The Best Free PC and Console Games to Claim in January 2021

Maneater (Image courtesy of Tripwire Interactive)

Everyone loves free games. Steam has a hefty collection of them, but some places offer titles for only a limited amount of time. Epic Games gives away multiple games a week. Amazon’s Prime Gaming subscription service has new titles each month. But if you’re not paying attention, you’ll lose out on a PC game you could have kept forever.

In an effort to help gamers know what’s out there to claim, we’ll be tracking the best free games available in a given month. While some titles are free outright, others are included as part of a subscription service. Here’s everything you can grab this month.

Best Free Bethesda Games

Bethesda doesn’t give away free games regularly, but the company has been known to offer them for special events and promotions. To claim your game from Bethesda, you’ll have to sign up for a account and download the official Bethesda launcher. It’s not a particularly well-liked application, but if you want the free game, you’ll have to deal with it. Just open the launcher and make sure you’re signed in, then claim your game. Outside of the rare giveaway, Bethesda actually has two free games you can download at any time.

The Elder Scrolls: Arena

Arena, the first installment of the Elder Scrolls series, has been available for free since 2004; get it from the Bethesda website. In Arena, you are a servant of the emperor who becomes imprisoned when the court battlemage betrays the empire and takes the throne for himself. The game combines designed spaces with procedurally generated areas to create a vast, explorable game far bigger than what was usually possible back in the ’90s.

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

Daggerfall is the second game in the series and has been available to play for free since 2009. You are an agent of the emperor who is charged with putting a ghost to rest and ensuring a powerful golem doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Like Arena, Daggerfall features thousands of towns and dungeons to explore, as well as guilds to join, which offer their own questlines.

Best Free Blizzard Games

Blizzard Entertainment has a small collection of popular franchises, including Diablo, Overwatch, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft, which can all be played through the gaming platform. Since most of these games are free-to-play, they can be downloaded from Blizzard at any time. However, if you scroll down to Classic Games, there are several titles that were previously paid but are now available for free.

Click the title you wish to download, and choose the appropriate operating system. The game will then automatically begin downloading. How complicated the setup is will be determined by the game you choose to play. Some require you to connect with and set up an account with Blizzard, while others may simply download to your computer and play locally. Here are the classic Blizzard games you can now play for free:

  • Blackthorne
  • The Lost Vikings
  • Rock N’ Roll Racing
  • StarCraft Anthology (StarCraft + Brood War)
  • Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Best Free Epic Games Store Games

Epic Games gives away free titles every week; no need for a subscription. Head over to the Epic Games Store website or open the launcher, scroll down to the Free Games section, and hit the blue Free Now banner on the title you want. Then, go through the process as if you were purchasing the game. You won’t be charged, and the game will appear in your games library on the Epic Games launcher.

Crying Suns (Until Jan. 14)

In the tactical rogue-lite Crying Suns, you control a space fleet as it investigates a fallen galactic empire. As you fight enemy fleets, explore planets, and meet inhabitants of the galaxy, more of the game’s story is revealed.

Star Wars Battlefront II: Celebration Edition (Jan. 14-21)

Like other installments of the Battlefront series, Star Wars Battlefront II allows you to play as different factions across various time periods in the Star Wars universe. The game has several multiplayer and single-player modes, including a story campaign set in the final years of the Galactic Empire. Control Stormtroopers or Rebels, Jedi or Sith, Star Destroyers or X-Wings, and more as you battle to take over familiar Star Wars locations.

Sludge Life (Until May 28)

This third-person 3D platformer with retro CRT graphics is really just a vandalism simulator in disguise. Sludge Life is short and sweet, allowing you to explore the game’s surreal world, meet a cast of crass characters, and tag areas with graffiti. Devolver Digital has made the game free to keep for the next year.

Rocket League (Now Free)

Rocket League combines high-speed racing with competitive sports gameplay as you play soccer with racecars. And starting on Sept. 23, the game moved exclusively to the Epic Game Store and became free-to-play for anyone who wants it. We previously named it an Editors’ Choice, praising the fantastic concept and over-the-top fun while maintaining enough nuance to be a high competitive esports title. We consider it to be one of the best PC sports games available, and now you can get it for free.

