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Mobile Mastery

Games have become more important than ever this past year, whether on consoles or on mobile devices. Everyone needs some form of escape from a world that’s often harsh, and games are a fun way to do that. While 2022 was a great year for gaming, 2023 is looking to be even better. Well-known franchises dipping their toes into mobile gaming have been either hit or miss but have amassed fans all the same. Want to know what the best android games are for 2023? Check out this list, from worst to first.

10. Pokémon Unite

There are over 122 Pokémon games, from 1996 to present day. The most recent is Pokémon Unite, a strategy mobile game from The Pokémon Company. Play with others from around the world in 5-vs-5 battles with old and new Pokémon. Pokémon Unite is entertaining but has hiccups. In a review by Sam Stewart for IGN, as a MOBA it doesn’t add anything new, and he “was feeling the limitations of its oversimplified mechanics.” Another review in Polygon from Ana Diaz, says that “The in-game purchases are a mess.” The three currencies, Aeos gems, coins, and tickets, are hard to understand. There’s no way to know what they do, how to get them or how they’re used. Not to mention there’s a gacha system, something that has been linked to gambling in the past. So, while Pokémon Unite is fun overall, it might not be worth playing in the long run.

9. Garena Free Fire

Garena Free Fire is gorgeous, with over 50 characters and funky outfits, not to mention breathtaking backgrounds. Developed and published by Garena, this battle royale game has a winner-take-all, last-one-standing premise, but there’s more. In addition to battle royale mode, there’s 4 vs. 4 Clash Squad, 1 vs. 1 Lone Wolf, and Craftland. Plus, each character has different occupations. Examples include hacker Moco and delivery boy Shirou. All have interesting backstories, fighting styles and weaponry. Garena Free Fire is a mixed bag when it comes to performance. It’s been said to compete with others like PUBG. Controls are easy to use, allowing movement and weapon usage to be a breeze. The criticisms stem from wanting players to make purchases to realistic violence. There’s blood after a character gets hurt. And, somehow, the purchases are a necessary part of some missions. That’s really not the best look for a mobile game.

8. Diablo Immortal

The Diablo franchise has seen a lot. From the immediate success of the first game to the flop of Diablo 3, the series has needed a win. With Diablo Immortal from Blizzard Entertainment, they might have one. Set between Diablo 2: Resurrected and Diablo 3, Archangel Tyrael is dead, and humanity has to deal with it. Pieces of the Worldstone corrupt the land, and Diablo’s minions want to bring him back. Other monsters await; skeleton king Leoric and a bloody countess are some. Diablo Immortal is mobile but plays as well as a PC game. Graphics are beautiful, gameplay is well-balanced, and characters are voiced. What might be a turn-off are the microtransactions. Progress slows, and PvP is “reliant on…the best gear and…gems” (GameSpot). Most are purchased using in-game money bought with real money. Players spending real money have an unfair advantage. This unfairness makes the game hard to replay.

7. Asphalt 9: Legends

This series from Gameloft has been going strong for 18 years. Its recent title, Asphalt 9: Legends, takes players to racetracks across seven countries. Drive brands like Ferrari and Porsche to see which will burn rubber. Speed through locations such as Shanghai and Scotland to become the best racer worldwide. Face seven players in real time and rise the ranks of five different leagues in multiplayer. Additionally, there’s a Career mode with 71 themed events. While Asphalt 9: Legends is entertaining, it isn’t without problems. The frame rate is inconsistent, working when there isn’t much happening. Plus, some races are short, the menu is a “UI nightmare” (NintendoLife), and microtransactions exist. There’s free-to-play nonsense most mobile games have. The game doesn’t force players to spend money, however. Regardless, Asphalt 9: Legends manages to be a fun racing game. There’s potential for replayability and Career mode could take hours to complete.

6. Dream League Soccer 2023

Originally First Touch Soccer from First Touch Games, this first released in 2011. Rebranded as Dream League Soccer, the series went on to have a game released every year since 2016. Roughly on the same level as the FIFA series, this new game set to release in December has some big updates. Gameplay improvements, fresh UI and visuals will undoubtedly make the game look and feel better. Not to mention fan-favorite Manager Mode is set to return, which allows players to manage things like Transfers, Finance and more. Plus, the soundtrack will have new songs. One concerning item is bidding on players. Gambling in games is not new and could be problematic. As the latest Dream League Soccer hasn’t released yet, we can’t give a review. We encourage to look for a review from Hardcore Droid in the coming month. Check out some gameplay tips from the 2022 game here.

