2020 wasn’t easy on any of us; it was a tumultuous year that gave us many hours and days where we had nothing to do and were confined to our homes. But if there’s one activity that kept our spirits high during this pandemic and lockdown, it’s unarguably gaming, be it mobile games or console ones.
Whether you are a mobile game player or using VR technology, it is gaming that kept all of us going this year. And now, as we roll onto another year, let’s sneak a peek into what new titles 2021 has to offer.
We have put together a list of some of the best mobile games of 2021, and it’s looking pretty promising. While some in the list are highly anticipated, others are smaller titles that we think deserve more limelight.
1. Diablo Immortal
The world wasn’t impressed with Diablo Immortal; in fact, Blizzard received many backlashes when it first announced the mobile game at Blizzcon 2018.
But things took a fortunate turn after the video game entered the alpha testing this year. According to reviews, Diablo Immortal is anything but a watered-down version or a poor facsimile of the original title. Instead, this mobile feels like a good Diablo game.
Diablo Immortal is set between the last two Diablo games’ events and has a surprisingly heavy story for a mobile video game. The narrative is in typical Diablo-style – you’re dropped into a small village populated with the undead and cultists, and Deckard Cain tells you to collect magical shards that can stop some world-ending calamity.
The game features touch-based controls entirely; the screen’s left side is a virtual joystick that you can move around, while the right features all of your powers. You control a hero assigned to one of the game’s six character classes and fight hordes of enemies and bosses. Players can opt to play alone or join forces with players worldwide and play as a team.
Just like any Diablo fare, you have a primary attack and will quickly unlock special abilities as you advance in the game. Some commands require just a tap to be used, while others need you to actually aim.
The makers have kept this version so similar to its original title, making it one of the best mobile games to look forward to in 2021. Blizzard seems to have done an incredible job of transporting the spirit of its loot-heavy RPG to a smartphone.
2. The Witcher: Monster Slayer
All of us may not have Henry Cavill’s charm and arm, but we can still pretend to be a witcher – thanks to a new mobile game.
CD Projekt Red lets players display their best witcher impression to hunt and kill fantasy monsters as the games developing company announced the mobile game The Witcher: Monster Slayer.
The Witcher: Monster Slayer will come to Android and iOS as a free-to-play, location-based RPG. The mobile game will ask players to explore the real world to track, study, and fight monsters in augmented reality. The game will also use time of day and real-life weather conditions to determine certain gameplay aspects. Think of it as Pokemon Go; only it’s a lot darker.
The Witcher: Monster Slayer is set centuries before Geralt of Rivia ever picked up the sword. You play as an inexperienced Witcher in the game, who must travel across the unnamed ‘Continent’ to take down monsters. These dangerous creatures will be superimposed on your mobile screens as the real world transforms into the unforgiving terrains through the magic of AR.
Another exciting feature of what could be one of the best mobile games of 2021 is that it lets you craft all the potions and items you need to get into battles. The Witcher: Monster Slayer is already available for tests in several countries and is expected to release in the first half of this year.
3. Nier Reincarnation
Mobile versions of successful console or PC games are often not as good as their original title; most are merely lazy cash-grabs. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with Nier Reincarnation.
The video game is a mobile spin-off of the Japanese action role-playing game series, including console productions like NieR Replicant or Nier: Automata. And the mobile version is on par with its console counterparts.
In this mobile game, players control an unnamed female protagonist who wakes up in a deserted part of the cluster known as ‘The Cage’. They are led by a ghostlike character named Mama, scouring the world collecting pieces of ‘weapon’s memory’. The world plays in 2D while ‘The Cage’ is rendered in glorious 3D.
Nier Reincarnation was scheduled for a 2020 release, but the launch is delayed to February 18, 2021, in Japan and might follow suit in other countries. The mobile version, published by Square Enix and developed by Applibot, is a gacha-style game, meaning players will acquire weapons, equipment, and other in-game goods through random drops.
If this anticipated mobile game plays as good as it looks, it could easily be among the best mobile RPGs 2021 has to offer.
4. Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!
The Bandicoot is back again, but this time, the adventure is on your phone!
