It has been an amazing year for mobile gaming. We saw massive hits like Pokemon Go shake the foundation of gaming. We’ve seen proof now that mobile gaming can have a cultural impact. Behind the scenes, we saw a larger number of great paid, free, and freemium games than ever before. There were a ton of great releases, but we need to narrow down the best. Here are the best Android games released in 2016!
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[Price: Free / $9.99]
Auralux: Constellations is an atmospheric puzzle game that takes place in space. It features slower mechanics that focus more on chilling out rather than fast-paced action. Your task will be to grow your planet to be larger than the other players. The game features 150 levels, full Android TV support, various modes and maps, online multiplayer support, and more. It’s a bit expensive at $9.99, but you can download the game for free and play it before deciding to drop the money.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Asphalt Xtreme is the latest racing game from Gameloft. Unlike prior titles in the series, Xtreme features offroad vehicles along with offroad tracks. Currently, the game has 35 vehicles although we expect that number to grow. Like other games in the series, you’ll have access to online multiplayer mode. It’s a good looking game with simple mechanics that also works as a great time waster for racing fans. It’s a freemium game which is the worst part about it, but it’s still pretty fun.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Clash Royale is the big Supercell release this year. Thankfully, they actually did a pretty good job. Clash Royale is a card-based PvP game where you duel against other players. Much like other Supercell games, there is a ranking system where you improve by beating other players. You can also form clans, share cards, and earn various rewards for playing the game. It’s intensely popular which means you’ll have opponents to play pretty much all the time. It’s freemium, which sucks, but at least its social features are really strong.
Don’t Starve bills itself as an uncompromising wilderness survival game. Your job will be to explore the world, finding various things, defending yourself, and staying alive. The game has charming graphics, an open world to explore, and some of that classic indie developer quirk. It also has some popular features, like offline mode so you can play the game even without a web connection. It’s a pay-once game so you also won’t be bugged by in-app purchases. The only downside is that the controls aren’t quite as good as the PC version, but who expected that anyway?
Exploding Kittens is a card game that was originally funded on Kickstarter. The basic premise is that everybody plays cards and draws until you get an exploding kitten card. If you don’t have a diffuse card, you lose the game. The winner is the last player standings. It features online playing capabilities for up to five players. You get the base game for $1.99 and you can buy additional content for the game through in-app purchases. It was one of the most funded mobile games on Kickstarter for a reason. Because it’s fun.
Square Enix released a ton of good games this year. Final Fantasy IX is pretty much as good as it gets. It’s a complete port from the original PlayStation version. Along with the 25+ hour story, you’ll have copious numbers of side quests to do and plenty of places to explore. The port also includes add-ons that make you practically invincible and rich if you just want to play the story line. It’s insanely expensive at $20.99, but it does go on sale fairly often and there are no in-app purchases.
Never Alone: Ki Edition is a puzzle-platormer with a fun little story. You play as a girl and her pet fox. You control both characters and use them to overcome obstacles you wouldn’t normally be able to with one character. The game also comes with tons of lore, decent graphics, and plenty of other goodies. It’s relatively inexpensive with no in-app purchases. Those who have an Nvidia Shield Tablet or Android TV can get a slightly better version of the game for a little more money.
[Price: Free / $2.99]
PinOut is a fun little pinball game in a Play Store that doesn’t have a lot of good pinball games. PinOut is a hybrid of an arcade pinball game and an infinite runner. You’ll be launching a ball through various obstacles for as long as possible. It looks good and the controls are pretty easy to learn. What makes this game special is that it’s a pay-once game in a genre that is dominated by freemium titles. It’s a good time killer that won’t bug you to spend even more money.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Pokemon Go did something that no mobile game before it was able to do. It caused such a stir that people hated it on principle just because they hate popular things. It broke many, many mobile gaming records, including most active users. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Pokemon Go is a game where you use your GPS to go hunt and capture Pokemon and battle Gyms. Even if you hate the idea of it, no one can deny how unique it was. It used your GPS, Bluetooth, camera, and mobile connections in ways no other game has (including Ingress) which made it a truly mobile game. It was a cultural phenomenon and, as it turns out, a pretty fun and unique game.
Riptide GP Renegade is one of the best racing games released in 2016. It features wave runners instead of cars and the developers did a great job integrating waves into the mechanics of the game. The story goes that you’re a racer who got busted doing an illegal street race. You must race your way back up through the underground and back onto the GP circuit. It’s an inexpensive pay-once game with no in-app purchases and a lot of replay value. It also has online multiplayer mode if you’re into that.
[Price: Free / $1.99]
Super Phantom Cat is a platformer where you play as a cat that jumps on platforms. It takes a lot of its inspiration from the 8-bit and 16-bit games of old so you’ll likely see a number of themes from your favorite old platformers. That includes things like disappearing platforms, collecting coins, and tons of bad guys to jump on or over. It’s a free to play game with a single in-app purchase. Technically, it’s freemium, but it’s about as inoffensive of a freemium game as it gets.
The Room 3 is the latest release of one of the best puzzle game franchises in all of mobile gaming. This iteration surpassed its predecessors by being larger and longer than than before. On top of that, there are various endings to play through which adds a surprising amount of replay value. It also supports cloud saving and redesigned touch controls from the previous games. For $1.99, you really can’t do much better than this one. The 4.9 out of 5 star rating on Google Play also makes it the highest rated major game release this year.
Titan Quest was originally a PC game released in 2006. It’s been remastered and is now on Android. With this game, you’ll get a huge hack-and-slash adventure with tons of stuff to do. It boasts 30 character classes, an open world, and redesigned game play to work better on touch screens. The developers boast a 60 hour playtime along with no advertising and no in-app purchases. This is one of the precious few open world RPGs that isn’t a freemium game and it’s definitely worth a shot.
Zenge is an atmospheric puzzle game that does things a little bit differently. It doesn’t keep score, there is no timer, no leaderboards, no stars to earn, and there isn’t even a tutorial. You’ll jump right in, figure everything out on your own, and then progress at your own pace. The game tells a story of a character named Eon who is stuck between worlds. Your goal is to solve the puzzles and find out what happened. It’s one of the most relaxing games released this year.
Crashlands is simply a masterpiece. For those who haven’t tried it, you play as an intergalactic trucker who is stranded on a planet after being attacked. Your job is to build a base, fight bad guys, and explore the planet. It’s a rather large planet with tons of bad guys and resources for you to acquire. You then use those things to craft various items and build your home base. It features 500 craftable items, a self-managing inventory, RPG elements for character progression, creatures that you can tame, and even a decent combat system. There is even cloud saving mixed with cross-platform support so you can play the same save file on PC or mobile. It’s almost everything that people have been asking for in a mobile game. A story, tons of content, and a huge, open world. The best part is that it’s reasonably priced at $4.99 with no in-app purchases. There really isn’t anything to hate about this game and it checks virtually every box we could think of. That’s why it’s our pick for the best Android game released in 2016.
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If we missed any great new Android games, tell us about them in the comments! To see our complete list of best app lists, click here.