Gamescom Free-to-Play Award Showcase Spectacular

It's time to throw your wallet into the garbage disposal as we run down the best, weirdest, and free-est F2P games from Gamescom 2012.

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In case you hadn't noticed, free-to-play games are a pretty big deal these days. And at a PC-focused show like Gamescom, they're an especially big deal. Luckily for you, we've spent countless hours looking through the weirdest, craziest, and scariest games on display here at Gamescom to bring you the Gamescom Free-to-Play Award Showcase Spectacular!

Most Historically Educational Way to Destroy Planes

Winner: War Thunder

From Gaijin Entertainment comes this WWII-based vehicular combat game where one half is a player-versus-player massively multiplayer online game that has players filling the sky with dueling airplanes (and ground vehicles to follow in a later update) while the other half is a campaign that lets you reenact battles such as Peleliu, Guadalcanal, and more. Learn the ropes of aerial combat while taking part in some of history's most memorable conflicts, and then start blasting rival planes from the sky when not decorating your plane with era-specific pinup girl decals.

Most Terrifying Depiction of American Crime From a Korean Developer

Winner: District 187: Sin Streets

District 187 is a scary vision of urban crime in America. In this first-person shooter, crime is so prevalent that street gangs and police SWAT teams are locked in a perpetual turf war, stealing money away from each other in game modes like Bank Heist and outfitting their weaponry with increasingly deadly attachments as they work up through a COD-like leveling system. Clearly, no citizen is safe. But it's probably their own fault for moving to a place called District 187 to begin with.

Most Compelling Reason to Hope We Don't Find Ancient Treasure on Mars

Winner: Star Conflict

Also from Gaijin Entertainment is this space combat MMO game about a future where man has discovered the treasures of an ancient civilization in a distant galaxy. And subsequently, as humankind so often does, we all just end up fighting over it. In this case, though, that fighting is done using powerful spaceships that you can upgrade through absurdly detailed tech trees. So, on second thought, maybe we should find ancient treasure on mars.


Above: Star Conflict (left), Defiance (right)

Best Reason to Watch Syfy that Doesn't Involve Giant Sharks Fighting Robotic Dinosaurs

Winner: Defiance

Trion Worlds and Syfy have pooled their resources to create a postapocalyptic world that spans both television and video game. The aim for this union is to have both sides influence each other in interesting ways. For example, a character in the game may steal an important item from the player only to have that item pop up again in the show. Or a character in the show may digitize themselves into the game, where they are then spawn camped, and the whole operation is brought to a screeching halt.

Best Game Based On a Game Show About Murdering People for Fun

Winner: Bullet Run

In the near future of the Bullet Run universe, a revolutionary new "Synth" technology lets people reincarnate themselves into new bodies upon death. This groundbreaking, scientific achievement--which skirts the edges of divinity--is put to use fueling the latest reality-TV craze: Bullet Run. Just imagine Big Brother, but with a lot more guns and a lot less…everything else. Here, the goal is not only to win, but to hype up the crowd with fancy kills and strategically deployed taunts. Plus, you can play right now.

Best Submarine-Based Game That Doesn't Involve Sean Connery

Winner: Silent Service

Ubisoft's stable of free-to-play, browser-based games includes the hardcore submarine sim Silent Hunter Online. Life on a submarine is anything but riveting, and to Silent Hunter's credit, it manages to reflect that sentiment quite well. Of course, once a dozen or so friends join in, one-on-one naval battles quickly scale to epic, explosive exchanges of torpedoes. As the captain of your vessel, you must manage your crew efficiently and pay close attention to the numerous gauges and displays surrounding the periscope. Should you fail in your mission, you may find yourself in a steel casket on the bottom of the ocean before you know it.

