Mobile gaming has taken off in a big way over the last few years. An estimated two billion people play mobile games, which drives more revenue than console or PC gaming. As such, we saw a huge number of games launch in 2021. The vast majority were free-to-play, but we also saw some excellent premium games launch as well. We also saw many mobile launches for established titles like League of Legends and Rocket League.
After sifting through an exhaustive pile of titles, we think we have a good idea of what the best Android games released in 2021 were. Here is our list. We also have some honorable mentions at the bottom of the article if you want to see those.
The best Android games released in 2021
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Baba Is You is a puzzle game where players can change the game’s rules as they play. Each level has blocks that represent the rules of the game. You can push the blocks around to change how the game works. It’s a surprisingly interesting and deep game with a unique premise and excellent execution.
The graphics are old-school pixel art, but honestly, it works better that way. It looks a bit funky on oddly shaped devices like the Galaxy Fold 3, but otherwise, this is a must for puzzle fans.
Deemo — Reborn
Price: $1.99 with in-app purchases
Deemo — Reborn is a remake of one of Rayark’s excellent adventure-rhythm games. Players move around the game world and uncover clues followed by rhythm game levels. The music is pretty good, and the mechanics are solid. The Reborn edition adds some extra story, new mechanics, and extra music to the mix, so fans of the old game still have something new to enjoy.
There are over 60 songs in the game. You can buy more via in-app purchases if you want. Luckily, the in-app purchases are for additional DLC, so it’s not in the way of the fun.
Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee
Dungeon of the Endless: Apogee is a roguelike tower defense game. It launched on PC in 2014, and the Android port came in 2021. Players play the role of condemned criminals sent to provide slave labor on a new world. They must defend themselves from the Endless. After creating a team, you equip them, build defenses, and play the game.
It’s deep with plenty of things to do and mechanics to learn. The controls can be a bit cramped, but otherwise, it’s a very positive experience and an excellent port.
Garena Free Fire Max
Price: Free to play
Garena Free Fire Max was one of Google’s picks for games of the year, and we agree. This is also one of the most popular new games of 2021. It’s a battle royale game similar to Fortnite and PUBG. It starts with 50 players who parachute onto a deserted island and battle until only one remains.
It plays similarly to its 2017 counterpart, so fans of one should be able to slide into the other. The major changes from the previous game include better graphics, improved animations, and more. Of course, that means it uses more resources and requires a higher-end phone to play.
Knights of San Francisco
Knights of San Francisco is a text game that takes place in San Francisco in the distant future. In this world, monsters and dragons are real, and you have to deal with them. According to the developer, the game is a bit short, at roughly 90 minutes. However, it’s quite delightful and surprisingly polished for its genre.
You can conduct combat by hitting individual body parts, and every action you make has potential consequences. It’s truly a unique game and worth playing if you don’t mind all the reading.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
Price: Free to play
League of Legends: Wild Rift is the mobile version of League of Legends. It’s a 5v5 MOBA built specifically for mobile. The game includes a roster of champions to play with, the ability to play with friends, and multiple game modes to play through. It does have in-app purchases, but you can’t buy your way to victory. Games usually take around 15—20 minutes.
Most complaints are about bad teammates, which happens in any co-op game. With all the Vainglory drama over the last couple of years, the title of best MOBA on mobile is League of Legends: Wild Rift’s title to lose at this point.
Lost in Blue
Price: Free to play
Lost in Blue saw a global release on mobile this year. It’s a sandbox MMO where players try to survive on a desert island after a crash landing there. Over time, you upgrade your character, scrounge for resources, and befriend other players to help each other out. The game also includes crafting and building mechanics, various biomes to explore, and more. Even the environments can become hostile with things like volcanoes.
You’ll have to grind more heavily for resources as you progress later into the game. However, it’s nothing experienced mobile gamers haven’t seen before.
