Almost as good as any console
Mobile gaming has come a long way since the days of playing Snake on an old Nokia phone. You can play games on your iPhone that rival console experiences without spending a dime.
Some games, like Pokemon Go, are universal—while others are lesser-known but incredibly well-crafted titles that will keep you entertained for hours. If you’re looking for a game to sink some time into while on the go, the iPhone is the go-to platform.
The following are 5 of the best free games you can play on your iPhone.
Pokemon Go is a worldwide phenomenon. Niantic’s augmented reality giant has received constant updates since its release in 2016 and has expanded far beyond just a phone game. Pokemon Go has integration with the Let’s Go, Pikachu! And Let’s Go, Eevee! Games on Nintendo Switch, as well as with numerous peripherals.
Thanks to its augmented reality aspects, Pokemon Go combines physical activity—walking around and visiting pre-determined Pokestops and gyms—with the simple act of catching Pokemon as they appear. You can also battle gyms, other trainers, and more recently Team Rocket.
Though Pokemon Go does not include every Pokemon available in the mainstream games, the majority of the fan favorites make an appearance. Rare Pokemon can often be found in raids, events where up to 20 players can join in to fight a single, super-powered Pokemon.
There are microtransactions in Pokemon Go, but they’re all entirely optional — in fact, the in-game currency can be earned by holding a Pokemon gym.
If you don’t own a Switch but you’re curious about the craziness that is Animal Crossing, the iPhone version of the game is a great way to get involved. You can customize your living space, trade materials, and much more. Rather than a town, you’re decorating a campsite.
You gather materials from around your campsite to trade for furniture and other accessories. You can also travel to other locations like the Saltwater Shores to find materials. If your neighbors aren’t offering items that you want, you can visit a marketplace that sells furniture and clothing for your avatar.
Like many mobile games, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp uses timers to limit the amount the player can do in a given period, but offers an in-game currency called Leaf Tickets that can be used to speed up timers or to craft items without the raw material. These Leaf Tickets can also be obtained by completing in-game tasks, so it isn’t necessary to spend real money to obtain them.
If you’re looking for a social simulator, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is one of the best options you’ll find on the iPhone.
Fortnite [currently not available]
Face it: when it comes to shooters, there is no bigger game than Fortnite. The free-to-play monster from Epic is a great go-to option for gamers looking for a battle royale to play on the go. Fortnite has grown in many ways since its launch, and the mobile game is quite good.
The control scheme is set up in such a way that anyone can pick it up and learn it easily. It also has controller support, so if the idea of controlling your avatar through the on-screen buttons doesn’t appeal to you, just link up a Bluetooth gamepad and enjoy the advantage you’ll have on the battlefield.
If you’ve never before played Fortnite, the concept is simple. You drop onto a large map with 99 other players and rush to find a weapon before anyone else. The last player standing wins the game. It’s a fun, tension-filled experience that has clear gameplay phases. It’s not for casual players, but if you’re looking for an insanely competitive game, Fortnite is a great choice.
Fortnite is free to play, with minimal microtransactions. The primary optional expense is the Battlepass, a system that gives you rewards as you level up in the game. If you play a lot, a one-time purchase is typically enough to pay for future Battlepasses, since you receive in-game currency as part of the pass itself.
Manastrike [currently not available]
If you’re a fan of Magic the Gathering, Manastrike will appeal to you immediately. If you aren’t a fan of card games, the strange hybrid of real-time strategy and MOBA elements will draw you in. Manastrike is one of the newest titles in this list, released only in January 2020, and is classified as a tower rush game akin to Clash Royale.
Fans of the franchise will appreciate the amount of lore crammed into Manastrike. The entire game takes place within a meditation-created pocket universe, which explains the lore-bending story elements included in the game.
You pick a Planeswalker and drag units onto the field to fight against enemy guardians. Each unit requires a certain amount of mana, denoted by a bar at the bottom of the screen. This bar fills up over time to replenish spent mana. The units you play battle the enemy units and guardians.
The enemy will push toward your side as well, so be aware. You can use your Planeswalker to supplement your units, activating special abilities that deal massive amounts of damage. The game ends when one player’s guardians are wiped out.
When you win a match, you’ll unlock more cards and items to use that help strengthen your deck and improve your style of play. It’s a great game for completionists.
The joke is that Skyrim is available on every platform, but it hasn’t yet made its way to mobile. On the other hand, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is a decent mobile Skyrim-like game. It has a lot of microtransactions but is still a lot of fun to play and taps into the deep lore of the Elder Scrolls series.
You can customize your character, explore dungeons, and take part in the other aspects fans love about the series. While it’s not quite the same quality as Skyrim, it’s a great mobile RPG to scratch that itch when you’re away from your console or PC.
The iPhone is full of fantastic free games to play, but if you’re looking to play something and you don’t mind spending a little bit of money, don’t forget about the Apple Arcade.
What is your favorite iPhone game? Let us know in the comments below.