There are plenty of great games on Android to play, whether you’re using a phone, tablet, or a dedicated Android handheld. Some of them even work on your Google TV-equipped television with a Bluetooth controller connected. And in 2022, it became much easier to play Xbox and PC games over the cloud if you don’t mind paying a subscription fee to do so.
For Android veterans and newcomers alike, jumping into the Google Play Store to find a new game may be overwhelming. (It’s not your fault, the shop’s curation is hard to navigate.) Instead of leaving you alone to find what’s good from the immense selection, we’ve pulled out a couple handfuls of recommendations. All of these games should support touch controls and some may also be compatible with Bluetooth controllers or snap-on controller accessories like the Razer Kishi V2 and the Backbone One.
Many of these games are free (with in-app purchases), though some of them require a payment to play. Regardless, all of them should offer plenty of replay value to keep you entertained through the holiday season and beyond.
Marvel Snap is the mobile game of the year, at least in terms of the amount of buzz it generated. It’s a collectible card game where each card features a Marvel character, complete with unique abilities and attributes. You engage in battles with your deck against online opponents in battles that take six minutes or less. If this sounds even a little like something you’d enjoy, you should check it out. It’s free with in-app purchases, and my colleague Ash Parrish wrote a handy starter guide.
A collectible card game where each card features a Marvel character, complete with unique abilities and attributes. Free with in-app purchases.
Blizzard’s Diablo Immortal is the first Diablo mobile game, and fans of and newcomers to the storied isometric dungeon-crawling series should check this game out. It’s a very faithful adaptation made for phones and tablets that looks gorgeous, plays well (if your hardware is powerful enough), and offers a lot of depth without costing you any money upfront. For the Diablo uninitiated, you choose a character class that has set abilities, and they’ll grow as you defeat hordes of undead enemies and bosses. One of the best parts of playing any Diablo game is joining up with friends, which this game supports, too.
Diablo Immortal works with touch controls and offers controller support.
A faithful adaptation made for phones and tablets that looks gorgeous, plays well, and offers a lot of depth. Free with in-app purchases.
In mid-2022, Respawn and Electronic Arts released a free mobile version of Apex Legends, its hit battle royale first-person shooter. Apex Legends Mobile works with touch controls and offers limited controller support (it works with Xbox, PS4, and PS5 wireless controllers as well as the Razer Kishi). The mobile take on Apex Legends isn’t exactly a one-to-one copy of the console and PC version of the game. You can play in either a first- or third-person perspective and character unlocks are doled out differently. Your progression from the other version of the game won’t carry over to this one, either. Otherwise, it’s a great way to bring the Apex Legends experience with you on the go.
A great way to bring the Apex Legends experience with you on the go. Free with in-app purchases.
The games that I’ve recommended so far require a lot of active input, but if you want a free game that’s more laid back (and rewards simply walking around), try out Pikmin Bloom. It’s one of Nintendo’s latest mobile games, and it borrows some of the charming characters and game mechanics from the company’s home console Pikmin games. By walking around (and being tracked by GPS), you pluck Pikmin from the ground in the game and plant seedlings. In between walks, you can care for them in a Tamagotchi-like way. There’s no real end goal other than to try to walk as much as possible to accrue new types of Pikmin along your journey.
By walking around (and being tracked by GPS), you pluck Pikmin from the ground in the game and plant seedlings. Free with in-app purchases.
You can’t go wrong with Minecraft. If you haven’t played before, it’s a first-person survival meets building game where everything is made up of blocks — a now-iconic look. The game is available on practically every modern console and platform, yet you’ll get the full experience on mobile, complete with multiplayer support. If you own the game on desktop, you’ll sadly need to purchase it again to play on mobile (unless you scroll down to the next recommendation).
Minecraft is the rare kind of game that can go as deep as you want to go. Some people just enjoy scavenging during the day and fighting off zombies at night, digging tunnels underground (er, mines, hence the name), crafting replicas of cultural touchstones, or playing it as an educational resource for school.
An iconic first-person survival meets building game where everything is made up of blocks.
Genshin Impact is a shoo-in for this list, even though it’s not technically new. In case you haven’t heard of the game or just haven’t played it, it’s an open-world action-adventure title that cribs the look and some gameplay from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In short, it’s a lot of fun even though everything about it isn’t entirely original. The developer, miHoYo, is constantly adding more content to keep the game fresh, and it’s a continuous joy to watch in motion thanks to its great graphics.
This game is free to play, but keep in mind that it requires a fairly powerful phone to run it at respectable frame rates. Another thing to note is that, currently, controller support is nonexistent, so you’ll just need to use the touchscreen to play it.
An open-world action-adventure title that cribs the look and some gameplay from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Free with in-app purchases.
Dark Souls isn’t on mobile, but other games have filled its absence. Dead Cells scratches that itch with fun yet difficult gameplay that’s meant to be replayed. It’s a sidescrolling action game with procedurally generated enemy placement (meaning, it’s different every time you play), and there are plenty of weapons, abilities, and stages to unlock with cells you collect from slain enemies.
Assuming you didn’t die by the end of each stage, you’ll have a chance to turn in your cells for rewards. But if you did die (you’ll probably die a few times — that’s part of the fun), you’ll be tasked with retrieving your cells at the point you dropped them. Getting them back becomes a fun game itself.
A sidescrolling action game with plenty of weapons, abilities, and stages to unlock with cells you collect from slain enemies.
Okay, this isn’t technically a “game” recommendation but, rather, an entire game ecosystem that’s available on Android. If you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($1.99 per month for the first three months if you’re a new subscriber, $14.99 per month after that), you can visit this site on your Android phone to basically turn it into a portable Xbox. It says “Cloud Gaming Beta” at the top of the screen and gives you access to all of Microsoft Xbox Game Studios’ latest games as well as many others.
This cloud-based service lets you play many Game Pass games through Wi-Fi or LTE / 5G (you’ll have the best experience over Wi-Fi, but be mindful that this service uses a lot of data). Some games allow for touch controls or you can connect a controller like the Xbox wireless controller, the Razer Kishi, or the Backbone One.
Note: there’s no app to download, but with the Google Chrome mobile browser, you can give it a permanent spot on your homescreen. Click the three vertical dots to the right of the URL address bar, then tap Add to Home screen.
This cloud-based service lets you play many Game Pass games through Wi-Fi or LTE / 5G. Get the first month for $1 and then $14.99 per month thereafter.
If you own a PC with plenty of games on Steam, the Epic Games Store, and Ubisoft Connect, you might as well give Nvidia GeForce Now a shot. It lets you play many of the PC games you own from those three services on your Android device without the need to have your PC turned on. Here’s a full list of supported games. Just connect a controller and you’re good to go.
The catch with this service, as compared to Xbox Cloud Gaming, is that GeForce Now doesn’t just hand out a bunch of games for a fee. In most cases, you need to own them to be able to play them. There are a few free-to-play games, including Fortnite, that are available for no cost. GeForce Now has a free tier that lets you play the games that you own and the free-to-play titles at 720p for one-hour sessions (you’ll simply be disconnected, but you can reconnect), or you can upgrade to a $9.99 per month tier that gets you access to a 1080p virtual machine capable of ray-tracing graphics with six-hour play sessions.
Like Xbox Cloud Gaming, this service uses a lot of bandwidth, so it’ll be detrimental to your device’s battery life and your internet data cap if you have one.
Nvidia GeForce Now lets you play many of the PC games you own from Steam, the Epic Games Store, and Ubisoft Connect. The app is free; the service has a limited free tier or costs $9.99 / month.