Free-to-play games sport a rather moderate esteem among the players, especially the mobile ones. And that seems a bit puzzling, since the market is very much saturated with these productions. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of satisfying, worthwhile games among the deluge of free games utilizing micopayments. The only problem is fishing them out from the sea of mediocricity. So, we decided it'd be a good idea to create a list of recommended mobile free-to-play games.
This is not a completely exhaustive list. We did not decide to create a definitive ranking. We simply prepared a list of free-to-play mobile games that we enjoyed. We think you'll like them too.
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What we want to achieve with this article is primarily allowing the greatest number of people possible find the game they want. Therefore, we ask that you offer your suggestions in the Disqus comments below. You may just help someone find the game of their dreams!
PUBG MOBILE IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Lightspeed & Quantum
- Genre: action/shooter
- Platforms: AND, iOS
- Early access release date: March 20, 2018.
Battle royale is this year's greatest on-line action games fad. It had the most impressive successes on PC, but it's doing better and better on mobile devices as well. Currently, iOS and Android users can choose between the Fortnite conversion and PUBG Mobile, i.e. the game developed for smartphones and tablets from ground up.
According to the title, PUBG Mobile is the mobile version of the desktop Playerunknown's Battlegrounds the game that forever unleashed the battle royale craze. However, the developers didn't opt for a pure, 1:1 conversion, instead making an entirely new game, which is, nonetheless, based on the same general principles. We thus have a hundred players dropped on a big map, who go searching for equipment and then proceed to killing each other with alacrity in a big, joyous free-for-all. The match continues until only one player is left alive; the map becomes smaller over time, causing more frequent encounters.
PUBG Mobile is not as powerful and graphically not as realistic as Playerunknown's Battlegrounds on the PC the game retains, however, most of the core elements of the prototype and effectively transfers them to the touch screens. The result is a piece of a solid battle royale shooter, which is an interesting alternative to Fortnite.
- PUBG Mobile in the Google Play store
- PUBG Mobile in our encyclopedia
HEARTSTONE IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Genre: card game
- Platforms: PC, iOS, AND
- AND release date: 17 December 2014.
A list such as this one could not be complete without a proper card game, and in this category especially on Android the choice is blatantly simple. We of course mean Hearthstone, a game that's miles ahead of its competition.
Hearthstone was designed in a manner typical for Blizzard, and it does not bring any revolutionary solutions. Instead, the authors analyzed other games from the genre, cherry-picked their best mechanics, and then ensured their game is polished, and accessible to beginners. This is how we got a card game that's simply awesome. At the same time, its clever design enables everyone not just the veterans of the genre to fully enjoy it.
Perhaps you, as card game lovers, have already played Hearthstone, and you don't feel like going back. In that case, you might be interested in one of the remaining card games available for Android:
- The Elder Scrolls: Legends
- Pokemon TCG Online
Currently, Hearthstone doesn't shine as brightly, especially on the mobile market, but it is still an uncontested leader of the card games genre. Furthermore, the game is still very popular, which ensures an active community and regular expansions. This is also one of the few games of the genre that offer lots of fun to single players as well.
- Hearthstone in the Google Play store
- Hearthstone in our encyclopedia
POKEMON GO IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Niantic
- Genre: city game / AR
- Platforms: AND, iOS
- Release date for AND: 6 July 2016.
2016 on mobile was the year of Pokemon GO for all intents and purposes. The world went completely mad with this game especially in the summer it was hard to go even to a grocery store without bumping into the maniacs running around with phones in search of new creatures.
The game was doomed to success, but I guess few people suspected it will reach such magnitude. The authors took full advantage of the potential of mobile devices, creating the first real blockbuster that combined augmented reality and geolocation. Utilizing the camera and the smartphones' GPS, Niantic blended the real world with the virtual one.
The final building block was the employment of the insanely popular Pokemon franchise. The gameplay, however, had nothing in common with any of the popular handheld Pokemon games. The game consisted of sauntering around the real world, catching Pokιmon that appeared in random locations around the "map," training them, and then fighting against other players.
