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While gaming phones are picking up steam, there’s often no better gaming phone to buy than the iPhone, if you’re a gamer. With more than a million iPhone apps available in the Apple App Store, the gaming options on the iPhone are nearly limitless. But finding the best iPhone games isn’t always easy. Not every game in Apple’s massive library is worth $1 — or your time, for that matter.
Luckily for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the heaving sea of titles to bring you some of the best iPhone games. So, whether you’re looking for a casual match 3 game, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), or a battle royale, take a look at our list of the best games you’ll find on your iOS device, whether it’s a massive iPhone 12 Pro Max, a tiny iPhone 12 Mini, or the budget iPhone SE. They’ll even work on an iPad — but don’t let anyone know we told you.
Subscribers to Apple’s library of games — which we think contains enough gems to justify the price of membership — should check out our picks of the best Apple Arcade games. For more ideas, check out the best Android games, because many of them are available for the iPhone as well. And if you want to switch off that screen, the best board games could offer a welcome alternative.
Super Mario Run
Who doesn’t love Mario? One of the biggest stars of video games is available on your smartphone in a couple of games now, but Super Mario Run is the purest and most true to the original vision, and the one that will make you nostalgic for the first time you played as the Italian plumber. It’s basically an endless runner, so you’ll know what you expect if you’ve played anything like Temple Run. Mario runs towards the right side of the screen, and all you do is control when he jumps. Smush Goombas, break blocks, and collect other characters to play as. The first few levels are free to play, but you’ll need to pay $10 to access the rest.
Supercell is the studio behind huge games like Clash Royale, Boom Beach, and — of course — Clash of Clans, and it also has an excellent arena shooter. Brawl Stars throws you into arena battles against other players, with the aim being to kill as many other players as you can to unlock new characters with unique skills, and skins for existing characters. Like many Supercell games, matches only take a few minutes, which makes Brawl Stars a great choice if you need a quick game on the bus. Unfortunately, it’s monetized, but money tends to only speed along your progress and you don’t have to pay if you don’t want to.
Shadowgun Legends was the first phone-based first-person shooter (FPS) to show us what the smartphone could really do. Playing as a legendary hero, one of the Shadowguns, your job is to fight off alien invaders that threaten to end life on Earth. There’s a 200-plus mission single-player campaign, but that’s not the only thing to keep you interested. PR is as important as weaponry to a Shadowgun, and you’ll also need to become famous as a warrior-celebrity to access some rewards. Take part in battles against the computer and even other players to build your Fame and become the greatest Shadowgun around.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Based on the popular manga/anime of the same name, The Seven Deadly Sins is a full-blown RPG set in the world of Britannia, where humans take on demons in the relaunched Holy War. Build your very own team based on the characters of the series (always pair Ban and Melodias, they’re best friends), and defeat demons to defend the kingdom. There’s even a two player co-operative mode. It’s a surprisingly big game for the platform, and it comes with a bunch of fun extra, like character models rendered in AR.
Soccer is the biggest sport in the world, so it makes sense it has a strong showing in the sports game section on iOS. The FIFA Football game puts you in charge of your Ultimate Team, the strategy game mode where you build your own team from players from around the world. Build your team to take advantage of various bonuses from theming around country, team, or league, and use your players to take on computer-controlled teams or players in leagues. Train up your players, and even take part in special live events timed to coincide with real world matches.
Big Farm: Home & Garden
We love match-3 games, but they’re a dime a dozen. Therefore, any match 3 game that changes the formula even slightly is worthy of our attention. In Big Farm: Home & Garden, you solve match-3 puzzles to design and renovate old farm buildings, whether your own or your neighbors, and slowly build up your own special space. It’s not exactly what you’d call deep, but it’s a fun distraction, and it gives you a good amount of control over the look and style of your home.
