Looking for something to fill that soccer ball-sized hole in your heart?
Well, you’re going to be a little broke after getting the hole fixed, so thankfully, there are plenty of free games to get your football (or soccer for us Americans) fix.
Each of these is totally free, with only microtransactions for most of them, but nothing that you’ll need to have fun.
So, grab your ball and shin guards before heading down to the pitch because the game is about to start!
The latest in the eFootball annual series, eFootball 2024, is a solid effort by Konami to rival the FIFA series, with none of the cost.
Mostly none, at least, since Konami loves to add in microtransactions wherever they can, which helps to boost player stats or add some uniform changes. As far as things go, it’s not as gimmicky as other sports games when it comes to pay-to-win, but that’s mostly due to the money they get from licensing.
Speaking of, licensing for eFootball 2024 pulls from real-life football clubs. Build up a dream team for a season or play as the current lineup for any number of teams across Major League Soccer. When it comes to options, everything is here for the casual soccer fan, and the gameplay will scratch the FIFA itch without the cost.
The only real drawback to this is that the game mostly sticks to online play. The single-player modes are very basic matches, and the AI doesn’t take the ‘Intelligent’ part of ‘AI’ so well.
It’s still a fun time though, and catching an online game is pretty easy with busy servers at almost any time.
Play On: PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox Series, Xbox One
Look, just because you’re playing as a jet-powered car instead of a human doesn’t change the game at heart.
Rocket League is one of the best games to capture the excitement and frenetic speed of soccer, with all the octane of Twisted Metal. After nearly ten years, the game is in the stage of Free to Play, with microtransactions available for various cosmetics.
It’s as simple as it gets – use a car with a jet engine, hit a giant ball, and score on your foe’s goal. Except the cars are more acrobatic (and dramatic) than an Olympic Village with twice the force behind them. You’ll have quite a few explode in heated rushes for the initial ball toss and even more racing for a boost node.
Single-player seasons are fun to play with decent AI, but the fun of Rocket League lies in the online modes. Everything from solos to 4v4, with alternate modes including basketball and hockey, makes sure there’s a lot to break up the football gameplay.
Just play casual mode, though, because ranked matches get very quickly heated!
Play On: Xbox Series, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC, Switch
Know off the bat that you’ll be getting the same experience for this game whether you play on PC or mobile. That said, it’s not to say it looks bad by any means, but a lot of the minigames were definitely tailored toward a mobile gameplay style.
With that said, Pro 11- Football Manager hits all the right notes for a sports sim, tasking you with starting out in the ranks of popular clubs in the Premier League or Serie A before working up to the World Cup.
There’s an army worth of players in the game, though some will take grinding to get to, but they’re put to fun use in the Champion League mode. This allows you to face down a league full of the greatest lineups, testing your skills against some of the best.
Plenty of different modes and online competitions make this great for those who like to set up fantasy leagues or just brag to strangers. While it’s completely free to play, it can get a little pricy on the microtransactions, though, so keep an eye on that.
Play On: PC, Mobile
Okay, ask yourself if you want to have a legitimate, realistic, physics-based soccer game or a silly, fun soccer game. Because with IOSoccer you can have both for the low price of no money (but most of your sanity).
What began as a Half-Life 2 mod is one of the most realistic soccer physics engines out there. Everything is controllable, from dribble speed, kick strength, and jump height.
Some of the community really like to show off and do cool tricks like flips or dives that would absolutely kill a real person, but it’s pretty cool in the game. That’s also where the sanity part of IOSoccer’s bargain with the devil comes in.
The community for this game is unhinged. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is for you to decide. There are times when an online game will be a serious matchup with awesome players or times when everyone is just stacking players. It’s really a wildcard that you may see.
Play On: PC, Mobile
If you’re looking for one of the best free management sims for any sport, Soccer Manager 2022 is the one. It says it has micro-transactions, and while they can pop up a little often, they’re absolutely an afterthought in the gameplay.
A base roster of 25000 players with FIFPRO affiliation is available throughout the game. Naturally, a lot of those have to be unlocked, but with the gameplay, business simulation, and soccer AI, nothing ever feels like a grind.
There’s just as much fun to managing the team as there is to watching your matches play out because the entire system was overhauled with this last iteration.
Soccer Manager 2022 gets overlooked and unfairly lumped with the other free-to-play games, but it’s a real diamond in the rough. There’s a lot of love behind the development of this project, and the seasons have only gotten better as updates keep coming.
Play On: PC, Mobile
Developers of the indie horror gem Darkwood have come back with a fantastic turn-based tactical soccer game. That might sound boring, but Soccer Kids is one of the most charming little projects there. This is just an alpha for a game still in development, but the free tweaks and content the team is steadily rolling out have been more than generous.
You’ll play as a group of kids in 90s Poland, picking up the game of street soccer. There isn’t a whole lot to the story as of yet, but it has a charming art style, and the tactical gameplay is addicting.
From making moves to dribble past another player and shoot on the goal or having a team-mate insult the goalie to distract them, the gameplay is constantly switching up variety.
Is it the most in-depth simulation of the sport? Absolutely not, but it does bring back that childhood simplicity of grabbing a soccer ball and heading out with friends. Everyone needs a little nostalgia like that from time to time, and Soccer Kids has it in spades.
Play On: PC
Personally, I like to have some silly fun here and there, and any genre of game can do that beautifully. That’s the basic idea at the heart of Gorilla Soccer, a VR game where you’ll be a gorilla playing soccer. What you see is what you get.
The fun is that you’ll run, dribble, and kick using your hands only since you’re a gorilla traveling on all fours. Best played with friends or on a stream, if that’s your thing, because this will one hundred percent make players look like idiots during a match.
You’ll be furiously swiping your hands through the air to run across the field against other gorillas, desperately chasing the ball and colliding.
A surprising amount of game modes pad it out, too, with penalty shootouts and other competitive games. Single and online are both optional, though the AI is more chaotic than helpful. It’s a fun time, though, and for free, that can’t be beat.
Play On: VR
A mobile-only offering that’s competing with some of the best-paid games on PC, Dream League Soccer has everything. The 2024 season just got into swing, and the game is taking off with 4000 players to hit the grass.
There’s a great balance here between the management aspect and actually playing on the field. Plenty of variety in players, stats, and tactics make sure everything stays fresh, and more is being added every year.
The most important thing for me personally, in any management game, is an easy interface, and Dream League Soccer just redesigned everything. It’s so much easier to navigate and a lot less cluttered than some AAA titles.
Just know that the free-to-play model is in full effect here and that microtransactions are everywhere. That said, it’s again nothing that can’t be handled with minimal grind. There’s a lot of fun to be had in Dream League Soccer, though, whether playing a campaign or competitively.
Play On: Mobile
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