2012 Holiday Gift Guide: Gaming PC Exclusive Free-2-Play Feature List


There are number of ways to put a holiday smile on the face of your favorite PC gamer. Many PC titles will be dirt cheap come crunch time. But here’s something a bit more unique. It’s super light on the finances and may even be something that special game lover didn’t even think to mention. I’m talking about Free-2-Play real money purchases. Think of them like digital gift cards. Every F2P game makes use of microtransactions,  and has a way for customers to purchase chunks or bundles of in-game currency, of some sort. Said currency is then used to buy in-game items.  These make fantastic gift items. Your loved one can immediately buy that sweet shotgun they’ve been saving up for… Or they can get that slick decal, paint job or character skin that helps make them feel like a badass. Here are just a couple of the coolest Free-2-Play games for which you can help a loved one either find a reason to give them a go or a way to enhance their current gameplay.

SOE Planetside 2 (Sony SOE)

Are you shopping for the “Think BIG” gamer? Do they like to play in large digital sandboxes, race across vast landscapes and wage war on battlefields of massive scale? Does Battlefield 3 “largest” maps feel like gussied up theme parks to the open-ended persistence they crave? Then chest out soldier, it’s time your loved one take their hunger Planetside 2.

Planetside 2 is SOE’s official sequel to the 2003 game which patted itself on the back for being the first FPSMMO, for good or ill (it was often technical ill). This time Planetside 2 is a free-2-play class-based FPSMMO game, sort of.  The game is spit up between three factions, unlike Battlefield 3’s two. You are vying for territory, control points and precious resources, which can be used to gain the upper hand via weapon, items and “Cert” purchases.

The landscape and scope of Planetside 2 is unlike any experience in gaming. The content and objectives is impressively layered and complex for a free game, with several metagames beneath the faction territory struggle. Even the dogfights are epic. The maps are massive and replete with gullies and valleys for undulating and long protracted battles. Teamwork is essential; this is no CoD. War is fought in groups on land in the air and on the road.

There are ways to pay in up for a bunch  of content and items, some even unique. Again this is a free-2-play game so even your most miserly gaming loved one can try it with just a simple download. But empower them with a paid bundle of goods and in-game cash this holiday season!

Tribes Ascend (Hi-Rez Studios)

Here is Hi-Rez seizing the reign of a key IP and going balls out, honoring the name and holding true to what original long-standing fans had come to love, while heaping on a thick creamy endless flow of rich content and features that have made this the definite “Tribes” game.

Tribes Ascend is a super fast paced FPS done on a fairly large scale for the sheer speed of the gameplay. It’s been dubbed the “world’s faster” first-person shooter, and I tend to agree–depending on what class you play. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What makes Tribes Ascend so speedy, is the skiing mechanic. Each of the game’s maps are specifically made to take advantage of this with hills and valleys to gain and conserve momentum. Use your jetpack to ascend a hill and then activate your friction-less boots on the descent to take advantage of your momentum and gain “ludicrous” speeds. The unique mode of travel is the game’s bread and butter. There are dozens of YouTube tutorials for unskilled Tribesmen to hone their craft. The ways in which you can manipulate movement in the world boggles the mind. The speed is exhilarating, highly addictive and makes targeting super-skilled based.

Choose between 3 model types split up into 9 different character classes. Each has its own slew of uses and benefits. Some are best for infiltrating and disabling enemy bases and defenses, other are general infantry attackers, while other are better playing the backfield as snipers. There are technicians and heavier harder-hitting Juggernaut classes, while lighter Pathfinders and their penchant for unbridled speed are best at overtaking enemies on the run.  The game offers a number of really cool and creative weapons, vehicles and items of all sort of varieties, for energy based to ballistic and much in between. It all be enhanced and modified for a deep customization mechanic.

There are Daily Deals and Gold packages starting at $10 a pop. Some of the items, which require real money are purely cosmetic. Yet I didn’t play much or excel at the Pathfinder class until I bought the “Free-Runner” skin. Trust me it makes a difference and a thoughtful holiday surprise.

Shawn Sanders

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