Most of us are only allowed out for a limited time at the moment, so make the most of your time outside with a game that’s best played on the move. Ingress Prime is the second game in the Ingress series, and the spiritual brethren of Pokémon Go. But the two games couldn’t be more different, outside of a need to be played outdoors. In Ingress Prime, you’re tasked with collecting as much Exotic Matter as possible, in order for your faction to gain supremacy over the world. Take over Portals and link them together to create Control Fields, which you’ll need a lot of to gain absolute control. It’s an MMORPG you play in real life, so expect other players to try and stop you as you fight for control.
We knew it wasn’t going to be long before this classic was back on the list. It’s getting on a little now, but Pokémon Go remains a firm favorite for many. You know the drill: Head outdoors, catch Pokémon, train them up, and take on nearby gyms. If you’re successful, you can even out them under new management — yours! With a massive catalog of monsters to choose from and catch, there’s always something new to find, and if you’ve lapsed a little, maybe take this chance to regain your love for Pokémon. One of the first real-world mobile MMORPGs to really take off, Pokémon Go is absolutely worth your time.
Star Wars: KOTOR II ($15)
The original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a port of one of the best story-driven games of all time, and now the sequel is also available. The initial asking price is a fairly steep $15, but this is a full PC game running on your iPhone, and like other ports of that nature, you get a lot of game for your money. The story is set thousands of years before the main Star Wars storyline, and tells the story of the warring Jedi and Sith. In KOTOR II, the Sith have almost succeeded in crushing the Old Republic, and now, as a lone Jedi struggling with the Force, you’re the Republic’s only chance.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
League of Legends is one of the world’s biggest games, and you can now play it on your iPhone. If you’ve played LoL before, then you know what to expect — choose your champion and join your team of four other players in a five-on-five battle to push up the map and into your opponent’s base. It’s a simple formula, but the mobile online battle arena (MOBA) is also cunningly deep, and you’ll be looking up tactics for your chosen champion in no time at all. It’s free to play, so you don’t need to pay to access any of the champions. Instead, you can unlock them over time by playing the game.
Orwell’s Animal Farm ($4)
So, this is a weird thing to see on the App Store under “Games,” but it’s surprisingly good. George Orwell’s classic tale Animal Farm translates well into a gaming medium, and you can now play Orwell’s scathing critique of corruption and totalitarianism in the Soviet Union. Alright, so it’s less of a game than an interactive experience, really, but there’s a lot to enjoy here, and while the $4 price tag is a little bit of a barrier to entry, if you think of this as an alternative to reading the book, this isn’t a bad price at all.
Chess — Play & Learn
If you’ve always wanted to play more chess but have been put off by the rather intimidating atmosphere around it, then give Chess — Learn & Play a try. It has a huge range of opponents to play against, both human and artificial intelligence (A.I.), and if you pick a computer-controlled opponent, then you can make sure to pick an easy opponent (if you’re just starting), an adaptive opponent (who’ll change their difficulty to try and give you a challenge), or a grandmaster (if you’re looking to stretch your skill). You can play for free, but you can pay for different tiers of membership, which offer unlimited puzzles, more lessons, and game analysis, amongst other bonuses. Best of all, you can take your skills from your mobile into the real board game, giving you a real edge over your grandpa.
Legends of Runeterra
It seems like every game has to have a trading card game spin-off these days — but while they’re as good as Legends of Runeterra, we’re not going to complain. Set in the world of League of Legends, Legends of Runeterra has you collect classic LoL champions and new characters alike, as you battle other players. Unlike other collectible card games, there’s a heavy emphasis on dynamic gameplay that has you counter your opponent’s play with your own, so you’re not just sitting back and watching as someone else takes their turn. Like most other games in the genre, you can pay to increase your collection, or earn cards as you play.
The “endless runner” genre is a mobile gaming staple, and Subway Surfers is the best current game in the most casual and fun of genres. The premise is simple — run along the subway, jump between cars, collect coins, and avoid falling off. It’s simple, but it’s still a lot of fun.
