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Best Android games 2018: The best free-to-play and paid-for tablet and phone games

Here are the top picks for Android games in 2018

Android devices used to lag behind iOS when it came to games but that’s rarely a problem now. Yes, some games do hit iOS first but Android versions are now the norm rather than the exception and you’d have to be a seriously dedicated mobile gamer to get through even a fraction of what’s on offer on Android today.

Whether you have a tablet or smartphone, and whether you like to play in five-minute bursts or four-hour marathons, there’s something for you here. You’ll find some of the best games to play in 2018 in the top of half of the article and some of our long-term favourites nearer the bottom.

There's a healthy mixture of free-to-play and paid games on this list but bear in mind that the vast majority of free mobile games contain optional micro-transactionswhich can range from mere pennies up to hundreds of pounds. We used to prefer to purchase games, complete them, and move on rather than grind away at repetitive 'freemium' apps, but the quality of free games from independent developers has vastly improved in recent years. If you’ve only played free games in the past, however, then try splashing out a few quid; you’ll be amazed at the variety and quality on offer in Google Play if you’re willing to spend a little money.

Best free-to-play Android games in July 2018

Infinity OPS - Free

Formerly (and very briefly) known as Destiny: Warfare, this epic multiplayer shooter from AzurInteractive Games has been forced to change its name. Infinity OPS: Sci-Fi FPS isn't nearly as catchy, but it's also not nearly as copyright infringe-y as Destiny: Warfare. Thanks a lot, Bungie! The original title for Infinity OPS gives you a clear idea of the setting, aesthetic, and gameplay style the developers were going for, and they've been largely successful in replicating the frantic action and awesome space settings of games like Destiny and Halo.

You'll do a double take at the high-quality graphics and smooth gameplay mechanics — but if you have a low spec phone, then fret not, because Infinity OPS have optimisation settings for phones with low technical characteristics; the game won't look as good, but it will play just as well. The range and depth of the gameplay is impressive for a mobile shooter, with three standard multiplayer options, custom game hosting, clan creation, and extensive character customisation options. With different class types, low gravity maps, jetpacks, and colourful sci-fi scapes, Infinity OPS is the closest thing to Desinty or Halo that you'll get on a smartphone. There are no single player modes, unfortunately, but that's about the only downside.

Mr Gun - Free

Yet another addictive title from the prolific mobile games developer Ketchapp, Mr Gun is a simple tap to shoot game in which your character (first name unknown, surname Gun) shoots other gunmen, preferably in the head. You ascend a never-ending staircase, popping a cap at enemies as they appear on the level above you. The catch is that Mr Gun's aim is not as steady as it once was – his hand roves up and down constantly, meaning you have to shoot quickly when it's in an angle range that will hit the enemy. Miss your target, and it's their turn to shoot. And they always hit their mark. The one detractor from this simple and addictive game is theonslaught of advertisements whenever you win or lose. Happily, they actually became less frequent when we progressed further into the game, without us having to make any in-app purchases.

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile- Free

Forget Fortnite and Rules of Survival - PUBG is here! Lightspeed Quantum Studios has adapted its world-conquering Battle Royale game for Android, and you better have a lightspeed internet network if you want to stand a fighting chance. In huge 100-player warzones, players parachute into a free-for-all fight to the death, but if you choose Squad mode you can get backed by a small group of team members with whom you can chat tactics (or nonsense) via your phone's mic. Better yet, you can join forces with your mates for the ultimate squad experience.

Choose to be stealthy and stockpile a mass armoury of weapons, upgrades and armour, or charge into the fray with a machete in nothing but your underpants – it’s up to you. Keep within the ever-shrinking play zone and kill enemies while avoiding the same fate; if you get knocked out in squad mode, however, you still have a shot at being revived before that final bullet finishes you off. The graphics are great, the controls fluid, and the interface is intuitive and easy to use. Although the default controller layout is far from perfect, every button’s position and size can be rearranged in the main menu settings to fit your exact preferences.

Character customisation will take a while, however, unless you’re willing to pay. Anyone familiar with the PUBG console or PC game will be able to jump straight in without so much as a tutorial, and many have claimed that the mobile version works better than it does on console! Player Unknown Battlegrounds Mobile is without a doubt the best Battle Royale game available for Android and, best of all, it's free.

Major Mayhem 2 - Free

The long-awaited (6 years, to be exact) sequel to the arcade shooter original, Major Mayhem 2 raises the bar on ninja-killing and havoc-wreaking in every possible way. Taking control of the titular Major, you’ll run-and-gun your way to glory by wiping out every enemy and vehicle that stands in your way, with one thing and one thing alone: pure, unadulterated firepower!

