What’s not to like about Android games? They’re mostly free. You can play them on your phone anytime, anywhere. And they’re highly interactive. Just be warned, they can be highly addictive.
With iPhones losing clout, Android phones are sweeping up disillusioned ex-Apple fans with some great designs and steals. But price point and style are not the only advantages of switching to an Android device. With it comes access to a whole new dimension of free games, many of which you won’t find available inside the Apple App Store.
So, whether you’re new to Android (or simply just looking to be entertained), here’s a list of the 15 best free games that we recommend you try.
1. Plague, Inc.
Let’s start with one of the darkest games in gaming history, Plague, Inc. — a game where the goal is to kill the entire planet with a virus of your own design. Since its initial launch in 2012, this strategy-simulation game for Android devices has received nothing but acclaim for both its realism and entertainment value. So grab your phone and channel your inner Mr. Hyde as you infect Patient Zero and take down humanity.
Just be careful about Canada — their health care system is this game’s equivalent of a Dark Souls final boss.
Now in its eighth installment, Asphalt has earned its titular place as the best racing app. Aside from garnering perfect scores from most of the major reviewers, the game also won MWC’s Best Mobile Game App for 2015. The newest installment of the game features over 130 dream cars, including a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, and Chevrolet, which you can customize to your liking.
3. Fallout Shelter
Fallout Shelter was only released for free because it was intended as a promotional aid for the 2015 release of Fallout 4 for video gaming systems — one of the many ways that free apps can ultimately make money. However, quite surprisingly, Fallout Shelter knocked it out of the park, picking up stellar reviews and awards along the way (i.e., Google Play’s Best of 2015 and DICE’s 2016 Mobile Game of the Year), and making it rival the game it was initially designed to support. Needless to say, it’s become somewhat of a hit among Android users.
Those interested in the mobile version will find that the game combines elements of simulation, strategy, resource management, and town-building, all while the user attempts to save their personal community from the Fallout series’s classic post-apocalyptic environment.
4. Pac-Man 256
Reinventing the wheel is usually ill-advised in the gaming world, but Bandai Namco actually pulled it off. This modern take on Pac-Man combines all the classic elements we love about the original (that unmistakable sound, for one!), but with fun, updated twists, including a mock 3-D display and outrunning the infamous Glitch.
5. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
If World of Warcraft is too much video game for you to handle but you like the concept of it, then you’ll enjoy playing Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. This mobile game (which is also available on PCs and Macs) uses a strategy card setup that’s “deceptively simple.” Drawing on Warcraft’s fantasy ethos, Hearthstone’s appeal lies in its similarity to the classic Magic: The Gathering game, including the joy of building your own collection.
6. Clash Royale
A spin-off of the popular Clash of Clans, Clash Royale is the free, real-time dueler that combines elements of tower defense, strategy, and card collecting. Although some players complain about the pay-to-win inner app purchases, reviews are generally highly positive.
7. Plants vs. Zombies
A modern classic at this point, the Plants vs. Zombies series (launched in 2009) grew up alongside the popularization of smartphones themselves. Not to mention the fact that it rode the lasting zombie-craze trend since the beginning. Plants vs. Zombies 2 boasts new levels, plants, and, of course, zombies.
8. Dead Trigger
And speaking of the zombie-craze, it seems that lately, these brain-dead and brain-hungry monsters are every gamer’s favorite target to shoot. The Dead Trigger series (now on its second installment), upped its technology with graphics that rival console gaming, making it one of the best-looking free games for Android.
9. Crossy Road
If we told you free games for Android were being made by a company called Hipster Whale, what would you expect? If you said something retro with a weird sense of humor, you’d be absolutely right.
Described as an endless Frogger, you have to carry your avatar across road, after road, after road, until you die. Supplementary Disney collaborations even let you use Disney characters and worlds.
10. Candy Crush Saga
This is the ultimate video game for people who hate video games. It’s also the game that helped bring smartphone gaming to new heights due to its addicting and time-consuming nature. Candy Crush Saga adheres to the match three and swap formula style of games, with new unique challenges awaiting you at every level.
11. Cut the Rope
This physics-based puzzle game series has won a dedicated fandom with its six installments. And it’s won some awards, too. Specifically, the BAFTA. Made up of cerebral puzzles, the game will have you desperately trying to cut strings in the right order to get the candy into your pet Om Nom’s mouth (cute isn’t it?).
12. Smash Hit
A rather creative and experimental game, Smash Hit involves unleashing elegant steel balls through gorgeously crafted 3-D worlds in harmony with music, all while smashing everything in your path. Next to the other free games for Android, it’s the best of its kind. Fair warning, though: This is one of those surreal, transcendent games you shouldn’t play while operating heavy machinery.
13. Modern Combat
Now in its fifth installment, the Modern Combat is Android’s answer to popular big-screen games like Call of Duty and Battlefield 1. With quick campaigns (each around 5 minutes), it’s the perfect solution to your gaming-inspired bloodlust when you’re on the go.
14. Tower Defense
What list of free games for Android would be complete without a token tower defense game? In this case, we’ve got the aptly named Tower Defense series. The Legends TD installment breathes new life into the genre with specialized heroes and climactic boss battles.
15. Angry Birds
Last but not least, we have the record holder for being the most popular free game of all-time for Android, the now legendary Angry Birds series.
Combining physics, puzzle-solving, and a love of destroying block towers, Angry Birds won enough popularity to spawn multiple installments with even more themes, ranging from Star Wars to the Rio Olympics. Unfortunately, it’s also responsible for its own movie.