Every year, mobile games get more sophisticated and graphically impressive, setting a new standard for playing on small (but ever-growing) smartphone screens. Here's our pick of the most exciting Android games we're looking forward to playing in 2018.
Is there any other word that evokes the same joyful memories in the FPS player's mind? With a name like that, Frag has a lot to live up to. The brainchild of French studio Oh Bibi, this colorful first person "pro" shooter clearly has ambitions to disinguish itself in the emerging mobile eSports market.
While marketing may draw comparisons with Fortnite, the hot young thing of the moment, Frag's gallery of outsized heroes with their own personalities and playstyles reminds me much more of Blizzard's Overwatch. The game also forgoes the current battle-royale trend in favor of short and intense one-on-one matches. But since the game will be free-to-play, let's hope it does follow Fortnite's model of monetization.
Why one-on-one, when there's clearly a team of heroes fighting in the trailer? Here's the thing: Frag allows you to switch between characters on the fly during the match, so it's one player's team fighting another. It's certainly an interesting take on the format, and one that could take off on the competitive circuit if well-executed.
Can't wait to try out Frag? Sign up for the beta!
In a world of shoot 'em-up action, puzzles, open worlds and what-have-you, sometimes a game's promo blurb catches the eye because it offers something different. In this case, it was "Luxurious voice-overs of food".
Well foodies, did you ever want to try Japanese RPGs but were put off by the lack of attention paid to culinary culture? Here's something to whet your appetite. Food Fantasy is an RPG where the characters (known as Food Souls) are stylized anime-ish representations of food, such as the Tiramisu, Chocolate and Boston Lobster you can see in the trailer above.
Food Fantasy promises team synergies based on real-life recipes, so players with discerning palettes may have an intuitive advantage here. As for story, players will both "save the world with food" and "build your very own 5-star restaurant", though it's unclear which will be the bigger in-game priority.
As wacky as it sounds, Food Fantasy has the potential to be an outsider hit with a weird concept (remember Hatoful Boyfriend?). I just hope that those luxurious voice-overs might also get English versions.
Hungry for more? Pre-register on the Play Store!
The sequel to the fantastically relaxing ski game Alto's Adventure, Alto's Odyssey swaps out the snow covered slopes for desert dunes, and adds more complex movements and challenges to test skilled players, including hot air balloon rides.
However, if you loved Alto's Adventure for relaxation, the Zen mode returns with Alto's Odyssey, which removes lives and scoring as well as changing the soundtrack to a more soothing rhythm.
Ready to embark on the odyssey? Pre-register now!
The Elder Scrolls: Blades
Bethesda was a cruel tease at E3 2018, showing a 45-second The Elder Scrolls VI trailer completely devoid of any real information except that it will happen. But Elder Scrolls fans weren't left empty-handed. Instead, the next game in the Elder Scrolls franchise will be a mobile-first game.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades is dedicated to more casual gaming while maintaining elements typical of the The Elder Scrolls saga and a visual quality on par with top game sonsoles. Interestingly, TES: Blades will come to Android and iOS first, but is also slated for release on PC, consoles and even VR devices afterwards.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades casts you as a member of the Blades, the elite agents of Tamriel's Empire that many gamers will already be familiar with. In this role, players will explore both “hand-crafted” and procedurally designed dungeons, according to Bethesda's Todd Howard.
You will be able to play Blades by tapping or using virtual dual sticks, and a full range of melee combat, archery and sorcery will be available for the player as they level up and advance their character. In addition to enhancing your player character, the game also features a “town-building” mode that lets you create a virtual city in the world of Tamriel.
Unusually, you’ll also be able to play Blades both vertically and horizontally with the smartphone. Howard jokingly referred to playing the game in portrait position as 'meeting mode', as holding the phone vertically will allow for some more discreet gaming when you've got company.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades will be a free download on Android and iOS, and you can already pre-register on the Google Play Store.
Command & Conquer: Rivals
At E3 2018, EA was the first to show a new title coming to Android (for once, iOS will have to wait) whose name will certainly bring to mind some memories: Command & Conquer: Rivals is indeed the first title in the acclaimed series of real-time strategy games coming on to the market for six years, and somewhat controversially, as a competitive mobile game.
The new game concentrates the action into a single battlefield where two opponents send their armies against each other, fighting for control of a missile launch platform. Familiar factions GDI and the Brotherhood of Nod return to reopen hostilities. But gameplay seems less like a Command and Conquer revival and more reminiscent of other mobile strategy titles such as Clash Royale.
If this sounds appealing to you, you can now pre-register on the Play Store for notifications about Command and Conquer: Rivals. If you were hoping for something more like the old-school RTS games (and lord knows I was), then you'll find good alternatives in our list of the best strategy games for Android.
Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2
Already released in Japan, Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 is slated to release globally for Android and iOS this summer. The game certainly won't skip on high quality 3D graphics, all done in the stylistic anime-inspired flair of the series.
