by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 15th April, 2019
While you can't play AAA games from the PC and consoles on mobile devices there are plenty of mobile editions of those AAA titles that are just as fun!
Modern smartphones and tablets are practically small computers capable of running pretty powerful games. For instance, the recently released iPad Pro is as powerful as the Xbox 360 when it comes to its graphics chip with a CPU that can compete with fastest Core i5 CPUs found in today's laptops.
Sadly, this didn't make gaming companies bring lots of their top-selling titles to Android and iOS devices. The main reason is that mobile gaming is a completely different beast, stuffed with F2P games that earn loads of money via in-app purchases.
This ironically led a large chunk of people who play mobile games to prefer free games over paid games even though the latter offers a much better experience for just one, upfront purchase.
All this means that we cannot (and won't anytime soon) find massive AAA games on our mobile devices. Aside from some indies and older games, you cannot find PC and console games on mobile app stores.
There are some popular titles that are one-to-one ports of console games (like Fortnite, many classic RPGs, already mentioned indie games) but most titles don't have their full mobile versions. Luckily, many publishers decided to offer standalone mobile titles of big-name franchises.
Games like Assassin's Creed, Rayman, FIFA, Mortal Kombat, and others have their standalone mobile versions that don't have much in common with PC and console versions of those games. Instead, they are suited for playing on touchscreens and on the go and in many cases provide excellent replacements for AAA games which can be played anywhere and anytime.
Some of them are free (and most of those free titles aren't pay 2 win loot box simulators) but most are paid games, which is great because they offer a complete, microtransactions-free experience for one, upfront purchase. Check out some of the best mobile versions of famous AAA games.
FIFA is a behemoth of modern gaming, mostly thanks to its predatory FUT mode that takes billions of dollars every year from tens of millions of hardcore fans who are ready to spend their money on FUT packs.
Luckily, the mobile version of the most popular sports game in the world is free-to-play meaning you can play it for free and each purchase in-game is easier to swallow because you didn't play 60 bucks for the base game in the first place.
And for the price of zero dollars, you get plenty of content to keep you busy while on the subway or when you have a couple of minutes to kill. You can play online matches against players from around the world, get some free packs by simply playing the game and having to enjoy other game modes that don't ask any in-game payment.
Overall, FIFA mobile is great for casual players who just want a title to play a few times per week. You can play it for free and not worry about spending hundreds of dollars on being competitive.
But if you want for FIFA mobile to be your daily hobby, think again. It's better to get FIFA for the PC or consoles because, while this version is free, it is much worse when it comes to pay 2 win mechanics.
You cannot go far in the online FUT league without spending more money than you would spend on buying the full console game (which can now be bought for about $20) and you will curse developers for matchmaking you with players who have unbelievably strong teams as soon as you reach a certain level in the online league.
To summarize: FIFA Mobile is great for some casual fun a few time each week but if you're looking for a new daily hobby, look elsewhere.
PUBG Mobile is a strange beast. The game is a mobile port of the world famous PUBG and it plays as good as the full game. But the mobile version is better in every area compared to the original while being completely free! For instance, PUBG works okay on a powerful PC but console versions look and play awful.
On the other hand, PUBG mobile is perfectly optimized and works excellent on most modern smartphones, and it looks amazing! Next, the full version costs money while the mobile version is free without limiting players in any way!
You can play it for as long as you like without the need to spend a single cent on it. Battle passes are optional (and they only award cosmetic items) and you don't have to buy them.
And finally, it plays amazing on a touchscreen. When I first installed it, I was pretty skeptical. I knew how big a mess is PUBG (when it comes to optimization, its net code, and gameplay bugs) and was pleasantly surprised when the game played without problems, running on high without any stuttering or dropped frames! I ultimately deleted the game on my PC and now play a couple of matches each week on my smartphone. Yes, the game is that good!
Rayman Jungle Run was the first mobile game that could match the quality of its console brethren. It had excellent visuals, superb gameplay that was specifically designed for mobile devices (Rayman would run automatically and players would make him jump, fly, hit enemies, and do other moves), long campaign that had about ten hours' worth of content, and marvelously designed levels with great replay value. It still is one of the top 3 mobile games I have ever played.
Fiesta Run took all the cool parts found in Jungle Run, made some changes to reflect the Fiesta levels found in Rayman Legends, and offered an even longer game that became another mobile hit. I loved this one, with its fast-paced gameplay, many cool rewards, and super tough hidden levels.
Both Jungle Run and Fiesta Run are paid games but the price is extremely low when compared what the two have to offer. Seriously, with these two you'll have a pair of platformers that are fun as the last two Rayman games for consoles (Origins and Legends) and that will last you at least a couple of weeks.
The third piece of the trilogy is a free-to-play title that does offer plenty without asking for a single cent. Lots of levels, a new gameplay twist that sees small creatures helping Rayman in his adventures, pretty visuals, and excellent music.