You need a special skillset to become a tattoo artist, but not so in Ink Inc. Fill in your customer’s desired tattoos and grow your business, with hundreds of potential stencils to tattoo onto waiting skin. It’s certainly a chill game at heart — each tattoo has been stenciled in, and your job is simply to color between the lines and make sure you don’t mess it up. So really, it’s a paint-by-numbers simulator, but if you’re fine with that, then you’ll love this.
It’s the unexpected hit of 2020 that’s taken the world by storm and introduced the “gacha” genre to a wide audience. Essentially an open-world, free-exploration action game in the same vein as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact adds a large roster of unlockable characters, a wide range of magical powers, and a more populous world. Climb, fight, and glide your way across the massive map as you plunge into the game’s deep RPG elements and further the engaging story. This is no Breath of the Wild copy, Genshin Impact deserves to be thought of as a legitimately great game in its own right, and you can play it from your iPhone.
Rome: Total War ($10)
One of the biggest PC games of all time and the engine behind a popular British TV show, it seems crazy that Rome: Total War is available to play on your iPhone — but it is. It’s not the same game that you might remember, of course, and the UI and controls have been adapted to allow it to work properly on a smaller screen, and while that may fill you with some trepidation, don’t let it. While there’s a small learning curve to get over, it’s fast and easy to use once you get used to it. Play as any one of many different civilizations at the time of Rome’s ascendancy, and lead them to greatness. Will you follow in Rome’s footsteps, or substantially change history? It costs $10, but if you love strategy games, it’s well worth the investment.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
If you spent countless hours locked into The Witcher 3, then it’s likely you also sunk far longer than you should have into the addictive Gwent side game. Well, Gwent is now available as a standalone game for your iPhone. Collect your favorite Witcher heroes, and battle with the computer, or other players. The base game is free to download, but you will have to pay if you want to buy additional card packs.
Every few months, we get a game of the moment that sets the internet alight. Among Us! is firmly on that list of games. The simple game based on the well-loved Werewolf/Mafia format has become a cultural icon, and it’s easy to see why. The game sees between four and 10 players on a spaceship, working together to keep it running in the vacuum of space. But not everyone is as they seem, and a certain number of those players are actually Imposters, placed there to sabotage the ship and kill as many players as you can. With no-one able to know who to trust, can you figure out who the imposter is, and can you trust your friend when they say they saw that person sabotaging the ship, or are they lying to you … ? Intrigue at its finest, Among Us! features crossplay between Android, iOS, and PC, and you can play on the internet or locally.
Being left in the dark isn’t usually literal, but it is in Bullet Echo. Stranded in the dark against other players, all you have is your trusty flashlight on your gun and your other senses to find and eliminate the other team’s players. Players will give themselves away with the sound of footsteps and gunshots, so make sure to travel quietly, and don’t fire until you’re sure you’re able to hit your mark. You can play with friends, or just drop into a game by yourself, and there’s also a range of heroes with unique talents to unlock.
Ministry of Broadcast
A game in the vein of classic adventures such as Prince of Persia and Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Ministry of Broadcast drops you into the shoes of a man who has been separated from his family by The Wall. To get back to his family, he agrees to take on The Wall Show, a state-sponsored TV show where the contestants compete for freedom. But is this promise what it seems on paper? Jump, climb, and swing through various levels and precarious puzzles with our protagonist to find out the truth.
EVE Online is one of the world’s biggest and most engaging MMOs, and now you can finally play a similar game on your smartphone. EVE Echoes brings a lot of what made the PC MMORPG amazing — the open-ended player interactions, skill trees, and the enormous amount of risk — and transplants it into your iPhone. Start your EVE career however you fancy, whether that be by mining, trading, or hunting pirates, and work your way up, banding together with other players into Corporations and galaxy-influencing Alliances. Take part in massive PVP fleet wars, and leave your mark on New Eden’s history. EVE Echoes takes place in a completely separate parallel universe from the main EVE Online game, so you don’t need to worry about bumping into PC players who have had years to build up their powerbase.