Developers Rocket Jump has self-published Major Mayhem 2, having previously released the first game under the Adult Swim Games name, and they’ve made some stellar improvements, most notably with the controls. Graphics and overall game size have also seen a big boost. Download it for free and earn your stripes, soldier!

Stranger Things: The Game - Free

While most tie-in games have a tendency to feel rushed and wholly unnecessary, this single-player arcade action-puzzler from BonusXP brings a whole new level (many levels, in fact) to the Stranger Things 80s experience. Not only does it tell a whole new story set in a colourful 32-bit rendering of the mysterious town of Hawkins, it also feels true to the sort of game that the characters within the show would actually be playing in the year 1984.

Players swap between various Hawkins inhabitants from a top-down perspective while hunting for clues, fighting baddies, and solving maddening yet satisfying puzzles across a number of dangerous retro environments. The controls are simple and fun, while the story develops at a steady pace, growing in complexity with each new chapter. It’s a neat companion piece to the Netflix series, but Stranger Things: The Game is a seriously good android game in its own right, as addictive as it is authentic.

MIRIAM: The Escape- Free

Remember Limbo? Of course you do! We all do! It was great! And now you can play it all over again on your mobile for free, and - oh, hang on a second, this isn’t Limbo! Yes, it’s identical in almost every way, from the minimalist black and white level design to the puzzle-solving gameplay and the tiny, silent child protagonist. But it’s not Limbo. It’s MIRIAM: The Escape, a free-to-play from a developer called Tengle Games who have no connection whatsoever to Playdead’s Limbo beyond their obvious love for that game.

Like in Limbo, you control a child (Miriam) trapped in a darkly surreal and dangerous dreamscape, and must run around its puzzling platformer levels until you get to the end. Miriam is also allergic to light, and is killed - or wakes up? - when exposed to it. Same goes for water, long falls onto spiky objects, and spinning saw blades which inhibit her progress. Every level has a key which unlocks a door to the next level until, presumably, you escape the nightmare. MIRIAM: The Escape is great, immersive fun; however, it is most certainly not, as the developers claim, ‘a one-of-a-kind indie game’, as it is essentially Limbo 2 for mobile. How low can you go, Tengle Games?

Marvel Strike Force - Free

Developed by FoxNet, Strike Force is a mobile RPG addition to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. In turn-based combat, players control a team of well-known heroes from the Marvel franchise to battle the forces of evil led by world-conquering villain Ultimas. It’s been described as the Marvel equivalent of Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, only better. For a phone game, it’s pretty high-pedigree, with decent writing, cool graphic storyboards between missions, and some entertaining fight animations. Build your team by unlocking your favourite characters via missions, and train them up to become the ultimate superhero crew.

Strike Force is a large game that’s gone through extensive testing. It launched globally on 28 March 2018, but there’s already a burgeoning community of dedicated players. Check out this ridiculously in-depth beginner’s guide on Redditbuilt by the game’s tester community to help new players find their feet. Strike Force is a must-play for any diehard Marvel fan, but anyone who enjoys role-playing and character building will love it too.

Clash Royale - Free

Clash Royale, the smash hit spin-off of Clash of Clans, is about the most popular “freemium” mobile game in the world right now. It combines the best elements of the Tower Defense and Action Real Time Strategy genres to create an addictive and highly competitive gaming experience. The humorous, cartoonish animations and Python-esque sound effects keep things light and fun, and its gameplay mechanics have just the right blend of familiarity and originality.

Clash Royale made more than $1 billion in revenue during its first year alone, and now developer Supercell is offering players the chance to win some of that money back; a dedicated Clash eSports league has been developed for 2018. Trials pulled in 25 million players, and from the winners, 36 teams have been selected to fight it out in the ultimate eCompetition for a one-million-dollar prize. Clash Royale may be a couple of years old, but it continues to renew interest with these exciting community events. And, if you’re good enough, it could be pretty lucrative.

Rules of Survival - Free

Moving on from Clash Royale to Battle Royale with Rules of Survival. With 100 million downloads and up to 120 players per match, you’re never short of opponents – nor of ways in which to kill them, with weapons ranging from sawn-off shotguns to rubber chickens. Playing in third-person over-the-shoulder style, you run around the map hoarding weapons, gear and medicine while killing all who cross your path. The map’s “Safe-Zone” gets smaller and smaller as each match progresses, forcing the competitors into an ever-tighter and more deadly combat arena. Compared to a console shooter, the controls are clunky, but for a free app it’s not bad at all. That said, those with XL phone screens have a considerable advantage over those who do not.

