Looking for some of the best online games with no downloads to play right now? Publishers like Steam and Epic Games are busy locking horns over their digital storefronts and platforms, but there’s a rich world of fun browser games that can be accessed directly through the web. No launchers or two-factor authentication, no agonising downloads or hard drive space juggling, just instant, free online games.
Impressively, despite the obvious tech constraints developers have also managed to craft free online games to cover any genre you can imagine, so yes, you can play Cookie Clicker in your browser. That being said, if you do have some hard drive space, you may want to check out our free PC games list instead. So whether you’re looking for something to sink a few minutes into or your next gaming habit, there’s a free online game for you. We’ve tried to ensure this list caters to all sorts – from RPGs, to massive multiplayer strategy games – all at the enviably low price of free.
Here are the best free online games for PC with no downloads:
Fancy assembling a team of heroes, then sitting back as they plough their way through countless levels where they’ll face endless foes? Or maybe you want to optimise your team so that you can annihilate the parties of other players? Then Hero Wars may be the game for you.
This idle game has an extremely loose storyline (that mostly gets forgotten about the more you play it), but the real appeal is collecting and enhancing your team of heroes – there are loads of them to collect, and they all have different outfits too (which sometimes completely change how they look), so you’re sure to sink a lot of hours into building your collection.
Forge of Empires
Forge of Empires takes elements from the Civ and Age of Empires series and mixes them together to create one of the PC’s best free online games, no download required. You start off in the stone age with a few shabby huts and a couple of spearmen to prop up your humble enclave of humanity, and over many, many hours you’ll progress your people through several historical eras, researching new military, scientific, welfare, and cultural institutions. Combat and expansion play out in separate screens, offering a little more space for players to flex their tactical muscles.
Friday Night Funkin’
Friday Night Funkin’ is a game you’ve probably already heard quite a bit about. Since its release a couple of years ago, it’s taken the internet by storm and accumulated a huge community of fans and modders. So what makes this rhythm game so special?
Well, you play as a character called Boyfriend who engages in various rap battles in order to impress Girlfriend. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, and when you pair that with easy-to-grasp, tough-to-master gameplay, you have a recipe for a highly addictive game that you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War
Ever wanted to command your own army of pirates? Well, that’s exactly what Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War is all about. In this free-to-play game, you build your own base out on the high seas, then you cultivate your own pirate fleet so that you can attack other bases. Winning battles gets you more resources, allowing you to strengthen your ships and repeat the process on and on as you get more powerful.
Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming
If you’re looking for an official Game of Thrones game then this is pretty much your only option on PC, and the fact that it’s a free online browser game doesn’t hurt either. You guide your very own lord on a path to greed and power on a server map modelled after Westeros, complete with all the major landmarks you encounter in the novels and TV series. Your aim, as in an MMO strategy game, is to grow and accumulate wealth and power, taking over more and more land before you’re ready to launch an attack on a major stronghold like Storm’s End, The Eyrie, or King’s Landing.
Aside from being able to add famous faces from the franchise to your army like Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen, one of the game’s best features is its JRPG-inspired battle scenes, which offer the kind of cinematic flair and scale that’s often missing from free browser games.
Fancy sailing the seven seas as a pirate? In this browser simulation game, there are both PvP and PvE maps, so you have the choice between battling terrifying sea monsters, where you can grind and gather resources, or you can go against other human players to assert yourself as master of the ocean.
The game has been around for years now, and developer, Bigpoint, has been refining and enhancing it the whole time. There’s a solid community of players and if you’re nervous about getting involved in a game like this so far into its lifespan, rest assured that you can join a guild so that you’re backed up by some of the more advanced players while you play.
Brush up on your hieroglyphs and get set to conquer the ancient world in Anocris. In this browser-based MMO, you take a tiny settlement on the banks of the Nile and turn it into your own bustling metropolis that’s the envy of all. Curry favour with the gods and earn special powers by holding festivals in their honour; build up your army to defend against marauding nomads (and other players); and strengthen your hold over the country by joining forces with other tribes. And yes, you get to build pyramids.
Historical city building is all well and good, but sometimes, it would be fun to create something a little more… magical. In Elvenar, you can choose to develop a mysterious Elven kingdom full of living buildings and fantastical creatures, or a more pragmatic and warlike empire in the name of humankind.
