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18 min read 64 comments

Feast your eyes on the Android games with the best graphics

Update: Added Shadowgun Legends, Tekken Mobile and more

Gone are the days when mobile gaming meant only 2D puzzles and primitive pixels. Modern smartphones often boast impressive specs and advanced displays that go to waste on the average user, but really come into their own when it comes to running games. We've rounded up the most graphically gorgeous Android games for your visual pleasure.

Good graphics are great, but they're no replacement for well-designed gameplay. The good news is, you don't have to choose. While there are plenty of shiny HD games out on Android clamoring for your attention, I've sorted through the bunch to pick the ones that both look great and play well. Beauty is only skin-deep, after all. 

To get the most out of Android games with good graphics, you'll want a phone that tends to the high end, too. Flagship phones with big screens and good GPUs, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Razer Phone or the LG V30 are the best fits for gaming devices, but you'd be surprised by what smaller or older devices can be capable of.

I've also curated the list with an eye to variety - genres like RPGs or adventure games lend themselves more to mobile, but they aren't the only genres available in the top graphical range. These are my pick of games that boast brains as well as beauty.

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Shadowgun Legends

Shadowgun Legends is the latest offering from Madfinger Games, the same team behind the graphically impressive zombie apocalypse shooter Dead Trigger 2. 

It's a first person shooter that boasts beautiful, colorful visuals, Shadowgun Legends is a real treat for the eyes, with lush graphics and a futuristic setting that will remind gamers of classic AAA PC/console titles such as Destiny and Halo.

You play a futuristic mercenary, or 'Shadowgun', that can be tricked out which an impressive variety of loot for an edge in battle but also with an eye to cosmetics. Your tricked out hero will strut their stuff in front of other players, and skilled warriors will be honored with public statues of their avatar in the game world.

The emphasis given to visuals fits in with the game's economic model, which offers in-app purchases for cosmetic items. However the meat of the game: an extensive single player campaign, as well as multiplayer, versus and co-op team challenges, still looks gorgeous without coughing up dough for the pimp-out loot. 

  • App version: 0.4.3
  • App size: 843 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 6.0 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases 

Tekken Mobile

Tekken Mobile brings the hugely popular fighting series to mobile, and looks real good doing it. While not the most technical fighting game out on Android, it's certainly the most graphically impressive.

Be warned, Bandai Namco's offering for mobile devices is a different beast from Tekken on other platforms. Nominally free, the game is full of micro-transactions and fiddly in-game currencies and stat-building. The sophisticated controls that characteristic the Tekken games have been scaled down to a limited repertoire of taps and swipes, with only 2D movement. 

Yet despite these limitations, there's no denying that Tekken Mobile is gorgeous to look at. A veritable bevy of beautifully rendered biceps. The characters are rendered in fine detail and movements are fluid. Tekken Mobile is built to take full advantage of what modern high-end phones have to offer. 

  • App version: 1.1.1
  • App size: 2 GB
  • App compatibility: Android 5.0 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases

PUBG Mobile

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, popularly referred to as as PUBG, is one of the most played video games on PC and Xbox and has finally arrived on mobile devices. One of the most impressive things about it is the fact that it looks just as good on the small screen as on desktop, without many graphical sacrifices in its journey to mobile.

The gameplay is the same addictive battle royale scenario that made the original such a hit on PC. 100 players parachute onto an island, scavenge weapons and equipment and engage in a winner-takes-all fight for survival as encroaching death zones push them ever closer to the enemy.

While controls are not as precise as on PC or Xbox, you're only pitted against other players on mobile devices, which keeps things fair. The graphics are fantastic and so far PUBG is free-to-play (though I wouldn't be surprised to see cosmetic IAP or ads appear after it has built up plenty of fans).

For the moment, PUBG remains the only serious battle royale game on mobile. But maybe not for long, as its main rival (some would say imitator) Fortnite Battle Royale should be landing on Android devices later this year.

  • App version: 0.3.3
  • App size: 778 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.3 and up
  • Price: Free 

Lineage II: Revolution

Lineage II: Revolution is a mobile version of a hugely popular Korean MMORPG. One of its main selling points are the lush visuals:it's a sumptuous feast for the eyes and boasts of epic battles with over 100 fighters on the field (hopefully your phone can handle it).

