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15 best action games on iOS and Android

Action games on mobile have come a long way.
By
January 22, 2022
Apex Legends Mobile Gameplay Post Game Champion
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Action games are among the most popular of any platform. They’re exciting, they keep you engaged, and the win conditions are generally pretty simple. Additionally, action games can have elements of any variety of genres. It helps keeps things fresh. The pace of play and difficulty define action games more than anything else.

For the record, there are vastly more than 15 really good action games on mobile, so this list was pretty tricky to nail down. Here are some of the best action games for Android. Let us know about your favorites in the comments.

The best action games for Android


Ailment and Endurance

A top-down shooter with a good story and plenty of bad guys shooting at you.

What we like:

  • Simple controls that work well.
  • Roguelike and bullet hell gameplay can get pretty tense in a good way.
  • A fun story that carries you through the game.
  • Hardware controller support.
  • Two games worth of content.

What we don’t like:

  • Pixel art graphics are nice, but they won’t tickle folks who like amazing graphics.
  • Online multiplayer isn’t really worth doing.
  • We recommend investing in the ad-free version. The free version is fine, but the ads break immersion.

Ailment and Endurance are two roguelike shooters. Ailment, the first game, puts the player on an abandoned ship with a bunch of zombies. The goal is to make your way through the ship, stay alive, and figure out what happened. Endurance is a prequel and takes place on the same ship before the events of Ailment. Both games have similar mechanics, although Endurance is a bit more polished, typical of a newer game.

We really like what we saw here. The game ramps up in intensity as you go, with zombies shooting at you in every direction. The controller support is a nice touch as well. Unlike most, these games are premium. There are microtransactions, but they are entirely optional. There isn’t much else to say. They are just fun games.


Apex Legends Mobile

A high-intensity battle royale hero shooter where you drop in with your squad to take out other squads.

What we like:

  • Generally quick matchmaking.
  • Some of the most customizable on-screen controls we’ve seen.
  • Smooth gameplay on most modern devices.
  • The graphics are quite good.
  • Online multiplayer lets you play with friends and has multiple game modes to help keep things fresh.

What we don’t like:

  • Controller support is improving, but still not great.
  • Once you get tired of the core gameplay loop, there isn’t much else to do.
  • It’s a young game, so it lacks some things, like a diverse assortment of maps.

Apex Legends Mobile was one of the biggest releases of 2022. It’s one of the most composed and refined shooters on mobile. Players squad up either with randoms or with friends, and then drop in to face off against other squads. It uses battle royale mechanics, so once you die, you’re out of the match. Matches don’t take very long since the map shrinks as time goes on. There are 60 players in any given battle royal match.

We quite liked how configurable the game is. The on-screen controls have a ton of different options, including three and four-finger presets. There is controller support, but it could be better. There are also revolving playlists to help keep things fresh, along with some other features. The only bottleneck is that you have to have a reasonably good and reasonably modern phone in order to play this. Folks with older or lower-end devices can still try, but likely won’t have a very good time with it. Otherwise, it’s among the best FPS games.


Bullet Hell Monday series

A top-down aerial shooter franchise that will absolutely shower you in bullets.

What we like:

  • Every game has a crazy amount of bullet hell action.
  • Premium games mean no in-app purchases to muck things up.
  • Simple controls let you get into the game easily.
  • The developer boasts a less than 1% clear rate, in case you didn’t think it was difficult enough for you.
  • Three games in the series give you plenty of levels to play.

What we don’t like:

  • It really is quite difficult, and it may frustrate some players into quitting before they beat the game.

The Bullet Hell Monday series is easily among the best shmup games on mobile. It’s a fairly traditional game where you play as a ship from a top-down perspective. The enemies fire an absurd number of bullets at you, and you dodge them while firing back. Each game has stages for the player to complete. Each stage has four difficulty levels and a leaderboard to see how well you rank.

The stages step up in difficulty pretty significantly as you head toward the end of the game. In general, each game has a fairly low clear rate. Other than that, the controls are solid, the bullet patterns look great, and the colorful nature of the game just makes it nice to look at. It’s not the highest resolution graphics, but trust us, that’ll be the last thing on your mind when playing this one. The series is also heavily featured on our best bullet hell games list.


Call of Duty: Mobile

There is a reason Call of Duty games are so successful, and the same holds true for the mobile version.

What we like:

  • High-end graphics look great on most modern phones.
  • Excellent mobile controls and at least partial hardware controller support.
  • The modular installation lets you choose how much storage space the game takes up.
  • Several online PvP game modes, including a 100-player battle royale, to help keep things fresh.
  • Microtransactions are reasonable, and the game doesn’t appear to be pay-to-win.