Fallout Shelter - Free

Initially released as a kind of warm-up game in the buildup to Fallout 4’s release, Fallout Shelter remains popular with fans of the apocalyptic franchise and strategy game buffs alike. Some are still playing Shelter long after completing Fallout 4 - or having their copy forcibly removed following an intervention, as in the case of this writer. The post-nuclear fallout simulation game, which has also been adapted for console, is as addictive as they come. As a Vault-Tec Overseer, you assign roles to Vault-dwellers and expand your underground shelter from a hostel into a veritable subterranean city. With its frenzied pace, jolly animation style, dark humour, and impressive level of customisation, you’re constantly juggling a hundred different tasks. Which sounds sort of stressful, but it’s not.

Many people – myself included – would never have touched a strategy game were it not for the Fallout branding. And while it did capture the essence of the Wasteland that we all know and love, it worked as a standalone game in its own right. Yes, there’s element of dull grinding that can only be avoided through microtransactions, and it doesn’t really have a main storyline or an ending, but it’s one of the best freemium games of its genre.

Pokémon Go - Free

Wait, there are still people playing Pokémon Go? Yes. They’ve got to catch them all, and those Pokémon won’t catch themselves. And anyway, as soon as the app’s most hardcore followers get that last creature safely nestled in their pocket, developer Niantic releases another slew of cute monsters to round up.

We’ll say one thing for Pokémon Go: it gets people moving. Since you have to go out into the real world and use your phone camera to catch new Pokémon or battle in gyms, it gets gamers interacting with the places and people around them more than any other app. A couple of Expert Reviews staff remain loyal followers of Pokémon Go, and describe the interesting people – fellow Poké trainers – who they’ve met while marauding around Central London for those elusive regional legendaries.

Asphalt Street Storm - Free

Get faster and more furious than ever before with the latest addition to the Asphalt street-racing series. In Street Storm, drivers can get revved up for a spot of illegal street racing, chicaning around the world’s most stunning cities, from Paris to New York to Hong Kong. Each instalment of the Asphalt series is essentially an improvement on the version that came before, and they have been released at fairly regular intervals since the dawn of smartphone gaming. There’s a new Asphalt on the way in 2018, called Asphalt 9: Legends - trailers and gameplay footage are out there, but there’s no exact release date yet. Keep playing Street Storm, but remember that an even better Asphalt is on its way to an App Store near you!

Best paid Android games 2018

Death Road to Canada- £8.99

A gloriously silly arcade adventure set in a post-apocalyptic ZombielandAmerica. It’s like The Walking Dead meets Scott Pilgrim, in procedurally generated Action-RPG form. Take control of a team of human, superhuman, and animal survivors who hack, slash, shoot and drive their way through the endless zombie horde on an epic road trip from Florida to Canada — the only country in the world not ruled by the undead, apparently.

It’s a perfect blend of old-school arcade gaming and self-aware silliness, with skeletons toting miniguns and bearded men hurling cars; over 500 enemy zombies can swarm the player at any one time, so there’s never a dull moment. There’s a whole host of running gags, the wacky dialogue options being most reminiscent of early Fallout games, and because there are multiple choices at so many stages of the game (which also change depending on the members in your team) it has infinite replay value. Death Road to Canada is probably best experienced on full screen with Android TV and a Bluetooth Android gamepad, but it’s just as much stress-busting fun to play on a crowded train full of fellow zombies. Sorry, we meant commuters.

The Franz Kafka Videogame - £3.49

The Franz Kafka Videogame is a puzzle-centric adventure game developed by the prolific Daedalic Entertainment, based on the absurdist writings of Austrian-Czech author Franz Kafka (in case you hadn't guess from the title). This game is as creative as it is strange, taking you through a bizarre series of interactions with talking ducks, exotic femme fatales, and crazed head waiters. The puzzles vary in difficulty but none are too difficult – experienced puzzlers will crack the game in a single evening. The real appeal of the game, and why it's worth paying for, is its rich art design and immersive soundscapes. It's such a fun, well-developed game world that you don't mind repeating puzzles to spend more time there.

How faithful the game is to the works of the titular writer is up to you scholars out there, but it is nevertheless an enjoyable experience, and a cut above the free-to-play puzzlers available on the Play Store.

