addons are what make blender not just competitive but better than other 3d applications, there are alot of new paid addons on the market but today we will just focus on the free new addons you can get.
if you want crowds, but cant afford paid addons like procedural crowds or population, or crowd fusionister, then this new and free alternative should do the job, its not as sophisticated as the paid ones and its character library is a collection from mixamo.com but for most beginners and low budget renders this is enough.
we all hate it when your bevel starts intersecting with its self, safe inset is a free addon that helps resolve that by managing your insets, collapsing them when they try to intersect hence producing better topology
this free fire scatter addon, creates fake good looking fire and smoke based off geometry nodes, it can also be used to create smoke and fog.
if you cant afford addons like botaniq, then try this free alternative, its library is not as large as botaniq or other plant library, but for most renders you dont need a large library so this is going to be enough for most of you, what i like most about it is its scattering features, you can control how the plants are scattered or instance to get a realistic biome.
if you do texture painting alot, psd layers is going to be a time saver for you, its a free texture painting addon that introduces a layer based system used in photoshop into blender, you can create layers to paint on, and move them up or down the layer stack, it also brings more photoshop functionality into blender like, blending modes and more.
when you start using psd-layers you are going to wonder how you lived without it.
blender comes with an inbuilt sky system but its limited in what it does, thats why addons like the physical starlight and atmosphere exist which is a paid addon, if you dont have the money for something like that, this free alternative may not have all the functionalities and options that come with physical starlight and atmosphere, but its still better than the inbuilt sky system that comes with blender.
if you want smoke but your pc is not upto it, this free smoke scatter addon can help, it uses smoke texture assets and geometry nodes, to create instances of smoke that look like the real thing, and will work on any machine, its lite and works in realtime so you can simulate your smoke at your desired fps.