10 Best Free Online Games

10 Best Free Online Games

The summer months are ideal for fresh air and exercise, but sometimes outdoor activities are rendered downright unpleasant by that relentless, pulsating ball of nuclear fire in the sky. If you need a break from Mr. Sun, consider slipping into an air-conditioned basement to chip away at some video games.

What’s that? You’re saving your money for ice cream? Well, here are ten of the best free games and free-to-play games available online, inclufing free online games in multiple genres.

Note that these online games are indeed free-to-play, but most offer additional content or “premium accounts” through microtransactions. Some also require a file install.

League of Legends (Real-Time Strategy Game) — League of Legends is a real-time strategy game (RTS) that commands a hefty and dedicated following. Newcomers might feel overwhelmed at first, but it’s worth sticking around and learning the ropes: There is a definite primal thrill when your team works together to crush the opposing tribe’s defensive Turrets before finally reaching and flattening their Nexus. League of Legends also features multiple gameplay modes and matches players according to their skill level, so if you do stick around long enough to get good, take heed: There will always be someone waiting in the shadows to school you.

Dungeons & Dragons Online (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG) — Now you can attack the darkness for free, and online. Dungeons & Dragons Online began life as a subscriber-based massively multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG), but became free-to-play in 2009. All your favorite classes are here: the Fighter, the Paladin, the Cleric, the Rogue, the Bard (okay, nobody likes the Bard), and more. You can engage in real-time battles with a plethora of classic D&D monsters. Just add wood paneling to your basement to achieve that special nostalgic decor. Optional: Cheetos, Mountain Dew.

Ragnarok Online (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG) — An oldie, to be sure, but still a goodie. Ragnarok Online now features select free-to-play servers, so you and your bad self can travel across the colorful land of Midgard, wail on cute slime-creatures, blossom in levels, and simply exist within some of the prettiest sprite artwork to ever exist in a game–all for the low, low price of zero dollars.

Need for Speed World (Online Racing Game) — Do not race illegally or perform risky driving moves in real life. It’s just not a good idea. However, feel free to drive like a clown on various drugs while playing Need for Speed World, on online racing role-playing game that lets you cruise around with friends, customize your cars, and flip off cops (don’t do this in real life, either).

Team Fortress 2 (Team-Based Shooter) — Valve’s Team Fortress 2 is one of the funniest, most well-developed team-based shooter games to exist, ever. And now that it’s free-to-play, you have no excuse for not picking it up and going to town.

Tales Runner (Online Racing Game) — Tales Runner is another online multiplayer racing game, but its core concept is based more on gigantic races than, say, Need for Speed World. Its adorable manga-style graphics are also seemingly made of gumdrops and candy-canes, so if you need a sugar-coated alternative to the grittier world of Need for Speed, this is it.

Neptune’s Pride (Real-Time Strategy Game) — Matthew Gallant of The Quixotic Engineer describes Neptune’s Pride as “a browser-based multiplayer strategy game that falls somewhere between Galactic Civilizations and Risk.” That pretty much sums up Neptune’s Pride, which moves at a slower, more thoughtful pace than most online strategy titles–though don’t think for a second that this galaxy-conquering game is laid-back and easygoing. It is, however, ideal for players who don’t want to mind a real-time game for hours on end.

Moonbase Alpha (Simulation) — Moonbase Alpha is a free simulation game from NASA that emulates life on a lunar base–so don’t take off your space helmet on your front lawn. The main game revolves around a repair mission that must be conducted (solo or in a team) after a meteor strike. Make sure you use the game’s text-to-speech option responsibly.

Quake Live (Online Shooter) — Rocket back into the ’90s with Quake Live. The classic shooter from id Software is now multiplayer, and free-to-play. Best of all, the software is so aged (but still awesome) that the game runs like a dream on your cruddiest computer outside of that 386 that’s dying slowly at the bottom of your closet.

Lord of the Rings Online (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG) — If dragons and dungeons aren’t your style, why not hang out with some hobbits? Lord of the Rings Online is a free-to-play MMORPG that may not be particularly inventive, but remains a must-play for Tolkien fans thanks to its familiar lands and faces, all illustrated with beautiful graphics. The game is also packed full of content, including quests and free gifts. Just don’t tease Shadowfax.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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