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Best free war games online

From World of Tanks, to War Thunder, to Enlisted, these are our favourite free war games on PC - with guides to get started in each.

free war games 2022 A tank set on fire

Looking for awesome free war games? There’s a lot out there, covering various settings, time periods, scales, and styles of play, so keeping up to date with the latest military simulators, historical multiplayer shooters, and hex wargames can be a battle. To give both your brain and your wallet a break, we’ve created this list of the best free war games on PC in 2023.

All are immensely popular with consistently high player bases – but they’re also guaranteed to tickle the fancy of anyone with a hankering for historically reverent action.

And when we say free, we really mean free. Although the games on this list include extra content you can purchase with in-game and premium currencies, they can also be fully enjoyed without spending a penny.

You won’t get access to the very best weapons right away, and you’ll usually have to grind longer than your paying counterparts. But, as freebies go, these games offer up brilliant experiences that aren’t ruined by pay-to-win mechanics. What’s more – while they’re mainly WW2 games in nature, there’s some scope here to play beyond the bounds of 1939-1945.

The best free war games are:

  1. World of Tanks – best overall
  2. Enlisted – best free WW2 shooter
  3. War Thunder – best free air, land, and sea war game
  4. World of Warships – best free naval game
  5. Supremacy 1914 – best free strategy war game
  6. KARDS – best free war card game
  7. World of Tanks Blitz – best casual free war game

1. World of Tanks

The best free war game overall is World of Tanks.

This free-to-play classic is an arcade-style vehicular battler, with all the big guns, big explosions, and frenetic armour brawling you could hope for. Pick a tank, and plunge into fast-paced skirmishes, as you nip about gallic fields and tight urban landscapes, blasting shells at enemies in competitive, instant action battles.

Although World of Tanks isn’t the most serious of simulations, it’s not all dumb shooting. You’ll have to carefully angle your cannon to pierce the armour of opposing tanks, and tactically manoeuvre around the battlefield to flank and pincer enemies. Dive in for a quick gunfight if that’s your thing, or learn its gameplay intricacies to rise up the leaderboards.

The game has spawned a loyal following of hardcore tankers that know its tech tree inside out, and can angle shells faster than you can say, ‘That’s a jolly big gun!’. But it’s also a treat for casual players that fancy a quick fight with their friends. Or, join a clan, and work your way up the regular clan tournaments for extra unlocks, and kudos.

World of Tanks is a treat for history buffs, too. With over 400 mid-twentieth century American, British, USSR, Chinese, and other tanks lovingly recreated with historical reverence, climbing up the game’s tech tree is a reward in itself. Put in a fair few hours of skirmishing and you’ll find a game that’s instantly enjoyable, and surprisingly cerebral.

You can play World of Tanks for free right now – even if you’re on your phone, there’s World of Tanks: Blitz to give you a handheld version of the game. Once you’ve learned the ropes, check out our guide to the best tanks in World of Tanks to up your game.

2. Enlisted

The best best free WW2 shooter is Enlisted.

A newer entry in the free-to-play games space, Enlisted is a hardcore, squad-focused, multiplayer, first-person shooter that comes from War Thunder developer Gaijin.

Drop into the muddy boots of a Second World War infantry unit, and shoot your way through tactical skirmishes, as you capture objectives, and dwindle the enemy team’s reinforcements.

When we say Enlisted is squad focused we really mean it. You’ll lead a personalised squad of AI infantry in each battle, giving orders and storming strategic locations to capture territory.

And these squadmates aren’t merely decorative. If you get killed on the field, you’ll take control of one of your comrades, living on to continue the fight. It keeps you in the action, and ensures that a single mistake made in the thick of battle doesn’t cost you vast reload times.

As in War Thunder, there’s a slew of gear upgrades to unlock, or purchase with premium in-game currency, as well as various squad types that bring distinct combat specialisations.

Engineers are adept at constructing defensive fortifications, Radio Operators can call in air strikes, Pilots fly fighter and bomber planes, and plenty more to choose from. Individual soldiers within your squad can be upgraded and specialised with new weaponry or abilities, letting you create a truly customisable fighting force.

Enlisted’s multiplayer maps are split across thematic ‘campaigns’, involving different forces, unlocks, weapons, equipment, and a variety of Enlisted tanks, each offering a tangibly new experience of playing the game.

The recently released Battle for Moscow and Invasion of Normandy have introduced the Soviet, Nazis, and US forces, while the Battle for Berlin and Battle of Tunisia add British forces and more maps to the game.

A relatively new release that could still use some polish, Enlisted stands out for its detailed squad customisation, rewarding progression, and commitment to authentic WWII realism. It might be another squad-based shooter, but it fully leans into that label to offer an enjoyably unique experience and remains among the most enjoyable free online games.

Play Enlisted for free.

3. War Thunder

The best free air, land, and sea war game is War Thunder.

A competitive multiplayer vehicular battler, War Thunder might seem a little redundant next to the other games on this list. But it has one shining feature that sets it firmly apart: air, land, and sea battles all wrapped together in a single game. There’s no reason to choose one mode of warfare over the rest, you can dive into every method of vehicular fighting, and switch between them with ease.

Far from spreading itself too thin, War Thunder tank battles, War Thunder plane dogfights, and battleship skirmishes are some of the best in the action wargame space. As with World of Tanks, angling and positioning are of prime importance in land battles, but its armour penetration system is far more complex. Naval skirmishes, too, put greater focus on objective-based scenarios, as well as team communication. They’re quick to get to the action, but don’t expect any punches to be pulled when the shells start flying.

