During this difficult period you’re probably – and understandably – spending more and more time on your phone. For most of us, our phones are our main tool for keeping up with friends and family (if you haven’t downloaded it yet, the Houseparty app can help you organise large virtual gatherings). But there will also be times in the coming months where you just want to slump on your sofa and relax with one of the best Android games. That’s where this list comes in.
The Google Play Store houses plenty of awful games and shameless rip-offs, but there’s an ever-increasing number of games that genuinely deserve your time. If you know where to look, you’ll find fiendish puzzlers, satisfying platformers, and RPGs that can easily eat 100 hours of your time. We’ve sifted through them all to come up with this list of gems. Here are the 75 best Android games you can play right now.
Each month, we review a major new Android release in the hopes of finding new entries to this list. Some will make the cut, others won’t, but all the games we’ll review are at least worth knowing about. For the full list of the best Android games, turn to page 2.
Everybody knows that The Witcher 3 is a card game with a massive RPG attached (that’s how I play it, at least). But not everybody knows that a version of that card game, Gwent, spun off as an online, standalone entity way back in 2018. As sadly often happens, Android gamers have had to wait longer than everyone else to play it, but I’m happy to report that every second of the wait was worth it. Gwent, out now, is the best multiplayer card game on Android, and everybody – genre veterans and newcomers alike – should download it for free immediately.
Worst things first: the UI and controls can be fiddly, and it’s often not clear what piece of the screen you’re interacting with. For example, in matches tapping on your Leader – a character on the side of the board that has a limited-use special ability – will stop you interacting with anything else, which can be frustrating. If you tap on your leader and use your ability, and then try to end your turn, the game won’t let you. You have to first tap your leader again first to deactivate it, but the UI doesn’t make that clear: there’s a lack of obvious, glowing visual cues to tell you what you currently have selected. This problem carries over to some of the menus, too.
And…that’s basically my only complaint with Gwent. Everything else, from the ruleset to the generous free-to-play model, is a treat. Matches are best of three, and to win a round you must have more points on the board than your opponent when the round ends. Every card you play in one of two rows (down from three in The Witcher 3 version) adds a certain number of points to your score, and many cards will modify other units. You might play a card that boosts the score of all allies in that row, or a card that deals damage to an enemy unit, thus lowering your opponents’ score.
(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)
Gwent matches are best of three rounds. You start with 10 cards and, between rounds, you draw three new cards. You could play all 10 cards in round one, or – and here is where Gwent gets really interesting – you can choose to pass at any point, which ends your participation in a round. Your opponent then has the choice of whether to pass, or whether to keep playing cards until they’re ahead on points, at which point they’ll win the round.
In other words, not only are you deciding which combination of cards to play, but you’re also deciding whether, at every turn, to pass or to push. You might want to pass if your opponent is miles ahead in round one so that you can hold onto the best cards for rounds two and three. Or you might pass if, conversely, you’re way ahead, and you know that your opponent will have to play lots of cards to win the round, thus giving you a numerical card advantage later on. It sounds complicated, but card combos in Gwent are relatively easy to grasp (more on that later). Learning when to pass, either by practise or via a YouTube tutorial, is far from easy, but it’s a transferable skill that holds you in good stead no matter which of the six factions you choose to play with. Once you’ve got a feel for when to play on and when to pull back, you won’t forget it.
(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)
Each of those factions offer completely different mechanics. The Northern Realms build engines that gain power over the course of the round, The Skellige resurrect discarded cards, while The Syndicate amass coins throughout a round and then spend them on different effects. I stuck with Monsters, and even just within that faction I’m finding tons of different strategies. I could pack my deck with vampires that bleed the enemy dry, or with insectoids that multiply and overrun the enemy. Instead, I’ve focused on cards with a “Deathwish” skill that activates on their demise, combined with cards that “Consume” friendly cards, adding their scores together and activating a Deathwish. Like most combos in Gwent, it’s intuitive, easy to spot, and you can build your entire deck around it. I’m a dozen hours in, and this tactic alone is yet to get old. When I do eventually get bored, I’ll simply pick up another faction, and spend another dozen hours getting to grips with it.
Bear in mind that you can do all this without ever tossing a coin Gwent’s way. Just by playing you unlock plenty of new cards, cosmetics, and fragments with which to craft other cards. Spending points at an unlock tree gives you more than enough currency to regularly buy card packs, and opening these will expand your deck quickly. You can of course spend real money on packs, but it’s the kind of model that all free-to-play games would adopt in an ideal world: you can figure out how much you like the game without investing any money and then, if you decide you’re in for the long haul, splash out.
And as much as I previously moaned about the controls and UI, the Android port is solid, on the whole. You can find opponents quickly, cards pop with pleasing special effects as war drums sound in the background, and dragging cards onto the board feels completely natural. I thought building a deck would be difficult on such a small screen, but Gwent uses what space it has effectively, giving you lots of information about your cards without ever feeling too cramped.
Gwent, for the moment, has usurped Hearthstone to become the best card game on the Google Play Store. Its unique ruleset puts card game beginners on an even footing with veterans, and the variety of factions, as well as the endless tactical possibilities within each faction, give you plenty to do without spending any money whatsoever. The price might be free, but this is a properly premium Android game.
Turn to page two for our pick of the 70 best Android games to play right now…
This article originally appeared on https://www.gamesradar.com/best-android-games/