The RPG character options are pretty traditional - be a human warrior, elven wizard, etc, but additional professions are unlocked at higher levels. Annoyingly, races are currently gender-locked. No female humans, or a male elves, for example. Nonetheless all the character models are rendered beautifully in the Unreal engine.

Lineage 2: Revolution is free to play, but with in-app purchases to advance faster. If you're going to fight to the top without shelling out real money, be prepared to grind—a lot. Thankfully the game is aware of this, and has an auto-quest mode for repetitive tasks.

  • App version: 1.00.06
  • App size: 1.18 GB
  • App compatibility: Android 4.4  and up
  • Price: In-app purchases

Warhammer 40, 000: Freeblade

If you'd like to see Games Workshop's popular Warhammer, 40, 000 gothic military sci-fi universe brought to live in all its grimdark detail on your phone, then this it the game for you.

In, Freeblade you take on the role of an Imperial Knight, a walking humanoid mecha packing a variety of devastating weapons including guns, missiles, and whirring blades. Your mission? Blast your way through hordes of savage aliens and the demonic forces of chaos in an fun and viscerally violent on-rails campaign.

Aside from great graphics, the Freeblade's tap and swipe controls make controlling the clunking colossus feel easy and intuitive. You can upgrade yourr Knight with in-app purchases for advantages in the PvP multiplayer, but the single player campaign is long enough to provide hours of free ultraviolent entertainment.

  • Version: 5.2.3
  • Size: 606 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Ads, in-app purchases

Dead Trigger 2

Fragging zombies might be a gaming cliche, but done right, it remains incredibly satisfying to shred the shuffling, moaning meatbags with heavy firepower. And Dead Trigger 2 does it right, and looks real nice doing it too. One of the most graphically impressive games available on Android, this FPS from Madfinger Games boasts hundreds of missions with a wide variety of weapons. 

Dead Trigger 2 may be an action shooter but it's not all about guns. There's a visceral satisfaction (or maybe it's my own vicious streak) in delivering beatdown on the undead with a hammer or slicing them up with a machete. Then there are more unconventional ways to bring the pain, such as with a boat motor or with...exploding chickens. Yes. 

Of course, there's a variety of enemies with different types of attacks and weaknesses to keep the player challenged, too. I was afraid that Dead Trigger 2, for all its good graphics, would be relatively mindless repetitive blasting, but fights are well-designed enough to keep me on my toes, unsure of whether the next zombies would try and bite, grab, or puke on me.

While I'm more of a lone wolf type, there's a well-supported multiplayer for those who want to frag a friend, and rather considerately, various control set ups including an intuitive touch target system and a virtual joystick which might suit veteran console gamers better. It supports gamepads too.

  • Version: 1.3.3
  • Size: 522 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Galaxy Reavers

There isn't a huge amount of strategy games on offer on Android besides cartoony tower defense titles, but Galaxy Reavers managed to scratch my armchair commander itch by offering decent strategic and tactical gameplay wrapped in a nice shiny package of cool ships battling against an attractive space backdrop.

The battles themselves are between relatively small teams of ships, with an aesthetic that (no doubt intentionally) resembles the massively popular Eve Online. But Galaxy Reavers offers an engaging single player experience, as you upgrade your ships, capture enemy ships, and plan what kind of fleet to take into battle.

The battles are somewhat slow-paced (think deliberate capital ship combat, not starfighter dogfighting). Which is just as well, as part of the fun is zooming in and out of the battlefield to enjoy the view. But there's still scope for advanced tactics, for example, you can issue commands before battle starts to gain an advantageous position, or concentrate your fire on the rear end of enemy ships to destroy their engines, leaving them stranded and vulnerable.

In the late game, deployment of shields, superweapons and huge powerful units called Titans expand tactical possibilities, keep the game fresh beyond the basic "line 'em up and shoot 'em up" setup.

