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.
Skylanders: Ring of Heroes
The original Skylanders had a unique concept: using a special device, it allowed you to place toys of Spyro the Dragon and other characters on the dock and then play as that character in the game. Collect more toys, play as more characters. The merchandise driven action game was a hit with kids, not just thanks to the merchandising but also due to good graphics, humorous writing and easy-to-learn gameplay. Now the Skylanders franchise has a new mobile offering, a turn-based RPG called Skylanders: Ring of Heroes.
Com2uS is the studio behind Skylanders: Ring of Heroes, an attempt to revive the franchise a mobile RPG akin to their previous hit, Summoner's War. The player will wander the Skylands and collect creatures in game to use in battles The official website, which offers all kinds of in-game currency bonuses for re-registering and watching promotional videos, indicates that this will be a free-to-play title with in-app purchases used for bonuses, but just how essential they are to gameplay remains to be seen.
Dead Cells is a roguelike Metroidvania action game that has already been an indie hit on various platforms this year, so it was exciting news when it appeared briefly on the Play Store (thanks to our colleagues at Android Police for spotting that) this week.
Dead Cells recently made its Nintendo Switch debut. Check out the trailer below:
Though the Play Store page (complete with Pre-register button) was quickly taken down, it's a tantalizing sign of things to come. Should Dead Cells indeed come to the Play Store, it will be a title not to be missed.
EVE Online is one of the most popular massively multiplayer games in the world, and now CCP Games have announced plans to bring their space sim franchise to mobile next year. EVE: Echoes will be the name of a new mobile title that will be set in an alternate continuity version of New Eden, EVE Online’s galaxy.
True to the spirit of EVE Online, players in EVE: Echoes will have the power to forge their own destiny in a huge galaxy full of other players doing the same. Resource gathering, exploring trading, forming alliances and corporations, interstellar warfare and conquest...the whole experience will not be available from your mobile device.
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 Wargames. 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 Wargames 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 game, 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.
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!
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!