Best Free GOG Games

GOG doesn’t have regular giveaways like some other websites do, but there is a small collection of free games, which mainly comprises classic computer games. Titles like Shadow Warrior Classic Complete and Postal: Classic and Uncut, which you would have to pay for on Steam, are free on GOG. Other classics, like Ultima 4 (1985) and Akalabeth: World of Doom (1979), are not available anywhere else.

  • Akalabeth: World of Doom (1979)
  • Ascendant (2014)
  • Beneath a Steel Sky (1994)
  • Bio Menace (1993)
  • Cayne (2017)
  • Delores: A Thimbleweed Park Mini-Adventure (2020)
  • Doomdark’s Revenge (2014)
  • Eschalon: Book I (2006)
  • Flight of the Amazon Queen (1995)
  • Jill of the Jungle: The Complete Trilogy (1991)
  • The Lords of Midnight (2013)
  • Lure of the Temptress (1992)
  • Postal: Classic and Uncut (2003)
  • Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (2013)
  • Shadow Warrior Classic Complete (1997)
  • Stargunner (1996)
  • Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius (2014)
  • Teenagent (1994)
  • Treasure Adventure Game (2011)
  • Tyrian 2000 (1999)
  • Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar (1985)
  • Ultima World of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams (1991)
  • Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (1990)
  • War Wind (1996)

Children of Morta (While Supplies Last)

This giveaway is a little different because it requires you to make a purchase, but you get a free game out of it. GOG and Visa are teaming up to give away 53,000 codes for the action RPG Children of Morta. Get the game by signing up at the giveaway page, then making a $25 payment using a Visa card. Save the card to your account for future purchases, and you will get your free copy of this roguelike tale of the Bergson family’s journey to free Mount Morta of the evil Corruption.

The Witcher: Enhanced Edition

GOG allows you to score a free copy of the first Witcher game if you download the GOG Galaxy desktop client, download and install the free-to-play Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, and subscribe to the newsletter. Once you’ve done that, click Subscribe & Claim on the offer page, then add The Witcher: Enhanced Edition to your cart. The game should be reduced to $0.00, and all you have to do is check out. If the website doesn’t allow you to check out, reload the page a few times until the checkout button is clickable. Don’t want to go through all that hassle? There’s now an easier way.

Best Free Microsoft Store Games

Microsoft doesn’t usually give away games on the Microsoft Store, but there are a few titles the company has decided to make free moving forward (some you can find only on the web, and not the desktop app). If you have a game code to redeem, sign into your Microsoft Account, then enter the code at; from the web app, go to More > Redeem a code. If it’s a game for your Xbox console, you must first make sure remote install is set up on your console.

Crackdown (Now Free)

Initially released in 2007, Crackdown received praise as a sandbox style third-person shooter that lets you cause massive amounts of destruction to the environment as you fight a crime wave in a dystopic future.

Crackdown 2 (Now Free)

Crackdown 2 brings back much of the same gameplay as the first game but with additional superhuman abilities and expanded multiplayer. Set 10 years after the first game, the title has you fight terrorists and save the city from a mutant-creating viral outbreak.

Farming Simulator 14 & 16 (Now Free)

Farming Simulator is a popular game for those looking to grow crops, care for animals, and run a farm while operating true-to-life farming equipment. While a new edition is released every year, the editions from 2014 and 2016 are now free in the Microsoft Store, giving you a good chance to try out the games before investing in the newest version.

Too Human (Now Free)

The action RPG Too Human is a science-fiction retelling of Norse mythology, where all the gods are cybernetically enhanced humans who must stop Loki’s machine army.