  • Version: 1.2.19
  • Size: 142 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

Hack and slash fans will love against fantasy gaming's favorite fanged foes, the orcs, in the mobile version of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Released ahead of Monolith's AAA version, the free mobile game is a meaty offering all on its own. Essentially a strategy game with action RPG elements, you control heroes drawn from Shadow of War, its predecessor Shadow of Mordor, and the Lord of the Rings film trilogy in a series of small scale battles. As in the PC/console version, the game uses the Nemesis system to improve enemy tactics and Talion can enslave orcs and use them for the cause of good.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War's battles aren't terribly hands-on to begin with, which is just as well, as it gives the player more time to enjoy the spectacle, which renders the heroes and villains of Middle Earth in the distinctive cinematic style. The tactical challenge comes in choosing your team for battle, and deploying crucial abilities and summons when the time is right.

At higher levels, the player's timing and skillful deployment of these abilities becomes more critical, and further heroes and orcs are made available to keep things interesting. Heroes are also upgraded with various loot items and rewards, which can get overly finicky and immersion-breaking, but worth it you're a Middle Earth fan wanting to see your favorite characters kick orc butt.

  • Version: 1.3.3.40900
  • Size: 98.48 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Samorost 3

If you're not familiar with the Samorost series of games, the latest installment is a really good place to start and has utterly stunning visuals. Samorost charges you with completing puzzles and tasks in an immersive, ethereal-feeling world. This isn't your typical point-and-click adventure game, though.

Completing tasks in Samorost is almost secondary to exploring every inch of the gorgeous virtual world and drinking in the scenery. It's a pay-to-download one player game, you'll have plenty of time to amble along at your own speed. 

Part of the game's charm is that you often won't really know what you're doing, what you're supposed to be doing or what actually just happened. It might sound annoying, but trust me, it's more of a feeling of mystery than frustration.

The actual controls are simple, you just tap the screen where you want to go and investigate and your character will waddle his way over. You also have a magic trumpet thing that can be dragged onto the screen to interact with certain objects. It's not always entirely clear what has happened in these events though. 

If you want to wander around a gorgeous point-and-click puzzle game, then you could do a lot worse than Samorost 3. It's nice not to be bugged about in-game purchases or bombarded with ads, though it does mean you'll need to cough up $4.99 up front. 

  • Version: 1.4.463
  • Size: 1.10 GB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $4.99

Micro Machines

Micro Machines doesn't offer up the sort of ultra-realistic racing sim with detailed graphics that Real Racing 3 has been delivering for more than three years, but what it does do is offer a modern HD incarnation of a classic racing game that gamers of a certain age lost many hours of youth to. If you're old enough to remember the original console series in the mid-nineties, you'll get a nice pang of nostalgia to go along with your racing experience. 

It's very much a pick-up-and-play affair, with cars split into different classes and a system of car part unlocks and upgrades to add to your garage as you progress. There are a few different race modes too (Race and Elimination) and a Battle mode where the aim is just to destroy your opponents with your weapons. 

While it's free to download and play, and you're never pitted against racers a class or two above you, Micro Machines is an online-only game and you'll have to watch a few ads now and again if you want to boost your coins or points. It's not obligatory though. 

With 84 vehicles (at current count) across 12 levels of vehicle, there's certainly enough to work towards unlocking, particularly when you include the upgrades. That progression is pretty well balanced though, and you also get new tracks as you unlock new levels and various attendance bonuses for playing every day.

  • Version: 1.0.5.0001
  • Size: 351 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Bullet Force

Bullet Force is easily one of the most fun HD first-person shooters available on Google Play, and it also just so happens to be one of the most glorious to look at, if you like modern day shooters. 

One of the nice things about Bullet Force is that it's not overly complicated for the sake of it. There's no long-winded learning process, but there is a simple practice mode that pits you against AI before you hook up an account to play online. Naturally, there's a weapon and upgrade system through which you can unlock new items too, or you can pay some cash via in-app purchases to skip the wait. 

With excellent, precise controls (as you need in a FPS) and the sort of graphics you've come to expect from console shooters, Bullet Force is well worth checking out as a free download.

  • Version: 1.36
  • Size: 426 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.2 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

SBK16 Official

SBK16 is a fully dedicated bike racing SIM with realistic graphics for the bikes and riders. 