But you’re not confined to the streets of your new home as the explore mode allows you to uncover many additional areas with new abilities, mysteries, and monsters. Or, if you’re feeling particularly belligerent, you can whip your magical troops into shape at the barracks before heading out to take on the neighbouring provinces.
Rail Nation isn’t exactly for train games fanatics – this is a strategy game at its core, where you’ll spend your time making deals and expanding your railway empire rather than cruising along the Settle-Carlisle. Like many great browser-based online games, you’ll start small and slowly amass a vast network of railway lines, eventually allying with other railway tycoons to make your association as powerful as possible. There are heaps of train models to choose from and upgrade to, but for the most part, this is an online strategy game all about economics.
Eternal Fury: Resurrected
This is a game that you can run completely through your browser. It uses classic 3D sprites, but with gorgeous character portraits that appear for interactions, meaning that it looks great in a retro, early 2000s PC-gaming sort of way. The gameplay consists of dungeons, which are all made up of turn-based RPG battles. You grind your way up so that you can get through more and more of the dungeons.
It’s one of those games that’s great for de-stressing. It’s simple to play, but don’t be deceived into thinking that there’s not much to it. You’ll get a lot out of its complex levelling system, which gives you the chance to develop your character in whatever way you think is best. It’s easy to sink a lot of hours into this one, after which time you’ll feel proud of how far your character has come.
Travian has been knocking around for well over a decade, building up a loyal fanbase of MMO and strategy games enthusiasts and laying the foundations for many other entries on this list. Legends is its latest form, boasting gorgeous graphical upgrades while still being one of the few online games that doesn’t require a download.
The gameplay is refreshingly simple with very few hidden mechanics: you choose one of a handful of factions, found your tribe, and grow from a ramshackle village into a fortified, technologically advanced empire. You can keep yourself to yourself if you want, but if you do want to branch out there are also trades, alliances, and plenty of warfare to throw your clan into at a moment’s notice. There is some waiting around for buildings and actions to complete, but if you treat this as a relaxing game then you won’t find it too egregious.
The MMORTS genre might not be as widely recognised as the best MMOs and MMORPGs, but it’s on the rise, and Stronghold Kingdoms is one of the best examples around. This massively multiplayer real-time strategy game casts you as a feudal lord or lady and sets you to work building and growing a medieval empire by besieging your rivals, researching invaluable new tech, and forming alliances with others. It does require a tiny download to play, but the download itself is tiny and the game should run on any rig.
Like many free MMO RTS games, Stronghold Kingdoms is packed with depth if you’ve got the time to sink into it, with political struggles between players and large-scale wars to navigate on your rise to success. And sure, the graphics certainly look like they come straight from the late nineties, but they’re nothing if not charming.
Supremacy 1: The Great War
If you’re looking for something with some serious tactical nous then Supremacy 1 is one of the best free online games for grand strategy fans. The aim is simple enough: you guide your 20th-century nation to dominance over your continental peers. Your main tool is outright warfare, where you can deploy a huge range of units via land, air, and sea, which grows even more expansive as you grind through the game’s research tree.
There are diplomacy options so you can carefully manage your war-waging and resource management so you constantly need to consolidate your growth. There aren’t many free browser games that manage to feel as complex and detailed as a true grand strategy title, but Supremacy 1 comes close. There’s no download required to play Supremacy 1 on PC – you just need to run it on a web browser – but there is a Steam version coming later this year.
One of our best online board games picks is also one of the top online games to play with friends for free, no download required. Codenames is all about word association. You and an opponent assume the roles of rival spymasters and your aim is to work out where your fellow agents are in the field, which you do by taking turns to give one-word clues.
Of course, it’s also crucial that you don’t give any clues to the enemy, or accidentally prompt someone to guess the game-ending word. Setting a game up is mercifully simple, making this a great online game for Zoom calls, just be wary of forming vernacular vendettas with your besties.
Sunless Skies developer Failbetter Games has established itself as a fine crafter of narrative games since it came together in 2010. It’s there to see in one of the studio’s earliest efforts, too. Fallen London is a browser-based interactive narrative game that takes you to a Victorian and gothic take on the Old Smoke.
The city itself has been stolen, and it now rests underneath the rest of the world on the shore of the Unterzee. You’ve just arrived, and you’re down on your luck. That doesn’t mean you can’t rise to the top through the legal and illegal activities made available to you, though. Don’t sleep on one of the best story games just because you can play it in your browser.
