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The best mobile games in 2022


Writing a definitive list of the best mobile games is a tricky – some would say foolhardy – task at the best of times. We’re talking about a process that incorporates hundreds of thousands of games spread across iOS and Android, and covering a span of more than a dozen years.

So we’ve decided to approach this from a simple, if slightly out-there premise. If an alien were to land tomorrow and ask for a crash course in gaming, which of the best mobile games would you encourage it to install first? With such an unusual filter applied, we’re not looking for obscure gems or even necessarily run-away hits here. We’re looking at those important, genre-defining games that represent something essential to the history of smartphone gaming. A veritable greatest hits compilation of the App Store and Google Play.

All we stipulate is that the game has to still be active and great to play today. We’re also only going to include one game per series, so we’ll generally (but not exclusively) go with the first rather than the best entry.

Now, let’s get into our list of the best mobile games.

The best mobile games

Best mobile games: a party of heroes fighting a gigantic spider in Raid: Shadow Legends

Raid: Shadow Legends

It’s easy for seasoned gamers to get a bit sniffy about gacha RPGs. But the simple truth is, a quite startling number of people seem to play them, and Raid: Shadow Legends is the 800lb gorilla of this
particular loved-and-loathed sub-genre. You can’t really ignore it.

Who’s the biggest legend? Find out in our Raid: Shadow Legends tier list

Indeed, it’s pretty difficult to ignore a game that looks this good, with stunning 3D graphics and screen-filling pyrotechnics accompanying your every PVE campaign mission or PVP Arena scrap.

Play Raid: Shadow Legend for free.

Best mobile games - Puzzles & Survivals. A screenshot shows a character doing a special attack on a zombie, with the tile-based grid is seen underneath her.

Puzzles & Survival

Puzzles & Survival sees you braving a zombie apocalypse, but instead of the usual gameplay you find in zombie games, this one sees you moving tiles around in order to fight back against the undead brain munchers, giving more purpose to your actions than some of the more abstract puzzle games out there.

If you’ve ever played Puzzles & Dragons, you’ll have an idea of what this game is like, because it follows a similar formula. You go through levels where matching tiles and making combos create powerful attacks against the zombies, then you unlock characters, and head out into more dangerous territories and level-up your team as you go.

Play Puzzles & Survival on for free.

Best mobile games - Mafia City. Image shows a man saying

Mafia City

Thanks to the relentless marketing campaign behind it, we’re sure that many readers will already be aware of Mafia City. It’s a game we’d like to recommend due to the fact that it’s a unique blend of strategy gameplay mixed together with a storyline about becoming a new mafia boss.

While lots of other strategy games focus on history or fantasy realms, this one sees you running a crime syndicate in a modern day city, and that’s pretty darn cool. You choose which buildings you want to erect, and these get you new resources, and provide opportunities for training new types of units. Then you choose whether you want to play cooperatively with friends so that you can help each other grow your empires, or if you want to do battle and eliminate other players who stand in your way.

Play Mafia City on iPhone for free.

Play Mafia City on Android for free.

Best mobile games - Genshin Impact. Image shows a large selection of anime characters.

Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact wears its The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild influence quite shamelessly, with a familiar anime-inflected fantasy world and action-RPG mechanics.

Who’s the best? Take a look at our Genshin Impact tier list

But you’ll forgive the obvious tribute act because it nails the formula so well, and because it does so in the form of a free-to-play mobile game. Which is quite amazing.

Play Genshin Impact for free.

Best mobile games - Elvenar. Image shows a fantasy city from an isometric perspective.

Elvenar

Looking for a new free-to-play game to play on your commute? Fan of strategy and city-building? Well, boy oh boy, are you going to like Elvenar. In this fantasy game, you’re responsible for cultivating lots of beautiful cities, all of which fit into a gorgeous fantasy aesthetic.