The Sims Mobile
It’s not hard to guess what this game is — it’s The Sims and it’s on mobile. If you’re a fan of the long-running life simulator, then it’s likely you’ve already dived into this game and played the heck out of all its levels. But if you’re a newcomer to the Sims franchise, then all you need to know is The Sims lets you live another life by bossing around tiny people. It’s up to you to make sure they eat, sleep, work, and look after themselves. That may seem boring, but generations of gamers would be happy to let you know how wrong you are. The Sims Mobile is a chilled out and fun mobile game that you can sink time into without worrying too much about needing split-second reflexes. It’s free to play, but keep in mind it has a number of microtransactions available in the in-game store.
According to its description, Brawlhalla is a “platform fighting game,” which isn’t much of a description at all, if we’re honest. What it is, as far as we’re concerned, is a pretty strong Smash Bros. clone. Select a character, and take on up to seven other player-controlled characters in a 2D-style brawl where the objective is to be the last to be kicked off the stage. It’s pretty obvious we’re not in Street Fighter any more with this fighting game. It’s an awful lot of fun, and not as intimidating as it initially seems.
If you’ve ever dreamed about managing your very own F1 team — and we’ll be honest, we hadn’t — then F1 Manager is the game for you. Sniping aside, this is actually a really fun game. Managing your F1 team is as in-depth as you want to make it, and you’ll be putting together pit stop strategies and deciding whether to sneak the lead at the end of the race in no time. It looks great and plays excellently — though keep in mind it has some items for sale, so lock down your account if you’re handing control over to a child. If you have a hankering for a top-tier management game, then this is a great choice.
Many might mock you if you said you didn’t know what Minecraft is, but we’re not going to. Instead, we’re excited for you. One of the biggest gaming phenomenons of the last ten years, Mincraft is an open-ended game that drops you into a cute, pixellated world and lets you choose your own path. Want to become a wandering adventurer battling giant spiders and skeletons? Go ahead — but it’s more likely you’ll notice Minecraft‘s incredible building system and realise you could build the Castle Grayskull of your dreams. Go ahead, dive in and have fun.
Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom
Alright, so Sonic is no longer the force in video games that he used to be, and it’s fair to say his one-time rival Mario has won the field — but that doesn’t mean Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom doesn’t have something to ofer. As befits the super-speedy hedgehog, Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom is an endless runner in the vein of games like Temple Run, and it’s an excellent example of the genre. All your favorite characters from Sonic Boom are here, Sonic, Tails, Amy, Shadow, and Knuckles. Don’t have a favorite Sonic Boom character? Well, there’s no time like the present to get one.
Crying Suns ($9)
Space empires are cool, but fallen space empires are even cooler. Crying Suns is a strategy game that puts you in the boots of a spaceship fleet commander. Your task is to explore the remnants of a fallen empire, all while taking part in tense battles with other fleets. It borrows heavily from sci-fi classics like Foundation and Dune, but that’s no bad thing, and Crying Suns goes all in on world-building with over 300 story events, and six chapters of space-based drama. It is a rogue-lite strategy game, which means you should expect to die quickly and a lot — but every mission gives you the chance to learn more about the procedurally generated universe around you.
We could have sworn there was a little more to British and Irish history than tennis, but hey, we’re not experts. Essentially fantasy tennis with historical figures, QuestBall allows you to play as up to eight characters (including Boudica), and each has their own strengths and weaknesses to suit your chosen playstyle. The fun casual nature is evident, as you use temporary power-ups and special shots to take on royalty, outlaws, giants, and gods. A fun little time-waster.
If you’re looking to relax a little, settle down with Vía‘s collection of maze puzzles. It may seem like a simple premise to go from A to B, but hurdles will jump in the way, forcing you to think carefully about the choices you make while playing. It’s difficult enough to be challenging, but not too tough to put you off — and it’s oh-so addictive as well. The first 30 paths are free to play, but you’ll need to purchase the full game for access to all 10 journeys. However, this puzzle game is well worth your dollar.