Like all great platformer games, Ditto has its own spin on traversal to keep you guessing through its many, many levels. Every level is divided in two, with a reflected version of your character copying all of your actions, albeit in a sort of shadow realm where the obstacles are slightly different. If your shadow version falls off a ledge or is killed by a monster then you both perish.
Idle games are the ideal free online games if you’re too busy to actually play a game, and Cookie Clicker is one of the best examples of the genre around. You start with a giant cookie that you click on to produce more cookies, and then you spend those cookies on upgrades like automatic cookie-clicking fingers to click the giant cookie for you, grandmas to bake more cookies, or temples to pray for cookie-creating buffs. Before you know you’re producing hundreds of thousands of cookies per second.
Making numbers go up and up and up forever and ever is pretty addictive, so it goes. Cookie Clicker is one of the most famous computer games online, and the fact that it’s still being updated and played by thousands speaks to its endless appeal.
Io games are some of the most relaxing games on PC and offer a great break from work or more focused gaming. Slither.io is pretty simple: you’re a worm who slithers around a circular petri dish-like space gobbling up food and growing in length. There are other player-controlled worms to avoid or consume depending on whether you’re smaller or larger than them. At its core, Slither.io is a survival game at heart as players fight to see who can outlast each other.
If you’ve played the endlessly charming Donut County then you’ll be familiar with the core gameplay of Hole.io. You play as a hole in the bottom of the world that expands as objects fall into it. You’ll start small by hoovering up pedestrians and fire hydrants before graduating to trucks, buildings, and eventually skyscrapers. If you’re after chill online games to play now, Hole.io will hoover up your attention almost immediately.
This D&D-inspired card game mixes tabletop RPG elements with the deck-building gameplay of a CCG in a way that’s fresh and nostalgic all at once. You build a deck of cards for each of your party’s heroes by assigning them the weapons, armour, and trinkets you collect as loot on each of your adventures.
My Friend Pedro
There may be a shiny new version of My Friend Pedro on Steam, but the free online browser version that launched back in 2014 is still heaps of fun. This side-scrolling shooter is heavily inspired by Max Payne, so expect lots of slow-mo diving sequences and gratuitous gore.
This gorgeous isometric putting game reveals the entire course to you right from the beginning. Though Wonderputt is closer to mini-golf than actual golf, we still consider this to be a worthy sports game. As you complete each section of the course, a brand new area reveals itself via interesting animations. There are some light puzzles to navigate – as you’d expect from a mini golf course – and a seductive level of depth as you try to beat your score (or just make par) with increasingly ambitious shots.
It really is quite incredible that one of the best battle royale games on PC is a free online browser game. Zombs Royale takes the simple assets and controls of Zombs.io and adds all the trappings of a PUBG-like, with a shrinking playable zone, random loot to scavenge, and 99 other players to outlive. It’s ridiculously fast-paced, so if you need to kill a couple of minutes and grab a poultry dinner then this one’s for you. It’s refreshing to see that the limits of free games with no downloads are still being pushed.
Zombs.io is one of the best ‘survive the night’ style zombie games where you build a base, farm resources, build up your defences, and prepare to hunker down after the sun goes does and the undead begin attacking your base. Like other io games there are plenty of other players to fend off, too, so don’t leave your base undefended during the day either.
Kingdom of Loathing
There aren’t many funny games in general, let alone comedic free online games. Fortunately, Kingdom of Loathing is on hand to plug the gap with its ludicrous spin on classic RPG classes, like the saucerer who flings hot sauce at enemies to damage them, or the pastamancer, who can control long, lethal strings of pasta to take down foes from afar. As well as being ridiculous and humorous, Kingdom of Loathing is also a fully functioning MMORPG, with clan dungeons and PvP combat. So, if you’ve ever wanted your free online games with a smidge more food fights and seal clubbing then KoL is most definitely for you.
And there you have it, a list of the finest online games at the fairest price of all: free. Of course, if you’re still wanting more then we have a list of free MMOs and free Steam games. If you can’t download any additional games on your system, check out this list of the best IO games around. So, what are you waiting for? There’s a whole world of free online games out there.
The original article was written by Jordan Forward.