Best iOS Games Overall
Best iOS Adventure Game: Sky: Children of the Light
Few games make as stunning a first impression as Sky: Children of the Light. There's a storyline to this social adventure game, in which stars have gone missing from the sky, and it's your job to return them to their rightful place. But the real pleasure comes in just how you go about this task — you work with other players to solve mysteries and explore some truly gorgeous worlds. Whether you play in story mode or just want to soar across the game's seven realms, Sky: Children of Light offers plenty of replayability. And more stories are in the works, making this a great adventure game to download.
Best iOS RPG Game: Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition
It’s a smooth transition from console RPG to your iPhone’s screen for the latest version of the Final Fantasy epic. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition manages to be mobile-friendly while retaining the game’s core story and charm. Instead of photo-realism, you get “chibi”-style graphics that still respect the same story beats and combat complexities of Final Fantasy. The first chapter of this episodic game is free, and you can buy subsequent episodes through in-app purchases.
Best iOS Sports Game: Madden NFL Mobile
A revamped Seasons mode is reason enough to make sure the latest version of Madden NFL Mobile is installed on your iPhone. This season's update to the football game mainstay not only lets you play games on the field, but also puts you in the GM's chair, where you've got to make player personnel decisions that can impact your team's success. Other features include Madden Masters cards, where you're competing against both legends and the stars of today in different challenges and a new Co-Op Assist feature in which your friends can help you acquire players or get through challenges.
Best iOS Puzzle & Word Game: Monument Valley 2
Get ready for a sequel that improves upon the original. Monument Valley 2 brings back the mentally stimulating puzzles of its predecessor, but with color and light. Monument Valley 2 adds welcome new features like the ability to control a second character — the heroine Ro is joined by her child on this journey — while maintaining the minimalist look and immersive music that made the first game such a joy to play. Best of all, you can dive right in, even if you never played the first Monument Valley and not miss a beat.
Best iOS Action Game: Ordia
Ordia feels like a throwback to an earlier time for iOS gaming, with easy-to-grasp gameplay, colorful graphics and almost soothing audio. You control a new life-form that's just trying to fight its way up through primordial ooze and out to the surface world. To launch your little guy ever higher, just flick downward with your finger, taking care to angle the flick to avoid obstacles and enemies. It sounds simple, but different challenges and game-play modes will keep you coming back to Ordia for more.
Best iOS Casino or Dice Game: Zynga Poker
Play Texas hold 'em poker with your friends or random players worldwide from the comfort of your touch-screen device with Zynga Poker. The app offers casual games of hold 'em, or competitive tournament variants such as Shootouts or Sit-n-Go. The free chips delivered to your account daily, with extra chips available for real money, will keep you coming back day after day.
Best iOS Strategy Game: Sid Meier's Civilization VI
You can now lead one of Earth's great civilizations from the Stone Age to the Space Age from your iPhone. Once restricted to iPads, Sid Meier's Civilization VI now works with recent iPhones (anything from the iPhone 7 or later), with the mobile game particularly well suited for devices with larger screens. This world-building sim has you exploring an area, exploiting its resources and developing your cultural and scientific achievements; you also need to keep an eye on rival civilizations, responding to them with a mix of either diplomacy or military engagement. You can download the app for free and get 60 turns before you have to pay for the full version. That's $25 now in honor of the release, a significant cut from the usual $60 in-app purchase.
Best iOS Racing Game: Asphalt 9: Legends
It's the gorgeous graphics that make Asphalt 9: Legends stand out from the racing crowd. From the stunning cars that come straight from Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and others to the detailed courses that stretch from San Francisco to the Himalayas, there's plenty to feast your eyes upon as you roar toward the finish line. With the game handling acceleration and turns, your job is to manage nitro boosts, drifts and other stunts as you rack up bonuses you can use to unlock new customizable rides.
Best iOS Card/Board Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a fun and free digital collectible card game that you won't be able to stop playing. Playing as one of the great heroes (or villains) of the Warcraft universe, you'll fight epic duels and summon allies and minions to your side. Learning the rules is a snap and are the same regardless of what platform you play on, for those times you play outside of your iOS device. You can earn gold that can be spent on booster packs. Plus, in the Arena mode you can play in a special, "sealed draft" format that rewards canny deck building and smart play.
Best iOS Trivia Game: HQ Trivia
HQ Trivia lets trivia buffs engage in their two greatest passions — showing off how much they know and turning that knowledge into cash prizes. Live daily trivia contests give you a chance to claim a share of the cash prize by answering 12 multiple choice questions correctly (though HQ has started experimenting with other forms of prizes in addition to cash). This combo of rapid-fire trivia, live hosted games, and real money payouts make this mobile game a winner, with HQ also offering sports- and word-themed games from within the same app.
Best iOS Family Game: Psych!
Think of Psych! as a version of Balderdash for the mobile age. The game has you thinking up crazy-but-plausible answers to obscure trivia questions, with the idea of tricking your fellow players into falling for your fake answer. If somebody picks your response you get a point; you can also earn points for spotting the right answer among the phonies. It’s a fun way to fool around with friends and family at your next get-together.
Why we love iOS Games
This is a glorious time for gaming on the iPhone. Apple Arcade is here, and it's well worth the $4.99-a-month Apple is charging so that you can premium games on any of its devices, including the iPhone and iPad. But as good as Apple Arcade is — and we have our favorite Apple Arcade titles — you don't need to join a subscription service to find great iPhone games. Just head to the App Store and download some of the following offerings.
Whether you're getting a new iPhone 11 for the holidays and want to load it up with games or you're a long-time iOS owner who wants to try something new, we've found the top action-gaming hits, cerebral puzzlers, role-playing epics and more. Here are the games that take advantage of the iPhones' expanded screens and powerful graphics to deliver hours of fun.