Princess Connect! Re: Dive
Price: Free to play
Princess Connect! Re: Dive is a gacha-style mobile RPG from Crunchyroll Games. It saw its worldwide release in 2021. It’s a game based on an anime with the same name. In terms of gameplay, it’s not terribly different from most gachas. You obtain characters, build a team, and use them to progress through the game.
There are a lot of gacha tropes, like long grinds to max out characters, but nothing too serious. The pull rates can also be a bit low compared to genre leaders. Still, it’s one of the best ones this year, and many people like gachas.
Price: Free to play
Pokemon Unite is another MOBA that came out this year. It’s a 5v5 MOBA, except instead of champions, you use Pokemon. Each Pokemon is customizable with skins so players can decorate theirs as they want. In addition, Pokemon can use Unite moves to deal extra damage or gain advantages.
Other features include a quick chat feature, cross-platform play with the Nintendo Switch (and iOS), and a decent tutorial. It’s online, and matches can sometimes be unbalanced, but that’s really the extent of the problems. It’s a good MOBA, even if Wild Rift is a little better.
PUBG: New State
Price: Free to play
PUBG: New State was one of the most anticipated games of 2021. It takes place several decades after the events of the first game. That said, the premise is mostly the same. You and 99 other players drop onto the battlefield and duke it out until only one remains. New stuff in this game includes a few new combat mechanics (like dodge), new maps, better graphics, and some other goodies.
It’s definitely an iterative improvement over the previous PUBG mobile game, but it does need another coat or two of polish. We expect this one to get progressively more popular and improve over time.
Rocket League Sideswipe
Price: Free to play
To be honest, I didn’t expect a 2D version of Rocket League to do well, nor did I expect it to do well on mobile. I was wrong. Rocket League Sideswipe had a relatively large launch, and people seem to genuinely like it. It employs the same basic gameplay mechanics as the regular Rocket League. You drive around in a car, ram your opponents, and use your car to score goals.
It features 1v1 and 2v2 game modes, online competitive matches, and seasonal items for players to collect. There is also a hoops mode where you get the ball into a giant basket instead of the usual soccer-style goals. It’s entertaining and chaotic, so it still feels like the regular Rocket League.
Price: Free / $10.99 per month / $29.99 per 3 months / $99.99 per year
RuneScape saw its official release in 2021 after quite some time in beta. This is the full version of RuneScape, and you can even play with your existing account if you want to. The game has been around for ages, so most MMORPG fans know what they’re getting into. You have a lot of quests and stories to play through, one of the most complex in-game economies ever, and plenty of things to do.
It is free-to-play, but you can pay a subscription to get extra quests, more skills, and more. It’s a lot better now than it was in beta, but we expect the improvements to continue now that the game has a stable release.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is a mobile port of the PlayStation 2 game from 2003. It’s an adventure platformer where you play as SpongeBob, Sandy, and Patrick to save Bikini Bottom from ne’er do wells. Along with the original story and gameplay elements, this version of the game has improved visuals, full controller support, Google Play Games support, and more.
We also appreciate that it has no microtransactions to ruin the fun. We didn’t find any problems with the game, especially after the developer fixed compatibility issues with Android 12. It’s one of the better premium adventure games in recent years.
Titan Quest: Legendary Edition
The original Titan Quest was one of the best games of 2016. The remaster now returns the title to our list in 2021. It’s a mobile port of the 2006 action RPG. The Legendary Edition also includes all DLCs and technical updates to the game. Players create a character roaming around fighting monsters from various mythologies. The DLC adds Atlantis, more Greek mythology, and the Celts.
The mobile controls work pretty well, and very little about the game feels clunky or bad. It’s a bit pricy at $19.99, but it’s also an entire PC game with all of its DLC. People in 2006 paid vastly more than $19.99 for all of this.
Trials of Mana
Trials of Mana is Square Enix’s port of its own 3D remastered game they launched decades ago. This version of Trials of Mana is actually quite good. It’s a faithful port of the remaster, and includes all of the playable characters, story, and other content, from the 1990s 2D version.