Best Way to Play a Ubisoft PC Game That Doesn't Involve Waiting a Month After the Console Version

Winner: Anno Online

Ubisoft's city-building sim gets its first multiplayer release in the form of a browser-based, Flash 11 game, but there is little sacrificed in the way of scale, or detail, in the transition. Friends can work together to create gigantic empires that are indistinguishable from those found in the retail releases, and if you wish to speed things up, a tiny donation to Ubisoft will help speed things up. With the help of hundreds, if not thousands, of other players, your civilization has the potential to grow to a massive scale through cooperative efforts and trade, rivaling the enormity of empires found in other games in the Anno series, if not the entire world-building genre.

Most Official Unofficial Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Game

Winner: Age of Wulin

Although Wuxia films were arguably more popular 10 years ago than they are today, in the West at least, that hasn't stopped gPotato bringing Age of Wulin (known as Age of Wushu in North America) over from China. The game features pretty cool movie-like wirework effects, such as floating through the air, running across water, and, of course, kung fu. There are eight different schools of the martial art to learn from, as well as 17 professions, including chef. The only downside could be that the game wants to take over your life: your player becomes a non-player character when you leave--go away for too long and you could end up getting kidnapped or robbed.

Best MMO Game That's Like EVE but Also Not EVE but That's OK Because You Can Ride Dragons

Winner: Project Theralon

Project Theralon is a sandbox MMO game from Berlin-based Infernum Productions, and one of the hooks is that you can create entire cities from the ground up using a modular building system. From there, it's up to you how those cities are run, so player and faction politics are critically important in determining your experience with the game. It's kind of like a cartoony fantasy version of EVE, only you get to also ride around on dragons.

Best Diablo Clone That Has Wolverine in It

Winner: Marvel Heroes

It should come as no surprise that Marvel Heroes looks and feels so much like Diablo--creator David Brevik also worked on Diablo and Diablo II. Fortunately, Marvel Heroes is distinctive enough on its own thanks to the cast of playable characters at Gamescom, including Wolverine and Hulk. It also helps that Marvel Heroes feels like a high-quality release--it looks gorgeous thanks to Unreal Engine, there's over an hour of animated comic-book-style movies, and it's being written by Marvel regular Brian Michael Bendis.

Best Fancy-Looking Shooter Not Running on CryEngine 3

Winner: Shadow Company

The competition is heating up in the free-to-play first-person shooter market. While Team Fortress 2 remains one of the most popular games in the genre, new entrants such as Crytek's Warface are bringing high-level engines such as CryEngine 3. Nexon's Shadow Company is another shooter powered by big-name tech, this time Unreal Engine 3. As a result, Nexon says to expect a 2GB download for the client. It looks the part, but Nexon is more keen to talk about bespoke game modes such as the Battle Squad mode, which supports two to four teams of up to six players each on one map.


Above: Shadow Company (left), Kartuga (right)

Best Excuse to Sing "I'm on a Boat"

Winner: Kartuga

If there's a theme in free-to-play gaming at this year's Gamescom, it's that production values are going higher and higher. Kartuga is a handsome-looking pirating action game from Hamburg-based Ticking Bomb that uses the Unity engine to great effect, both technically and artistically. The PVP game modes will be the focus, including domination and bomb the base, but PVE will play a role as well. Premium items will consist of premium ships (a ghost ship, for example, is slated for release in the next six months), and publisher InnoGames has promised a closed and open beta.

Serious, for Reals, No-Joking-Around Best Free-to-Play Game at Gamescom

Winner: Hawken

And finally, here's our honest-to-goodness favorite F2P title from this year's Gamescom. It's an online mech combat game called Hawken, and it's the sort of thing you have to see in action to fully appreciate. Combatants dash across the battlefield with an incredible amount of speed, immediately setting the game apart from other mech-based titles on the market. Visually gorgeous and full of action, the dystopian sci-fi battle arenas of Hawken are full of customizable class-based mechs going at it in an explosive show of multiplayer mayhem. It's a lot of fun, and we can't wait to play more.

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96 comments
pidow
pidow

War Thunder takes forever to download.

