Apple and Google are two of the most powerful gaming companies on earth. The success of their mobile operating systems, iOS and Android, respectively, created a huge ecosystem of games and potential players. You may need to trudge through exploitative, free-to-play garbage to find them, but there are many great games on mobile devices. You won’t see the same AAA blockbusters you’ll find on consoles or PC, but you can still enjoy indie debuts, retro classics, and even original Nintendo games.
New subscription services make it easier than ever to spot those gems. Apple Arcade offers an exclusive curated catalog of premium mobile games. Google Play Pass now gives you hundreds of games (as well as apps) free of microtransactions for a $5-per-month subscription. GameClub resurrects mobile gaming classics from both ecosystems in one subscription.
Google’s willingness to license Android to more partners also means most gaming-focused mobile hardware targets Android. Razer Phone offers a great gaming experience (at the cost of other phone features), while the Razer Junglecat controller makes it easy to play Android games on a television. Google Cardboard turns your Android phone into an accessible virtual reality headset.
In fact, as a gaming platform Android is arguably better and more comprehensive than Google’s half-baked game streaming service Google Stadia, even if that subscription does technically let you play Red Dead Redemption 2 on a Pixel phone. For a superior Android game streaming experience, check out Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
So, have some fun on your phone with something that isn’t Twitter. Check out these mobile games for your Android device of choice. For you non-gamers, we also have a list of best Android apps.
Among Us dominated the gaming world in 2020 as the perfect, paranoid, quarantine pastime, even though it technically launched in 2018. As you and your fellow astronaut friends work together to fix your spaceship, secret saboteurs work to quietly kill you all. Whether you use good old-fashioned social manipulation to flush out the truth, or lie your head off to continue the ruse, trust nothing and no one.
On PCs, the MOBA market is completely dominated by Dota 2 and League of Legends. On mobile, however, the playing field is a little more even. Arena of Valor, from Chinese megacorporation Tencent, is one of the best ways you can enjoy this truly bizarre real-time strategy genre on the go.
Give me any device that plays Crossy Road, and I will absolutely try to get that chicken across the road again. The Frogger formula works wonderfully as a methodical endless runner. The colorful voxel look is iconic, and chickens are just inherently funny.
In Downwell, you plummet down randomized stages using guns strapped to your feet. The goal? Pull off the most stylish runs possible before death. Bullets not only kill enemies, but help you hover in the air for crucial repositioning. The levels themselves are retro and mostly monochrome, save for the occasional red splashes. The vertical orientation really sells the feeling of falling.
Before you play the big-budget remake on PlayStation 4, experience the original game that elevated Final Fantasy from popular JRPG to beloved cultural institution. In this mobile Final Fantasy VII, Cloud and his friends may not have as many polygons as their console and PC counterparts, but they have just as much heart. New cheat codes make it easy to experience the story, without getting bogged down in battles.
Arguably a huge reason why Fortnite became as popular as it did is because you can fully participate in its battle royales for free on mobile. How many kids secretly play this version on their phone in class when teachers aren’t looking? Now available on Google Play, manufacturers even use Fortnite as a selling point for their premium phones. Let’s just hope Epic and Google squash their beef.
Hitman Go takes everyone’s favorite bald video game assassin and presents a stylish, abstract take on his typically realistic murders. Levels resemble tabletop board games, and you take turns moving an Agent 47 game piece around to snuff out his targets. Fortunately, the darkly comic strategy remains, and the clean, elegant aesthetic feels appropriate for someone who makes a living through dispassionate professional killing.
For years, pretenders have attempted to bring the smash hit MOBA genre to mobile phones, but with League of Legends: Wild Rift, the biggest name in the field makes its true Android debut. Traditional strategies still apply as you, your team, and your minions, battle the enemy team for control of the map. Thanks to the smaller, mobile-friendly battlefield, and revamped touch controls for moving and casting spells, fights are even faster and more frenetic than before.
Originally, the mobile version of Minecraft wasn’t quite the same thing as its PC and console counterparts. However, the games have since been unified, with new versions largely taking from the mobile version’s foundations, ironically enough. So, know that when you’re building blocks and taking down Creepers on your phone, you aren’t getting a compromised experience.
Monument Valley became the poster child for mobile games as art, and for good reason. Its beautiful optical illusion puzzles are triumphs of design, and they work here because of mobile’s unique strengths as a platform. You can’t go wrong with either the original or its sequel.
By letting us hunt creatures in our own backyards, Pokemon Go turned our real world into the world of Pokemon. It’s a blessed video game, proof that augmented reality offers a genuinely exciting new way to play. Even when you can’t go out into the real world, Pokemon Go lets you join the fun. Check out our Pokemon Go tips for more.
Reigns takes the casual swiping interface of a dating app and uses it to have players make earth-shaking decisions as a medieval monarch. Reigns: Her Majesty swaps out the king for a queen, and adds robust management mechanics alongside richer writing. There’s a Game of Thrones version, too, but it may just bring up bad memories of how the show ended.
Thatgamecompany made a name for itself with a trio of acclaimed indie art games: Flow, Flower, and Journey. Sky: Children of Light definitely follows in that tradition. This is a family-friendly MMO about holding hands and soaring through skies of open, non-linear, theme park-esque levels. It’s equal parts adorable and thrilling. Like in Journey, you communicate nonverbally through various emotes, allowing connections that span continents and language barriers.
Mobile gaming is great for spontaneous local multiplayer sessions, because everyone carries a phone. Spaceteam leverages that idea by tasking players to shout Star Trek-esque technobabble at each other to cooperate and keep their spaceship functioning before time runs out. No other platform could support a game that uniquely fantastic.
Stardew Valley’s chill, yet potent, mix of farming, life sim, and casual RPG elements made it a modern indie classic. A game about checking in on your farm for a few minutes every day is the kind of game you want on your phone. Plus, if your real dating app starts to get too depressing, you can romance these kind-hearted video game country folks instead.
Throw 2048 in the trash and play Threes, the original, superior puzzle game about sliding numbered tiles together to create the biggest combos possible. Along with a rock-solid puzzle hook, Threes charms with its soft pastel aesthetics that burst with character. The game is now free with ads, so you have no excuse.
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This article originally appeared on https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-android-games