London-based gaming studio King is developing a new Crash Bandicoot for the phone, which is all set to be released this spring. First launched in 1996 for the PlayStation, Crash Bandicoot has become one of the most iconic characters in the gaming world. Aside from the crazy Bandicoot, his sister Coco and the evil Doctor Neo Cortex have featured in multiple games on different platforms over the years.
The upcoming mobile game will be an ‘endless running’ game which will take place on Wumpa Island and include all favourite characters from the Crush universe. There will also be multiplayer races and players can build their base in Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!.
In December 2020, King revealed a glimpse at four levels that will feature in the upcoming Crash-themed mobile game. Each level is based on iconic stages from the franchise and are being titled ‘Dino-Mite’, ‘Sewer Or Later’, ‘Snow Go’ and ‘Great Gate’.
The first level – ‘Dino-Mite’ requires players to navigate their way over large dinosaur fossils while dodging lava pits and vaulting over geysers. The next level, ‘Sewer Or Later’, sees players dashing through Doctor Neo Cortex’s sewage system, which is littered with vicious spiders, toxic waste barrels and Cortex’s aggressive robots army.
In ‘Snow Go’, players battle penguins, dodge falling icicles and avoid pistons. And the fourth level sees players ascending a ‘Great Gate’, all the while destroying giant Venus flytraps and sliding under spike traps.
Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is scheduled to release on March 25, 2021, and the King has already opened registrations for its free-to-play game on Google Play and the App Store.
5. Project Cars: Go
All roads and tracks are found on the mobile and the one track you should definitely race around in 2021 is Project Cars: Go. Slightly Mad Studios and Gamevil are bringing the successful racing series, Project Cars, to handheld devices through this mobile game.
Project Cars has long prided itself on being the top simulation racing game series and has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide. Hence, replicating this feel on mobile is no easy task as many fans will have their expectations set very high.
The previous games in the series are known as authentic driving simulators and Project Cars: Go aims to replicate that experience on mobile with a twist. In a bid to make the game as accessible as possible, the developers have adopted a one-touch mechanic to control the game.
Apart from that, all the other goodness from Project cars is included in this version, and the game has tremendous potential to become one of the best mobile games on racing. The mobile game also features 50 licensed cars with tons of customization and tracks from around the world, as well as three real-life circuits.
This highly anticipated mobile game is expected to release by March 2021.
6. Pokémon Unite
Pokémon Unite created a lot of buzzes when it was announced back in 2020. On June 24, Nintendo took the gaming world by storm when it made an unexpected revelation about a MOBA game for the Pokémon license, in collaboration with Chinese juggernaut Tencent.
Pokémon Unite is a free-to-start mobile game where players control various Pokémon on a standard-looking MOBA map and work to rack up more points than the opposing team before time runs out. This is done by capturing wild Pokémon you defeat or by reaching goals on the map.
The latest Pokémon franchise is a five-on-five team battle game, where each team will choose a Pokémon before venturing out into an arena to combat with wild Pokémon and capture territory from the opposing team. Teams will have to do all this while protecting their own territory from attack.
Every player will start out with their selected Pokémon and as they level up, their Pokémon learns new moves, attributes, and even evolve. Tencent senior vice president Steven Ma was quoted saying, “The Unite in Pokémon Unite represents the gameplay concept of players coming together with a shared goal”.
Although Pokémon Unite is free-to-start, certain elements are locked and it’s still not made public as to what paid elements the game contains. While the game’s beta will kick off sometime in January 2021, the developers are yet to reveal a release date.
7. Apex Legends Mobile
Apex Legends was one of the best video games of 2019, and it continues to be even over a year after its launch. And what could be better than this survival combat game getting its own mobile version?
In 2019, EA confirmed it was developing Apex Legends: Mobile. Looking at the PC version of the game, most players were excited for an Android version of the same. The online-multiplayer game is popular and unique because of its diverse cast of characters and their abilities.
Apart from the gameplay, the characters in the game are a stand-out feature – it has a total of 13 characters, which is way more than those present in any other online combat mobile game. However, it is yet to be revealed if Apex Legends Mobile will be a faithful port of the online battle royale game or if it’ll have a few different elements.
