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.
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 consoles. 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.
Howard also turned up at Apple's Gather round iPhone event, showing off how The Elder Scrolls Blades would take advantage of the iPhone Xs's high-end specs, but powerful Android phones such as the Galaxy Note 9 or Asus ROG Phone should also have no problem handling it. An interesting tidbit from the event...although the release date for Blades was pushed back from the September 1st date, Bethesda is still promising a launch in fall - at least for iOS.
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.
Idola: Phantasy Star Saga
The Phantasy Star role-playing franchise hasn't seen a new game in four years, but Sega is bringing it back, this time for smartphones. Idola will be a turn-based RPG just like earlier games in the series, and will also use a gacha-style random reward system popular in the Asian mobile RPG market, like we saw with Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2.
The Idola name actually refers to the monstrous antagonists of the story. Opposing the evil Idola will be the heroic Aries Knights led by Stella, the main protagonist and Yuri, an orphan boy who joins the Aries Knights as a new recruit.
According to Sega’s official announcement, Idola: Phantasy Star Saga is being made by the developers behind the Valkyria Chronicles and Phantasy Star Online series, including Shuntaro Tanaka, Tomomasa Chin and Sho Mutsuura.
At the moment, pre-registration is only available for the Japanese release, but players around the world can whet their appetite by trying the classic Phantasy Star II for free.
Battle Royale games on your phone are all the rage these days, with PUBG Mobile hitting over 20 million active daily users, and Fortnite poised to take over Android just like it has the rest of the world. So it's no surprise that H1Z1, a zombie apocalypse game that also had a battle royale mode (worked on by Brendan Greene aka PlayerUnknown), wants in on the action.
So far there's no video for the mobile port, but you can check out H1Z1's PS4 trailer:
Daybreak, the California-based studio behind H1Z1 is partnering with NantWorks to establish a joint publishing venture NantG Mobile to develop the mobile port. In addition to H1Z1, another popular franchise, 3D MMORPG EverQuest, is coming to mobile, and we're looking forward to bringing you more news on it.
MADFINGER Games are at it again. After Shadowgun Legends revitalized the futuristic mobile shooter franchise, things are about to get way more competitive with the upcoming title Shadowgun War Games. The new game pits two teams of five Shadowgun heroes against each other in the arena. Each hero has their own skills, strengths and weaknesses, so yes, after a mobile take on Destiny, we get a mobile spin on Overwatch.
Shadowgun Legends is designed for a new generation of serious gaming phones, and runs at a silky smooth 60 FPS, but some devices such the Asus ROG or Razer Phone will be able to run it at even higher framerates. For a fast-paced competitive games, this speed should distinguish the truly skilled from the rest.
Beta testing will open later this year and you can already pre-register, with a worldwide launch on iOS and Android slated for 2019.
Reigns Game of Thrones
Reigns developer Nerial has teamed up with HBO for Reigns: Game of Thrones. The Reigns games are some of the most fun games on mobile now, combining role-playing, strategy and puzzles in a cute Tinder-style card game where a simple swipe determines the fate of your kingdom, and your monarch, whether to death or glory.
A perfect fit for the intrigues of Westeros then, as you can now take on the role of popular characters such as Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen. Each playable monarch will have their own storyline and challenges, but the dense lore of the Seven Kingdoms will no doubt provide exciting new storytelling opportunities for the game. Aside from the swiping element, mini-games such as jousting are also meant to feature.
Reigns: Game of Thrones will launch in October for PC, iOS, and Android for $3.99. It's on the Play Store if you'd like to pre-register.
Blade Runner 2049
Finnish studio Next Games, makers of The Walking Dead: No Man's Land are working on a mobile game adaptation of Blade Runner 2049. This cyberpunk RPG will put you in the role of a blade runner who must investigate and hunt down rogue human-looking androids known as replicants.
Expect to see familiar faces from the Blade Runner 2049 movie, some of which will be playable characters. Right now the mobile game is in its beta phase, and some users have already uploaded gameplay footage as you can see below:
Like most big names, we expect Blade Runner 2049 to be a free download with in-app purchases as its business model. A multiplayer element where you can team up with other users is also rumored.
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 distinguish 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!
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.
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 on Sept 27 first in Asia and North America and then Europe.
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.
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!