Regina Wu

Weekend Gaming – The Land of the Free

Breathe a sigh of relief – the weekend is almost here! During the busy holiday season it can be difficult to find ways to relieve stress. Gaming has always been a great way for me to unwind – whether it’s getting lost in another world, blasting enemies or solving puzzles. Did you know that there are loads of games you can play on your PC without having to spend a dime? You can save your money for holiday gift shopping and still be entertained, if you just know where to look.

One of the most popular free to play genres of gaming is the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, or MMORPG. World of Warcraft is perhaps one of the best known game in this genre (thanks in part to their hilarious TV Commercials) and is free to play for the first portion of the game. You can join millions of other people adventuring in the fictional fantasy world of Azeroth. Can’t get enough of fantasy worlds? Lord of the Rings Online is free for the entire game. Everquest II, the sequel to the game that is credited for popularizing the genre, has just recently become free to play as well. Not a fan of fantasy worlds? There are several superhero MMORPG games available, all of them free to play: City of Heroes, Champions Online and DC Universe Online.

If you’re looking for something a little more strategic, League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth fall under a new type of strategy game that were made popular by a modification to Warcraft III known as Defense of the Ancients, or DOTA for short. DOTA is popular around the world, even inspiring a song by the Swedish artist Basshunter. These games have a steep learning curve for beginners, but the masters of these games play in tournaments around the world – for example, League of Legends is played at the Intel Extreme Masters.

For the shooting enthusiasts, there are a number of games that are available to play for free. Team Fortress 2, a team-based shooter, has been free to play for some time now. In this game, you work as part of either the Red or Blue team to complete objectives like stealing enemy intelligence, capturing points, or pushing a mine cart full of explosives into the other team’s base. It features a hilarious cast of characters that all play specific roles – you can watch movie clips about these different characters to get a better sense of the roles that they play. A similar style of game, also free to play, is Battlefield Heroes, based on the popular Battlefield series of games. If you’re not a fan of the humorous and cartoony graphics, there is a more gritty and realistic-looking Battlefield that is also available to play for free. More of a lone wolf? Quake LIVE is a free to play version of the dueling shooter franchise that runs right in your web browser!

Speaking of games that run in your browser, Facebook has hundreds of games that are all available to play for free. You may have heard of some of these, like Farmville, Words with Friends and Mafia Wars. These games utilize your existing social network on Facebook so that you can easily play games with your existing friends. If you have Google Chrome as a browser, they have several games in their web store that you can try for free.

There are some companies that specialize in free to play games – they develop games in several genres that are free to play and you can learn all about them from their websites. Perfect World Entertainment is extremely popular in China and has brought many of their titles to the US. The Korean company Nexon has been known for their wide range of free to play games, too. Still not enough? Steam, an online game platform and marketplace, has an entire section devoted to Free to Play games.

With so many choices for free games available to play, what are you waiting for? Happy Gaming!

Regina Wu

About Regina Wu

Regina Wu is a performance engineer in the Performance Benchmarking Group at Intel. She works on gaming performance testing; identifying and testing what gamers love and want for system performance. She is also a part of the world-renowned PMS Clan, where she is the division leader of the Guitar Hero/Rock Band division. She has competed in several high profile tournaments, such as the World Series of Video Games, Championship Gaming Series, World Cyber Games, and online leagues like CAL and CEVO.

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