The previously premium download is now free to play, and while the difficulty of a simulation won't be to everyone's liking, if you're looking for a racing game that'll take some time to master, SBK16 has a challenge for you. As it's now free, you'll see ads, or you can purchase an in-game unlock to remove them. Alternatively, you can beat the new Test Ride mode to activate the premium mode without paying any money. 

You also get the traditional Championship mode that requires you to pick a rider and work your way up the ranks, as well as a Time Attack mode and Quick Play for when you just want to jump into a quick race. The Championship mode is where most of your time will probably be spent though, as there are multiple races and a practice session for each race event.

There are no online races (which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your preference) but that does mean you get to choose the difficulty level of each event or practice session, which affects various factors about the race and how your bike rides. 

The controls are fairly simple while remaining as true to life as possible, too. You need to accelerate and brake manually, and tilt your phone to lean into the turns, which works particularly nicely as it's a motorcycle racing game. Tapping the top right will change the camera angle (there are two on-board views, as well as the external one pictured below) and tapping the center bottom of the screen will give you a quick rear-view glimpse. 

Just don't expect to be good at this game straight away. Or if you are, don't tell me about it - I'm awful. 

  • Version: 1.3.0
  • Size: 246 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Broken Age

Broken Age is one of the most laid back but still fun adventure games available on Android, and it's one that's made all the more fun by the presence of voice acting from Elijah Wood, Jack Black and Masasa Moyo. It is by no means new, but that doesn't make it any less fun. 

The game's split into two acts, and you jump between characters as the game progresses to fill out the storyline, and that's really what the game is all about. Where others might stumble, Broken Age succeeds by delivering the traditional point-and-click adventure game with a witty script, excellent voice acting and stunning artwork.

Some people won't like the repetitive nature of some of the Broken Age's puzzles, particularly the more difficult ones, but there aren't too many adventure games that manage to engage and entertain in the same way, even if it doesn't try to break the mould in terms of game format. 

All the adorable artwork and Hollywood voice actors come at a cost though, and in this case it's $4.99. If you're willing to put in the time, it'll be money well spent though.

  • Version: 2.2.2
  • Size: 1.81 GB 
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $4.99

Dirt Xtreme

Dirt Xtreme is another arcade style racing game, but this one is somewhere between motocross and trials - that's to say, it's a combination of balance and speed that'll get you over the finish line and the various obstacles in yuour way the quickest. 

Acceleration is handled automatically, but you have to decide if and when you want to use your boost (these are limited and refill over time, through collections or buy purchasing them via in-app items) so you're primarily left to control your balance, which makes or breaks your race and how well you get through the level. For the most part, the races take place online against other real people.

There's both career and a resource race mode that earns you more collectable items so that you can upgrade your various bikes, and unlock new ones. As you'd expect, the tracks get harder as you progress through your career.

If you're a fan of offroad racing and driving games, or bike games in general, Dirt Xtreme is one that's worth playing, even if the whole upgrade system does use a very 'tried and tested' approach. You can try it on the Play Store.

  • Version: 1.3.7
  • Size: 248 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

NBA Live Mobile

If you're a fan of sports games that let you delve into the minutiae of managing every aspect of your team, but still want some impressive in-game graphics, NBA Live Mobile will fulfill your needs. It's helpful if you like basketball a lot too. 

There are four main game modes, head-to-head, live events, league and a season mode, but before you can do that you need to build up your dream team from the slightly pathetic starter pack you're given. Other challenges require specific players or entire specific teams, which you'll generally need to unlock.

You'll want to spend a whole lot of time in the live events mode to brush up on your skills, and the gameplay is kept varied enough through specific challenges. The only potential downside is that all game modes cost 'Stamina', which means it runs out relatively quickly if you play lots of games consecutively. 

Perhaps what makes it most fun is the relatively simple control system, given that there are a lot of potential moves to make when defending or attacking.

It's free to download, though in-game purchases are available to speed up your player acquisition and improve skills. 

  • Version: 1.6.5
  • Size: 56.30 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 3.2 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

These are our current favorites of the games we've tried, in terms of graphics, at least. But I'd love to hear your recommendations on some great-looking games to review in the future.

What do you think are the best-looking games on Android? Let us know in the comments below! 

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