BY MICHAEL BEVERLEY
Winter is coming and that means people will be indoors and have more free time to play games, but being a college student normally means a lack of $60 to shell out on a game all the time. On top of that it’s nearly Christmas, which means finances will be strained even more.
But the free to play revolution is upon us. In fact, there are so many free to play games out there it can be hard to sift through them all, but here are three games that are very much worth your time.
- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. “Hearthstone” is an online collectable card game, a la “Magic: the Gathering” developed by Blizzard Entertainment, in which the players collect cards and battle other players to rise in rank. The game has nine playable classes with different sets of cards that the player can use, and the game also has three different game modes, which adds a decent amount of variety to how it can be played. To win, each player takes turns playing monster and spell cards to try and reduce the opponent’s health from 30 to zero. The game offers an incredible amount of depth, with over 700 cards to collect. To get new cards you complete daily quests, such as winning a certain number of games, or playing a match online, which in turn grants the player gold that can be used to buy packs of cards. The only micro-transactions in this game are using real currency to buy new cards, or to enter certain game modes. However, you can use the in-game currency to buy these as well. “Hearthstone” is a PC game, but is also the only game on this list to have a mobile app for both Android and iOS, both of which work extremely well. PC requirements for this game are also very minimal; it can be played on almost any system.
- Heroes of the Storm. “Heroes of the Storm” is the newest game on this list. It was released in June of 2015, and is also developed by Blizzard Entertainment. “Heroes of the Storm” is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) in which two teams of five compete against each other to destroy the other team’s base. To do this each team starts at one end of the stage, and has to fight their way across whilst breaking through enemy defenses. Each player chooses from a pool of characters, all of which are one of four classes that decide what kind of role the player performs on the team, such as damage dealer or healer. Each character plays differently and has varying abilities, so the player will want to play around with different ones to see which clicks the best. Blizzard also releases new characters, and stages fairly often, the stages are free, but the characters are not. Each week Blizzard rotates out five different characters that you can play as for free, if the player wants to own the character so that they can play them whenever they want they will have to pay with either real money, or in game currency which you earn from winning matches or daily quests, just like in “Hearthstone.” “Heroes of the Storm” is also the most demanding game on this list in terms of PC requirements and while you can play it on most systems, you might have to play it on a lower graphics setting.
- Path of Exile. It’s hard to believe this one is free. Developed by Grinding Gear Games, and released in 2013, “Path of Exile” is a third person action RPG that borrows heavily from “Diablo.” Choosing from one of six playable classes, players embark on quests into dungeons to advance through the game. The dungeons can be played either single player, or with other players that met in in-game towns. As the player finish quests and kill monsters they are constantly rewarded with loot, so much loot that they will eventually have to pick and choose what they want to take back to a town with them. While the game borrows heavily from the “Diablo” series, “Path of Exile” does some things that are really quite unique. One being the games economy, the game does not reward the player with money for completing quests like in other RPGs, instead the game uses a bartering system in stores, instead of paying money, stores will want to be paid in items that you can find while the player is spelunking through dungeons. The game’s skill system is also extremely open; if you want to be a mage that can shoot a bow and arrow of you want to be a warrior that can shoot fireballs at enemies, the player can do that. This amount of variety ensures varying play styles among players. The amount of variety also encourages multiple play throughs, “Path of Exile” allows the player to make multiple characters, and the main three acts of the game can be completed in about twenty to thirty hours. Grinding Gear Games frequently releases new expansions to the game, which are also free, with the most recent adding a completely new fourth act to the game. “Path of Exile” does have micro-transactions, but they are all cosmetic. The most impressive thing about this game is that you can play through the whole thing without spending a dime. Grinding Gear Games stress that they want to make a completely free to play game with “ethical micro transactions.” If it was not for the big button on the bottom left of the screen that says “Store” the player would completely forget that this was a free to play game, which means it deserves your attention.