HARRY POTTER GO
In November 2017, the developers of Pokemon GO said they would create another game, similar in style. It will be called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which should give you a rough idea of what the game should look like.
The enormous popularity of Pokemon GO could not last forever. In 2017, it even seemed that the game faces nothing but decline, but the authors managed to stabilize the community, and then, in 2018, even expand it. They did this by visibly accelerating the pace of development. New types of pokιmon started to be added regularily, raids were introduced along with daily challenges, a weather system and a friendlist (finally!); the devs also gave us the ability to exchange pokemon with other users and pit them against each other in direct matches.
Today, Pokemon GO remains probably the best game of its genre, as clearly evidenced by the financial results it achieved its currently among the ten most profitable mobile games.
- Pokemon GO in the Google Play store
- Pokemon GO in our encyclopedia
PLAGUE INC. IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Ndemic Creations
- Genre: plague simulator
- Platforms: AND, iOS
- Release date for AND: 5 October 2012.
If you hanker for something more strategic but at the same time off-beat, there are hardly any games better fitting the description than Plague Inc. The game gives you an unusual opportunity to become the enemy of the entire mankind. Our task is to cause an outbreak of a deadly pandemic, which, if we do it right, could lead to the ultimate end of human civilization.
This brilliant and original (also pretty scary) idea was perfectly delivered, too. Initially, the spread of the pathogen is easy, but the game becomes much more difficult when the disease is detected by the world governments, which begin to tackle it immediately. This forces us to modify our creation, so that we are always one step ahead of the scientists.
The authors constantly make sure the game's complexity is optimal. The epidemic can be spurred by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, prions, nanoviruses and biological weapons, among others. Each of these categories develops differently and reacts differently to all sorts of factors. That's why Plague Inc. is really a game which you can play for months and months on end, without even a trace of boredom.
- Plague Inc. in the Google Play store
- Plague Inc. in our encyclopedia
FALLOUT SHELTER IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Bethesda Softworks
- Genre: strategy/tycoon
- Platforms: AND, iOS
- Release date for AND: 13 August 2015.
Fallout Shelter is a strategy, where you manage a fallout shelter. During the game, we command the staff, manage resources, monitor the technical condition of the facility, and cope with many different threats, both internal and external. All this is seasoned with a black comedy style even the greatest calamities falling on our wards may bring a smile to your face.
Fallout Shelter was announced simultaneously with Fallout 4 and designed merely to endorse the big game to a wider audience; it was a sort of an off-hand spin-off. Which is probably why nobody thought of implementing an extensive micropayments system. However, the popularity of the game surprised the creators themselves, and as a result, the production was also converted to PC and consoles, including the Switch.
Fallout Shelter on the day of release was a worthwhile game, mainly because of the exciting gameplay, great level of polish and a soft micropayments system. Since that time, however, it has been greatly expanded with new mechanics, such as, for example, the quest system that allows you to mount expeditions to the surface.
- Fallout Shelter in the Google Play store
- Fallout Shelter in our encyclopedia
Plants vs. Zombies FREE
PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: PopCap Games
- Genre: tower defense
- Platforms: AND, iOS, PC, PS3, PSV, X360, NDS, WP
- Release date for AND: 31 May 2011
Plants vs. Zombies is one of the most important games in the history of the tower defense genre. The main version is a premium production, but Android also gives you access to Plants vs. Zombies FREE, i.e. a free-to-play remake of the classic, which also includes micropayments.
This simply is an amazing tower defense. The gameplay boils down to setting up plants that attack the incoming zombies some of them work as passive obstacles for the living dead that slow their progress. We also have the sunflowers, which generate the solar energy required for planting new plants.
The production offers an extensive campaign with perfectly balanced missions that regularly bring in deposits of fun with new elements. The game is free-to-play with a soft microtransactions system you don't need to pay up to have a good time with it. It also comes with ads, but they are not particularly intrusive; you can also disable them (as you can the micropayments) with a one-time payment.
