Have some time to kill and only your trusty Android phone to keep you company? Take a gander at some of the most exciting, engaging, and free games that you can download from the Google Play Store. We have a healthy mix, including shooters, puzzle games, racing, and lots more.
If you're itching for something more, then may I suggest checking out our list of the best Android games?
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of Duty: Mobile is a free-to-play game that is buoyed by a premium Battle Pass system and in-app purchases. The good news is you don't need to spend any money to enjoy the best of Call of Duty action on your phone. The even better news is that the gameplay is top-notch and will feel familiar to veterans of the series while remaining accessible for more casual players.
Choose between 5-on-5 battles on your favorite CoD maps or dive into a 100-player Battle Royale mode in a first- or third-person perspective. CoD Mobile is perfect for a quick game on the bus, metro, or waiting somewhere. The 5v5 matches go by pretty quick since they have a lower point threshold than the full Modern Warfare experience. Controller support comes standard, even if it feels like cheating sometimes,
Not only is this one of the best freebies on the Play Store, but it's the best shooter for Android. From the different control schemes to the ease of play, CoD Mobile is a surprisingly good Activision product. I haven't spent a dime in the hours I've played and you don't have to, either.
PUBG Mobile's main attraction is its massive PvP Battle Royale mode, which pits 100 players against each other on a massive island loaded with weapons, ammo, tactical gear, and vehicles. Thanks to Tencent Games continuing to add new content to the game, there are multiple maps and more arcade-style modes to choose from for shorter sessions.
Like a lot of similar games, there's a tiered progression ladder with a free game pass and a premium one that offers more cosmetic rewards. Every 6-8 weeks, the game pass resets. It's a fairly typical monetization method popularized by Fortnite, so it's not a surprise to see it here. If you loved PUBG on PC, then be sure to check out PUBG Mobile for that battle royale experience.
Unlike the previous two shooters, Fortnite on Android is the full package deal. It's not a mobile version of a pre-existing game — Fortnite packs in the same action you'll find on your PC or console. You even get to keep and work on your saved battle pass progress.
Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world, but it's been on Android for a little while. However, a legal spat has seen the game kicked off the Play Store, meaning that you will have to sideload it to play. Samsung users can install it via the Galaxy Store. The link to download the Epic Games will be below.
Many have tried to copy Fortnite's formula, some to varying degrees of success, but it's hard to unseat the king, even after so many years. Fortnite is packed to the brim with microtransactions, from the battle pass to cosmetics. That's exactly how it is on other platforms. Since this is the full version of the game, you'll get to see every update and addition when they go live (except on iOS and Mac). So have at it.
Modern Strike Online: PRO FPS
Modern Strike Online offers a pure online FPS experience packed with many great quick match options. You earn experience as you play, which levels you up so that you can unlock new game modes. There are six in total, which include most of the standard fare you'd expect — free-for-all, team deathmatch, seek and destroy, and a hardcore mode.
In-game currency can be bought via in-app purchases or earned via daily rewards, crates, and generally kicking ass, which can then be spent on new weapons, armor, and accessories for your character. There's a decent amount of customization available for kitting, with over 30 types of weapons available to rent or buy.
If Call of Duty: Mobile isn't to your liking, but you're still wanting some awesome shooting action, then be sure to check out Modern Strike Online.
Mindustry is an incredible open-ended sandbox tower defense game that will blow you away with the level of depth and customization available to the player. Not only do you need to build up your defenses, but you must also maintain your supply chain for delivering resources to your base and turrets.
The campaign mode tasks you with mining resources while defending against waves of highly aggressive enemies, and there's also full support for custom multiplayer matches and a map editor. It wasn't long until I started developing some rudimentary strategies that worked for a while, but soon the AI enemies figured out my tactics, managed to bypass my defenses, and wrecked my base.
The whole game is free-to-play with no ads or in-app purchases.
Developed by Supercell — famous, or perhaps infamous, for Clash of Clans — Brawl Stars is a fast-paced arena brawler that is unlike most other games on the Play Store. It's a departure from the Clash of Clans universe and instead lets players team up in a MOBA game that differentiates itself from others in the genre with its colorful and cartoony look that's backed by great gameplay variety.