What we don’t like:

  • Like all online multiplayer shooters, once you get bored of playing online against other players, there’s nothing else to do.
  • It doesn’t work offline, for obvious reasons.

Call of Duty: Mobile is an excellent online shooter. Its main draw is the 100-player battle royale mode, but there are others like team deathmatches, free for all fights, and more. The game is much more refined than older shooters. The on-screen controls are quite good. There is also controller support, but only for Xbox and Playstation controllers as of the time of this writing. It looks as good as it feels, so players have some eye candy as well.

The pitfalls are typical for this genre of game. It’s all online and multiplayer, so you can’t play the game offline. Plus, it’s a one-trick pony where the only thing to do is load into games and shoot at other players. We also suspect that the game uses bots on occasion if it can’t fill a lobby with real players. Luckily, the microtransactions aren’t bad. That’s more than we can say for many. It’s a good overall shooter with plenty of action.


Dead Cells

Dead Cells is a roguelike-Metroidvania game where dying has big consequences.

What we like:

  • Smooth, satisfying gameplay.
  • Above average controller support.
  • Exploratory-encouraged progression means you don’t have a linear path to follow.
  • The game still gets consistent updates despite being a premium game.
  • No F2P mechanics to gum up the works.

What we don’t like:

  • Mobile controls can occasionally be clunky.
  • The game is a bit rough on new players.

Dead Cells is a roguelike Metroidvania. The roguelike elements include starting fresh when dying, while the Metroidvania concepts include large, non-linear maps for you to explore. You play the role of a mysterious being trapped on a magical island where he can’t die. The goal is to escape the magical island prison, but death sends you back to the beginning. Players get new weapons and upgrades as they explore, but they lose everything if they die.

The gameplay is 2D, and it’s surprisingly smooth on most modern devices. For combat, you fight enemies by learning their patterns so that you know when you hit them without taking much damage. New players may get a bit frustrated as they die often in the early game while learning how things work. However, over time, you’ll get out of the initial parts of the game and on to the harder stuff. It’s a premium game, so you can’t buy your way to the finish, and there is a DLC for $3.99 that adds more stuff. It’s mobile’s best Metroidvania game, no doubt about it.


Grid Autosport

Grid Autosport is a racing game that focuses on great graphics, high speeds, and a premium racing experience

What we like:

  • Hardware controller support and good on-screen control customization.
  • There are a ton of cars to unlock and things to do.
  • Very good graphics.
  • Scalable difficulty makes it easy on new players, but harder on experienced players.

What we don’t like:

  • The game gets updates, but the frequency is sometimes a year or longer.
  • Car customization isn’t great.

Grid Autosport makes a good case for being the best racing games on mobile. It has good on-screen controls with hardware controller support for those who feel more comfortable that way. In addition, the game has excellent graphics, good gameplay mechanics, and plenty of content to play through. The developers boast over 100 circuits to race and over 100 cards to unlock. There are also a few different game modes to keep things interesting.

The game originally launched on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC back in 2014. This version of the game contains the entire console version with all of the DLC included. The scalable difficulty also makes a reappearance. It takes it easy on newer players while also ramping up the difficulty on experienced players. You can expect the AI to play dirty, too, including trying to take you out during races. The cockpit view and aggressive AI make it worthy of an action games list like this one.


Halfbrick Studios games

A small collection of action-oriented arcade games that are suitable for the whole family.

What we like:

  • Simple controls.
  • Smooth gameplay.
  • Family-friendly because not all action games have to have violence.
  • The games are all free-to-play, but none of them are pay-to-win.

What we don’t like:

  • The arcade nature of the games means they’re good time killers, but none of them offer terribly deep experiences.
  • A couple of the games are older, so they may not fulfill that itch for something completely new.

Halfbrick Studios is a mobile game developer. You probably know them best for Fruit Ninja and Fruit Ninja 2. However, they’ve also done Dan the Man, Subway Surfers, Monster Dash, and Battle Racing Stars. Each game has its own set of mechanics. Fruit Ninja lets you swipe across the screen to slash floating fruit. Dan the Man is a beat ’em-up platformer. Subway Surfers and Monster Dash are runner-type games where you avoid obstacles. Finally, Battle Racing Stars is an online racer where you race against other players.

