Sometimes, the best kinds of games are the ones you can play away from your television or monitor, the kinds of games you can play on the couch horizontally while bingeing a television show, or while you’re waiting for a friend. But we’re not talking about your Nintendo 3DS or Switch here–sometimes you need something smaller, a game for when you’re standing shoulder to shoulder on the bus to work, something portable enough you can play with one hand to help you kill your long commute time.
That’s right: mobile games. Hey wait! Come back, it’ll be good I promise! Despite the kinds of games you might be thinking of featuring birds, clans, candy, farms, or some monstrous hybrid of them all, there are actually a lot of great new games coming out to the App Store and the Google Play that are definitely worth checking out on your phone or tablet.
Mobile platforms have always been home to super interesting games that take risks, whether it be due to the unique form factor, control methods, or just because. But if you like blockbuster games, 2018 has been a good year, one where the most popular video games on consoles and PCs, Fortnite and PUBG, have mobile ports that are actually really playable and feature cross-play between platforms.
This article collects some of the best new mobile games the GameSpot staff have been enjoying this year. It’s by no means a definitive list–there are a lot of games out there, and we’re only halfway through the year. We’ll be updating it as we discover more games we love.
If there’s a game you’ve been spending tons of time playing on your phone this year, recommend it to us in the comments! We’ll check it out and throw it in the list if we love it too.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds put battle royale-style games on the map when it exploded in popularity on PC, and surprisingly it’s made the transition to mobile platforms quite nicely. Sure, you don’t have anywhere near the same precision when it comes to aiming or positioning yourself during intense firefights, but the spirit of the game is still alive on phones. It’s also impressive how few compromises were made for this version; map size, map features, player count, and all the weapons of the original game are all here. If you’re out of the loop, PUBG plays closer to a tactical shooter than Fortnite, so if you still want to scratch that last-player-standing itch but want to focus on shooting rather than building towers and walls to protect yourself, this will be more of your jam. Of course, your mileage will vary with touch controls for shooters, but PUBG mobile is as good as it gets.
Do you like Pokemon, but don’t like wandering around outside or turn-based battles? Well then Pokemon Quest might be the game for you! Featuring charming voxel art, Quest is a breezy dungeon-crawler RPG where you befriend and build a team of three Pokemon in order to go on adventures, beat the living crap out of wild Pokemon in real time (with or without your orders to execute special moves), and collect loot. That loot can be used to buff your Pokemon as they level up and earn more equipment slots.
Collecting new Pokemon works slightly differently in this game too–you use ingredients you pick up during expeditions to cook meals at your home base, and certain combinations will attract certain kinds of Pokemon. It’s a pleasant little game to distract you when you’re on the go, or something you can even play as an idle clicker if that’s your jam. It’s not as deep as an actual Pokemon RPG, but there’s something nice about seeing your cute little cub team completely mow down a horde of Oddish.
Pokemon Go will likely never again reach the height of popularity it experienced during those first few weeks back in 2016, but if you haven’t opened the app since then, you’ll be surprised how much the game has improved.
With a revamped gym system, challenging multiplayer raids, legendary, rare, and shiny Pokemon everywhere, daily and weekly quests, regular special events and rewarding community days, and the just-added friends list and Pokemon trading features, Pokemon Go is more fun now than it’s ever been.
Most of these features aren’t perfect, but if even so, it’s hard not to enjoy walking around outside and getting a little sun now and then.