Looking for some of the best free online games to play right now? Publishers like Steam and Epic Games are busy locking horns over their digital storefronts and platforms, but there’s a rich world of fun browser games that can be accessed directly through the web. No launchers or two-factor authentication, no agonising downloads or hard drive space juggling, just instant, free online games.
The best free online games and browser games have even gone onto to inspire larger budget remakes and spin-offs, like My Friend Pedro and Kingdom of Loathing. Impressively, despite the obvious tech constraints developers have also managed to craft free online games to cover any genre you can imagine, so yes, you can play a 100-player battle royale in your browser. So whether you’re looking for something to sink a few minutes into or your next gaming habit, there’s a free online game for you.
We’ve tried to ensure this list caters to all sorts, all at the enviably low price of free.
Here are the best free online games for PC:
Forge of Empires takes elements from the Civ and Age of Empires series and mixes them together to create one of the PC’s best free online games, no download required. You start off in the stone age with a few shabby huts and a couple of spearmen to prop up your humble enclave of humanity, and over many, many hours you’ll progress your people through several historical eras, researching new military, scientific, welfare, and cultural institutions. Combat and expansion play out in separate screens, offering a little more space for players to flex their tactical muscles.
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GAME OF THRONES WINTER IS COMING
If you’re looking for an official Game of Thrones game then this is pretty much your only option on PC, and the fact that it’s a free online browser game doesn’t hurt either. You guide your very own lord on a path to greed and power on server map modeled after Westeros, complete with all the major landmarks you encounter in the novels and TV series. Your aim, as in an MMO strategy game, is to grow and accumulate wealth and power, taking over more and more land before you’re ready to launch an attack on a major stronghold like Storm’s End, The Eyrie, or King’s Landing.
Play NowFree to Play Game of Thrones: Winter is ComingMMOStrategyFantasyPlay Now
Aside from being able to add famous faces from the franchise to your army like Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen, one of the game’s best features is its JRPG-inspired battle scenes, which offer the kind of cinematic flair and scale that’s often missing from free browser games.
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Brush up on your hieroglyphs and get set to conquer the ancient world in Anocris. In this browser-based MMO, you take a tiny settlement on the banks of the Nile and turn it into your own bustling metropolis that’s the envy of all. Curry favour with the gods and earn special powers by holding festivals in their honour; build up your army to defend against marauding nomads (and other players); and strengthen your hold over the country by joining forces with other tribes. And yes, you get to build pyramids.
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Historical city building is all well and good, but sometimes, it would be fun to create something a little more… magical. In Elvenar, you can choose to develop a mysterious Elven kingdom full of living buildings and fantastical creatures, or a more pragmatic and warlike empire in the name of humankind.
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But you’re not confined to the streets of your new home as the explore mode allows you to uncover many additional areas with new abilities, mysteries, and monsters. Or, if you’re feeling particularly belligerent, you can whip your magical troops into shape at the barracks before heading out to take on the neighbouring provinces.
The MMORTS aliran might not be as widely recognised as the best MMOs and MMORPGs, but it’s on the rise, and Stronghold Kingdoms is one of the best examples around. This massively multiplayer real-time strategy game casts you as a feudal lord or lady and sets you to work building and growing a medieval empire by besieging your rivals, researching invaluable new tech, and forming alliances with others. It does require a tiny download to play, but the download itself is tiny and the game should run on any rig.
Like many free MMO RTS games, Stronghold Kingdoms is packed with depth if you’ve got the time to sink into it, with political struggles between players and large-scale wars to navigate on your rise to success. And sure, the graphics certainly look like they come straight from the late nineties, but they’re nothing if not charming.
Rail Nation isn’t exactly for train games fanatics – this is a strategy game at its core, where you’ll spend your time making deals and expanding your railway empire rather than cruising along the Settle-Carlisle. Like many great browser-based online games games, you’ll start small and slowly amass a vast network of railway lines, eventually allying with other railway tycoons to make your association as powerful as possible. There are heaps of train models to choose from and upgrade to, but for the most part this is an online strategy game all about economics.
Travian has been knocking around for well over a decade, building up a loyal fanbase of MMO and strategy games enthusiasts and laying the foundations for many other entries on this list. Legends is its latest form, boasting gorgeous graphical upgrades while still being one of the few online games that doesn’t require a download.
The gameplay is refreshingly simple with very few hidden mechanics: you choose one of a handful of factions, found your tribe, and grow from a ramshackle village into a fortified, technologically advanced empire. You can keep yourself to yourself if you want, but if you do want to branch out there are also trades, alliances, and plenty of warfare to throw your clan into at a moment’s notice. There is some waiting around for buildings and actions to complete, but if you treat this as a relaxing game then you won’t find it too egregious.
Supremacy 1: The Great War
If you’re looking for something with some serious tactical nous then Supremacy 1 is one of the best free online games for grand strategy fans. The aim is simple enough: you guide your 20th century nation to dominance over your continental peers. Your main tool is outright warfare, where you can deploy a huge range of units via land, air, and sea, which grows even more expansive as you grind through the game’s research tree.
There’s diplomacy options so you can carefully manage your war-waging, plenty of resource-management so you constantly need to consolidate your growth. There aren’t many free browser games that manage to feel as complex and detailed as a true grand strategy title, but Supremacy 1 comes close. There’s no download required to play Supremacy 1 on PC – you just need to run it on a web browser – but there is a Steam version coming later this year.
One of our best online board games picks is also one of the top online games to play with friends for free, no download required. Codenames is all about word association. You and an opponent assume the roles of rival spymasters and your aim is to work out where your fellow agents are in the field, which you do by taking it in turns to give one-word clues. Of course, it’s also crucial that you don’t give any clues to the enemy, or accidentally prompt someone to guess the game-ending word. Setting a game up is mercifully simple, making this a great online game for Zoom calls, just be wary of forming vernacular vendettas with your besties.
Sunless Skies developer Failbetter Games has established itself as a fine crafter of narrative games since it came together in 2010. It’s there to see in one of the studio’s earliest efforts, too. Fallen London is a browser-based interactive narrative game that takes you to a Victorian and gothic take on the Old Smoke. The city itself has been stolen, and it now rests underneath the rest of the world on the shore of the Unterzee. You’ve just arrived, and you’re down on your luck. That doesn’t mean you can’t rise to the top through the legal and illegal activities made available to you, though.