Best Mobile Games of 2018 (So Far) For Android, iPhone, And iOS
Best Mobile Games of 2018 (So Far) For Android, iPhone, And iOS
Sometimes, the best kinds of games are the ones you can play away from your television or monitor, the kinds of games you can play on the couch horizontally while bingeing a television show, or while you're waiting for a friend. But we're not talking about your Nintendo 3DS or Switch here--sometimes you need something smaller, a game for when you're standing shoulder to shoulder on the bus to work, something portable enough you can play with one hand to help you kill your long commute time.
That's right: mobile games. Hey wait! Come back, it'll be good I promise! Despite the kinds of games you might be thinking of featuring birds, clans, candy, farms, or some monstrous hybrid of them all, there are actually a lot of great new games coming out to the App Store and the Google Play that are definitely worth checking out on your phone or tablet.
Mobile platforms have always been home to super interesting games that take risks, whether it be due to the unique form factor, control methods, or just because. But if you like blockbuster games, 2018 has been a good year, one where the most popular video games on consoles and PCs, Fortnite and PUBG, have mobile ports that are actually really playable and feature cross-play between platforms.
This article collects some of the best new mobile games the GameSpot staff have been enjoying this year. It's by no means a definitive list--there are a lot of games out there, and we're only halfway through the year. We'll be updating it as we discover more games we love.
If there's a game you've been spending tons of time playing on your phone this year, recommend it to us in the comments! We'll check it out and throw it in the list if we love it too.
PUBG Mobile (Free) iOS, Android
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds put battle royale-style games on the map when it exploded in popularity on PC, and surprisingly it's made the transition to mobile platforms quite nicely. Sure, you don't have anywhere near the same precision when it comes to aiming or positioning yourself during intense firefights, but the spirit of the game is still alive on phones. It's also impressive how few compromises were made for this version; map size, map features, player count, and all the weapons of the original game are all here. If you're out of the loop, PUBG plays closer to a tactical shooter than Fortnite, so if you still want to scratch that last-player-standing itch but want to focus on shooting rather than building towers and walls to protect yourself, this will be more of your jam. Of course, your mileage will vary with touch controls for shooters, but PUBG mobile is as good as it gets. | Michael Higham, Associate Editor
Cinco Paus ($4.99), iOS
If you have any interest in roguelike games and haven't heard of Michael Brough, then you need to pay attention to this slide. Brough's games, 868-HACK, Imbroglio, and now Cinco Paus are single-screen grid-based roguelike that don't look like much at first glance. But scrape through the surface and you'll find really interesting and engaging experiments with the genre's signature mechanics.
Cinco Paus plays with the idea of the random item pickups you often find when playing a roguelike--the first time you get something, you typically have no idea what effects, good or bad, they might have on your run. In these games, you'll eventually get a grasp of what kinds of items you want to hang on to and which to avoid.
Not so in Cinco Paus. It's a dungeon crawler where you play a wizard with access to five magical wands that can be used once per level. Each has myriad effects, which are randomized in every new run and obscured until the activation conditions are met. But even once revealed, they're marked with unclear hieroglyphics, and did I mention this game is entirely in Portuguese with no way to change it? It's a continuously tense game of "what the hell is this going to do?"
Cinco Paus is deep, engaging, smart, and can played with one hand while you're standing on the train. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer
Florence | ($3.99) iOS, Android
Florence is a story about love told with the utmost care. A masterclass in the act of "show, don't tell'," Florence abandons conventional dialogue and uses unique albeit simple puzzle mechanics and interactive narrative elements to convey the highs and lows of an intimate relationship. The mundanities of brushing teeth or packing belongings may not seem exciting in the context of a video game, but there's something wonderful about stepping into someone else's shoes at a pivotal moment in their life and watching events unfold for better or worse.
Florence boasts beautiful artwork and a heart-wrenching story that strives to honestly retell the experiences of first love, family struggles, and the things you learn about yourself in your 20s. While this is Florence's story, the themes are highly relatable, and metaphorical mechanics such as pulling large speech bubbles into place to replicate the ease of having a conversation with a kindred spirit are cleverly executed to elicit empathy.
By the same token, the repetition of this mechanic later in the relationship in a rougher period when words don't come easily and pieces are more difficult to fit together is as painful as it is if you've ever found yourself in a similar situation. Florence's expert expression of its themes and characters well and truly tore my heart out and gave me plenty to think about as another 20-something plodding my way through life and love. It's an experience that should not be missed. | Jess McDonell, Host/Producer
Fortnite | (Free) iOS, Android
Fortnite: Battle Royale's mobile edition is a surprisingly adept adaptation of the hugely popular PC and console game. It's the same map and the same 100-player battles, so the strategies you've learned translate nicely, though not perfectly. The game, of course, doesn't look as good, and it's not as easy to see movement in the distance on a smaller screen. You will also notice some performance issues at times. A nice addition, however, is an indicator that shows you the direction of gunfire, which helps when you have to play silently. That could be handy if you're playing on the bus or in a car with no headphones.
The controls take some getting used to, especially if you're coming from the high-precision PC version, but it won't take you long to get the hang of things. Also nice is that any purchases you've made on console or PC come with you on mobile. Additionally, Epic updates all versions of the game at the same time (mostly) so when a new item like the Port-a-Fort comes to console/PC, it's also released on mobile.
