With hundreds of thousands of games on the Google Play Store, finding the best Android games is a challenging task. We’ve downloaded and played hundreds of Android games in our quest to find the best of the lot across the most popular genres while still including some lesser-known picks you may not have heard of to give you a spread of options.
Our list runs the full gamut of genres, taking in free-to-play shooters, demolition derby racing games, turn-based roguelikes, strategic card battlers, and puzzle-RPG hybrids along the way. While we’ve generally opted for newer games from 2023, we’ve included a few Android gaming classics that still hold up years after their initial release. Along with each entry, you’ll find a summary of why we love it, in case you’re looking for a quick snapshot before heading to the Google Play Store and checking it out for yourself. Plus, we break down what makes a top Android game and single out our favorite offline Android game in case you’ve got a long flight to prepare for.
So, whether you’re after genre-blending indies, retro city builders, or chaotic tower defense games, our round-up of the best Android games to play in 2023 has you covered.
Best Android games 2023
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Call of Duty Mobile
Call of Duty Mobile delivers fast-paced shootouts with all of the polish and precision of the main series, plus a greatest-hits selection of maps and weapons to boot.
Purchase details: Free-to-play with in-app purchases
True to its console and PC counterparts, the best reason to play Call of Duty Mobile over pretty much any other multiplayer FPS game on Android is because of its silky smooth movement, satisfyingly crisp gunplay, and rewarding leveling path. It’s also free, bursting with customization options, and offers both standard multiplayer modes and a battle royale - although you do occasionally have to brush off some microtransaction peddling.
There are plenty of different control options, so you can pick the setup that feels right for you, and while the interface is pretty busy at first glance, it only takes a few matches before you’re jumping around corners and snapping onto heads. The turnaround time between matches is almost non-existent, and the matches themselves only last a few minutes, making this a great game to jump into whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours.
The ace in COD Mobile’s hole is that both its suite of maps and weapons have been selected from across series, so expect classic battlegrounds like Crash and Firing Range, plus guns like the Soviet PPSh-41 SMG, Black Ops 4’s Swordfish assault rifle, and even a reimagined Intervention in the form of the DL Q33 sniper rifle.
Scratch beneath TheoTown’s nostalgic, SimCity-inspired look, and you’ll find a city builder with the kind of depth that’s otherwise hard to find on mobile.
Purchase details: Free-to-play with in-app purchases
TheoTown almost feels like a sequel to classic SimCity, both in look and in-game action and play. It takes the slightly muted palette and dimetric layout of the retro Maxis games. It marries it with more detailed pixel art that you can zoom right into to reveal delicate flowers growing on bushes and cars cruising the streets.
This city builder sits comfortably between casual city-building games like Pocket City 2 and fully-fledged simulations like the upcoming Cities: Skylines 2. Things start simply enough, with you plotting out basic city districts and hooking them up with power, water, and transport. It’s easy enough to build a basic town and get it running, but the complexity kicks in when you want to elevate your sleepy town into a thriving metropolis.
Growth means keeping your citizens happy, and you’ll need to ensure they’ve got not just the essentials covered, but also good education, jobs, and fulfillment from culture, religion, and sports. Balancing all of that against an increasingly crowded plot and a growing list of financial constraints is no mean feat.
The Android version does come with in-app purchases like production boosts and premium landmarks, but they’re far from invasive. Besides, you can download a lot of user-made buildings for free in the form of plugins, so you never feel like you’re about to run out of content.
Slice & Dice
Slice & Dice has one of the most versatile and engrossing turn-based combat systems around, and its pixel-art D&D sprites are full of character.
Purchase details: Free demo, full game unlocked for $7.00
Slice & Dice is a D&D-inspired turn-based roguelite in which you guide a party of five adventurers through a 20-stage campaign, rolling dice to decide every action in battle.
Your heroes start as typical fantasy classes, but you upgrade them into increasingly specialist archetypes throughout the campaign, so you might end up with a berserker-style warrior who always goes behind their shield or a healer-turned-vampire who’s better suited for dishing out damage than helping allies.
Each hero’s abilities are tied to a six-sided die, and at the start of every turn, you roll dice for your whole party, re-rolling up to two more times to find the moves you want. Enemies roll for their moves first, so you know precisely what abilities you’re going to face when plotting out your strategy.
Putting the complete turn together in your mind while working around the blind luck of a couple of dice throws is what Slice & Dice is all about, and no matter how underpowered your party might feel, there’s almost always a way to scrape through to the next encounter.
