Free mobile games often get a bad rap. Some of that is justified, as poor quality, overly monetized cash-grabs run rampant in the field of freedom. But not all mobile games are shameless, souless profit schemes—some of them are actually great!
So if you've got some time to kill and only your trusty Android phone to keep you company, you need to take a gander at some of the most exciting, engaging, and free games 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, may I suggest checking out our list of the best Android games?
The best RPGs
Expansive and immersive, many of the best games ever made fit into the RPG category, but similar experiences can often be challenging to do well on mobile. Creating an immersive environment, memorable characters, and having it all run smoothly in the palm of your hand is quite a mountain to climb, but we've got a few solid choices here for your perusal.
If you liked Diablo II, then there's a clone on Android for you. AnimA is an action RPG hack-n-slash that evokes many memories of Diablo, right down to the font. It features the classic isometric camera angle, loot, and dark fantasy setting.
I just started playing this week, but I'm already hooked; this suggestion came from our own Daniel Bader, and I jumped on it immediately. 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.
I love ARPGs, so AnimA is right up my alley. It helps me get in that fix when I'm away from my PC (and thus Grim Dawn). Give it a try and see if you like it; you have nothing to lose.
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.
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.
The Best Shooters
It's easy to see why shooters are so massively popular; it's just so darn fun to rack up those kill streaks! From first-person immersion to third-person top-down, these games are filled with action and bullets. What else do I need to say? Now get out there and click some heads, champ!
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of Duty: Mobile is a free-to-play game 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 quickly 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.
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 to unlock new game modes. There are six in total, including 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.
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 many 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 no surprise to see it here. If you loved PUBG on PC, then be sure to check out PUBG Mobile for that battle royale experience.
The Best Puzzle Games
The best puzzle games do their best to break your brain and yet keep you coming back for more pain. Infuriating, entertaining, and challenging, there are few things as satisfying as getting that AHA! moment when you finally find the solution. Puzzle games are especially well-suited to mobile, often maximizing their minialistic designs and execution to great effect.
There are many free puzzle games out there, a good chunk of which are, frankly, garbage; so over monetized and/or drowning with ads that they're nearly unplayable. Thankfully, the lovely puzzlers we've assembled below don't fall prey to those pitfalls. Read on to discover some of the best free puzzle games you can find in the Play Store right now.
Chessplode is an interesting game, and it's here on our list because of how unique 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.
However, it contains IAPs to add undos (with infinite undos being a one-time purchase of $1.99).
I love a game with interesting gameplay mechanics and Sixit does a great job of taking its deceptively simple premise to the next level in some really clever ways. In Sixit, you play as Pep, a mammal of unknown species who must wake a dragon to save its village from a sentient storm. The story is wonderfully absurd and the plot plays out like a mystery with some excellent writing and a bevvy of hilarious NPCs for you to chat with.
The art style is simple but attractive and the soundtrack is just as charming to match the game's cozy vibe. The real kicker here though is the way you play the game. Through acquiring various artifacts, Pep gradually gains up to six abilites that help it navigate the world. These six abilities can be things like jump, talk, push, and more. So what's the catch then? You can only use your abilities up to six times per "run" and once you've used up your six turns you have to return to village headquarters to refresh your abilites back up to six. But wait, there's more! On top of that, you must use your six abilities in the order in which you added artifacts to your inventory, so if you added jump, talk, and push in that order, then your next six moves must be jump, talk, push, jump, talk, push.
The puzzling aspect of the game is fantastic thanks to the constraints around using your moves. You have to think through your next run very carefully and occassionally experiment with your moves to see if there are any other more creative ways to progress that you might not have thought of. Best of all, Sixit is completely free and barely even has any ads. You can, however, choose to pay $1.99 to remove all ads and support the developer. A small price to pay for a very good quality game.
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. It 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.
The Best Action & Adventure Games
Action and adventure games can include a very wide variety of titles, so in a way this category is a bit of a catch-all. Endless runners? Come on in. Classic arcade-style shoot 'em ups? Get in here, you lovable scamps. Adventures through mysterious worlds? Heck yes, come on in! There's a bit of everything here, but rest assured that any of these free action and adventure games
Odyssey is a beautiful game that features simple controls and endless replayability. The game builds off of the physics introduced in Alto's Adventure. It 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.
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.
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 cross-platform support), a wide variety of game modes, and overall fun gameplay to keep you entertained.
There are 50 characters at the time of writing, with a weekly rotation of eight free-to-play ones. You can earn gold to buy new ones or 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.
Developed by Supercell — famous, or perhaps infamous, for Clash of Clans — Brawl Stars is a fast-paced arena brawler unlike most other games on the Play Store. It's a departure from the Clash of Clans universe. Instead, it lets players team up in a MOBA game that differentiates itself from others in the genre with its colorful and cartoony look 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.
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!
