2019 is coming to a close and that means it’s time to take a good, hard look at the best mobile games of the year. We have a fairly varied list narrowed down from a possible 120 candidates that we covered over the span of the year. This year is also fairly unique in that most games are from popular studios or franchises. Don’t worry, though, because the indie gaming segment also saw some great releases this year. Frankly, this is probably the best year we’ve had yet for mobile games and this list reflects that. Here are the best Android games of 2019!
Price: Free / $3.99
Ailment is a pixel-art action game that a lot of our readers liked this year. The game also has rogue-like elements, a top-down shooter style similar to old Contra games, and a ton of stuff to do. There are a bunch of weapons to collect and some little niceties like hidden Easter eggs and the ability to bring an NPC along with you. The game is free to play with an ad-free premium version if you so desire. If not, you only have to watch ads if you want to revive your character. We felt like it’s a reasonable trade off and that makes Ailment a really good free game for those on a budget.
Price: Free to play
Another Eden is a free-to-play mobile gacha game. It received a lot of press because a few members of the original Chrono Trigger team also worked on this game. There are tons of odes to Chrono Trigger as well, especially in the opening of the game. In any case, this is unlike most free to play mobile RPGs. It doesn’t have a complicated menu system and instead follows a fairly linear story. The gacha elements remain in the background at all times and there are long stretches where it feels like a console JRPG. We wish the combat system were a bit more granular and we wish the cloud saving system were better. Other than that, this is a winner.
Dota Underlords has a fascinating history. The game type started out as a mod and eventually evolved into its own game. Dota Underlords is that game. The mobile version has cross-play with the PC version as well so you can switch back and forth as needed. Some other game features include offline play with AI, ranked matchmaking, seasonal rotations, and more. The game play mechanics are mostly strategy, although all the strategy in the world doesn’t fix it if the game’s randomness decides to hose you. In any case, it’s a free game and it’s the flagship title in the auto battler (or auto chess) genre.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades
Price: Free to play
The Elder Scrolls: Blades is an RPG from Bethesda. It gives you the classic Elder Scrolls game play, but on a smaller scale. Players go on quests, rebuild a town, and do combat with various types of bad guys. You continue leveling up and building the town as you progress. The game also includes an online PvP mode for those competitive players out there. Blades has its ups and downs depending on the current patch, but people generally seem to really like it. It’s also available on the Nintendo Switch and we actually recommend it there over mobile if you have both platforms.
The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout
The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout is the next game in the popular franchise. It’s a strategy-sim style game where you break out of prison. Players have to do all the prisoner stuff as usual, but concoct and enact a plan to escape from prison in the background. It involves a lot of juggling stuff around and the game includes a crafting system to make your various tools. The second iteration of the game includes more prisons, including women’s prisons along with various challenges and multiplayer support. It runs for a flat $6.99 rate with no in-app purchases or ads.
Grand Mountain Adventure
Price: Free / $5.49
Grand Mountain Adventure is a smooth, beautiful skiing game and it ticks a lot of the right boxes. The game includes offline play support, no pay-to-win mechanics, a decent amount of content in the free version, and little extras like hidden areas and tricks. You start by skiing down the mountain while avoiding obstacles and performing tricks. However, the game’s main draw is its tranquil demeanor and satisfying mechanics. This is one of those games that is just fun and comfortable to play. The free version of the game gives you one mountain and the premium version unlocks the rest of the mountains. There are no ads in this game and that includes the free version.
Mario Kart Tour (and Dr. Mario)
Price: Free to play / $4.99 per month
Mario Kart Tour was Nintendo’s big release for 2019. Despite not being well received by the media, it had the most successful first week in mobile gaming history with 90 million downloads until Call of Duty: Mobile took the crown a few weeks later. The mobile racer has most of the same mechanics as other mobile racers. However, there are bits and pieces of Mario Kart flair. For instance, you can get boosts while turning and, of course, the various weapons of racing destruction are available as well. Nintendo’s one big issue is its over-priced micro-transactions and subscription tier. However, those are the kinds of things Nintendo can fix so we’ll hold out hope that this game cleans up its micro-transactions. Dr. Mario World was Nintendo’s other big release and it’s a decent match-three puzzle game.
Price: Free to play
Minecraft Earth is technically not all the way out yet, but we think it’s fairly safe to place it here anyway. The beta is public access so almost anyone can play it right now. This is is an AR game similar to existing ones like Pokemon Go, but this time with a Minecraft spin to it. Players can build stuff just about anywhere just like Minecraft and other players can interact with it as well. Players can build whatever they want and it all adds to the landscape of the game for other players to explore later. Some of the AR mechanics need work and some overall polish is needed, but the game is still in beta so it’s not really fair to render full judgement yet. That said, it’s good enough now to be here.
Price: Free trial / $4.49
Oddmar is a platformer from the same developer of Leo’s Fortune. The game has a lot of the same elements that made Leo’s Fortune fun. The graphics are quite good, the controls are also quite good, and there is a narrative story to keep the player engaged. You play as Oddmar, a disgraced viking looking to make a name for himself. The game includes 24 levels, Google Play Games cloud saving, hardware controller support, and it runs for a single price tag with no additional micro-transactions. It won’t blow your socks off, but it’s a solid overall showing and an easy choice for the best of 2019.