None of the games have a pay-to-win philosophy, although they all have in-app purchases for various things. The graphics are goofy and fun, with cartoon characters. There is no excessive violence or anything like that, so your kids can play the games as well. There really isn’t anything wrong with them. However, they are arcade games, so they aren’t the deepest experiences. You play these to pass a few minutes, not for hours like some other games.


Into the Dead 2

An endless runner with guns, zombies, and a dog companion. Survive as long as you can.

What we like:

  • It’s a runner but feels much different from most runners with the shooting and zombie survival elements.
  • The game supports both hardware controllers and Chromebook keyboards.
  • Missions, objectives, and special events give you a lot to do.
  • The gameplay is smooth, frenetic, and satisfying.

What we don’t like:

  • Completionists will almost certainly have to watch a bunch of ads, get the VIP subscription, or pay money to 100% the game.
  • Doesn’t run well on lower-end devices.

Into the Dead 2 is a runner-style game where you run through zombie hordes and try to survive. The game has several levels, various weapons, a dog companion, and other tools you’ll need to get to the end. The story isn’t the most in-depth, but it’s definitely serviceable. You’re on a journey to save your family from the zombie apocalypse. There are several story events to play through, and multiple environments to get through.

In terms of gameplay, it’s pretty simple. You run through the environment, slaying zombies and avoiding being eaten. You’ll get weapons to help you along the way, and occasionally some other stuff like turrets. The game is also playable offline, so you don’t need an Internet connection to enjoy it. It’s one of the few good horror action games on mobile. The only downside is that you can’t really three-star every mission without watching voluntary ads, getting the VIP subscription, or paying money in order to get extra loot.


Maple Media games

Skateboard Party and Snowboard Party aren’t as good as console games, but they scratch the itch nicely.

What we like:

  • Maple Media’s library includes both snowboarding and skateboarding.
  • Some of the few sports games where you see actual sports action.
  • Decent graphics.
  • Decent controls, including hardware controller support.

What we don’t like:

  • Limited growth in some games, requiring massive grinds.
  • The games aren’t the most refined.

Maple Media is a developer on both Android and iOS. They are best known for their Skateboard Party and Snowboard Party series of games. The games are reminiscent of PlayStation 2 or 3-era games like Tony Hawk. You skate around a park, grind on various things, and perform various tricks. There are challenges to complete, which give you XP to unlock more stuff. The snowboard games are similar, albeit a little bit less polished than the skateboard games.

In terms of gameplay, it really does feel like less polished Tony Hawk games. The controls are similar, and controller support makes it even easier to play. The only real issue is that all the games tend to be a bit clunky with some bugs. However, there aren’t really any competitors in this space except True Skate, which is still a very fun game on both iOS and Android.


Rocket League Sideswipe

A 2D bumper car-meets-soccer arcade game that is easy and fun to play.

What we like:

  • Frantic gameplay mixes bumper cars with soccer. It’s fun.
  • Plenty of game modes to keep things interesting.
  • Short matches make for good short-term and long-term play.
  • It isn’t pay-to-win.
  • Simple controls with hardware controller support.

What we don’t like:

  • Frequent updates can introduce as many bugs as they fix.
  • It’s an arcade game, so there isn’t a ton of depth.

Rocket League Sideswipe is among the best arcade action games on any mobile platform. You square off in one vs one or two vs two matches where you try and use a car to push a soccer ball into the goal. It plays similarly to the console and PC versions of the game, except it’s 2D instead of 3D.

Games only take a few minutes, and the controls are pretty straightforward. Even if you don’t like the on-screen ones, there is hardware controller support as well. The matchmaking is decent, and I was able to win about 50% of my matches, which I don’t think is half bad considering I was new at the game. This is some clean arcade fun, no two ways around it.


Rotaeno

Rotaeno is a rhythm game that uses your device’s accelerometer as part of the rhythm fun.

What we like:

  • Makes use of your device’s accelerometer as part of the rhythm controls.
  • Has a decent number of tracks, and the charting for them is excellent.
  • Slick graphics and simple controls.
  • Good replayability as you improve in the game.

What we don’t like:

  • Some of the most fun tracks are only available as in-app purchases.
  • Doesn’t always play well on lower-end and older devices.

Rotaeno is a rhythm game with a neat extra mechanic. It uses your device’s accelerometer to detect screen movement so you can twist the screen around and hit notes. There are a bunch of songs in the game, and the charting is top-notch work. You play through the songs to progress the story, which isn’t half bad for a rhythm game.

The only real downside is that it doesn’t always play well on older or lower-tier devices. You may experience some lag or stutter, especially when using the accelerometer mechanic. There are extra songs you can buy as in-app purchases. They save the best stuff for then, but at least it’s a permanent purchase. Rayark (Google Play, iTunes) also develops some of the best rhythm games on mobile in case you want more.