Hitman Sniper - £0.79

This is the definitive ‘Grassy Knoll Simulator’ for Android. Set in the cutthroat universe of the Hitman game series, Hitman Sniper places you in the shoes of Agent 47, the deadliest marksman ever born. Across a range of missions and locations, you’ll scope out targets and, well, snipe them. In the head, usually. It’s amazing how many variations you can perform of the simple assassination, from ‘lure kills’, to ‘accident kills’ and ‘body disposal’ shots. Add to that a plethora of unlockable superhuman sniping abilities and weapons upgrades, and it's a relentlessly entertaining sniping game.

As if the main missions weren’t enough for a mere £0.79, the Death Valley Expansion guarantees you your money’s worth. Shoot wave after wave of the living dead to protect ‘Random Car Guy’ in this frantically paced and challenging zombie mode. Check out the tongue in cheek trailer above.

Framed 2 - £4.49

Perhaps the least-known Android game on the list, Framed 2 is the second game in this fascinating noir-mystery-thriller-puzzler series from Loveshack games. The follow-up to the multi-award-winning Framed, Framed 2 acts as a prequel to the original story. Gameplay is unusualtosay the least, but it’s also exceptionally clever and gorgeously realised. Action plays out in a predetermined comic-style animation, sort of like a cartoon, but the order of the frames must be rearranged in order to progress. Swap the panels to alter the outcome, and solve the puzzle to survive. It’s like a living, breathing graphic novel, with a delightfully noirish dark jazz soundtrack accompaniment.

Minecraft - £6.99

Formerly known as Minecraft: Pocket Edition, this Android app lets you mine and craft to your heart’s content, wherever you may be. Nearly eight years after its release, the digi-LEGO megaverse of Minecraft remains a worldwide phenomenon. For a while, it wasn’t possible to get the full craftian experience on mobile, but the app version of the insanely popular 3D building game has seen steady improvements, with heightened graphics and faster loading times. And following the Better Together update, it's better than ever.

For such a huge, theoretically never-ending game it’s not too hefty of a download at 58.19MB. And for £6.99, you can possess a world of unlimited creativity at your fingertips. Minecraft is the type of game that allows us to feel fine about wasting ten to 12 hours in a non-existent reality because, hey, at least we made something. Also available from your local App Store is Minecraft: Story Mode, an action-adventure campaign from Telltale Games set in the Minecraft universe.

Goat Simulator - £4.99

Hear us out on this one. Goat Simulator is more than a game: it is the cutting-edge in goat-simulator technology. For a mere five pounds, you too can know what it is like to be a goat with the capacity to destroy the environment around you at whim. No, it’s not a serious game, and no, it’s not a realistic game. This is no Flight Simulator. This is no-holds-barred, bleating, head-ramming carnage. Goat Simulator Free is, well, free to download, but we recommend purchasing the full game for the maximum ruminant experience.

Best 2018 Android games for a cheap (aka free) laugh

Doge 420-MLG - Free

The dankest game app of all. In this obnoxious but hilarious mini-game, you, an MLG Doge, must use Dorito buttons to scroll left to right as a downpour of cannabis leaves, snowballs, and Doritos rain from the heavens. Get the Doritos bag for protection from Lord Gabe himself, while air horns blare and pre-pubescent boys scream on the ear- and soul-destroying soundtrack. There are three bosses to beat, so if you take yourself for a hardcore memester then give it a go. Be warned: it is a bit buggy, but as it was made by two brothers rather than a professional studio, this can be forgiven.

Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle - Free

If you've ever wanted to take control of the murderous Jason Vorhees antagonist (or protagonist, depending on your viewpoint) of the Friday the 13th film franchise, now is your chance. Killer Puzzle is a ridiculous yet charming free game in which players slide the machete-wielding Jason across a series of increasingly complex mazes so that he can get within slicing distance of 'evil' campers and cut off their limbs. Remember the slidey ice floors from the old Pokemon games? It's like that, except with a lot more blood — and with the added guidance of your dead mother's disembodied head. The developer of the game, Blue Wizard Digital, has taken every opportunity possible to insert some death and murder-related punnery, and it does not go unappreciated. Pop on your hockey mask and get to work...blood work!

Steppy Pants - Free

In Steppy Pants, players take control of an overly gangly and uncoordinated 3D rectangle man who walks down a street. But he has a weakness: cracks! If you step in any, he’s done for. All you do is tap to step, but it’s a lot harder than it looks. There’s also TNT to avoid, and if you overstep then Mr Steppy Pants goes into full splits mode and cracks at the groin. Ouch! Steppy Pants also features fun 1v1 online modes, including an Olympic style sprint and a Haunted House survival run, in which the slowest walker gets murdered by a scary clown.
Best Android games 2018: The best free-to-play and paid-for tablet and phone games Reviewed by Akande Boluwatife on July 10, 2018 Rating: 5

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