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 2019.
Respawn's Apex Legends came out of nowhere and became a surprise hit on PC and console, bringing in over 25 million players worldwide in just the first week. Could this AAA combo of hero shooter and battle royale also challenge PUBG and Fortnite in the mobile space? It seems that EA is going to try.
In an investors call following the release of Apex legends, EA CEO Andrew Wilson discussed the possibility of a mobile version: "As I said earlier, we are looking at how to take the game to mobile and cross-play over time, and I also expect that this game will have tremendous value in Asia, and we’re in conversations about that."
EA may have powerful financial incentive for mobile versions of Apex Legends, although it should be said that the game is much more graphically demanding than current mobile battle royales. Hopefully today's high-end handsets can handle it.
You can download Apex Legends for PC here.
Human: Fall Flat
Human: Fall Flat by No Brakes Games is already a hit on PC and home console systems. The bizarre yet hilarious physics based platformer/puzzler has you steer the titular human (Bob to his friends) to the exit of increasingly complex environments, alone or with friends. Bob can walk, jump, climb, fall (and fall, and fall, and fall...), and there are multiple solutions to every puzzle, the experience depending on your own skills and Bob's wobbly legs.
Publisher Curve Digital have partnered with 505 Games to bring Human: Fall Flat to mobile. Codeglue Games, who previously handled the excellent mobile port of Terraria, are involved in porting the game to mobile so we can look forward to some great full-featured falling on Android and iOS this year.
Mario Kart Tour
Nintendo first announced Mario Kart would come to mobile well over a year ago and then went quiet on the issue until recently. The brand has now confirmed that with Mario Kart Tour is revving up for a release sometime this summer.
The checkered flag has been raised and the finish line is near. A new mobile application is now in development: Mario Kart Tour! #MarioKartTour Releasing in the fiscal year ending in March 2019. pic.twitter.com/8GIyR7ZM4z— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 1, 2018
Nintendo also confirmed that Mario Kart Tour will be free to play, or "free-to-start", which means in-app purchases. Hopefully we won't be paying for our shells and bananas with microtransactions! Perhaps a limited amount of levels tracks, or racers will be free, with others costing a few bucks similar to how IAPs are handled in Super Mario Run.
The venerable Diablo is the inspiration for the many top-down hack/slash/loot action RPGs of varying quality that litter the Play Store, so it's about time that the classic franchise finally made its way on Google Play. When originally announced at Blizzcon 2018, Diablo Immortal drew a dismayed response from the attendees who were expecting a new PC game from Blizzard instead.
I covered the controversy over Diablo Immortal and while it is disappointing not to have a new Diablo for PC, the mobile game still has potential to be one of the best kill/loot/level/repeat games on the Play Store, thanks to the enduring appeal of Diablo's art style and atmosphere.
Expectations are high for Diablo Immortal. Blizzard is cooperating with NetEase on the game and has promised a steady stream of new content and seamless multiplayer thanks to a native Battle.net UI. The gameplay loop of leveling and upgrading items has already been exploited in many Diablo clones on mobile to leverage unfair microtransactions, but for now we'll have to hope that the real McCoy manages not to be too greedy. To keep posted as to when the demon hack-and-slash commences, you can pre-register on Google Play.
Are you ready for a rodent rampage? Hamsterdam puts you in the paws of Pimm, a cute hamster on a mission to save the city of Hamsterdam from the control of an evil chinchilla. To do this, you'll have to unleash the art of hamster-fu on your enemies via a combination of rhythm keeping and good old button mashing, taking down enemies and tricky bosses.
With a charming art style and varied gameplay, Hamsterdam is looking like a winner. The game is slated for a March release but you can get an early taste by downloading the demo.
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. However, 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. 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 off 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.
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 hero, the game also features a “town-building” mode that lets you create a virtual city in the world of Tamriel.
What is unusual is that you’ll also be able to play Blades both vertically and horizontally on a 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. It 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.
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 2019, 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.
Hopefully some of these titles will stand among the worthy in our list of the best Android games of all time. 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
- Conquer worlds with these challenging strategy games
- "Point and click" fan? Try these classic adventure titles
- 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's no doubt that there are going to be a few good surprises this year too!