An iPad is a wonderful gift for the holidays, whether from a loved one or yourself (nothing wrong with a treat now and then!). And the first thing you’re going to want to do with your new tablet is fill it with the best iPad games available now.
As a gaming platform, the iPad has some strengths over iPhone. Although it’s not as portable, its larger screen lets the tablet display these visually impressive games in perfect pixel detail. Plus, more complicated games with complex controls and the need for greater precision are a better fit for the iPad as well.
These are the 10 iPad games you’ll want to download first. Note: some of these games are on sale, so grab them quick before prices go back up!
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
- Get it: Free on iTunes
Blizzard’s absurdly popular competitive card battler is best on iPad. As strange as it is to see the seemingly niche card-battling genre explode the way it has, Hearthstone is at the forefront. And there’s no better way to play it than on a giant 12.9-inch screen.
It’s not Overwatch, but with Blizzard you know you’re getting quality, and Hearthstone is highly recommended.
Tales from the Borderlands
- Get it: First episode is free everywhere - $14.99 for all episodes/$4.99 each/£3.99 for all episodes/£1.49 each/AU$7.99 for all episodes/AU$2.99 each on iTunes
Take the role of Rhys, Hyperion Corporation company man, as well as Fiona, a cunning grifter, as they cross paths and clash in the world of 2K’s Borderlands games.
Telltale’s totally unique style of storytelling has captured imaginations of gamers and non-gamers alike thanks to great writing and accessible gameplay. The choose-your-own adventure style story works really well, and the controls are simple enough that they don’t suffer on the transition to mobile. But Telltale’s games tend to be taxing on your system, so a new iPad is the best place to play.
Supergiant Games’ beloved Bastion casts you as the Kid, an adventurer at the end of the world facing legions of enemies with unique combat, art and style. The gorgeous narration and music clinch it.
Bastion is another console/PC game essential that made a smooth transition over to iOS. Thanks to the detail and complexity of games not designed first for mobile, though, iPad is the preferred way to play this type of experience.
The Room Three
This series of mobile puzzle games scratches a few particular itches, featuring intricate puzzles, gorgeous environmental art and Lovecraft-ish “weird fiction” storytelling. There are other dimensions and ghosts are real, and you have to figure everything out by opening strange, incredibly complex puzzle boxes step-by-hard-earned-step.
Detailed and nuanced as The Room Three is, a brand-new iPad is the best place to play it.
Infinity Blade III
If you want a game that will show off the graphical prowess of an iPad, look no further than Infinity Blade 3. The third game in the famous mobile series, despite being a few years old at this point, is still hands down the best graphics showcase for Apple’s tablet.
But it’s not all about the graphics: There’s a decent role-playing game in there, too, with combat, inventory management and more. Just make sure you have your brightness turned all the way up to get the full impact of this beautiful world.
Nintendo recently put a Mario game out on iOS, a first for the gaming company. But there’s still no Zelda game for your iPad, unless you count Oceanhorn.
That’s really all that needs to be said about this title. It’s the best adventure game available on iOS, and it’s a graphical monster to boot, so it will really let you show that new iPad off. Plus, if you snag it around the holidays, Oceanhorn is usually on sale.
Submerged: Miku and the Sunken City
Submerged is a beautiful game for players who really just want to explore: There’s no combat to speak of, just pure adventure. Assume the role of Miku, a young woman seeking medicine for her brother, and search the sunken ruins of an ancient city by boat and climbing.
As a game that released first on more traditional gaming platforms, Submerged plays best on the iPad Pro’s giant, gorgeous display.
The Banner Saga
Unsurprisingly, the Vikings are at war. What is surprising, though, is just how emotional and beautiful that war can be.
The Banner Saga has been celebrated for its excellent story and writing, its unique hand-drawn visuals, and its strategic combat encounters. All those elements remain intact in the fantastic iPad version.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
Build roller coasters, manage your theme park and lure unsuspecting attendees to their gruesome ends by death-loop. This is the legacy of RollerCoaster Tycoon - one that is, incredibly, alive and well on iPad.
RCT3 is the original PC classic update for iOS, so all that detail is best displayed on a massive iPad screen.
From the developer of the beloved Guacamelee, Severed casts you as one-armed warrior Sasha on her quest in search of her missing family.
More importantly, Sasha has a living sword that makes Severed part Infinity Blade, part Guacamelee, part Zelda, and part Cut the Rope. The combat was designed for touchscreens, so Severed is the perfect game to break in your new tablet.