With 100 hero classes to unlock, plus multiple unlockable game modes ranging from custom parties to total randomizers, there’s a ton more to play beyond the already very replayable main campaign.
It’s got strategic depth to rival most card battlers, but it’s Marvel Snap’s quick-fire matches that make it the perfect mobile card game.
Purchase details: Free-to-play with in-app purchases
When you complete your first round of Marvel Snap, you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘Huh, that’s it?’ But then you’ll play another round. And another. And another. Until you notice it’s getting light outside again and the birds are singing. Plus, with every game consisting of just six turns, you’ll feel like you can play one more before turning in for the night.
It’s a deceptively simple card game that absolutely anyone can pick up, play, and get pretty good at. There are three lanes on the board, and you have to control two of them by the end of the game to claim a victory. However, with each new card you unlock, you’ll start to see fresh synergies and play styles you can start building decks around. Lanes also have a huge range of effects that are revealed throughout a match, forcing you to react to the board as well as your opponent.
Naturally, fans of Marvel comics will enjoy the beautiful card art and animations, but much like with Hearthstone, you don’t need to be a fan of the source material to fall in love with Marvel Snap. It’s also very friendly for F2P players, with cosmetics being the main focus of microtransactions, rather than the cards themselves.
Bloons TD 6
Bloons TD 6 is a chaotic pop of color in the otherwise bland tower defense genre.
Purchase details: Free with a Netflix subscription or $6.99
Despite having a premise so goofy it can be boiled down to ‘monkeys hate balloons’, the Bloons series represents the pinnacle of the tower defense genre. Its latest entry, TD 6, mines new strategic depths for the series by adding more maps, tower types, and extra upgrade paths for each tower.
Each map starts nice and easy, with your beginner dart-flinging monkeys facing down a handful of easily poppable balloons. However, after a dozen or so rounds, you’ll find your apes up against multi-layered balloons, camouflage balloons, armored balloons, and even blimps, each demanding a slightly different type of tower, or monkey, and absolute efficiency if you want to keep up with the snowballing threat. In no time at all, the map is obscured by hundreds of units, balloons, and projectiles, creating a colorful fireworks display that’s as impossible to understand as it is to look away from.
But there’s strategy and sense buried in here that you’ll unearth with each failed map, and when you string together the right upgrade paths, unit synergies, and tower placement, the cacophonous throng settles into a steady thrum.
Bloons TD 6 is a premium game, and there are in-app purchases, but they’re rarely forced under your nose and certainly unnecessary.
The searingly vibrant colors and glitchy animations perfectly reflect how claustrophobic and intense this twin-stick shooter can get.
Purchase details: Free demo, full game unlocked for $4.99
Roto Force is the twin-stick shooter equivalent of being locked in a phone booth with an angry cat. Rather than a generous arena in which you can move around freely, you’re trapped in a tiny cage and confined to its periphery, all the while dodging a barrage of attacks coming at you from every angle.
The arena rotates around you as you move left or right, and your path will often be blocked by traps or explosives, forcing you to dash to an available space on an opposite or adjacent wall. The complete lack of space is suffocating, so much so that it’s easy to forget you can even fight back. But as you fail repeatedly, you’ll start to pick up on subtle mechanics, like how to break armored enemies or which projectiles you can dash through safely. Eventually, the tiny arenas start to feel a bit less limiting, and you start to see space where there was certain death before.
There are some great accessibility options available in the full version of the game that make the initially absurd difficulty spike much less daunting and can even transform the experience from tense to relaxing.
Ticket to Earth
Proper sci-fi storytelling is hard to find in mobile games, and it’s easy to form a connection to the world and characters of Ticket to Earth.
Purchase details: Free demo, full game unlocked for $4.99
Part visual novel, part turn-based puzzle-RPG hybrid, Ticket to Earth follows a group of improbable heroes as they fight for their survival on an off-world colony thrown into civil war by a corrupt government by opportunists.
Combat plays out on a colored grid of tiles, with each color corresponding to a different hero ability. You can take two actions per turn - typically, that’s moving and then attacking - and each movement you make can only take place on tiles of the same color. The more tiles you match up en route to attacking an enemy, the more damage you’ll dish out, and depending on the color you match, you’ll also be able to use abilities like adding bonus damage to your standard attack, setting enemies on fire with a flame attack, or firing a ranged attack. Navigating the board is a delicate balancing act between charging significant attacks and staying mobile, so you’re only engaging a couple of enemies at a time.