There are multiple game modes available, which rotate every couple of hours, so there's always something new to play whenever you log into the app. Each game is quick, lasting less than three minutes, so it's perfect for some bite-sized gaming. There's plenty of things to unlock, leaderboards to conquer, and cosmetics for the brawlers.
Stranger Things: The Game
As if Stranger Things itself isn't enough of a nostalgia trip/throwback, Stranger Things: The Game is a surprisingly great game for what was mainly a marketing tool for the Netflix show's second season. All the characters, settings, and themes from the source material are converted into a pixel-retro action-adventure game similar in gameplay to the older Legend of Zeldas (specifically Adventure of Link).
Where other 2D adventure games try and use a digital d-pad for control, Stranger Things uses a simple tap control system that works well. The game is a good mix of puzzle-solving and action, with your favorite characters from the show to unlock and add to your party. There's a surprising amount of depth to this game and everything feels complete for a free game.
Ancestor is a fast-paced puzzler mixed with a side-scrolling action runner. You'll need sharp reflexes and quick thinking if you have any hopes of getting far in this game. You play as a cloaked hero who must traverse dangerous lands filled with traps and enemies — all with the help of a mysterious orb that shoots lasers.
Clear the path ahead by solving quick puzzles and shooting down enemies — including boss battles — as the game adapts to your skills and ups the difficulty as you go. If you want to support the developer, you can purchase cosmetic upgrades for your character and laser orb, but you can also unlock all items by collecting the in-app currency during gameplay.
Pokémon Go is still going strong with a healthy player base still catching 'em all. While the initial craze has died down, it's still common to see folks playing Pokémon Go on the bus and elsewhere around the city. It's so popular that chances are you've already checked the game out or are one of the millions out there still exploring your city for rare finds and community event days. It even adapted to the pandemic problem and people being stuck at home, so kudos to Niantic for doing that.
Pokémon Go was the first game to usher in location-based augmented reality games to the mainstream, and it remains the most fleshed out and fun to play of all the games we've seen.
You can play the game without ever making a single purchase, but if you want additional storage, egg incubators, etc., then you'll need to fork over some money. It's a great game for summertime and heading outside with friends... once it's safe to do so, of course.
Vainglory is one of the best multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games for mobile that offers cross-platform support. The game looks stunning and offers 120FPS for devices that support it. There are game modes for both casual and competitive play, with Blitz 3-vs-3 games available for fast five-minute matches, and a robust 5-vs-5 mode that typically lasts up to 25 minutes.
Featuring an ever-growing roster of heroes to choose from and exciting action that you can play on the go, Vainglory is a solid game that's free to play and supported by in-app purchases. In my experience, Vainglory's biggest problems are its server stability, its slow, unrewarding progression system, and the terrible matchmaking. It's a crapshoot if you're going to land on a solid team or get stomped before you can even blink.
Still, Vainglory is the best MOBA on Android and it's a blast to play when things work right. I've never stepped into the competitive environment since MOBAs have never been my forte, but the casual mode is just fine for me.
Asphalt 9: Legends
Asphalt 9: Legends is the latest entry in this celebrated mobile racing game franchise and brings more of the frantic arcade racing action you love. The Asphalt series has always skipped over all pretensions of realism — outside of the photo-realistic car renders — to provide an over-the-top, high-octane experience with all the fixings.
Players can work their way through career mode where they unlock new rides and upgrades for your garage and cars or take the competition online in multiplayer. The incredibly polished graphics and outstanding soundtrack make Asphalt 9 an adrenaline trip you won't soon forget.
Of course, it has the usual Gameloft trappings, like a stamina meter and plenty of microtransactions for in-game items (including refreshing that stamina meter). Still, you can get by without spending any cash, so from that standpoint, Asphalt 9 is a great free game. If you love cars, this is a great game for you.
Odyssey is a beautiful game that features simple controls and endless replayability. The game builds off of the physics introduced in Alto's Adventure and feels quite familiar, except Odyssey swaps the snowy mountain setting for a diverse one that transitions from desert dunes to lush temple sections.