Halo 5: Guardians (While Supplies Last)

The first-person shooter Halo 5: Guardian centers around Master Chief’s search for Cortana, and the elite team of Spartan soldiers tasked with locating him. While the game adds enhanced Spartan Abilities and a fire team the player can order around in combat, it’s an online-only title so it needs an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play. Microsoft and Monster Energy have teamed up for a Halo Infinite sweepstakes, but hidden at the bottom is a free copy of Halo 5: Guardians for PC. Claim your copy by signing up for an account with Fandango Rewards, then redeeming the game code in the Microsoft Store.

Best Free Nintendo Games

Nintendo doesn’t normally give away free games, but it does have a host of offerings with a subscription to the $19.99-a-year Nintendo Switch Online service. A subscription offers access to a collection of NES and Super NES titles, as well as free-to-play games like Tetris 99. On top of these titles, Nintendo also has a few games you can grab for free for a limited time.

Super Mario Bros. 35 (Until March 31)

To celebrate 35 years of Mario, Nintendo is offering a free game called Super Mario Bros. 35 until next March. The game requires a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online to play, and combines the 2D platforming of the original game with battle royale elements seen in Tetris 99. A total of 35 players simultaneously play through platforming levels on the same screen. As you defeat enemies, you can send them to other players in order to hinder them. The last Mario standing wins, but you can also score points by collecting the most coins, having the lowest time, and attacking the most.

Best Free PlayStation Plus Games

PlayStation Plus is Sony’s online multiplayer and games subscription service that costs $9.99 for one month, $24.99 for three months, or $59.99 for a full year. As part of the service, you can claim two new games to keep every month. They’ll be accessible as long as you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription. Subscribers who own a PS5 will also be able to keep games from a curated selection of titles.

There are two ways to claim these games from your console. Choose the PlayStation Plus icon from the PlayStation home screen to see the currently available games, plus previously claimed titles. Claimed games can be re-downloaded from this page. You can also go through the PlayStation Network Store and select PS Plus in the left-hand menu.

The other way allows you to add games to your console directly from the PlayStation Store as long as you have Automatic Downloads enabled. Once this is set up, you can choose the games you want from the web page and they will be remotely downloaded to your console.

Maneater – PS5 Only (Until Feb. 1)

Maneater puts you in control of a man-eating shark as you attack and eat humans and sea life alike. As the shark, you must eat to grow bigger and evolve to gain special abilities. Explore the game’s open world, perform tasks, take on bounty hunters, and get revenge against humanity.

GreedFall (Until Feb. 1)

The action-RPG GreedFall places you in the 17th century as various countries compete to colonize a newly discovered island paradise. You can explore, fight, sneak, and make allies as you try to find a cure to a mysterious illness. The decisions you make along the way affect the outcome of the game.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Until Feb. 1)

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft must fight a paramilitary organization in the middle of the jungle in order to stop a Mayan apocalypse. Explore the environment, fight enemies with firearms and stealth, complete challenges and side missions, and gather resources for crafting.

PlayStation Plus Collection – PS5 Only

Players who own a PlayStation 5 and subscribe to PlayStation Plus will now have access to a curated collection of PS4 games. Games can be claimed at any time and will remain playable as long as there is an active subscription. At launch, the PlayStation Plus Collection will include 20 games from Sony and partner studios:

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Battlefield 1
  • Bloodborne
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Zombies Chronicles Edition
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  • Days Gone
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Fallout 4
  • Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition
  • God of War
  • Infamous Second Son
  • Monster Hunter: World
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Persona 5
  • Ratchet and Clank 
  • Resident Evil 7 biohazard
  • The Last Guardian
  • The Last of Us Remastered
  • Until Dawn
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Best Free Prime Gaming (Twitch Prime) Games

Prime Gaming (formerly known as Twitch Prime) is a subscription service that provides in-game loot, free games, and many other perks each month. The service costs $12.99 a month with a free 30-day trial, or comes included with your $119 Amazon Prime subscription. Navigate to the Prime Gaming page, scroll down to the “Games with Prime” section, and select the Claim button next to the titles you want.