The reorientation of the game to free-to-play did not harm this classic. We recommend Plants vs. Zombies FREE rather than Plants vs. Zombies 2, which was designed from ground up with this system in mind. Because of that, playing without spending any money can be a real pain. The original game does not have this problem.
- Plants vs. Zombies FREE in the Google Play store
- Plants vs. Zombies in our encyclopedia
Dragon Ball Legends
DRAGON BALL LEGENDS IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Genre: a fighting game with card game elements
- Platforms: iOS, AND
- Release date for AND: 21 May 2018
Dragon Ball Legends is still a fresh position, having debuted in May this year, and has already managed to reap great publicity. A popularity, which, to a large extent, derives from using a well-known brand of course, but this provided only the initial impulse for players. The game, however, managed to solidify its fanbase with unwavering quality.
The game is a brawler seasoned with card game elements. The game is, of course, based on combat. Controls turned out really simple and convenient, which allows delivering efficient attacks and quickly move around the arena. Special techniques, on the other hand, are activated with cards. Their use, however, requires assembling the Ki energy through performing gestures on the screen. In general, all this constitutes a very cool system. The simplicity of the controls makes the game fit for mobile devices, while also making sure the player constantly has something to do.
Dragon Ball Legends has fancy, 3D graphics, maintained in a cartoon aesthetics, and offers a large selection of characters, with the roster further expanded via updates. In addition, the game comes with both a campaign and full-size PvP mode, which allows you to compete with other players.
- Dragon Ball Legends on Google Play store
- Dragon Ball Legends in our encyclopedia
PES 2018 Pro Evolution Soccer
PES 2018 PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Konami
- Genre: sports game
- Platforms: AND, iOS
- Release date for AND: 10 February 2017
The last FIFA World Cup ended nearly a year ago, but the thrill of football games never ends. There are many players, who eagerly continue the competition in the mobile format. One of the best games available for these lot of players is PES 2018 Pro Evolution Soccer.
The brand is known to every fan of football games using home gaming systems. The developers from Konami do not have such a complete collection of licenses as their main adversary, Electronic Arts, but the game gives you over ten thousand real players along with the world's most important teams anyway.
PES 2018 Pro Evolution Soccer primarily boasts a delightful gameplay model. The game is realistic and quite demanding, but also offers more freedom in creating situations on the pitch. At the same time, the control system was adapted to the specifics of touch screens, and is based on simple gestures. For traditionalists, there's also the possibility to use a virtual gamepad. Then, we have a well implemented PvP mode. The above elements make this one of the best football/soccer games for mobile.
- PES 2018 Pro Evolution Soccer on Google Play store
- PES 2018 Pro Evolution Soccer in our encyclopedia
Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius
FINAL FANTASY: BRAVE EXVIUS IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Square Enix
- Genre: jRPG
- Platforms: AND, iOS
- Release date for AND: 29 June 2016.
Square Enix is very actively supporting the Final Fantasy franchise in the mobile market, but most noteworthy products of their efforts are the premium games. In turn, most of this giant's free jRPGs are flops there are, however, a few exceptions. One of them is Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius.
The plot turns out to be quite formulaic. The game takes place in a fantasy world, which is on the verge of destruction after the invasion of the forces of darkness. Only two knights can save it, and their adventures are depicted in the campaign. So, even though the scenario is indeed rather stock, the game comes out on top elsewhere, offering a big and credible world, filled with interesting characters as befits any FF game.
Veterans of the Final Fantasy series will also not be surprised with the mechanics offered by the game. We explore the game world, develop heroes and wage turn-based battles. The game hence deviates only marginally from the classic installments of the series, but this is its main strength its not a typical mobile game with numerous simplifications, focused exclusively on battles and draining money.
Not afraid to spend money on mobile games? The cult-classic Final Fantasy VII is available for Android for around 17 bucks.
Instead, Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius is a pure-blood jRPG, worthy of any 16 or 32-bit console, and at the same time suitable for mobile devices, and using a fairly soft free-to-play model with microtransactions. If you've been disappointed with the free installments in the Final Fantasy series, Brave Exvius should be a pleasant surprise.
- Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius in the Google Play store
- Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius in our encyclopedia
CARD THIEF IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Tinytouchtales
- Genre: singleplayer card game
- Platforms: AND, iOS
- Release date for AND: 22 April 2017
Until recently, when someone asked what the best mobile single card game was, the answer was simple it was Card Crawl. This classic game was, however, dethroned by its own developers. The king is dead, long live Card Thief.
In the game, we become a thief working in the gloomy, fantasy city. The gameplay is similar to classic stealth games avoiding patrols, hiding in the shadows and stealing precious treasures. All this, however, is determined by cards. Some of them, representing events, characters and objects, are placed on the screen, thereby giving an outlook of missions. We enter interactions using our own cards representing our skills and inventory, in this way being able to impact the situation on the board.
Such a system works really well, and each mission is basically a logical puzzle requiring a good plan of action. The gameplay is diversified with the system of light, affecting how easy it is for enemies to spot the main character, as well as with the mechanics of character development and health points. All this greatly enriches the gameplay and gives it more depth.
- Card Thief in the Google Play store
- Card Thief in our encyclopedia
FIRST STRIKE IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Feinheit
- Genre: RTS
- Platforms: iOS, AND
- Release date for AND: 27 December 2017.
When mobile devices with touch screens became the standard, it seemed for a while that they would be ideal for the RTS games. The reality verified this, however, because it's really hard to bring gaems of this type from the PC to smartphones or tablets. This does not mean that these platforms are utterly incompatible with the genre. Success, however, requires a different approach than transferring the solutions from the PC.
One of the best examples is First Strike. The game allows you to take part in a global nuclear war. The action takes place all over the planet, and the players take control over the nuclear arsenal of one of the powers, deciding its arrangement and use. The player must also produce new projectiles, conduct technological research or take over subsequent regions of the world.
The thing is that only one type of action can be performed at a time, and after the switch, you need to wait about a minute before issuing other orders. Winning is not easy and requires careful planning and predicting of the opponent's moves. In the beginning, when we play as the United States, we have a big margin of error, but over time we will unlock increasingly weaker countries, commanding which is much more demanding, albeit more interesting from the tactical standpoint. Thanks to this, the game can stay compelling for a long time, all the while being able to provide new challenges.
- First Strike on Google Play store
Fortnite: Battle Royale
FORTNITE: BATTLE ROYALE IN A NUTSHELL
- Developer: Epic Games
- Genre: shooter
- Platforms: AND, iOS, PC, XONE, PS4, Switch
- Release date for AND: 11 October 2018.
Fortnite is possibly the coolest game in the world right now (or maybe it's already Apex?). Last year, this game exceeded the 200 million registered players and is now the undisputed leader among online shooters when it comes to numbers.
Android users had to wait a long time for a new version of Fortnite compatible with their devices. They got it last after PCs, consoles (including the Switch), and the iOS. To top things off, the Epic Games studio decided to bypass the Google Play store and opted for self-distribution. It made no difference to the players, however, and everyone rushed to grab their copy of Fortnite.
That happened thanks to the undoubted quality of this game. This is not a simplistic, mobile spin-off having little in common with the prototype. Instead, we get a pure conversion of Fortnite: Battle Royale, which meant the game became an instant classic, and the best online shooter for Android. Furthermore, that decision allowed the developers to implement crossplay, so that users of all platforms can play together. This was truly revolutionary and helped the game achieve the gigantic success almost everyone on the planet has a device that enables them to contest with their friends.
Fortnite is not only the best battle royale on the mobile market right now, but also the best online shooter that you can play on smartphones and tablets. On top of that, the game is constantly expanding. The authors regularly organize events and add new items, and the map changes from season to season. This is enough an incentive to visit the game daily without getting bored easily.
- Fortnite play the game
- Fortnite in our encyclopedia
Adrian Werner | Gamepressure.com