If you’re finding yourself at home a lot recently, then you’re not alone. Now that we’re approaching our first weekend in lockdown, finding enough to keep you busy from Friday to Sunday could prove tricky. Although now might be a good time to make a dent in your backlog, it’s also as good a time as any to try out something new – and what better way to do that than with a host of free games?
A bunch of developers have come forward and made their games free-to-play for those of us stuck inside, while a number of others just happen to be going ultra-cheap right now. So if you’re in need of something to break up the tedium without putting as much as a dent in your wallet, look no further.
Kerbal Space Program
If you prefer rocket science to epidemiology, then Kerbal Space Program is a pretty decent place to start. The unparalleled astrophysics simulator is free to play on Steam this weekend, and if you’re a fan, you can pick it up for keepsies at a steep discount until March 31. [Grab it here]
If you’re a fan of the close-quarters, high-stakes combat offered by the likes of CS:GO, Insurgency: Sandstorm offers a slightly more up-to-date experience, and is free until next week. [Grab it here]
World War Z, Figment, and Tormentor X Punisher
The money-printing machine that is Fortnite offers Epic the opportunity to be pretty generous with its giveaways. The PC storefront has been giving titles away almost since its inception, and this week’s offerings are even more philanthropic than normal. Late addition to the current line-up World War Z is arguably the highlight – not only is it one of Epic’s biggest exclusives, but it’s also practice for both surviving the coming apocalypse AND practising impeccable social distancing. There’s also pretty action-adventure game Figment, which looks like an even more whimsical take on Bastion, and the somewhat faster-paced Tormentor X Punisher. [Grab them here]
Castle Crashers, Pit People, and Battleblock Theatre
Indie team The Behemoth has made its entire catalogue available for free on Steam all week. All three titles are solid choices if you fancy some co-op action, each of them teeming with personality. If you like what you see, they’ll be free to play until April 1, with decent discounts on each one if you want to keep them. [Grab Castle Crashers, Pit People, and Battleblock Theatre].
Between Two Castles and Project Mercury
The Steam Game Festival might have drawn to an end, but Valve is still prepared to hand out a few freebies. Following a similar vein as the Epic Games Store, Steam is currently giving away co-op build ’em up Between Two Castles and retro action-adventure Project Mercury until March 30 and April 8, respectively. [Grab them here and here].
GOG – Stay at Home and Play Some Games
GOG’s trying to keep people indoors by offering 27 games for free until March 30, all of which are yours forever. There are some classics in there (including Beneath a Steel Sky), but a few newer titles too – although I see you sneaking Gwent in there, GOG, I see you… [Grab them here]
OK, so this isn’t exactly the best time for party games, but there’s nothing a bit of teleconferencing software can’t solve. Jackbox games can easily be played on phones, and only one person has to own them to kick things off, so (remotely) grab some friends, crack open a cold one, and get drawing. [Grab it here]
Lord of the Rings Online and D&D Online
All of the content, including DLC, for Standing Stone’s MMO titles has been made free to everyone until April 30. On top of the drop in price, there’ll also be extra events on the calendar. So if you ever wanted to get stuck into an MMO but felt you didn’t have the time, now could be your moment. [Play LotR Online here and D&D Online here]
Unity Learn Premium
Game engine provider Unity is giving away access to Unity Learn Premium, a collection of tools designed to teach you how to make your own games, away for free for three months. Courses include expertise on everything from graphics and light to monetisation and VR. I’m not about to tell you that you can use all this free time to make something worthwhile, but if you’re interested in learning to make a game, this is a very good place to start. [Grab it here].
This is a decent starting place, but it’s far from an exhaustive list. There are, of course, a whole heap of excellent free-to-play titles like Fortnite, League of Legends, and CS:GO out there to try. Indie storefront itch.io is always a good place to try out new experiences, many of which are available on a ‘pay what you want’ system.
And while not technically free, subscription services like Apple Arcade, Xbox Games Pass, and Twitch Prime are all good ways to pick up a host of titles at the same time, and many offer steep discounts on the first few weeks of membership.