Of All Time!
Coming in somewhere behind the pastime hoop and stick, Android gaming represents the absolute nether regions of the gaming industry. Droid, however, also offers more games than any other platform. As of this writing, Google Play offers upwards of 478,000 titles. And while most of said throng represents a veritable sea of trash, Android gaming does offer a bunch of hidden gems as well as stalwart AAA titles. Our list of the 10 best Android games is constituted primarily of the latter.
This is because Hardcore Droid’s raison d’être is predicated on lauding the kind of mobile games found on the PC and console. To that end, most of the following listicle is comprised of ports and cross-platform titles. To our readers who prefer to see more made-for-mobile fare: we request that you collectively bite us. For the rest of you mugs, we submit for your approval the 10 Best Android Games of All Time.
10. Illyria Series
Little Killerz’ Illyria series is likely one of the least known games on this list. While decidedly a basement indie with homespun graphics, the Illyria games for our money offer one of the best RPG experiences to be had on Android. While set in a typical medieval fantasy world, the games’ overarching stories sport originality and chutzpah to spare, and the game itself is anything but typical. All the Illyria titles offer a blend of Oregon Trail-style exploration and combat that plays like a cross between the Disciples games and an old school JRPG
It’s the kind of title that could only be the product of an independent developer. While it’s true that the graphics are not up to AAA standards, they are a clear cut above the vast majority of mobile and AAA titles on any platform.
9. Atom RPG
While the menu system is antiquated and cumbersome, Atom RPG offers a nuanced old school post-apocalyptic RPG with a rich and engaging narrative. Atent Games modeled its RPG after the original Fallout duology to great effect. If you want to play a quality open world RPG on your mobile device, pickings are extremely slim. Atom RPG offers up an open-ended quest system as well as detailed skill and stat underpinnings through which you can build your optimal team of apocalypse survivors. While it admittedly suffers from a certain old school clunkiness, it also offers one of the most satisfying open world RPG experiences to be had on Android.
8. GTA Series
Yes, it’s better to play them on other systems and, yes, some of them have not been updated to work on more modern devices. All that said, it’s GTA on your phone. If you can get them to work on your device and get the hang of the mobile controls, you will have the kind of absolute blast available only by way of Rockstar Game’s landmark series. Everything from action-packed heists to fun interactive narratives to randomly punching strangers is on the menu. Some translate better than others. For our money, GTA Vice City followed by GTA San Andreas with a controller will likely produce the best bang for your buck. However, if you can get them to work, all of them, even top down GTA Chinatown Wars will provide some of the coolest fun you can have on your Android device.
7. Call of Duty: Mobile
While we can’t recommend a game because the touch controls suck less, we can say that COD Mobile offers up the most playable online first-person shooter on Android. From the moment you free fall into one of the game’s many available maps, you’ll know you are playing COD. The game offers a ton of customization, a bunch of game modes, beautiful graphics, and spot-on COD action. And while Activision’s begging for cash can prove annoying, the game is not IAP-heavy and you can earn almost everything via gameplay. And the gameplay is superb.
6. Dead Cells
Smart, fun and good looking, Playdigious’ 2-D side-scroller rougelike offers up a dream date of a game. On any platform Dead Cells represents a superlative indie action title. On mobile, we would argue, the controls are almost as good as playing with a controller.
Like any rougelike, the game function within a cycle of death and rebirth, offering up RPG elements that allow you to customize your avatar as you go. In Dead Cells’ case, you will likely do so according to the weapon you find on your run du jour. Some of the fabulous treasures you discover will only work for your current run, while other elements carry over from game to game, allowing you to delve a little deeper into Cells’ beautifully nuanced world on each run. Rendered using textured 3D models and dynamic lighting, Dead Cells offers up a drop dead gorgeous pixel art world. What’s more, the title’s cool animations and hairpin controls will hit the action spot as players jump, pound and ferociously stab their way through Dead Cells’ deep and uniquely beautiful 2D world.