Green_Chaos
Green_Chaos

These winners are one lucky son-of-a-guns

Hurvl
Hurvl

So fun to see an award show article that doesn't have the same boring categories, but makes up their own, with the obvious risk of going "This is so awesome (but doesn't fit anywhere) that we invented a category just to include it". As long as the article is this good, I dont mind this.

 

I don't like F2P games, because I like to have access to everything from the start when I pay for it, but maybe I'll look into one of these eventually (in 7 seven years or so, when I'm through my backlog of bought/installed/want to play games :P).

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

urrrr people who wrote this must be on crack........you forgot about PLANETSIDE 2 & Mechwarrior Online

PeterTechGuy
PeterTechGuy

I've played Bullet Run, crappy as hell. For some reason the shotgun only deals 20 dmg on a very close range.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

"Serious, For Reals, No-Joking-Around Best Free-to-Play Game at Gamescom" I'm not surprised that this person likes Hawken best out of all of the free-to-play games at Gamescom. Only somebody who can honestly type "for reals" would think that generic shooter is better than stuff like Project Theralon and Planetside 2.

Myst17
Myst17

Am I the only one who read Most Official Unofficial "Chrono Trigger, Hidden Game" and got realy, really excited then bummed out?

Disease_G
Disease_G

Where is planetside 2??

They were at gamescom too and its a far better game than any of these.

TBear7130
TBear7130

Found a friend in World of Tanks and can't wait for World of Warplanes (too bad the acronym is WoW, but the World of Planes acronym may have been offensive to some in the WWII era).

 

Should be tons o fun when they are incorporated, two two two F2P's at one low price.

AlmostUndead
AlmostUndead

"Best Game Based On a Game Show About Murdering People For Fun"

 UM? No. That Bullet Run is a complete generic piece of crap. To be honest, Super Monday Night Combat should get that since it's many times more then what Bullet Run is. 

 

If you have not played Super Monday Night Combat then I'd have to extend an offer for you guys to try it out, you can fight as an intelligent mafia Gorilla with a oversized Tommy gun. Just try it.

 

Master_Vexov
Master_Vexov

F2P the cousin to overpriced DLC's, like: "hey you can unlock dark-hair for your barbarian in D3 for just $5.99". in Civ5 "hey, for $5 you can unlock a new country... we really don't add anything to the game, but we made sure to overpower them so everyone in multiplayer must own them". Ya, F2P games try to hit you up every turn if you want to keep up to the ppl who are being suckerd into opening their wallets. Just take a look at shooter games, instead of it take a week or more to unlock everything you wanted it can take 30mins so you dominate the competition(and the game just got released), I can't wait for BF4 to get announced its F2p.. thats why EA is hustling it to get released so soon after BF3. Eventualy the mass of addicts will see just how terrible it is if their favourites go from spending just 50-60$ to spending 100$+ over the year to stay competitive with the rest of the suckers. Its like paying to cheat but what is the point if everyone else does the same?, these dev's are suckering ppl sooooooooooooooo bad; and thats what is really getting me fired up, cause Im a good guy and I don't wanna see ppl using underhanded shit on other ppl.

translucent17
translucent17

F2p games are getting alot of praise, for reasons I fail to see.  Give me a game with a good story and good gameplay, that lasts for more than 5 hours and I will be happy to buy it.  is this what gamers really want? lets just do away with games like Fallout,darksouls,crysis,skyrim,dragons dogma,koa,the witcher,borderlands,darksiders,zelda,mass effect,dead space,splinter cell,heavy rain,red dead redemption,gta,assasins creed,etc etc etc etc etc..... and we will all play castleville on facebook..  lol just trying to be funny

Caldrin
Caldrin

War Tunder and Star Conflict are great games considering you can play them for free :).. I think War Thunder is the better out of the two and if you love WWII planes and combat then you need to pick this up. Graphics are awesome as well adn that helps a lot. plus it was a great reason to dig my joystick out as well :)

 

Only other one I have tried on the list is Bullet Run and well err tere are better games out there...

