The best free games on Steam

Best Free Steam Games - Path of Exile - A woman in front of a stormy sky and tower wields magic and sword
(Image credit: Grinding Gear Games)

Hunting out the best free Steam games to add to your list? Steam has you covered, with free games of all kinds, across all the genres. Even if the budget is tight and you can't swing a new game, you can swap some space on your drives for a new experience. There's a staggering number of free games on Steam, so we'll take you to the best picks to let your wallet relax and prepare for the next sale.

Best of the best

Elden Ring Knight looking at camera

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

2023 games: Upcoming releases
Best PC games: All-time favorites
Free PC games: Freebie fest
Best FPSes: Finest gunplay
Best MMOs: Massive worlds
Best RPGs: Grand adventures

There are free-to-play heavyweights in online games like Path Of Exile and Destiny 2 of course, but there are fertile fields of indie games to work with too. We've rounded up a list of the best games you can add to your Steam library entirely free. 

The free games section includes games the are totally free. You download the game and play it without any microtransactions or extra strings. There might be DLC available, but you can get the full core experience just by downloading the game free. Here's where you'll mostly find the short indie games and wacky experimental projects.

The free-to-play section contains games that are supported by in-game microtransactions. Here live the bigger games like Destiny 2 and EVE Online that, while free, will definitely attempt to shake a bit of cash from your pockets. We've considered the fairness of the in-game stores when selecting these games, and believe you can get a lot of fun out of them before you put in credit card details.

Best Free Steam Games

OpenTTD

Best Free Steam Games - An image from transport game OpenTTD of trains and a village

(Image credit: OpenTTD)

Link: Steam

OpenTTD is a rather old open source remake of an even older sim game and it's still excellent in its Steam release. It remains plenty popular among fans of transport and management sims and for good reason. Despite looking relatively simple, it has a pretty deep simulation, including things like acceleration and torque for trains going uphill. It's also easily moddable, meaning there are all sorts of delights to expand the simulation with.

Dinner With an Owl

Best Free Steam games - Dinner With An Owl - A man stands in an office next to an anthropomorphic owl character sitting at a desk who says "You look hungry, though!"

(Image credit: BoringSuburbanDad)

Link: Steam

This super surreal adventure game plops you in a mystery surrounding dinner with a large owl man. You'll have to talk with other guests to escape the spell of the mysterious dinner party and uncover the secrets of your host. This is a rather short game, but well worth the time for a strange and surprising story.

OnlyCans: Thirst Date

Best Free Steam Games - A soda can wearing a bow and a heart necklace

(Image credit: OnlyCans Team)

Link: Steam

OnlyCans is, as you might have guessed, a play on the site OnlyFans. This is totally safe for work though. Well, technically. They're very sexy soda cans. You'll become a master photographer of the sleekest cans in town in their cutest outfits. Oh, and uncover the history of the Shize company while you're at it. It's a sort of dating sim and rhythm game where you snap photos and spray soda foam at the right moment to score combos.

Doki Doki Literature Club!

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

It may look like a cheerful classroom drama but don't be fooled, Doki Doki Literature Club! plays with that facade (opens in new tab). Sedate chats with classmates create a languid impression for the first act or so, but dark twists await—there's a reason the game opens with a content warning. If you end up enjoying it then you might also like Pony Island and Undertale. 

A Raven Monologue

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

A beautifully drawn experimental short story about a mute raven trying to interact with his townsfolk. The project is described as an attempt "to tell stories or to communicate an experience using a constrained work of interactive art." It's quick, simple to play, and full of room for interpretation.

Cry of Fear

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

A quality Half-Life total conversion that's full of scares. The game twists the old GoldSrc engine to give you an inventory system and a big, dark city to explore. Prepare yourself for relentless tension across eight hours of exploration and combat with 24 different weapons. The download also includes a bunch of custom campaigns and an unlockable extra campaign once you beat the main story. That's good value for a free download.

The Supper

Best Free Steam games - The Supper - A shark character talks about a plate and flatware to three other characters.

(Image credit: Octavi Navarro)

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

The supper plays like a classic adventure game, puzzles and all, but is basically a creepy short story. You're an old lady running an inn that's known for its "special sauce." It's a short and neat (but maybe not sweet) thing about serving up your evil stew to a few travelers. 

House of Abandon

Steam: Link (opens in new tab)

This experiment eventually became the excellent short story compilation Stories Untold. You can still download it to your library by heading to the page linked above and clicking 'Download PC Demo'. The first part follows someone playing a text adventure as things start to get strange, and quite scary.

Off-Peak

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

It's the future, you're stuck in a train station, and everything is weird. Chat with the station's odd inhabitants and explore its twisted side passages to discover surreal little anecdotes and piece together meaning from the assembled scraps. It only takes about half an hour to complete and the music is sweet, so give it a download.

The Expendabros

Best Free Steam games - The Expendabros - A name card for Bro Christmas

(Image credit: Devolver Digital, Free Lives)

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

Movie tie-ins and spin-offs are almost always rubbish, but adding ludicrous action film The Expendables to ludicrous action shooter Broforce was a stroke of genius. The free DLC is an example of how to do a marketing tie-in that doesn't feel cynical or clumsily tacked-on. The beefcake stars of The Expendables feel right at home in the excellent run-and-gun action game.