This game has introduced some fun new gameplay mechanics including hot air balloons, wall riding, and dust devils that will toss your character into the air. It all comes together to feel like a unique adventure, taking the best parts from the first game and adding new ways for linking tricks and exploring the slopes.
Grown tired of Clash of Clans gameplay but still love the characters and world that the folks at Supercell have created? Clash Royale is for you! You get to unlock and upgrade classic troops, build your battle deck, and take on real-life opponents in real-time battles.
Join or create a clan and share cards and strategies with friends from around the world. You'll need to employ quick thinking and genuine strategy to win, so you'll be compelled to keep tweaking your decks by working in new cards. This game's been around for a few years now, so there's a ton of grinding and chest unlocks ahead for newer players to rank up and unlock all the best troop cards and whatnot.
Sky Force Reloaded
Sky Force Reloaded is one of those pure games that's just a blast to play. It's a top-down shooter that harkens back to the classic retro genre with gorgeous graphics and challenging gameplay. Blast your way through 15 action-packed missions as you take down enemies while dodging the attacks they send back your way.
Collect stars and upgrade your ships as you try to earn all medals on each mission at each difficulty level. There's also plenty of eye candy, unlockables to find, and skills to unlock. It's an incredibly well-polished game from a storied and celebrated franchise, making Sky Force Reloaded an absolute must-play.
Anima is an action RPG (ARPG) that feels like a serious Diablo II clone, but that's not a bad thing. It's an incredibly addicting game, as ARPGs tend to be, and it looks good while being so. The dark fantasy setting draws you in just enough to keep you chasing loot.
I enjoy this game so much that it featured as my first Game of the Week. Anima's controls are fantastic — they don't get in the way but it's easy to attack and use abilities.
This is a free-to-play game with microtransactions, but it seems to be similar to Path of Exile where they're not in your face and you can play through the game on your own terms. You can pay a little bit to unlock three more character slots, two additional inventory tabs, and a weapon upgrade. There are other purchases, too, like dungeon keys and a skill reset item.
Hearthstone is the king of card games on Android, and is an overall gaming culture icon. It's massively popular, partly because it's free to get started and partly because it taps into Blizzard's beloved Warcraft universe. It came onto the scene in 2014 and took over from there. Tons of expansion packs have been released since then, so there's a ton of content here for new players to dive into.
Hearthstone pits you against another player in 1v1 combat, where your goal is to knock down their health pool to 0 before they do the same to you. Different cards have different abilities, some of which attack or defend. With all of the expansions, there's a lot of variety and deck build diversity.
This game is simple to pick up, but it's open to some wild strategies. It's fun, but the pressure to buy new packs can be exhausting.
If we're talking my personal favorites, Gwent is there at the top. This card game spawned from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, one of the best games of the last decade. Fans of The Witcher universe are probably already aware of Gwent, but if you haven't tried it out yet and you love Sapkowski's world, then Gwent is a must.
Unlike Hearthstone, you win a game of Gwent by winning two out of three rounds. You do this by having the most points when the dust settles, and you earn points by playing cards. Each card has a point value, but it can be nullified or destroyed by the opposing player. Gwent can get pretty intense at higher skill levels.
This is the full Gwent experience with cross-play. If you liked the mini-game in The Witcher 3, then you'll like the expanded version. It has many more cards to collect (with stellar art, I might add). Just keep in mind that Gwent is a massive install, so make sure you have plenty of storage and bandwidth before downloading it.
Legends of Runeterra
Wrapping out our themed card games for this list is Legends of Runeterra, League of Legends' Hearthstone equivalent. It's much of the same as its Warcraft counterpart, but Legends of Runeterra has a few tricks up its sleeve.
First, if you're a big League fan, then this might be your card game of choice. Second, the gameplay is slightly different. Yes, you're still fighting to deplete your opponent's health pool before they smash yours and you play cards that have different attributes, like attack or defense. However, each round sees an attack and defense section. If you're attacking, your opponent has a chance to defend themselves from your onslaught. Whoever comes out victorious in that instance depends on the plays made up to that point.
Otherwise, it feels quite similar to Hearthstone and that's fine. Like I said, if League of Legends is more your jam than Warcraft, then give Legends of Runeterra a try if you're into the Hearthstone formula.