Now, the problem with Adventures is that the game hides the best helpers behind a paywall. This means that you can play every single level in the game for free but if you want to earn all achievement and collect all lums, you will probably have to spend some money in order to get the best creatures.
Fallout Shelter is a perfect mobile game. You only need a couple of minutes each day to play it, it looks nice, like all those Fallout images and movies shown in big games, and over time you see how your vault is growing and expanding, your dwellers become powerful and able to repel every attack, and your inventory becoming filled with legendary items.
The game starts simple, with just a couple of rooms and a handful of dwellers, making it easy for the player to start upgrading their vault and learning how to play the game.
You soon start to add new rooms, get new dwellers, and loot more and more powerful gear. After a while, your vault will look amazing, with a huge number of rooms and dozens of dwellers, which is a cool reward for all the time spent inside this extremely cute game.
The best thing is that the game is completely free and that you can grow your vault without needing to spend a single cent on loot boxes. And why should you?
The slow, gradual expansion is way better than buying a bunch of gear and speed leveling your dwellers.
I played the game for months and loved the fact that my vault gradually became bigger and better equipped, my dwellers slowly gained levels and transformed into undefeatable Wasteland wanderers, and the feeling when your most powerful dweller, who you trained for weeks, returns with legendary gear that will finally kill those nasty Deathclaws is way better than spending real money and receiving all that instantly.
This game is one of the best mobile versions of AAA games and is infinitely better than Fallout 76.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades finally entered beta and the game already shows lots of promise. It is a perfect daily hobby with lots of quests and stuff to do, and if Bethesda decides to keep it relatively easy on your money it could become one of the most popular mobile titles.
Visuals are great, gameplay is completely touchscreen optimized and yes, the promise of the portrait gaming mode is true since the game is played completely in portrait mode.
You play as a member of the Blades, an elite unit made of most experienced warriors that keep the Emperor safe and sound. After some war with the elves, the Blades get disbanded and outlawed and then you have to dodge the law, build your base of operations and partake in various quests.
The game isn't yet full, it lacks in content that will be added later. But for what it offers, The Elder Scrolls: Blades is an excellent game that isn't Skyrim but is more than good enough for a free mobile title and a great pastime for all fans of the famous RPG series.
You get to play as Agent 47, Lara Croft, and Adam Jensen. Each game has similar, turn-based gameplay, in which you have to find the solution and reach the end of the level in a certain number of turns but each game features visuals, puzzles, and other elements that are similar to big games on which GO games are based on.
For instance, in Hitman GO levels are in fact different rooms filled with guards you must outsmart (or kill) and stay hidden from in order to reach the end of a level. There are also special levels in which you have to assassinate targets without alarming guards.Lara Croft GO sees Lara in yet another adventure with levels representing forests, mountains, tombs, and other natural environments Tomb Raider games take place in with puzzles in form of having to sneak past snakes, and evading natural traps.
Deus Ex is placed in Prague and follows Adam Jensen on his missions that weren't part of the latest Deus Ex games with lots of robots, armored guards and hacking mini-games.
Each game is unique in both looks and execution but all three are similar when it comes to the general gameplay loop. All three games are amazing puzzles titles offering many hours of content and each costs just a buck or so (they're constantly discounted), making all titles great value for money.
The latest mobile bite of Assassin's Creed is called Identity and is one solid action game with amazing graphics. Visuals are unbelievable, on par with the first couple of entries and incredible to look on some quality OLED screen.
Vibrant colors, extremely detailed characters and levels that look like they are taken directly from Assassin's Creed 2 show just how far mobile graphics advanced in the last five or so years.
The game isn't open world title and instead features linear missions that take players all across the Renaissance Italy. There is literally an endless stream of new missions meaning that players can enjoy the game for a long time even after completing the main story. Combat is simplified and similar to older Assassin's Creed titles.
You wait for enemies to attack you and then deflect their blows or simply stab them when in stealth. It's a solid game and the best Assassin's Creed experience for mobile devices.
If you're looking for a fighting game for mobile devices there are two excellent choices for fans of the genre. Both games are mobile versions of console and PC behemoths: Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat. Injustice 2 features almost all fighters found in the full-fledged game, along with new combatants (like the recently introduced Shazam!)
being added on a regular basis. The combat is like in the original game, filled with combos and super moves and fighters can be equipped with different gear like in the original game. You can play the story (which closely follows the story of Injustice: Gods Among Us, not Injustice 2), PvP battles and various arenas. The game is free to play and it features a ton of content.
Mortal Kombat doesn't follow any particular game in the series but in the past, it was tied to the X and now is updated for the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11.
There's a huge number of fighters present here, with the latest pack bringing some of the characters from Mortal Kombat 11. You can play single player missions (which also get regular updates with new missions to play) or multiplayer modes. The game follows the Mortal Kombat style of play with combos, special moves, throws, and different playstyles for each character.
It is as good as Injustice 2 and no matter which one you choose you won't get wrong.
