we'd end up with what is certainly one of the best games available at any price, and we'd get it for free. I wouldn't get your hopes up though - the developers have stated time and again that they will never make a console port, so this may simply have to live on in your dreams.
It's Warcraft, except with cards.
Some of you probably saw this coming from a mile away. Hearthstone
is Blizzard's F2P card game with a Warcraft theme. At its core, the game is simple - you pick creature and spell cards and put them in a deck. You then play against other people to see who's deck is better. It's the kind of thing Wizards of the Coast has been doing with Magic Duels
for the past year. Magic: the Gathering
is a popular tabletop card game but the digital version has missed that mark for a variety of reasons worthy of their own article alone. Let's just say Hearthstone
wouldn't have these issues.
Blizzard has always been a company that prides itself on competitive balance and Hearthstone
is no different. At any given time there are dozens of viable decks even at top level play. This means you can pick decks that fit your playstyle and you'll have a chance if you have the skills. Being a digital only has another advantage as well: Hearthstone
isn't shackled by another medium. If cards end up being better than expected, Blizzard can modify them to make them more balanced. As for the free to play aspects, the game makes it very easy for you to pick it up and start building a competitive collection quickly. They also offer other game modes that give players all the cards they need to make their deck, so what you have in your collection plays no part at all. It's that kind of respect for the player that makes Hearthstone
a very good F2P game.
Perhaps most importantly to us, the game would transfer very well to Xbox One. It's a turn-based card game. Plus the games are quick so it'd be a great game to pick up and play while you wait for a friend to get on. With Microsoft's recent announcement that they will allow cross-play with other devices, we may just see it on the horizon.