Mobile gaming had an exceptional year in 2021, with new entries from popular IPs such as Pokémon UNITE and Rocket League Sideswipe and original titles like Fantasian.
Aside from the year’s new releases, established titles like Genshin Impact or Riot Games’ Wild Rift stayed on top of their game with a constant stream of new content and much-needed updates.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best mobile games we’ve seen and enjoyed this year.
Genshin Impact Screengrab via MiHoYo Admittedly, this one is nearly cheating. Genshin Impact on mobile was released in September 2020, along with versions for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and iOS devices. The recent updates and additions to this game have made it one of the most popular titles for mobile devices over the last year.
Genshin Impact is an anime-inspired action RPG developed and published by MiHoYo. The game takes place in a fantasy open world with seven different areas. The story follows a traveler who has visited many worlds with their twin sibling before the two were separated in Teyvat, where the story and quest to find their sibling begins.
This open-world game was praised for the level of balanced gameplay and exciting content it offered users as a free-to-play game that doesn’t necessarily rely on microtransactions to keep players coming back. In 2021, developers unlocked new regions and added new characters, making the mobile version—alongside other platform editions—one of this year’s favorite games.
Pokémon UNITE Image via Nintendo Nintendo’s all-new take on MOBA games, Pokémon UNITE, has proven to be a wild success. With a roster that keeps growing, the game is the ideal MOBA experience for players who are new to the genre and for those looking for a new way to experience the Pokémon universe.
Released for Switch in July and for mobile devices in September, Pokémon UNITE has teams of five players face off in an arena and allows players to upgrade and change each Pokémon’s abilities to better fit each match. With items, potions, and buffs available, the game focuses on a lot more on the Pokémon you choose for battle and its skills.
Night In The Woods Image via Infinite Fall Night In The Woods is a highly acclaimed narrative platformer released in 2017 for PC, Mac, and PlayStation 4, and later came to Nintendo Switch. This year, the game was released for iOS devices.
With a heavy focus on exploration, Night In The Woods has players control a female cat-like character called Mae Borowski, a college dropout who comes back to her hometown. This indie title was initially funded through Kickstarter and ended up earning 400 percent of its original $50,000 goal. Since its release, the game was highly praised for its rich story, character development, dialogue, and soundtrack.
Rocket League Sideswipe Image via Psyonix This new Rocket League game is one of the most recent entries in this list, having been released last November. Rocket League Sideswipe is Psyonix’s take on mobile Rocket League, with a 2.5D perspective and the same football mechanics and physics that heavily remind players of the original game.
Like its console and PC counterpart, Sideswipe is decently easy to pick up but hard to master, and players will need quick reflexes and mechanical skills to beat AI and PvP opponents alike.
Marvel Future Revolution Image via Netmarble Monster Inc. Considered by many as better than Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel Future Revolution is the game any Marvel fan should go to for a mobile experience. The game was developed and published by Netmarble and has eight playable characters that include some of the most popular superheroes in the MCU, such as Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Starlord, Captain America, and Spider-Man.
The game is an MMO and it takes players into battles that take place across an open world. The new addition of in-game events, such as the recent dungeon event added to celebrate the release of The Eternals, is a mere taste of future events which will soon be coming to the game.
Fantasian Image via Mistwalker The fact that this game was created with the involvement of Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of Final Fantasy, is reason enough for a significantly large community of fans to become curious about this game.
Fantasian is an RPG developed and published by Mistwalker which is currently only available on iOS devices through the Apple Arcade game subscription service. Released in April of this year, Fantasian has been praised for its visual quality, uniqueness, and engaging battle system that allows for new players—specifically those new to the genre—to pick it up quite easily.
Although Fantasian received a certain degree of criticism pointed at the inefficiency of its touch controls, the game’s soundtrack, battle gameplay, and “Dimengeon” system have been met with positive reviews, making it one of the best mobile RPGs that landed in 2021.
PUBG New State Image via KRAFTON PUBG New State is a PUBG spinoff released on November 11. Developed and published by KRAFTON, the owners of PUBG, this new addition to the IP’s collection sets players in a more futuristic location. The gameplay mechanics aren’t exactly like the game fans know from other platforms, but they add new elements, such as the use of drones, drowning enemies, and offering them a chance to become an ally.
Although the mobile version does have some new, exciting, and different features, the core of the game is still true to the original formula fans remember and love.