Transmission is completely free without any hooks, caveats, or anything else we're all used to these days. It's just an honest to good puzzler that challenges the mind, teaches you new concepts (unless you're a network engineer), and vibes relaxation. Transmission focuses on making connections to enable communication over a network. Sounds geeky, but I assure you, this game is perfect for anyone.
Each level is a different network, composed of six types overall, and the game gently rises in difficulty until you're creating some truly epic connections. The sense of accomplishment with this game is awesome and certainly keeps you going, even when the next level seems impossible. Remember, you can do a lot of things through perseverance. I digress.
You can get hours and hours out of Transmission, which is incredible given that there are no IAPs or ads in sight. And the soundtrack, it's so good. Top all of that off with the gorgeous visuals and you have yourself one fine game. Do yourself a favor and try out Transmission. I think you'll like it.
Another incredibly enjoyable game that's 100% free with no nonsense. Data Wing a racing adventure through pure neon style. It's perfect for that 80s/retrowave fan in your life, even if that's you. The visual styling is striking for sure and I love every minute I've spent with Data Wing and I just had to tell you all about it.
There's a fun story behind Data Wings, a bit like the original Tron in some ways. This is quite apt given the visual style of the game. Touch controls are on point, too, and the levels are awesome to look at. You'll probably finish Data Wing pretty quick, but it's really fun to go back and do it all over again. There's high replay value here.
That soundtrack is pretty great, too. I love everything about Data Wing and it lacks the downsides and caveats I usually have to note before I send you off to try it out. I wish I could do that more often, but alas. At least we have excellent games like Data Wing to keep that dream afloat.
Chessplode is an interesting game and it's here on our list because of how unique of a take it is. Take one guess what this game is about. I'll wait.
Figure it out? It's chess with explosions! Yeah, it's as fun as it sounds. It also drastically changes the way you'll play chess. So if you're a chess master, you actually might be at a disadvantage over someone who isn't as skilled. Vive la révolution and all that. Anyway, Chessplode is massively fun.
When you capture a piece, the whole row or column goes boom, except if there's a king in the way. This game changes up the whole chess paradigm to the point where it's unrecognizable from the original game except for the pieces. Even the boards can be weird (even user-generated). The game also throws different challenges at you, multiplayer, and that level generator I just mentioned. It's a blast of a game and perfect for chess noobs or veterans alike.
It does, however, contains IAPs to add undos (with infinite undos being a one-time purchase of $1.99).
Eternium is an ARPG designed from the ground-up for mobile, so the touchscreen controls are awesome. The game took obvious inspirations from classics like Diablo and Torchlight and is currently my favorite ARPG on Android, besting even AnimA and Titan Quest.
There are three classes to choose from, loot to discover, companions to rescue, and worlds to see as you pursue your foe. Though free-to-play, you can play the whole game without spending a dime. You can earn premium currency, Gems, with gameplay or you can buy a bunch at once. Ads were removed in an update some time ago, so you have just an honest-to-goodness ARPG here.
Brawlhalla is a great free-to-play platform brawler that's kind of like having Super Smash Bros. on your phone. You have access to tens of millions of players for matchmaking (including crossplatform support), a wide variety of game modes, and overall fun gameplay to keep you entertained.
There are 50 characters at time of writing, with a weekly rotation of eight free-to-play ones. You can earn gold to buy new ones, or you buy the All Legends Pack, which unlocks all current and future characters. The game receives regular updates, has a thriving community, and is probably one of the best brawlers for Android.
Genshin Impact is an action RPG with fantastic elemental combat and a fun party system. It takes obvious cues from Breath of the Wild with a gorgeous open world to explore, plenty to do, and lots of characters to collect.
It suffers from some monetization pitfalls, including a very grindy endgame, and it's centered on gacha mechanics to collect new characters and items. Even so, this is a game to try out just to experience the world and characters. This game is a big deal right now, so give it a try on your phone or computer (or PS4, but you don't get cross-save) and see what you think.
Update December 2020: Added Brawlhalla, Eternium, and Genshin Impact to our list!