You have three main objectives: the first is to complete an endless supply of quests that are given to you. Some of these progress the games story, while others are more generic, looping tasks. You can also choose to invest time in research, which will help you to enhance your cities and buildings, allowing you to better gather resources. Meanwhile, if you focus on exploration, you’ll be able to expand across the world map, building more and more of your beautiful cities.

Play Elvenar for free.

An isometric view of several buildings in a grassy field, this is a screenshot of the game Forge of Empires, one of the best mobile games.

Forge of Empires

This free-to-play mobile strategy game is one that delivers on multiple fronts. First of all, you get the satisfaction of creating your own settlement, which you can build and develop as you wish, using resources you gather to invest in different types of research. Then there’s the fact that you get to see it pass through multiple real-world era of history, before moving on into the science fiction realms of the future. On top of all that, you also get to engage in turn-based strategy battles as other nations wage war against you.

There’s so much great content wrapped up in Forge of Empires, and it’s one of those games that you’ll easily pour hundreds of hours into as you come back to it every single day. Addictive in all the right ways, it’s a must-play for fans of strategy or history.

Play Forge of Empires for free.

An isometric view of a few constructions, including Stonehenge, from Rise of Cultures, one of the best mobile games.

Rise of Cultures

Yes, you’re right: this is the third game developed by Innogames that we’ve included in this list, but don’t worry, we’ll focus on other developers soon (we promise), and this game definitely deserves its spot on this list. So what is it that makes Rise of Cultures so special?

Well, like Elvenar and Forge of Empires before it, Rise of Cultures is a game about building a civilisation which grows and expands throughout different eras of history (Innogames are good at stuff like that), but in this one, there’s a more human-centred approach. Not only can you choose different types of cultures to cultivate in your civilisation, but you can take direct control of individual workers, giving them the most productive work schedules you can (including time for rest), and deploying them to enhance your city as you see please.

Play Rise of Cultures on iOS for free.

Play Rise of Cultures on Android for free.

Best mobile games - Sunrise Village. A screenshot shows to people in a snowy farm area.

Sunrise Village

Remember when we said we were going to focus on games from other developers? Well guess what? We lied. Actually, the truth is, we added those first three Innogames releases before we discovered Sunrise Village, and now we feel that it deserves a spot on this list. It’s certainly very different to the strategy games we’ve mentioned so far.

In Sunrise Village, you play as somebody who’s leaving the stressful city life behind in order to go and lead a simpler existence on a farm in Sunrise Village. You gather crops and resources so that you can fulfil orders and then purchase new buildings and items in order to expand your farm. It’s a really relaxing game, and one which could easily become a part of your day-to-day routine.

Play Sunrise Village on iOS for free.

Play Sunrise Village on Android for free.

Best mobile games - Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles. A screenshot shows a mini-crossword puzzle in process.

Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles

Now crossword puzzles may not be the first thing you think of when asked to choose your favourite mobile games, but that’s the beauty of mobile gaming – it encompasses just about everything, including casual games like Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles, and this is one of the very best of its kind.

We suspect that this game doesn’t need a lot of explanation – it’s exactly what it says: an app that gives you new crossword puzzles every day. You can spend in-game coins to play more puzzles, and you can watch adverts to gain clues (if you don’t consider that cheating). It’s got a really slick interface and if you want a word game to play on your commute, this would be a fantastic choice.

Play Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles for free.

Three different buildings in Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley – and especially its sequel, Monument Valley 2 – is one of those rare video games that has crossed over into the mainstream. The kind that’s referenced in TV shows and played even by non-gamers.

That’s not to downplay its ingenious Escher-like spatial puzzles, or its achingly beautiful art style. It’s just to say that an awful lot of people like it an awful lot, including us.

A group of Pokémon standing in a forest

Pokémon Go

If there’s another mobile game that has kept people coming back for as long as Pokémon Go, you’ll have to remind us what it is. Having launched way back in 2016, it’s still going strong.