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

I am very tired of publishers and tabloids pushing the wicked F2P model down our throats. I want to OWN my games and I have enough money to do so, I don't need any pay2pwn games, thank you.

bostadskontrakt
bostadskontrakt

F2P huh? Aaaah good old Yakuza 4 and Vanquish.

 

No online access code multiplayer with hacking

No dlc

No F2P or other weird stuff that makes your head spin. 

 

Just real games.

PredatorRules
PredatorRules

Hawken and War Thunder will be great competitors for Mechwarrior Online and World of Warplanes

aniforprez
aniforprez

what? no firefall? the most honest non-pay-to-win title out there right now with a massive pve world and an awesome pvp mode with esports tools?

SandRunneR
SandRunneR

As long as F2P games are this generic and require that you pay to win, I don't see a reason for people to get into it just yet.

Hayasmez
Hayasmez

No planetside 2? What a dissapointment.

Trouble20121
Trouble20121

I don't know bullet run looks like old stuff... I mean y'know the name reminds me of old games.

other than that I hope that at least it just be what I expect from shooting GENRE.

ctusmarsius
ctusmarsius

Little known fact, Star Conflict beat out the titles Star Clash, Star Battle, Star Contest, Star Strife, Star Combat, Star Fight, Star Hostility, Star Strife, Star Struggle, Star Brush, Star Engagement, Star Fray, Star Scrimmage, Star Skirmish, Star Dispute, Star Feud, Star Quarrel, Star Brawl, Star Row, and Star Competition.Nevertheless it and War Thunder do look like games I'd like to play. I wish somebody would make another space combat sim like X-Wing or Tachyon already... 

camyers1310
camyers1310

Offensive Combat and Ghost Recon online and Planetside 2 are some really good choices as well. Both Hawken and Mech Warrior Online look to be great titles. F2P is getting much better. Still won't take over any of my other titles but I do like to drop an hour or two into a free game every once in awhile.

OGKNav
OGKNav

So are these actually F2P?

In my mind, the definition of F2P;

n. adj. Paying to win or have fun.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Interested in star conflict, sick of brainless fps too much of same crap

jessie82
jessie82

sounds like star conflict is an eve online wannabe

s_h_a_d_o
s_h_a_d_o

You chaps do realise that you've linked the 1985 subsim Silent Service, in place of Silent Hunter Online, do you not?

C_Glass
C_Glass

Seems like nothing but pvp titles, disappointing... 

Rox-pox
Rox-pox

I clicked War Thunder and noticed its full name is War Thunder: World of Planes...that's a bit too close to World of Warplanes?

 

Expect another court between  Wargaming  and Gaijin Entertainment.

Lazerith91
Lazerith91

I don't like the idea of fighting wallet warriors.

Jebus213
Jebus213

StarConflict? Pfft, it's just a simple PVP space shooter.

 

Taikodom is the game people should looking forward too if they want a space sim this year.

Psychokillaz
Psychokillaz

DCUO is a great MMO that is making a killing b4 the hack was the best selling SoE game of all-time and after hack went F2P and has blown up with millions of users. Some have a monthy sub for Legendary and some play free and some make microtransactions and some just buy DLC all in all they are making a lot of $$$

avatarcj
avatarcj

Seems like a lot of companies enter the F2P era but where will the gamers loyalty be at ?

F2P means Pay2Win or having a shamrock in your pocket , almost always (at least for now ) .

Only time will tell if this new gaming project will work for the better .

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

Could Gamespot be pushing free to play games any more than they are? EA must be paying them to "pave the way for the future of gaming".

lipehique
lipehique

Is Bullet Run really any good?

Darnasian
Darnasian

The last category was e[ic

LOL XD

gufberg
gufberg

Yes indeed. Just release Hawken, damnit. I wanna obliterate huge f****** mechs with advanced weaponry with dubstep blasting in the background! 

Gantrathor
Gantrathor

Ah, Hawken, I want to play you. But I can't, because you have not been released yet. Why can't you be released yet, Hawken? I want to play you!