To play games offered by Prime Gaming, you must download the Amazon Games launcher. Click the “Download and Play” link that appears next to the Claim button. In the pop-up window, click the link that says Download the Amazon Games Apps (Windows) to install the launcher. Once installed, Prime Gaming games can be claimed from the launcher itself.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Until Jan. 8)

A spin-off to the original game, Impossible Lair puts you in control of Yooka and Laylee once again, but this time the game is a side-scrolling platformer with 2.5D graphics reminiscent of the Donkey Kong Country games.

Close to the Sun (Until Jan. 15)

Taking aesthetic cues from the BioShock series, Close to the Sun is a horror-adventure game set on a mysterious sea cruiser called The Helios. As journalist Rose Archer, you collect keys, solve puzzles, find items, and survive quick time events as you try to track down your missing sister.

HyperDot (Until Jan. 15)

This minimalist action-arcade game requires you to dodge incoming shapes over 100 levels in campaign mode. HyperDot also features a multiplayer mode, as well as a level editor for creating custom challenges.

Sigma Theory: Global Cold War (Until Jan. 15)

Sigma Theory is a turn-based strategy game where you recruit a squad of agents, run an intel agency, recruit scientists, and run interference against rivals in order to come out on top in a futuristic global cold war.

Turmoil (Until Jan. 15)

In the simulation game Turmoil, you play as an oil baron who must acquire land, upgrade equipment, boost profits, make business deals, and outbid your competitors. It’s all a tongue-in-cheek take on the 19th century North American oil rush.

Wizard of Legend (Until Jan. 15)

This is a fast-paced dungeon crawler with roguelike elements, where you must act quickly and use powerful spell combinations to defeat enemies. Wizard of Legend includes procedurally generated levels, over 100 spells and items, and local multiplayer modes.

Sheltered (Until Jan. 18)

Similar to Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter, this post-apocalyptic disaster management game puts you in control of a family that survives a nuclear holocaust inside a bunker. You must help them gather resources and fight off threats while also avoiding starvation, dehydration, and radiation poisoning.

Overcooked! (Until Jan. 22)

This local co-op simulation game puts you in the kitchen as you navigate obstacles and hazards to prepare meals as quickly as possible before time runs out.

Sword Legacy: Omen (Until Jan. 29)

Sword Legacy: Omen, a turn-based tactical game set in the world of King Arthur reimagines the familiar legends under more brutal conditions. As Uther Pendragon, you must traverse the devastated landscape of Broken Britannia on a quest to find the legendary sword Excalibur. Along the way, you must recruit an army, explore environments, solve puzzles, equip your soldiers, maintain their health, and unleash deadly combos to defeat your enemies.

Alt-Frequencies (Until Feb. 1)

In Alt-Frequencies, you must use a radio to uncover the truth about radio hosts, politicians, and conspiracy theorists. Record broadcasts, rewind time, and air clips that will expose them to the world.

Along the Edge (Until Feb. 1)

Along the Edge is presented as an interactive graphic novel where the choices you make impact the story, as well as the main character’s appearance, mood, and personality. Set in the European countryside, Daphné inherits a family estate with an opportunity to change her life. The game features 60 different paths to take, providing plenty of replay value.

Bridge Constructor Playground (Until Feb. 1)

Playground provides an all-ages spin on the Bridge Constructor franchise, with an easier difficulty level, extensive tutorial, and few limits on budget or material constraints.

Void Bastards (Until Feb. 1)

Void Bastards is a first-person shooter with roguelike elements where you play as a prisoner who must salvage material from spaceships. The interior of each ship is procedurally generated, and if you die, a new prisoner takes over where the last one left off.

When Ski Lifts Go Wrong (Until Feb. 1)

This construction puzzle game asks you to solve physics-based challenges by constructing the means to get a skiier up a mountain. You can then control the person on their treacherous trip down the slopes.