Soul Knight

A rogue-lite dungeon crawler with tons of bad guys, plenty of action, and excellent mechanics.

What we like:

  • The game’s rogue-lite and bullet hell mechanics add tons of action.
  • A procedurally generated world means every playthrough is a little different.
  • Despite being free-to-play, there is little evidence of the game being pay-to-win.
  • Works well on most modern phones, and has controller support.

What we don’t like:

  • The graphics are fairly simple, so it doesn’t scratch that itch.
  • There is a level of monotony. You dodge bullets and explore stuff, and that’s really all you do.

Soul Knight is a well-rounded rogue-lite game with bullet hell elements. You explore the game world while being shot at from all angles by bad guys. You shoot back, of course, and the game gives you plenty of neat weapons so you can do so more effectively. The core gameplay loop is fairly simple. You should be able to pick up and understand the game in relatively short order.

There are over 270 weapons, NPCs that fight alongside you, and very easy controls. It also includes controller support if you want to go that route. To be perfectly honest, this was a hard game to find complaints for. It plays smoothly, has replayability, and the in-app purchases don’t get in the way of you having fun. Unless you really don’t like rogue-lite bullet hell shooters, we dare say that there isn’t much else wrong with the game.


SpongeBob SquarePants Battle for Bikini Bottom

An old-school platformer adventure game with plenty of action-packed sequences.

What we like:

  • A delightfully old-school platformer adventure feel.
  • It’s a premium game, which means no in-app purchases to mess things up.
  • Solid controls, including hardware controller support.
  • Familiar characters and concepts help you connect with the game better.

What we don’t like:

  • Virtually no replay value.
  • Users have reported bugs with cut scene playback, black screen on launch, and on-screen controller issues.

SpongeBob SquarePants Battle for Bikini Bottom is an adventure platformer with a classic feel to it. You’ve likely played a game like this before. Each stage in the game has its own set of obstacles and enemies to avoid while you platform around and progress through the story. You can play as SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy, each one with their own abilities. You’ll need to switch back and forth between them to complete various parts of the game.

Some other features include full controller support as well as offline play. It’s a port of the SpongeBob SquarePants Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated edition, which is the remastered edition that came out a couple of years ago. It includes some extra stuff from the original game. It’s a bit expensive at $9.99, but this is a full game and easily one of the best platformers on mobile.


Streets of Rage 4

A classic side-scrolling beat ’em up game made just like its retro predecessors.

What we like:

  • 2D action fighter is easy to pick up and play.
  • Includes hardware controller support.
  • Optional DLC actually adds good stuff to the game.
  • A retro throwback for fans of 90’s arcade games.

What we don’t like:

  • On-screen controls can be occasionally finicky.
  • May not perform great on older or lower-tier mobile phones.

It’d be easy to mistake Streets of Rage 4 as a mobile remaster of an old game from the 1990s. It’s not, though. The game came out in 2020 for the first time on PC and console. This is a port of that game. It does, however, play exactly like those old 90s beat ’em up titles. You walk through the level and beat up bad guys and bosses to progress the story. This version has more moves and more polish than those older games, and veterans of the genre should easily be able to tell the difference between this and older games.

The game includes a few different characters and game modes. You play through the game to unlock new moves, which you then use to play through the game easier than before. The DLC costs $2.99 and adds three characters as well as a survival mode. The survival mode is excellent for grinding out new moves.


Xenowerk

A top-down shooter with solid mechanics that knows how to dial up the tension when it needs to.

What we like:

  • A top-down shooter with solid mechanics and plenty of action.
  • Hardware controller support.
  • Decently good graphics for its age and genre.
  • Ads in the free version aren’t intrusive.

What we don’t like:

  • On-screen controls are good, but take some getting used to.
  • The levels are all similar, which gets repetitive after a while.

Xenowork is a top-down shooter with over 70 levels for the player to get through. Each level has its own set of objectives, although the objectives aren’t terribly diverse. You make your way through the level, fight off mutants, and upgrade yourself to be more powerful over time. The on-screen controls use a dual-stick configuration, which is quite good but does require some patience and practice to master.

Those who don’t want to deal with it have the option of hardware controller support. The game also includes Google Play Games achievements and leaderboards, which we always appreciate. The game is a bit older, so it should play well on modern smartphones, even budget ones. This one is the definition of an oldie but a goodie.


If we missed any great action games for mobile, tell us about them in the comments. You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.