Want more like this? Check out our best games like Pokémon Go list!

This was the game that really made a virtue of AR and location-based gameplay, as you battle and capture cute critters near real-world landmarks.

A Slay the Spire character surrounded in light

Slay the Spire

When the ultimate deck-building card battler came to mobile, it felt like it had finally come home. Plenty of other mobile games have lifted Slay the Spire’s formula wholesale, some of them quite successfully.

But Slay the Spire still rules the roost with its intuitive yet impossibly deep and varied card-based combat system.

The sun shining over a beach

Alto’s Odyssey

If Jetpack Joyride represents the glorious past of the endless runner, then Alto’s Odyssey is its stylish present. The first thing you’ll notice is an art style so sharp and silky-smooth it belongs on the cover of a magazine

But it plays amazingly too, with an incentive-driven structure that keeps you coming back for just one more go.

Characters parachuting from the sky

Call of Duty: Mobile

Neither Android nor iOS are lacking for quality online shooters, but Call of Duty: Mobile is arguably the most comprehensive package of the lot. It bundles together a slick, fast-paced multiplayer shooter with a more expansive Battle Royale mode.

It all looks and moves beautifully too, with top-notch controller support and plenty of modes to try.

Seraphine waving to the camera

League of Legends: Wild Rift

MOBAs continue to be big news in the world of eSports, and on mobile just as on PC, League of Legends is the king. Choose your hero and embark on a classic 5v5 lane-running face-off with your fellow players.

What’s remarkable is how true to the original formula this mobile version is. If you’re interested in trying it out, make sure you check out our League of Legends: Wild Rift tier list.

An epic race

Grid Autosport

There are plenty of fast, attractive arcade racers that seek to emulate the console experience on mobile. But there’s only one that actually achieves a straight 1:1 conversion.

Grid Autosport is the full classic console racer, transplanted to your phone in all its in-depth glory. It remains a startling achievement.

Two characters riding dragons

Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride wasn’t the first endless runner to hit mobile (shout out to Canabalt), but it was one of the earliest and best. Just as importantly to this list, it’s still going strong, with ongoing support from legendary developer Halfbrick.

As hero Barry Steakfried, run, fly, and smash your way as far as you can, making use of wild power-ups and randomly generating hazards.

A Wayward Souls character in a mask

Wayward Souls

RocketCat games hit gold with Wayward Souls, a roguelike action RPG that takes the classic top-down action of 16-bit Zelda and applies some procedurally generated magic to it.

No two runs are the same here as you hack, slash, explore, and die. Repeatedly.

A battle taking place in the snow

Kingdom Rush

Like The Room, you could take any entry from the four-strong Kingdom Rush series, and you’d have a shining example of the genre – in this case, tower defence.

Lots of mobile games task you with carefully positioning and upgrading defensive units to fend off waves of enemies, but none do it with as much charm or attention to detail as Kingdom Rush.

A red character running toward a yellow character

Among Us

Among Us is a free-to-play online whodunnit takes a fresh and oh-so-modern approach to online multiplayer gameplay, demanding careful communication and no small amount of skulduggery.

Join your fellow players in preparing your spaceship for departure, but watch out for the imposter. Unless it’s you, in which case go right ahead and murder your crew.

A character sunbathing

Clash Royale

The game that launched a thousand imitators, Clash Royale combines card-battling strategy with MOBA-like base raiding. Playing cards here spawns 3D units onto a simple two-lane battlefield.

As so often with Supercell’s games, the presentation, learning curve, and balance are absolutely spot on.

A court jester

Reigns

There are three Reigns games on iOS and Android, and all are brilliant examples of how to update the narrative-led adventure genre for a modern mobile gaming audience.

The key, it seems, was to add a hefty smack of humour and apply a card-swiping control system lifted straight from the Grindr dating app. Who knew?

For more content like this, feel free to browse our best mobile RPGs and best iOS games lists.

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