SNK Classics (Until March 31)

Separate from Prime Gaming’s monthly collection of games, Japanese developer SNK has released over two dozen classic titles for subscribers to claim until March 31. Old-school arcade enthusiasts will have an opportunity to claim several titles from the King of Fighters franchise. These games include:

  • Art of Fighting 2
  • Baseball Stars 2
  • Blazing Star
  • Fatal Fury Special
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves
  • Ironclad
  • The King of Fighters 97 Global Match
  • The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Final Edition
  • The King of Fighters 2000
  • The King of Fighters 2002
  • The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
  • King of the Monsters
  • The Last Blade 2
  • Metal Slug 2
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Pulstar
  • Samurai Shodown II
  • Samurai Shodown V Special
  • Sengoku 3
  • Shock Troopers
  • Shock Troopers 2nd Squad
  • SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (includes 24 titles)

Best Free Steam Games

Steam has many free games you can download at any time, but titles free to claim for a limited period of time is a rare occurrence. In the event that you do find a free game, you can “buy” it on Steam like you normally would, but it will be automatically added to your library instead of having to check out.

If you have a Steam Key code, you can claim the game by launching the Steam client and clicking Games Menu > Activate a Product on Steam. Follow the instructions to complete the process and get your game. You may also need to connect your Steam account with another online retailer (e.g. Humble Bundle) before you can enter the code.

Fishing Sim World: Pro Tour – Lake Nelson DLC (Until March 15)

If you own the base game, you can now claim one of the title’s fishing venues for a limited time. The Lake Nelson location, which offers picturesque shoreline fishing, is currently free to download.

Company of Heroes 2: Southern Front DLC

If you have the Company of Heroes 2 base game, you can grab the Southern Front DLC for a limited time by linking your Steam account on the game’s website. The second game of the real-time strategy series focuses on the Eastern Front of World War II with the player primarily controlling the Soviet Red Army. The Southern Front DLC focuses around the bleak weather conditions in the spring of 1943.

Crusader King II (Now Free)

The grand strategy game Crusader Kings III has been well received, but if you’re not ready to commit, there’s a way to preview the experience for free. Paradox Interactive has made Crusader Kings II free-to-play since 2019, giving gamers a chance to see what the excitement is all about before paying up for the most recent entry in the series. While the base game is free on Steam, the game’s many DLCs are still paid.

Total War: Shogun 2 – Battle of Kawagoe (Now Free)

If you already have Total War: Shogun 2 in your Steam library, you can grab the Battle of Kawagoe map for free. Originally only released as a pre-order bonus back in 2011, anyone can now play the legendary battle that saw the Hojo clan launch an attack against the Uesugi, Ogigayatsu, and Ashikaga clans under the cover of night.

Best Free Xbox Live Gold Games

Xbox Live Gold is the premium subscription tier of the Xbox Live online gaming service that costs $9.99 a month or $24.99 a quarter. Among the many perks you get with the service is free Xbox games every month. While Xbox 360 titles are yours to keep forever, Xbox One games can only be played as long as you have an active Xbox Live Gold subscription.

To claim your free games with an Xbox Live Gold subscription, go to the Gold section on your Xbox One console or visit this page on a computer to queue up the game for download on your console. Games are added on the 1st and 16th of every month.

The King of Fighters XIII (Until Jan. 15)

Originally released in 2010, The King of Fighters XIII includes over 30 playable characters and introduced several new gameplay elements. The game features several game modes, including Story, Arcade, Practice, and Challenge, with a story that is directly influenced by the player’s actions.

Little Nightmares (Until Jan. 31)

In Little Nightmares, you must escape a world filled with corrupted souls and childhood nightmares. As a platforming adventure game, you must solve puzzles to escape the horror.

Breakdown (Jan. 16-31)

Released in 2004 for the original Xbox, Breakdown follows a test subject given incredible powers that allow him to fight a mysterious race of invulnerable beings. As a first-person action game, you shoot, fighter, and interact with the world around you entirely from the protagonist’s perspective.

Dead Rising (Jan. 16 – Feb. 15)

This 2006 release sees you investigate a zombie outbreak at a mall, where you can use hundreds of different items to fight through the hordes. You are tasked with completing certain missions over a three-day period and your successes and failures ultimately inform the game’s ending.