My Relaxation Time
Although I love studying data science, trading in financial markets and writing a lot of content, sometimes I need to step away from the grind and zone-out on some video games to reset my brain. New games come out all the time, and the costs can add up fast so it is important to know what free-to-play (f2p)games are worth playing. These are the three f2p games that I’ve been playing the most during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Path of Exile
Path of Exile is truly an online free-to-play masterpiece. It is available on PC and Consoles, but no cross-play. It is an action role-play game (arpg), and it has received some incredible accolades over the years:
It has overwhelming depth for character development, an extremely dedicated and responsive community and development team, and a cut-throat item-based economy in which nearly every item you find can be traded. I have been playing the game since 2013 and accumulated thousands of hours in play time. I’m willing to say it has high repeatability!
Beyond being f2p, the best part about Path of Exile is the level of dedication and care its developers put into their game. Although they have some pretty huge investors at this point, Grinding Gear Games, the developers of Path of Exile, started as a small team with the goal to design an arpg that could be played forever. To keep things feeling new, every few months they release new content as leagues before adding the features to the core game. That way the players get a fresh economy and a different experience while getting to test new skills and fight against new bosses. Additionally, Path of Exile 2 is on the horizon!
You begin by selecting your character and have several different class options from which to pick; my favorite is the Witch. Items are not restricted to any class, but do have requirements your character will need to meet. Each character class has their own starting point on the massive passive skill-tree. Every time your character levels up by killing monsters, you earn a point that you add to your passive skill-tree to become more powerful and use better items.
As the player, you control the character from an overhead perspective and explore randomly generated dungeons and outdoor areas battling monsters, running quests and finding gear. Although their is a steep learning curve, the community has tons of guides to help new players get through the game and design a powerful character.
Nothing to Lose!
If you are looking for an escape in which you can sink unlimited time, check out Path of Exile. The fact it is completely free to play with practically zero pay-to-win features is really incredible. I say practically because you can purchase premium space for your stash that makes trading gear much simpler.
Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone is a fast-paced battle-royale first person shooter (fps). Although it is technically part of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, it is 100% free-to-play. It is available on PC and consoles and the game features cross-platform play making it easy to team up with buddies regardless of your systems. Cross-platform progression is possible too!
As a battle-royale style game, CoD: Warzone allows online multiplayer combat of up to 150 players on a map! The maps are huge, but there are vehicles like 4-wheeler, cars and helicopters scattered throughout, making it easy to travel around. I enjoy the steady action and repeatability of the game. In free, content updates over time, Solos, Duos and Quads have all been added to the game.. That means whether you want to team up with people or not, you have plenty of options for your mood!
The main game mode, Battle Royale, you take on the role of a combatant dropped into a war zone and have to find weapons and gear to be the last-person/team-standing. If you die, you have an opportunity to re-enter the battle if you can best another person in a 1 on 1 firefight.
Beyond the Battle Royal, there is another mode in which you roam the map finding money and completing bounties in order to collect more cash than your opponents. You get to use your load-outs, and you re-spawn if you die, so the action is much faster paced than the battle-royale mode.
Give it a Try!
If you’re interested in first person shooters, I highly recommend trying CoD: Warzone. As you progress through the game, you unlock new weapons and weapon parts giving you a greater edge over the competition and adding some depth through customization.
Magic: The Gathering Arena
With its roots as a collectible card game, long history and expensive physical products, Magic: The Gathering (MTG) and Free-to-Play, typically do not go hand-in-hand! That all changed with the release of MTG Arena in 2019. It is available on PC and Mac.
Although you can certainly buy the digital cards like you can the real thing, MTG Arena lets you unlock packs, cards and in-game currency through playing and completing daily challenges.
I Go Way Back
I played my first game of Magic: The Gathering when I was in 3rd grade in the mid 90’s. I have a long history with the game and am thrilled that MTG Arena is free to play so I don’t have to re-buy the same card I already own in real life. I can simply play enough to earn the cards I want for my deck! There is no trading like in real life, but you can craft the cards you need if you’ve earned “crafting cards.”
If you do want to pay-to-play, MTG Arena makes it easy to buy digital packs and bonuses to enhance the play experience and enable you to be more competitive with top players. Like the real thing, the costs add up fast if you start paying! I simply like the strategy, so I stick to Booster Drafts that I pay for with in-game currency earned through unranked/casual play!
Although the interactions between the cards can become complex quickly, the core of the game is easy to understand. MTG Arena follows the same rules as the physical card game, in which players use decks of cards that include resource cards (land/mana) and play cards (spells). The play cards consume resources in order to summon creatures, cast offensive and defensive spells, and/or activate effects and abilities. You select a deck and battle other players with the goal of reducing the opponent’s life-total to zero before they reduce yours.
Experience the Fun!
New sets are released in MTG Arena the same time the new physical set is released, so every few months is a fresh experience. Give MTG Arena a try if you enjoy card games. Especially since most Local Gaming Stores (LGS) are closed due to COVID, I’m happy MTG Arena is free to play and can quell my craving for MTG once in a while.
If you’re stuck inside and bored, check out one of these f2p games. They all have fantastic depth that can eat up hours of time. Each has a massive following and community to help you learn the game and evolve your strategies. Most importantly, they give you a bit of interaction during a time in which it is easy to feel isolated. As long as you stick to free-to-play games, you have hours of entertainment at your finger-tips without impacting your wallet!