Price: Free to play
PPKP is an entertaining arcade-action game with beat ’em up mechanics. Players walk around levels punching bad guys, gaining levels, learning new abilities, and gathering materials for additional upgrades. It’s strongly reminiscent of those old 90’s arcade games, but not exactly the same. In any case, the game is relatively simple with good controls and smooth game play. It’s one of the truly excellent time killers of 2019.
Price: Free to play
Rebel Inc is the follow up to the intensely popular Plague Inc and it’s by the same creator. Rebel Inc is a simulation game where you try to stabilize seven unruly regions rife with problems. Players fun various initiatives, take down rebel insurgents, and use their resources wisely to quell the unrest. The creators wanted to use as many real world scenarios as possible without using actual real world scenarios. Given that the Center for Disease Control once asked these people to speak about their Plague Inc game, we’re sure they did their research for this one as well.
ROME: Total War series
Price: $9.99 + $4.99 + $4.99
ROME: Total War is one of those games that came out during the last two weeks of 2018 and didn’t quite make our list from last year. If left alone, we probably wouldn’t include it here. However, 2019 saw two expansions for the main game, including ROME: Total War – Alexandria and ROME: Total War – Barbarians. Each standalone DLC has hyper specific scenarios revolving around prominent times in history and each one plays just as well as the main game. You’re looking at just shy of $20 for all three sets, but these were, undoubtedly, the best premium strategy games of 2019.
Price: Free / $10.99 per month
RuneScape Mobile is the official RuneScape client for Android. RuneScape is an older, but still popular MMORPG with an absolute ton of content. You join in, create a character, and begin your adventure. The graphics are only just okay because it is an older game, but the controls are solid and you’ll have stuff to do for a very long time. It also supports cross-play with the PC version and you can easily switch back and forth between the two. Additionally, this is a subscription style MMO so you don’t have to worry about game breaking micro-transactions like most mobile MMORPGs. The game is still in beta and we expect a lot of the clunky elements to get polished up over time.
Stardew Valley was our frontrunner for the best Android game of 2019 until Call of Duty: Mobile came out. However, it still deserves the distinction of being the best premium game of 2019. It’s a farming sim with quite a bit of stuff to do. Players start out by planting crops and raising livestock and eventually grow into doing other things like fishing and attending local events. You can even settle down and marry someone if you want to. The game is deep and varied with a ton of stuff to actually do. Additionally, it gets everything right from top to bottom, including controls, game play mechanics, and even the graphics are pleasant. It was the best Android game of 2019 for months right up until Call of Duty: Mobile stole the crown.
Game of the Year: Call of Duty: Mobile
Price: Free to play
There are times where these decisions are made for us and this is one of those times. Call of Duty: Mobile hit the Google Play Store like a freight train. The game accumulated 100 million downloads and over a million reviews on Google Play alone in just a week. We haven’t seen that kind of popularity in a game since Pokemon Go. The game has a variety of game modes, including the popular zombies game mode along with a 100-player battle royale similar to Fortnite and PUBG. Additionally, there are a variety of unlockable things and just a metric ton of stuff to do. This is easily one of the deepest online PvP shooters in the history of mobile gaming and it definitely had more impact on 2019 than any other mobile game.
We would also like to give a special shout out to Brawl Stars. The game came out just after our list last year, but it wasn’t late enough to not make the list this year. It deserved to be on the best of 2018 or the best of 2019, but it just launched during that week where it didn’t make sense to add it to either one.
- Blackmoor 2 – An arcade platformer with a fun story, a build-your-own-level mode, co-op multiplayer, and online PvP.
- Brown Dust – This game is an above average strategy RPG with gacha elements. We loved its guaranteed gacha system where you get something good after so many random summons.
- Despotism 3k – AI has enslaved humanity and now you run machines with human power. It’s creepy, difficult, and fun even if it does get repetitive after a while.
- Doom I and II – The classic FPS games that started it all launched officially on mobile in 2019. The ports are only just okay. However, they are improving with each update.
- The Eyes of Ara – An adventure-puzzle game similar in mechanics to titles like Myst. The gorgeous graphics, fun puzzles, and quirky style make it a fun title overall.
- Gears POP! – This one has a lot of potential as an action-arcade battler game. However, we felt like this one could’ve been better so we left it off of our top 15.
- Gorogoa – An excellent (albeit very short) puzzler with excellent artwork, a good narrative, and fun puzzle mechanics.
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite – Niantic’s big release this year was Pokemon Go but with Harry Potter instead. We expect this one to get better over time.
- Human: Fall Flat – This is a goofy and fun arcade game with a similar style (but vastly different execution) as games like Little Bit Planet. It’s a bit short, but seriously funny to play.
- Langrisser – A mobile strategy RPG with gacha elements. It takes places in the Langrisser universe and has excellent artwork and music.
- The Layton series – Level-5’s ports of the critically acclaimed Nintendo DS games is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. The ports are fantastic, if a little pricey.
- Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam – Tony Hawk returns to gaming with this skateboarding game. It plays a lot like old console Tony Hawk games, but it had too many bugs to crack the top 15.
- Tropico – Tropico is a city-building simulator where you take control of a Caribbean island from its awful former dictator and build it back up again.
- Whispers of a Machine – A retro-style Noir adventure game with actual voice acting, a deep story, and some fun twists. This was our 16th pick and only just didn’t make the full list.
- Witcheye – Witcheye is an old-school platformer with a fun premise and some unique mechanics. We think it should be more popular than it is.
If you didn’t see your favorite app on this list, tell us about it in the comments and why it should be there! Also, check out our latest Android app and game lists here!