If you’re keen to take to the open air, you can do little better than War Thunder. Its aerial combat is unequalled in the free-to-play space. New pilots can jump into the cockpit for a quick firefight and feel the adrenaline rush fast-paced, free-flowing action, while flight sim veterans can enjoy its more demanding mechanics, or jump into a Simulator Battle for a fully immersive experience.

You’ll unlock more vehicles as you progress, while earning experience or purchasing in-game currency to upgrade their stats and features. Just in its sheer number of tanks, planes, and ships available to play, War Thunder’s wealth of content is bound to have something to offer.

Play War Thunder for free.

4. World of Warships

The best free naval game is World of Warships.

WoW (no, not that one) takes the free-to-play arcade action of World of Tanks and transports it to the open ocean. Command a ship in team battles, as you fight to capture objectives and sink enemy vessels, leveraging teamwork and shrewd positioning to get a foothold over the enemy team.

You can enjoy World of Warships for its casual competitive multiplayer, in which you’re guaranteed a frenetic watery firefight. But look deeper, and you’ll find a more cognitively demanding game.

Planning the direction, speed, and course of your ship is vital to claiming a successful position on the battlefield, and simultaneously managing your ship’s pivoting and the lead-time of your shells makes for high-octane matches in which every shot counts.

Spanning destroyers, cruisers, battleships, and aircraft carriers, each ship brings particular martial strengths and moveability requirements, changing how you approach battle. Add to that over 450 ships from WWI right the way through to the early 1950s, and World of Warships is a joy for anyone keen to see their favourite naval vessels, both famous and niche, in action.

Play World of Warships for free

Best WW1 games guide - Supremacy 1914 screenshot showing the map of europe including great britain

5. Supremacy 1914

The best free strategy war game is Bytro Labs’ Supremacy 1914.

If action war games aren’t your thing, this is a popular free-to-play, multiplayer grand strategy game that puts you in charge of one of dozens of nations during World War One, alongside 499 other players (either human or AI).

It’s not the most comprehensive, detailed, or historically rigorous of WW1 games – but the huge player count and flexible mechanics make for an entertaining, varied alternate history playground every time. Work has gone into making each of the many, many playable countries function a bit differently, too.

It’s no match for Hearts of Iron 4 in terms of depth, breadth, realism, or compelling systems – but, at the low, low price of zero dollars, it’s a splendid, low-stakes grand strategy kickabout that’s well worth a try. 

Best free war games online guide - Kards WW2 card game screenshot showing a game in play, with several unit cards laid out on a wooden tabletop

6. KARDS – The WW2 Card Game

The best free war card game.

If you’re a fan of digital trading card games like MTG Arena, and fancy enjoying the same card-collecting, deck-building, combo-crafting strategy gameplay with a WW2 theme, look no further than KARDS.

First released in 2020 by 1939 Games – a tiny studio formed from former devs at EVE Online dev CCP – KARDS might seem, at first glance, like an unnatural tonal match. The light-hearted, frenetic card-slinging of a Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon TCG match, and the serious historical theme of WW2 wargames are not, after all, the most obvious bedfellows.

But trust us, it works. TCG fans will find the gameplay familiar: each player has a ‘backline’ of supporting cards on the table, and must use cards representing military units to take control of a shared ‘frontline’ between the two players.

Infantry and Tanks must take the frontline to launch attacks at your rival’s backline and do damage; Artillery sits in the backline to do ranged damage; and Aircraft cards are used to harry and hem in the enemy via Air Superiority.

Each turn, you’ll have to manage a limited budget of ‘Kredits’ – the equivalent of Mana or Power in other TCGs – because everything has a Kredits cost, from deploying new units from your hand to attacking with your units on the field. The more games you win, the more new cards you’ll unlock, and the more you’re able to specialise your deck towards your chosen strategy.

It’s a compelling mix that’s easy to get the hang of, and well worth investing some time into.

Play KARDS free on Steam. 

Best free war games online guide - World of Tanks Blitz screenshot showing several brightly colored tanks with WOT blitz skins applied

7. World of Tanks Blitz

The best casual free war game.

World of Tanks is already a pretty accessible, simple to grasp game – compared to War Thunder or more complex strategy war games, at least – but if you want something even more bitesize, simplified, and lightning fast, World of Tanks Blitz is the one for you.

Originally launched in 2014 as WOT’s mobile game equivalent, Blitz quickly became mega-popular in its own right, thanks to its ultra-simple gameplay style and no-nonsense, quick-fire matches. These days both are free to play on PC, so it’s a straight choice between full-fat WOT (for more tanks, more detailed systems, and strategic gameplay) or Blitz (for a quicker, more casual experience).

Best free war games online guide - World of Tanks Blitz screenshot showing a pre game menu screen, a tank and pilot wearing a hoodie

Games of WOT Blitz focus less on careful positioning, micro-managing of loadouts and ammunition types, strategic interplays of different tanks’ abilities and weaknesses, and so on.

Instead, with smaller maps, shorter match times, fewer players on each team, and – wait for it – no artillery, the game encourages faster, more mobile and action oriented battles. If you want exciting armored assaults and life-or-death maneuvers, and you’re less bothered about historically accurate tinkering and strategizing – Blitz is a cracking free-to-play choice, whether you’re playing on PC or mobile.

Play World of Tanks Blitz free on Steam.

Read our guide on the best free strategy games for other free recommendations that’ll scratch your wargaming itch. Meanwhile, you might also like the list of the best tank games over on our sibling site, PCGamesN.