5. Call of Duty Mobile

From Activision, the one mobile game of the series so far, Call of Duty Mobile, is war on the go. It blends universes and characters from the Modern Warfare and Black Ops games. Players will see familiar faces such as John Price and Simon “Ghost” Riley. Beyond story mode, there’s a battle royale and 5v5 multiplayer across many fan-favorite maps. Call of Duty Mobile has impressive multiplayer. However, controls are awkward and microtransactions rear their ugly heads. In a review from Kyle Hilliard for IGN, “Using a touch screen…will never be on par with a controller.” Players don’t get much speed and precision with gameplay. Regardless, players can still aim and fire. Complicated movement, such as vaulting and crouching, is difficult. Call of Duty Mobile would be better without 20 buttons in the way. What can be seen is stunning. The people, environments and guns are rendered in beautiful detail.

4. PUBG Mobile

PUBG: Battlegrounds redefined the battle royale genre. Finding the best weapons, vantage points, and staying alive can get the heart pumping. PUBG Mobile from Tencent hopes to achieve the same. There are 100-player fights and survival is paramount. Survive Classic Mode, 4v4 Arena battles and more. Ambitiously, new maps and items are added every day. If players need to adjust their playing style, there’s customizable controls and a training mode. PUBG Mobile is based on PUBG, with some differences. The mobile has lower resolution, meaning less details. However, audio-visual cues on minimaps can help. In a Screen Rant article by Ace Brown, “If a player is shot and hit, they will get a red mark on their screen.” Once the enemy is exposed, they can be shot. Another plus is easier driving mechanics and more customization options. Along with additional game modes, PUBG Mobile might just be a little better.

3. The Banner Saga

No Norse mythology games are like The Banner Saga from Stoic Studio. A story-driven RPG trilogy, 2D hand-drawn art and animation brings the series to life. Each game has a different story with 25 playable protagonists. Fates of all characters depend on choices made along the journey. Decisions made in the first game carry to the second, and so on. Combat is turn-based and inspired by chess. It’s more than just lowering health; players need to break armor first. Resource management is also important and can be life or death. The Banner Saga is beautiful as it is heartbreaking. Players become attached to many characters, causing decisions to be harder to make. A review by Edward Harding for Phenixx Gaming says “I was actually shocked at the severity of…the consequences.” If there’s anything to criticize, it’d be that combat feels repetitive. This doesn’t make fights easier, but variety wouldn’t hurt. 

 2. Genshin Impact

There’s no shortage of things to do in Genshin Impact. A popular title from miHoYo, this open-world RPG has been around since 2020. What keeps Genshin Impact going is the multitude of unique characters, a massive world and interesting lore. Though a gatcha game, it’s hard to care. Players will need a lot of storage space no matter what they’re playing on, but it’s worth it. This game even became the “top-grossing mobile gacha game in the world” (via Polygon). Plus, it was the talk of Twitter during the first half of 2022. Switching between four different characters with unique skills and elements keeps battles interesting and enjoyable. Additionally, there’s nothing forcing players to only follow the story, allowing for slow exploration. Genshin Impact can be overwhelming, so don’t do everything all at once. The strong narrative coupled with gorgeous landscapes shows that this game is a labor of love. 

1. XCOM 2

The original XCOM released in 1994 and spawned a unique and underrated franchise. Rebooted in 2013 with the help of 2K and Firaxis Games, XCOM 2 is the sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Strategy is the core of XCOM 2 since combat is turn-based. Most missions have to be completed within a time limit. Players need to think on their feet while also playing smart. Risks have to be taken or the missions will fail, resulting in losing a soldier. The game allows players to scout locations before beginning a fight, emphasizing stealth. Plus, there’s more variety of enemies. ADVENT Mecs, shapeshifting Faceless; the XCOM team have their work cut out for them. Though punishing, it’s garnered nothing but praise. In a review for Metro by GameCentral, XCOM 2 “achieves its ambitious goals with disarming ease…while excelling in areas you never would’ve thought.” It’s arguably the best strategy game today.


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