It's not the best version of Fortnite, but for those who want to play whenever and wherever, the mobile edition is worth checking out. You can get Fortnite for free now on iOS; an Android version is coming later. The game requires iOS 11 and works on iPhone SE, 6S, 7, 8, and X, as well as iPad Mini 4, Air 2, and Pro. It won't work on anything older than those devices. | Eddie Makuch, Associate Editor
Killing Time At Lightspeed ($2.99) iOS
What do you do when you're killing time on public transport? Scroll through your social media feeds, message your friends, or read a few news articles here and there?
Well, what do you think you might do in the future when you're killing time on an intergalactic flight? Probably the same thing, right? But what happens when the delay between messages gets longer and longer, and the passage of time between Earth and wherever the hell you are becomes more disparate? Minutes might pass for you, but years might pass back home.
Killing Time At Lightspeed explores these ideas in a narrative told through fictional social media platforms and messaging programs. How will the relationship with your friends change over time, as the time that passes between each message becomes greater and greater? How can one message thread rapidly change the course of a person's life, and how will you be remembered by those you've left behind?
It's a fascinating concept and story made all the more resonant by using the mundane methods of communication we now take for granted. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer
Pocket Run Pool (Free) iOS
Zach Gage is one of my favorite game designers, and I'll play anything he has a hand in. With his iOS games, he has a trend of taking a much-loved "traditional" game and then changing or adding one new mechanic that turns it completely on its head, making you think about it in a whole new light and making it that much more fun to play. I've spent way too much time playing Flipflop Solitare (solitaire where you can stack cards up and down) and Really Bad Chess (chess with completely randomized pieces).
This year, he released Pocket Run Pool, an arcade pool game that has all the satisfaction of using perfect geometry to line up shots, swiping to use your cue, and the amazing clack of pool balls. But the twist is that pool is now a game of score chasing, where each hole contains a different multiplier that rotates every time you sink a ball. And you HAVE to sink a ball each turn, or else you'll lose one of three lives.
It sounds pedestrian on paper, but it's brilliant in practice, and Pocket Run embodies that dangerous one-more-turn kind of loop that has sucked up a ton of my time trying to score a perfect game, making risky trick shots in order to try and get every ball in the "x10" pocket. There are perpetual PvP tournaments to participate in as well as weekly challenges and high-stakes modifier games. Whether you only play it for a minute or an hour at a time, Pocket Run is one of the best things I've downloaded to my phone this year. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor, Senior Video Producer
Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 (Free) iOS, Android
Okay, so this one is a bit of a cheat entry since it's not officially out yet, but I had a chance to play in the closed beta, had a damn good time with it, and am looking forward to playing more.
Most people are likely to have heard of the Persona series. But Shin Megami Tensei, the challenging, 30-year-old demon-fighting RPG that it's based on now has a mobile spinoff. But don't be skeptical! Liberation Dx2 is a free-to-play game but impressively features all the elements you would expect from a console version of Shin Megami Tensei: You've got the full roster of demons, a turn-based RPG battle system that relies on exploiting elemental weaknesses, the ability to Talk to demons to recruit them, a robust fusion system, and distinctly SMT narrative.
And there's more! There's a first-person dungeon-crawling mode, a variety of challenge dungeons, a PVP mode, and a mobile-friendly auto-quest feature for easy grinding--everyone's favorite part of SMT games. In my experience, you'll start to feel the limits of the free-to-play model once you start to fuse really high-level demons, but you don't necessarily need them to tackle one of the many activities available to you.
There's currently no official release date for the English version. You can get the Japanese version from the links below, and we'll update this article when we know more. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer
Pokemon Quest (Free) iOS, Android
Do you like Pokemon, but don't like wandering around outside or turn-based battles? Well then Pokemon Quest might be the game for you! Featuring charming voxel art, Quest is a breezy dungeon-crawler RPG where you befriend and build a team of three Pokemon in order to go on adventures, beat the living crap out of wild Pokemon in real time (with or without your orders to execute special moves), and collect loot. That loot can be used to buff your Pokemon as they level up and earn more equipment slots.
Collecting new Pokemon works slightly differently in this game too--you use ingredients you pick up during expeditions to cook meals at your home base, and certain combinations will attract certain kinds of Pokemon. It's a pleasant little game to distract you when you're on the go, or something you can even play as an idle clicker if that's your jam. It's not as deep as an actual Pokemon RPG, but there's something nice about seeing your cute little cub team completely mow down a horde of Oddish. | Edmond Tran, AU Editor/Senior Video Producer
Pokemon Go | (Free) iOS, Android
Pokemon Go will likely never again reach the height of popularity it experienced during those first few weeks back in 2016, but if you haven't opened the app since then, you'll be surprised how much the game has improved.
With a revamped gym system, challenging multiplayer raids, legendary, rare, and shiny Pokemon everywhere, daily and weekly quests, regular special events and rewarding community days, and the just-added friends list and Pokemon trading features, Pokemon Go is more fun now than it's ever been.
Most of these features aren't perfect, but if even so, it's hard not to enjoy walking around outside and getting a little sun now and then. | Michael Rougeau, Senior Entertainment Editor