5. Final Fantasy Series
A host of Square Enix’s seminal JRPGs are available to Android gamers. We are going to cast the net wide here and recommend in particular Final Fantasy III, VI, IX, XV, Dimensions, All the Bravest, Exvius and of course Final Fantasy Tactics War of the Lions. We’re skipping some of the less stellar games, and of course those that wax freemium-heavy. For those of you whose gaming experience is consigned to Jacks and Go Fish, Final Fantasy titles represent the seminal JRPG series. They are the most influential JRPGs for a reason. Between Final Fantasy’s superb interactive stories, detailed cinematic battles and wonderfully detailed RPG systems, the series offers some of the best RPG experiences offered on any system. If you are any kind of RPG fan and you haven’t yet jumped in, do so.
4. Knights of the Old Republic I and II
While we are on the subject of RPGs set in wonderfully detailed and unique gameworlds, Aspyr Media’s ports of KOTOR I and II fit said bill in spades. For the uninitiated, the KOTOR games are RPGs set in the Star Wars universe. Featuring a dynamic morality system and all the usual RPG suspects, the game manages to tap all the bases for both an RPG and a superlative interactive Star Wars experience. You get a Millennium Falcon-like spaceship, Jedis and Syths, Wookies, morally ambiguous story choices and the ability to whack both carbon and non-carbon-based life forms with light sabers to your heart’s content. Now closing on 20 years old, the games remain revelations in the digital RPG sphere, and the Android versions are no exception.
In recent years, Beamdog ported a slew of Bioware’s seminal RPGs, in particular, the Enhanced Editions of Baldur’s Gate I and II, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment and Neverwinter Nights. With each new revelation we exclaimed: “get the puck out of here!” as they say in hockey. This small cadre of RPG ports represent, without argument, from us at least, the finest, smartest, most storied and comprehensively-detailed Western RPGs you can play on your mobile device. But I like playing RAID Shadow Legends, you say? No, you really don’t. Just go download Baldur’s Gate. You’ll thank me later.
2. The Banner Saga 1 and 2
One interesting thing about this seminal cross-platform indie is that the unique half of its gameplay. The side-scrolling map travel, punctuated by a contiguous series of random encounters was certainly lifted from the Oregon Trail games
But it just doesn’t matter. The folks at Versus Evil have created a digital masterpiece. One replete with sumptuous 2D, comic book-like graphics, and elegant and satisfying tactical combat. Last, but in no way least, both The Banner Saga I and II sport a smart and wonderfully unique fantasy gameworld as well as a story that is one part Norse mythology and two parts mytho-poetic loveliness. Critics elsewhere have lauded The Banner Saga series’ rich, novel-like qualities. Said hacks often suggested that playing the title on a tablet can be something akin to curling up with a great book. We concur.
1. XCOM Duology
XCOM Enemy Within and The XCOM 2 Collection top all of our Android strategy and general lists. Both titles kick every other Droid game sharply in the nards. Both see you heading up XCOM, a specialized international team tasked with defending Earth from invading aliens. In both, you research and develop alien technologies and build up your team of specialized XCOM soldiers. You put all of the above into good use in their tactical layers.
The strategic layer proves engaging, functioning on timing and proper choices, with some RPG systems whipped into the mix. But the tactical layer is nothing short of brilliant. The games’ boast AI and environmental factors fluid enough to allow players to pull off hosts of tactical approaches. At the same time, the title provides an overall playing field detailed enough to create wonderfully immersive experiences. For our money, it is one of the finest digital experiences to be had on any system. In the Android sea of garbage, it’s a clear cut above everything else.
Like the list? Be sure to check out our list of the Best Offline Android Games, The Best Offline Android Strategy Games, The Best Offline Android Indies, The Best Offline Action Games, and the Best Offline RPGs for Android.
And if you want to keep up to date on the best of Android, check out The Best Android Games of 2023, The Best Android RPGS of 2023 and The Best Android Strategy Games of 2023.
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