OH HAI AAA F2P
I asked the staff and community to name some of their favorite and more fair free to play titles, and compiled a list of quality games that also feature some great co-op gameplay too.
DOTA 2 (Valve) - While everyone is trying to cash in on the MOBA craze, Valve has proven they understand and respect their user base - not only that, they invite their community to share in the wealth. Almost the entire DOTA market is based on community created content, of which the creators get a cut. Gamers can play and take part in the entire game with absolutely nothing being locked behind a paywall. In terms of co-op play, you can practice against bots with friends and from time to time Valve launches a unique co-op mode like Wraith King.
Hearthstone (Blizzard) - Blizzard has nailed the competitive card game model down, combining their success with World of Warcraft with virtual packs of cards to keep you coming back. You can always earn packs by completing challenges, or if you're short on time buy virtual decks. While there’s no co-op yet, there’s a rumored co-op adventure similar to the expansion that just launched.
Warframe (Digital Extremes) - Warframe is a 3rd person action game with space ninjas. That should entice you enough to play. If not, the entirety of the 4-player co-op campaign can be played from beginning to end no problem. You can also drop some cash for improved weapons, or to speed up production of multiple playable characters.
Hawken (Meteor Entertainment) - Giant robots duking it out in a drop dead gorgeous game. The fast and furious combat feels like Quake meets Mech Warrior. Players can purchase new robots, skins, loadouts, emotes and more - but you’ll never have to “pay to win.” There’s a co-op survival mode available for up to five players that’s a lot of fun, and you can level up your pilot in it.
Planetside 2 (Sony Online Entertainment) - The game drops you in a massive war with combat of up to 2,000 players. There’s a built in leveling system for individual players, weapons and vehicles, and the game ties the speed at which you level to its microtransactions, along of course with, cosmetic items.
Path of Exile (Grinding Gears Games) - Path of Exile is straight up a Diablo-like experience. A pure action/RPG with tons of content, daily and weekly quests and challenges, and lots of co-op play. The game does a fantastic job of telling you what you’ll need to pay for. Almost all of these are cosmetic once again, and since everyone loves showing off their loot in an action/RPG, this fits perfectly.
Team Fortress 2 (Valve) - While Team Fortress 2 started out as a premium title, the game went free to play a few years into its life, breathing new life and fresh players into the game. Once again cosmetic items are premium - Valve is famous for making rare “hats” for characters that players bought, trade and sought after. For co-op gamers there’s the Mann vs. Machine mode, which is one of the more difficult co-op survival modes I’ve personally played. Players can purchase tickets for faster access to this along with unique unlocks.
League of Legends (Riot Games) - The monster MOBA that really helped legitimize free to play on the PC, the game locks its heroes behind a paywall, rotating what ones become available. Players can use in game currency, earned by playing to unlock them as well, or just pay the money outright. The game is consistently one of the most played games on PC (tracked via Raptr), and also the most watched on Twitch.tv. Players can co-op against bots and earn rewards.