In the story, you play an individual known as a Devil Downloader or Dx2, who can summon demons using a smartphone app (meta, I know). The plot follows a conflict between two rival groups of Dx2s: noble “Liberators” versus sinister “Acolytes.”
Fans of the Shin Megami Tensei series will recognize familiar elements such as the press-turn combat system. Demons can be conversed with through negotiations, and demons can be evolved into more powerful forms by combining them through a fusion.There's even an augmented reality element, as you can show off your demon collection in the real world and pose with them using AR.
PvP is also promised, no doubt also in part to drive in-app purchases for better demons and equipment, as the game will be free-to-play. Just how fair the gacha-style reward system will be remains to be seen.
Sound intriguing? Pre-register here.
Nintendo is killing it with the Switch these days, but that doesn't mean the legendary games company is neglecting other handheld game platforms. In fact, Nintendo just announced that it’s working on an all-new RPG for mobile devices. The game is called Dragalia Lost and is being developed in partnership with Cygames, best known for games like Granblue Fantasy and the digital card game Shadowverse.
Described as an “all-new original action RPG application”, which Cygames designed and which Nintendo “has been co-developing and will jointly operate”, we can already see how it looks in the trailer. That is, graphically impressive, and very Japanese.
The trailer shows a character transforming into a dragon, which could be a key gameplay mechanic, as the story is set in a world where humans and dragons co-exist, and you can make a pact with a dragon in exchange for their power.
Dragalia Lost is slated to be released this summer, first in Asia then in North America and Europe.
Fornite Battle Royale
Epic Games' zombie-apocalypse building/survival game introduced a free-to-play battle royale mode that quickly stole the spotlight away from the main game. Cynics will point out this move came hot on the heels of PUBG's success, but Fornite's take on the genre is undeniably fun, with a vibe of its own.
It's specifically this battle royale mode that's going to come to Android and iOS, ready to compete with PUBG in the mobile arena. Even better, Fortnite on mobile will support cross-platform play, so you'll be playing the same game, same graphics, as those using PC and PS4, and be able to keep your game progression between devices.
This is exciting news to gamers frustrated by the scaled-down or piecemeal adaptions that we're used to seeing when a big name title comes to mobile. Epic has stated “Fortnite is the same 100-player game you know from PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac. Same gameplay, same map, same content, same weekly updates.”
Surprise! https://t.co/AXOXkhfriX— Wes Phillips (@WesPhillips) March 9, 2018
Even if you're on tenterhooks waiting for Fortnite Battle Royale to arrive on Android, then there's nothing to stop you from building your skills on any of the other platforms, including your home computer. Everything should carry over once the hit game becomes available on your Android phone this summer.
Runescape may need no introduction for old-school RPG fans, as the popular massively multiplayer fantasy world has been a staple on desktop since 2001. Runescape has a huge and dedicated community that will no doubt welcome the opportunity to adventure on their mobile devices.
Mobile gamers shouldn't be afraid of diving straight in either, however, as this version of Runescape will be optimized with mobile devices in mind. In the video below, you can see Jagex studios explain how they are adapting their popular MMORPG for smaller touch screens.
Runescape has earned its long lifespan through quality content and a great community, so don't be surprised if this turns out to be even more addictive than the flashier modern new MMOs on mobile right now. The latest version of Runescape isn't available on the Play Store but you can register your interest here.
Having said that, if you can forgo the latest fancy graphics, Jagex has already made Old-school Runescape (the 2007 edition, still preferred by many fans) available on the Play Store. While still not officially released to the public, if you're already a member of the Old-school Runescape community, you can try out the early version of the game.
Contra is a classic video game franchise that's been around since the '80s, and has seen release on a variety of home and arcade machines. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a great history on mobile, with a remake of the original Contra being only briefly available outside of China before being pulled from the Play Store.
But there's still hope, as Contra: Return by Tencent and Konami is currently being tested in China and is slated for an eventual worldwide release. It boasts 3D graphics and huge bosses as well as the series' trademark insane firepower and classic 2-player mode.
Mobile gaming has never been better
It's shaping up to be a good year for Android games. These are the main titles we're looking forward to playing in 2018, but that's not all. Popular iOS games will be adapted to Android, and the retro-gaming scene will no doubt bring new ports to mobile, such as we're seeing with Sega Forever bringing back Genesis classics to the Play Store.
To keep up to date on the coolest games coming to the Play Store every month, bookmark our regularly updated best new games list.
Looking for something more specific? Why not try:
- Fighter? Wizard? Rogue? These are the best Android RPGs
- Round one, fight! The best fighting games for Android
- Want something for nothing? Try our favorite free games
- Bad internet? Download the best offline Android games while you can
Many of our current favorites will continue to be updated and may get expansions, and there are no doubt going to be a few good surprises this year too!