Deltarune

Best Free Steam Games - Deltarune Chapter 2 - Two characters are noticed by a third in purple grass

(Image credit: Toby Fox)

Link: Steam 

The quasi-sequel to Undertale has both of its first two chapters available completely free to grab. An episodic RPG with creative battle mechanics that see you dodging enemy bullets in real time, it has new characters, as well as the return of favorites from Undertale like Sans and Toriel. Future chapters will release eventually, and are supposed to be paid, but you can enjoy the first two for free now.

Best Free-to-Play Steam Games

Babble Royale

Babble Royale board with tiles fighting

(Image credit: Everybody House Games)

Link: Steam 

Deep in the the battle-ravaged jungles of a nameless place, a madman has gathered sixteen hand-picked wordsmiths. Armed only with their naked brains and lettered wooden tiles, they will fight to the death until only one remains. 

Multiplayer battle royale Scrabble seems like mad libs, but in reality Babble Royale is a devilishly clever combination of word game and survival where you 'live' in your most recently spelled word, and eliminate others by spelling a new word into the word they're currently in. Avoid the deadly toxic gas closing in and kill someone by spelling BANANA, how can you not love it?

Destiny 2

Best Free Steam games - Destiny 2 - Three Destiny 2 characters run together

(Image credit: Bungie)

Link: Steam (opens in new tab) 

Bungie's multiplayer space shooter is free to play these days which means you can hop into a fireteam for free. It's got all the good gunplay you know Bungie for and regular content updates and new modes to keep you busy. If you're looking to get started for the first time, we've got a Destiny 2 beginners guide, and a refresher on what's going on right now can be found in the Destiny 2 roadmap.

Card Hunter

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

Card Hunter is a cute squad RPG based around digital collectible cards. You battle through dungeons under the guidance of a dungeon master, levelling up your squad of heroes, building your deck and enjoying some affectionate tongue in cheek digs at D&D along the way. There's loads to play before you ever see a payment screen and there are also co-op and competitive modes. If only more free-to-play games were like this.

Dota 2

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

Dota 2 is one of the biggest games on Steam. Described simply, two teams of five wizards battle to knock over towers and flatten the enemy base in battles that tend to last between 30 minutes and an hour. In practice it's one of the deepest and most complicated competitive games in the world. Every year the huge International tournament draws millions of viewers, and with 110+ heroes and a consistently shifting meta, this could be the only game you ever need in your Steam library.

The free-to-play implementation is mostly good. Most microtransactions are tied to cosmetics. In addition to individual item purchases you can also buy battle passes that grant access to modes, quests that you complete by playing games, and more cosmetic items.

Warframe

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

This third person action RPG about futuristic ninjas can be completely baffling for new players, but if you persist with it you'll find a deep and rewarding game on the verge of some of its most ambitious updates to date. At launch it was a game about repeating short missions—and that's still part of it—but there are also open world zones and plans to add co-op space combat. Warframe has been getting better and better in the last few years, and now we reckon it's one of the top free to play games on PC (opens in new tab)

You can spend real money to speed up crafting time, and to buy items and frames outright. Everything is perfectly craftable using in-game currency however, and players seem more interested in using the real-money Platinum currency to unlock new colour schemes.

Team Fortress 2

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

This team shooter has been around since 2007, but the character designs are timeless and the class design is still magnificent. Few shooters can point to a class as innovative as The Spy, who can disguise himself as an opposing team to sabotage their gadgets and stab their heavies in the back. If you prefer long-range engagements, the sniper has you covered, or you can ambush enemies up close with the Pyro. Whatever your play style, there's a class to match, and with enough play you will be switching between classes frequently to help your team push the cart or take a tricky point.

Path of Exile

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

Path of Exile is one of the deepest action RPGs on the market, and one of the most generous for being free-to-play. The basic structure ought to be familiar: pick a class and embark on Diablo-style killing sprees to earn loot and level up. There's a huge amount of class and item customisation to dig into as you start to move past the tutorial stages. Slot different patterns of gems into your armour sets to min-max your character and take them into even tougher dungeons. You only need to pay money for cosmetics that reskin your weapons and armour

EVE Online

Link: EVE Online (opens in new tab)

This space MMO is famous for producing incredible stories of war and betrayal. Its player-driven corporations are fraught political entities that can be very inaccessible to new players. Even if you don't persist long enough to break into the grand PvP game it's still a gorgeous universe full of beautiful spaceships and nebulae. Some ships and skills are locked off in the free-to-play version, but you can spend a huge amount of time in the game before you need to look at paying for premium access.

Star Trek Online

Link: Steam (opens in new tab)

Fly ships, gather a crew, and beam down to planets with an away team in this massive free-to-play MMO. It has aged quite a bit since launch and it's riddled with microtransactions, but you can still play through the story and see every side of the game without paying. If you do get drawn in to collecting high end ships and decking out your crew with signature Star Trek livery then expect to pay for it. You can grind for items using in-game currency, but for advance items that will take longer than seems reasonable. If you're looking for a free Star Trek experience, however, it's surprisingly fun.

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.