The game also includes four difficulty settings, an excellent 60-song soundtrack, and a new game plus mode for high replayability. That’s excellent news since the game costs $17.99.
There were a bunch of awesome Android games in 2021, and we only had space for 15 on the main list. We solved that problem with this honorable mentions section. Here are some more great Android games from 2021.
- Crash Bandicoot: On the Run — This one is arguably Candy Crush developer King’s biggest game release in 2021. It’s a runner-style game with classic mechanics but with a Crash Bandicoot twist. There’s quite a bit to do in the game, and it was a favorite of Google’s this year. However, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before mechanically, even if the execution is good. It’s worth a play if you like runners.
- Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters — Square Enix is in the middle of remastering their console Final Fantasy games for the third or fourth time (we’ve lost count). The Pixel Remasters are generally good on mobile, although they do pale in comparison to the PC versions for some reason. Square Enix has already done the first five games in the series, with Final Fantasy VI due in 2022.
- Gordon Ramsay: Chef Blast — The internet’s favorite chef has a game with his name on it. It’s a match-three puzzle game with some neat rewards. Players get recipes exclusively through the app, and that’s probably the best motivation we’ve seen to play a match-three game. It has its ups and downs, but like Crash Bandicoot: On the Run, the mechanics have been done a million times, so it’s not the most exciting new game in 2021.
- Jetpack Joyride 2 — Jetpack Joyride was one of mobile’s most popular games in the early 2010s, and the sequel launched in 2021. The developer boasts more skills and abilities, better graphics, a storyline to follow, and more. Players, on the other hand, have mixed thoughts about it. It is more complex than the original, but some fans like the simplicity of the first game more.
- Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut — Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut is a remastered version of the original game from Raw Fury. It includes the full Kathy Rain story from the first game, but adds an extended story, new areas, new puzzles, support for wider devices, and more. The original game was one of the better noir mysteries we’ve seen on mobile, so obviously, we’re going to recommend the improved version as well.
- NieR Re[in]carnation – NieR Re[in]carncation is a mobile gacha from Square Enix. It features music from the exceptionally talented Keiichi Okabe, with NeiR director Yoko Taro serving as creative director. The stories in the game are tragic, and the player explores a variety of environments that feel lonely and dangerous. It certainly has its flaws, but the storytelling makes up for it.
- Not Exactly A Hero — Not Exactly A Hero is a visual novel game from Buff Studios. It follows Riley, who works for superheroes. You follow Riley’s story and make decisions, which affect the game’s outcome. The game boasts nine endings, 32 achievements, and plenty of replayability. It’s about as good as a western visual novel gets these days.
- Pokemon Cafe ReMix — Pokemon Cafe ReMix is technically a re-release of the original Pokemon Cafe. However, the revamp was so massive that it was marketed as a new game. This one is an arcade restaurant sim where you serve Pokemon food to unlock Pokemon, who then help you serve more food. There are also character skins and other stuff to unlock and collect. The game isn’t deep, but it’s kid-friendly and easy to play. Plus, it has Pokemon.
- Revived Witch — Revived Witch is Yostar’s big release for 2021, and it’s yet another gacha RPG with very good execution. The game features excellent artwork, decent pull rates, and a storyline to play through. Even the combat is pretty good. I don’t know if it’s better than Arknights, but I liked it better than Azur Lane.
- The Spike — Volleyball Story — The Spike is an arcade volleyball game developed by high school students in South Korea. It’s pretty decent and includes high-velocity volleyball. On top of that, the game has a fun difficulty curve where it’s difficult at first until you get the game’s rhythm down. If the game continues to get content and bug-fix updates, it could very well be a sports game we don’t mind recommending to just about anybody.
If we missed any great games, tell us about them in the comments. You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists or see just below for our lists from previous years.