Refreshingly, not every encounter is about slaying the enemies in front of you. Ticket to Earth will occasionally task you with beating bosses, surviving numerous waves of enemies, and completing objective-based levels. There are also ample opportunities to talk to side characters and among your heroes between combat encounters, which again breaks up the monotony that some turn-based RPGs can suffer from.
The steel-rending collisions are a gratuitous spectacle of dust and accurately modeled debris that’ll have you slamming into the opposition on every bend.
Purchase details: $9.99 premium game with in-app purchases
Wreckfest is a racing game in which you’re more likely to clutch victory by T-boning the race lead on the final intersection than by shaving microseconds of your split. In a world of pristine racing games full of exotic sports cars, hypercars, and priceless vintages, nothing feels more liberating than haring around a dirt bowl in a rusty, banged-up sedan that’s got more wheels than intact panels.
But don’t let that fool you into thinking the driving model is loose or clumsy; Wreckfest has serious racing chops that belie its fender-bending exterior. Every car feels weighty and distinct, and it takes real skill and finesse to powerslide through a corner or survive a collision without spinning out or losing all of your momentum. The American muscle cars lurch forward every time you so much as touch the throttle and round corners with all the grace of a container ship, while hulled Japanese hatchbacks are lighter on their feet but can easily be bumped off course and have a tendency to spin out of control.
There are no major caveats in the mobile version either - although you might struggle to find a multiplayer game outside of peak hours - so you can expect the same extensive selection of vehicles, tracks, and modes. A Bluetooth controller does improve the experience, but you won’t feel hamstrung using the on-screen controls.
There’s no penalty for switching up your skill sets, so if you decide to jack in the mage robes for a bow and arrow, it’s just a case of switching gear and going back to lowly mobs.
Old School Runescape
Purchase details: Free-to-play with in-app purchases and a premium subscription option
Old School Runescape is still one of the most complete MMORPG experiences on mobile, and despite being over twenty years old, in many ways, it feels as though Runescape was destined for mobile gaming. It’s a more relaxed, grind-oriented MMO with deep progression systems that have been refined and fleshed out over hundreds of updates, big and small. You’re never locked into specific playing styles or classes either, which means every skill tree, item, armor, and weapon is available to you, provided you can put in the time to earn it.
Save for combat and a few minigames, pretty much everything you do can be completed by simply tapping on an activity or object you want to interact with, making it easy to play in any scenario. Combat requires slightly more input, but only if you need to escape or switch targets, so the whole game can be played without having to pick up the device. This is a mobile MMO you can play while making coffee, typing an essay, or doing pretty much anything outside of operating heavy machinery.
There are hundreds of hours of questing and leveling available without spending any cash, and dozens more skills and hundreds more endgame activities available with a premium subscription.
How we picked
We’ve got decades of combined experience playing, testing, and reviewing games on TechRadar Gaming, and we put hundreds of Android games through their paces to find out which ones provide the best experience in 2023.
It’s not enough to be a good game that happens to be available on Android. Instead, we’ve focused on picks that play well on a mobile device. So, while you can play some console classics and triple-A hits on Android, they don’t necessarily make for the same great experience on handheld devices. We’ve also taken in-app purchases and general microtransaction pushiness into account because nothing is more frustrating than having time-saves, currencies, and cosmetics constantly thrust upon you.
We’ve made sure to select games from the most popular mobile genres, as well as a mix of online, offline, old, and new games to cover all the bases. We’ve tried casual and hardcore games within each genre and chosen the games that best bridge the gap. We’ve also dug into the settings of each game to see how flexible their controls are and what accessibility options they have.
Best Android games: FAQs
What is the top game for Android?
If you go by chart success, the top game for Android is Royal Match, a match-3 adventure game that’s free to play. For us, the top Android game could be Bloons TD 6, if you want some pick-up-and-play strategy with surprising depth, Call of Duty Mobile for shooter fans, Marvel Snap for deck builders, and Ticket To Earth if you prefer story-driven RPGs.
What is the best free offline game for Android?
The best free offline game for Android is TheoTown, a retro-looking city builder that’s heavily inspired by games like SimCity 3000. You will need an internet connection to use the store or download any user-made content, but there’s so much to do with the basic mechanics and scenarios of this metropolis manager that you won’t be thinking about add-ons any time soon.
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