There’s a common misconception that gaming has to be a prohibitively expensive hobby. While it’s certainly true that gaming PC components and even modern consoles can cost a pretty penny, the same can’t be said for the games themselves. There’s a push within the industry right now towards cheaper or even completely free experiences with triple-A production values, so even if you don’t want to spend any money on your games, you’re not missing out. If you’re lucky enough to own a PS5, you might well want to be a bit more restrained with your wallet for the next few weeks, so here are the best free PS5 games you can play right now.
It’s been a while since a console came with a free pack-in bundle game, but that’s exactly what Astro’s Playroom is. However, lest you think this is nothing more than a glorified tech demo, think again. It’s a fully-featured 3D platformer, and while it’s a little on the short side, it packs in enough fresh ideas and innovative gameplay styles to hold your attention for the ride. It’s also a glorious, nostalgic celebration of everything PlayStation, as well as an impressive tech demo for what the new DualSense controller can do.
Chinese developer miHoYo’s open-world adventure owes more than a little to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Genshin Impact does distinguish itself in a number of areas; its combat is more complex, it has gacha mechanics by which you unlock more characters and elemental combos, and its systems are generally more in-depth than those of Nintendo’s masterpiece. It’s a rollicking thrill ride through an achingly gorgeous, living world, and there’s plenty to do and see before the game even starts asking you (politely and unobtrusively) to spend real money.
Fortnite may not be the game that started it all, but it has codified an entire genre for both gamers and agnostics alike. If you aren’t yet familiar with battle royale games, in which a huge number of players are dropped into an equally massive map and the last player standing is the winner, then you may well want to start with Fortnite. Though it has building and crafting mechanics that set it apart from its competitors, it is effectively the battle royale experience distilled, which may be why it enjoys such a massive player count.
You’ll have to cough up cash if you want to continue the Destiny 2 story beyond a certain point, but a surprising amount of the base game is completely free to check out. Destiny 2 sharpens up the writing of its somewhat dour predecessor, leading to a wittier, sparkier experience that has lost none of the weighty shooting that made the first game such a joy. There are no wizards from the moon to be found here; what you’re getting is a tight, well-crafted MMOFPS with plenty of gear to collect and challenges to take on alongside your friends.
Warframe is a profoundly strange experience. Its rapid-fire delivery of its bizarre lore and world-building can be baffling, it has occasionally repetitive, grindy gameplay, and it can seem somewhat predatory in terms of its free-to-play systems. However, you get to flip about and toss shurikens like a ninja, so it gets a pass in our books. In all seriousness, Warframe’s gameplay mechanics are incredibly polished and well-crafted, and its combat is varied and compelling, too. If you love ninjas and you want a storytelling experience akin to Halo on psychotropic drugs, Warframe is your game.
Hey, do you love Super Smash Bros? Sure, who doesn’t? Well, do you wish you could play a game that’s very similar to Super Smash Bros, but on your PlayStation and with a rotating cast of colourful fighters, many of whom you may recognise from other franchises? In that case, Brawlhalla will fulfil your weirdly specific fantasy. This chaotic fighting game regularly features characters from other games and properties, giving them all unique, distinct movesets and letting you try them out on a rotating basis each week. It’s great fun, although its intricacies can sometimes get lost in the noise.
Rocket League resisted the free-to-play model for a long time, and that’s surprising, because the bite-sized matches and raft of unlockable cosmetics seem to suit the business model down to the beautifully-rendered ground. At its core, Rocket League is a game about physics; it’s football with cars, yes, but it’s just as much about how you can manipulate your vehicle to pull off some seriously impressive trickshots as it is about winning or losing. If you don’t want to build up the skill required to truly excel at Rocket League, it can also be a hilarious mess, with cars rocketing into one another and utterly failing to achieve anything meaningful over the course of a game.
“MOBAs on consoles can’t be done,” said the naysayers. Smite proved them wrong. Featuring a cast ripped straight from all of the mythological pantheons you can think of, Smite finally allows you to settle the age-old “who would win in a fight between” question. Each god has their own strengths and weaknesses, and just as in any other MOBA, building a team of complementary gods and exploiting their strengths is crucial if you want to achieve victory. Like many of the other games on this list, Smite is very generous with its content, too.