Endless runners get a face lift in Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, a surprisingly faithful mobile entry in the famous Crash series. Crash is known for its humor, blindingly bright colors, insane (or perhaps N'Sane?) bosses, and challenging platforming. While different from its console cousins in many ways, On the Run puts you in the familiar shoes of Crash or Coco Bandicoot as they hunt down Dr. Neo Cortex and his hoardes of henchmen.
Gameplay is simple but satisfying with intuitive touchscreen controls. Crash runs automatically; your job is to swipe left, right, up and down to maneuver him around each levels' three lanes, which are packed with wumpa fruit, enemies, and all manner of obstacles. This is nearly an ideal time-waster and perfect for killing some time while you're bored out of your skull at the dentist's office. Easy to pick up and play and then put back down again, On the Run! may not be a revolutionary experience, but what it does, it does very well.
Free-to-play, On the Run! monetizes through ads and microtransactions. You can make plenty of progress without paying, but you'll make progress faster by buying into the scheme.
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.
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.
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.
The Best Strategy & Card Games
Sometimes you need to flex those brain wrinkles and really sink your teeth into a deep, complex strategy game. From tower defense, to player-versus-player, resource and economy, real-time, turn-based and so much more, strategy games are immensely multi-faceted and they'll put your planning and management skills to the test.
Card games can also often be strategic, but they are just as likley to have chance added to the mix. Card games have come a long way from your basic solitaire and poker apps, with some of the best games to come out in the past few years hailing from card-based design. Here are just a few of the best free strategy and cards games.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The Best Sim Games
Sim games allow us to live out our wildest and most mundrane dreams at the same time. You could just as easily manage a full fleet of starships as you could manage a small farm in the middle of nowhere. Sims put us directly in the shoes of lives we otherwise couldn't occupy and the results are often magical.
Animal Crossing Pocket Camp
Animal Crossing Pocket Camp is a miniaturized and simplified version of its older siblings. You play as a campsite manager, and your job is to design the best possible campsite to attract adorable animal campers. A mix of open area combined with fixed "amenities," like a pool, a treehouse, or even an entire castle, make up your campsite's customizable spaces. The open area allows you to place furniture and other decorations to your liking, all of which have different types associated with them.
Amenities, items, and even campers, also known as Villagers in other AC titles, can be Cute, Sporty, Cool, and many other types! These types dictate what kinds of items and amenities campers will like at your campsite, and fulfilling their requests is how you forge a greater friendship with them and, in turn, unlock bigger and better items and amenities. Most of your daily play-time will be spent doing typical Animal Crossing things like fishing, bug catching, and fruit collecting to fulfill camper requests.
Like any good sim game, Pocket Game is a vicious but delightful cycle-- get more campers to get more materials to get more amenities to get more campers! Unfortunately, there are a few caveats to this, of course. Pocket Camp certainly isn't the worst offender when it comes to microtransactions, but it does give the player ample opportunity to make in-app purchases in the form of buying Fortune Cookies (loot boxes with a chance of giving you rare, themed items) and in-game cash that you can spend to jump the line and make progress on certain objectives more quickly.
That being said, you can still make tons of progress in Pocket Camp without ever spending a dime of your own money. The only end goal of Pocket Camp is to pack your campsite with your favorite villagers and then customize the heck out of it. Believe me; this game is a perfect casual time-suck and a great choice for resource management junkies!
Fishing Life is a delightful little game about, you guessed it, fishing. You play as a fisherman out on the seas escaping the woes of the world by catching fish to his heart's content. I love fishing, but most fishing games tend to not be very fun for me. Luckily, something about the gameplay in Fishing Life is highly addictive and surprisingly fun. You hold your reel down to cast your line in an arc and as it descends into the water you tug at your line to try and move it toward the fish you're aiming for. Once you get a bite, you just tap to reel it in and voilà, you've got yourself a fish.
You can upgrade your rod and tackle with gold you earn from your catches, along with upgrading your boat and your fisherman himself. You can also choose to keep some of your fish in an aquarium rather than sell them right away, which is a handy way to earn some passive gold while you're out fishing. There's a huge variety of fish to catch and many different areas that you can eventually navigate to to try and catch even bigger and better fish (and sharks and whales and more).
The one big tick that we can take away from Fishing Life is the incredibly pervasive ads. A free title needs to monetize somehow, but Fishing Life throws ads at you anywhere it can. Soft ads will pop up in-game every few catches, you have to watch ads to collect gold from treasure chests, and you have to watch ads to feed your fish in your aquarium. Any of these on their own wouldn't be that bad, but combined they can really ruin the relaxing vibe that Fishing Life is going for if you play for long enough. You can pay to remove ads, but the cost seems incongruously high at a whopping $7.99.
In spite of the ads though, I still find myself picking up Fishing Life, so it clearly hasn't been bad enough to keep me away from this unusually engrossing fishing sim.
The Best Racing Games
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.
Another delightful 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.
Updated August 2021: AddedCrash Bandicoot: On the Run! to our list!