Another reason why Apex Legends Mobile is one of the most highly anticipated games of 2021 is it will be published under the EA banner. Electronic Arts is one of the most prestigious and renowned publishers in the gaming industry, and this version will most likely be the biggest and one of the best mobile games under EA’s wings.
Previously Apex Legends Mobile was supposed to arrive by late 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson confirmed that the mobile game would be launched by October 2021 if everything goes according to the company’s plan. However, if it faces more hurdles, the game release might take much longer, at most by the end of September 2022.
8. Dragon Quest Tact
If you are not a big strategy game person and are looking for a fun, laidback tactical experience, Dragon Quest Tact is your go to game for this year.
In this mobile game, players are required to assemble a team and orchestrate heated battles by directing monsters. Monsters are placed on a grid-like map, and players will need to strategically select units with different strengths and abilities to fight opposing teams.
One can also recruit the new iconic Dragon Quest monsters as allies and power them up to take on even more ferocious battles. Though players will receive a few by default when the mobile game starts, recruiting monsters is entirely RNG based.
The monsters’ strengths and abilities are unique to one another. For example, monsters like the Slime Knight use powerful sword attacks to swipe at enemies and Drackies cast spells at foes from greater distances. The more monsters you have, the more chances are there of wiping an opposing team quickly.
Since Dragon Quest Tact is a free-to-play mobile game, it comes with certain gacha mechanics. Players will need the stamina to progress through stages and advance the story and also collect all sorts of monsters and gems from the Dragon Quest universe.
In February 2020, Square Enix announced the game for Japan and launched in July. The English version is slated for an early 2021 release and is already available for pre-registration of Google Play.
9. Warhammer: Odyssey
Warhammer has stood the test of time and has been a beloved series for many. Starting off as a board game, the game has branched out into the virtual gaming world with many titles. And the latest to join the bandwagon is Warhammer: Odyssey, a mobile MMORPG taking place in a fantastic Warhammer universe.
The mobile game takes place in the fascinating Old World, which is filled with many iconic locations, characters, and lore. Each zone is around a square kilometer big, giving players many places to discover and explore.
Though players will have to make their way by foot, the game will also feature fast travel points to make traversing through the map faster and easier. But these new travel points are unlocked only after the players have reached certain areas. If you are already a fan of Warhammer’s rich lore, you may even cross paths with some familiar faces during your adventures.
There are six character classes in the game and each offers unique ways to play, such as the lightning-fast attacks and crippling debuffs of a Witch Hunter or the devastating offensive spells and restorative healing abilities of an Archmage.
The most exciting bit about Odyssey’s character creation is when players reach level ten, where they will be prompted to choose between two specialization paths. This is a major decision for players to make as certain abilities and skills won’t be available on the other path.
Warhammer: Odyssey is being developed by Virtual Realms and is expected to release later this year.
10. Dawn Awakening
Welcome to the land of dawn awakening, here you have to survive in the post-apocalyptic world and build a new shelter. Dawn Awakening is a zombie survival game from Tencent’s Lightspeed & Quantum Studios. The developers are aiming to bring a console-like survival experience to mobile with this game.
In this mobile game, players are required to roam around abandoned cities, scavenge and retrieve items, drive different carriers across the continent, hunt in the wild, and look for shelter, all while cooperating with your partners to survive.
What may well set Dawn Awakening apart from the myriad of zombie survival games on mobile are its finer details. Players can expect believable weather effects that become a key element of survival in the game.
Snow, thunderstorms, sandstorms, and even acid rain can drastically alter a player’s chances of survival when out and about, with specific conditions causing your character’s various survival metrics to take a giant hit. There are nine different environments to explore in this mobile game, ranging from hazard-filled mines to sprawling cities.
It appears that even features like maintaining hygiene and cleanliness are taken into account, as dirty clothes attract zombies, and poor hygiene upsets NPCs. Tencent’s offering for 2021 may turn out to be one of the best mobile games as it looks like a well-polished, base-building, zombie survival game.