This isn't the port of the 3D Worms title that came out like fifteen years ago (and that was awful) but a standalone mobile game that features classic (and by far the best) 2D cartoony visual style that made this wacky series so famous.
The other thing that made it famous, insane battles fought by strangely cute tiny worms are also here and are better than ever. You have tons of silly weapons with excellent touch controls and signature procedurally generated maps. Famous weapons from classic games found their way here allowing players to blow up the map and opponents with stuff like the banana bomb or holy hand grenade.
The game is a blast to play solo, with a bunch of single-player levels, but the real deal is multiplayer. Online mode works solid, and there are lots of players so matchmaking is a breeze but the most fun is when you play against a friend in hot seat mode. Seeing the look of someone who just realized you killed their whole team with Halley's Comet (the new weapon) is precious!
Football Manager mobile is a simplified version of a virtual drug that disguises itself as a video game. You can play all game modes but general gameplay is simplified and customized to a touch screen. All you do is tap, which makes managing your team a breeze but the game knows to slow down and stutter from time to time no matter how powerful your phone, which can be a problem for some.
Other than that FM Mobile is an extremely addicting football manager. You can get lost for hours on time and realize that half a day passed only after your phone starts begging for a charger.
There are lots of leagues and teams but the mobile version lacks a bit compared to the full-fledged PC version. But if you want a pocket Football Manager and you are okay without having to choose less popular leagues, this one is a great choice.
Trials Frontier brings the excitement of Trials onto Android and iOS. The game is set is post-apocalypse-like setting in order to make the fuel rare and sought for, thus making it the game's "energy" currency.
The good thing is that you can play the game freely for the first couple days because you're showered with fuel but later on it could become a problem for those who stick to playing Frontiers for hours each day.
Others, who seek for a cool pastime to play while commuting or chilling out in the bedroom, can find an excellent little game in Trials Frontier.
There are plenty of chapters that can be played for free, and before the game asks for money to continue you can play it for a couple of weeks. Of course, harder levels can be beaten with a bike made out of free parts but they become unreasonably tough after the said couple of weeks. Other than that Trials Frontier is a great game that contains plenty of cool tracks, a great bike upgrade system, lots of game modes, and superb visuals.
Another Assassin's Creed game for mobile devices but this one is Fallout Shelter lookalike instead of an action-packed mobile version of the popular franchise.
You get your own Assassin Brotherhood along with headquarters that can be upgraded and expanded like in Fallout Shelter. But here you can also play with different Assassins like Ezio or that guy from the movie, (I can't remember his name) embark on various missions where you actively control characters instead watching them wander the wasteland.
There are missions to play, lots of upgrades to unlock, limited events offering cool and unique prizes, gear to craft, and plenty more stuff to do. Visuals are cartoony and perfect for a game like this one, detailed cute and colorful.
The game is, like Fallout Shelter, a free to play title that plays really well and is pretty generous. You can get everything for free, all it takes is a bit of patience and if you don't plan on making this into your main mobile pastime, it can be enjoyed for months.
FINAL FANTASY XV Pocket Edition is a perfect example of a mobile version of a famous AAA game done right. Developers used the foundation laid by the original game and built an accessible and fun mobile game on top of it.
The story follows known characters and is a streamlined version of the story found in the console and PC version of the game, there are ten chapters to play and each is built around linear levels dotted with NPCs, monsters, and quests, and all that is packed inside cartoony graphics that look great on mobile devices.
The first chapter is free and the other ten are available for one-off purchase. That means no ads, no predatory microtransactions, and no daily quests to keep you hooked.
Just excellent gameplay based on just a few taps, superb visuals, solid story, and a pretty long game for a mobile title. This is one of the best mobile versions of a AAA game I have ever played.
Revolution is like a Civilization without the chunk of its most complex mechanics making the game easy to learn and fun to play without thinking about stuff like your road network, or happiness, or any other stat that can make or break your empire.
Some would even say that the game is too simplistic but I personally like its gameplay that lacks the depth of the full version and is perfect for short gaming sessions when you can play just a few turns.
Just imagine playing Civ game on your mobile with all statistics and data. It would be a drag playing it on the move. The only big negative side is that the game favors the militaristic approach which I never was a fan of. Other than that it is a simple Civ game that is fun to play and that won't make you glued to your chair for 12 hours, denying sleep until the game is finished.
This is a simplified version of the best NFS game of all times. You have a relatively large city to explore with lots of races to partake in.
The story isn't really the same but that doesn't matter because the sense of speed is phenomenal and racing is tight and perfectly optimized for touch controls. I played this one for about a week so there's plenty of content.
The game is six years old but even today it has more than solid graphics. Sure, it doesn't look quite as Asphalt 9 or Real Racing 3 but environments are decently detailed and cars look really pretty.
They look amazing when looked at the car dealer, but once you start racing visuals are toned down. Overall, this is one of the best racing games on both Android and iOS and if you step over average visuals you will get an excellent arcade racer without in-game purchases and a ton of premium currencies.