If you're a big gamer, chances are the games that you grew up on hold a special place in your heart. But did you know that a ton of them are available for free these days? It's true! The Tom's Guide team has put together a list of the best free classic games. Check out '15 Best Classic PC Games Gone Free' and see if your favorite is on the list.
While there are numerous big-budget AAA gaming titles out there vying for the discerning gamer's time and money, there are also numerous classic games that can be played for free. Whether it's older titles that have been cut loose by their owners (or released as freeware for the promotion of newer games), landmark games that have been released to the wild by benevolent publishers, or video games transitioned to a new monetization model, these are the best classics that have gone free.15 Best Classic PC Games Gone Free
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Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun
Quest for Glory 2
Ultima 4: Quest for the Avatar
Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall
World of Warcraft
The Ur-Quan Masters
The Marathon Trilogy
Crap, crap, crap, and more crap. There, I just saved 3 minutes of your time.
If you want a REALLY good free to play game, look at some more recent indie games, such as Path of Exile.
Most of these titles are worth a playthrough. QfG2, Daggerfall, UQM in particular.
Surprised to see Everquest is still kicking. Nothing against it but I hadn't seen it mentioned much for the last decade until recently. Impressive lifespan though, sort of reminds me of the OLD Neverwinter Nights (the Gold Box MMORPG) in that way.
Also Hidden and Dangerous (the first one) went free ages ago and was pretty fun after you got past the learning curve.
I sort of think the "graphics > gameplay" argument is a hollow one. It's sort of like saying you can't watch Casablanca or the Leslie Howard version of the Scarlett Pimpernel because they are in black and white.
While some of these games are not that old (TF2 for example) and thus have no problem finding an audience even from a modern-only crowd, even with 320x240 resolution and 256 colors many of these titles have stood the test of time very nicely. Star Control 2, which I've mentioned a few times here, is an outstanding sandbox title even until this day, as is Daggerfall and (less with a narrower focus but still sandboxy) Quest 2. Any of those three titles easily offer more game time (and more *satisfying* game time) than most major studio releases today. Flashy lights are nice but only 40 hours to complete a title, at a charge of $50-60?
There's a large contingent of gamers who are increasingly less concerned about looks and more about playable time. Look at Minecraft, a megahit by any standard with 12 million purchases. And yet the graphics are in the Quake 1-2 era (mid 90s). That doesn't seem to bother anyone. Of course since it generates a world up to 1/3 the size of Earth, it still manages to tax even some Core 2 and later systems.
But there are other games would comfortably fit into this group of older titles that (while not free) are recent releases with similarly "poor" graphics, such as FTL, Shadowrun Returns, McPixel, Gunpoint, etc.. All well received releases and yet they have graphic fidelities ranging from those seen in the early 90s (Pixel) to the early 2000s (SR Returns).
So long as graphics do not render a game utterly unplayable (like the old strategy game Bravo Romeo Delta, where you couldn't even read the names of the towns) and the gameplay is there, there will be an audience and they are willing to pay, let alone download a title at no cost. Good Old Games is proof of that.