The Best iPad Games of All Time

Here are 23 of the best games available for iPad

Once dismissed as a mindless way to pass time, mobile gaming is now every bit as immersive and detailed as PC and console games. With so many worlds and challenges to explore, the best iPad games still seem to be those that match the touch-friendly nature of the mobile platform. Here are 23 of the best games for the iPad.

01
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Hearthstone

Hearthstone on iPad

What We Like

  • Beautiful art design based on the World of Warcraft.

  • Exciting co-op quests.

What We Don't Like

  • Patches are released inconsistently.

  • Rank resets at the end of each month, rendering it somewhat pointless.

Hearthstone takes the strategy of Magic: The Gathering and adds the comical polish of a Blizzard game to make one of the best card battle games on the iPad.

It truly embodies everything that is great about mobile gaming. First, it's free to play and, perhaps more importantly, it doesn't push you into paying. You can even use gold earned in-game to unlock new cards or expansion packs; something increasingly rare in mobile games. It may take longer to build the deck of your dreams, but you'll have loads of fun on the way.

Hearthstone is one of those rare games that's easy to pick up but still equipped with enough depth that you'll always have some strategy to refine.

02
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Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition on iPad

What We Like

  • Excellent writing that holds up.

  • Lots of conversation choices allow players to drive the plot.

What We Don't Like

  • A bit simple by today's standards.

  • The graphics haven't aged well.

Baldur's Gate arrived at a time when the role-playing game (RPG) genre was thought to be dead. If it weren't for the release of Diablo two years prior, RPGs might have gone the way of the dodo. While it's a great game in its own right, Diablo wasn't exactly the story-driven role-playing experience that Dungeons & Dragons fans might have craved. Baldur's Gate not only hit the mark but blew it into a thousand pieces, delivering a gaming experience that helped launch RPGs into the modern era.

Both Baldur's Gate and its sequel have been ported to the iPad, and they're just as good today as they were when they made their debut. If you like to sit around playing Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder with your friends, this is a must-have.

03
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Plants vs Zombies 2

Plants vs Zombies 2 on iPad

What We Like

  • Highly addictive gameplay.

  • Adorable art style keeps things from feeling too tense.

What We Don't Like

  • Battles get repetitive after a while.

  • The Michael Jackson Zombie from the original was removed.

Tower defense games have a long history, and as Plants vs. Zombies suggests, a sometimes wacky history as well. The basic idea of having waves of enemies attack a defensive target has branched off into MOBA games like League of Legends. But the quick-thinking, strategizing core of tower defense remains more or less the same.

Plants vs Zombies is easily one of the best such games on the iPad. Capitalizing on the immortal popularity of zombies, the game equips you with weaponized plants and fungi to fend off advancing hordes. But unlike most zombie movies, it's not violent. The animations are cute and cartoonish, and there's a level of humor that makes the game accessible to all ages.

04
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XCOM: Enemy Within

XCOM: Enemy Within

What We Like

  • Difficult but not too difficult.

  • Missions are unique and fun to replay.

What We Don't Like

  • Occasional glitches.

  • Enemy AI doesn't always follow the rules of combat.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of the first games to be ported in full to the iPad alongside a major console release. It's been around for nearly a decade but its lasting appeal speaks for itself. Through turn-based combat, you're tasked with defending the planet from an alien invasion.

XCOM: Enemy Within is also one of the best strategy games on the iPad. The game underwent a name change from Enemy Unknown to Enemy Within with the sequel, which includes all original content plus some expansion material.

05
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Monument Valley

Monument Valley for iPad

Ustwo

What We Like

  • Levels are cleverly designed.

  • Plenty of walkthroughs are available if you get stuck.

What We Don't Like

  • Not enough levels for some players.

  • Lacks replay value.

There's really only one bad thing to say about Monument Valley: It's a short game. Many people solve it in a few hours. But it's still a fun few, puzzle-filled hours. This is truly a beautiful game that sucks you in with casual design and mechanics that are well worth the low price. Beautifully designed and highly underrated, Monument Valley is worth the time of any puzzle enthusiast.

06
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World of Tanks Blitz

World of Tanks on iPad

What We Like

  • Many of the tanks are historically inspired.

  • In-app purchases aren't required to succeed in battle.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks some features found in the PC version.

  • The chat feature has been disabled.

A popular and complex multiplayer game on desktop computers, World of Tanks made an impressive transition to the mobile environment. It's trimmed down from the PC version, but it still manages to thread the needle between simplicity and boredom, delivering the same blow-em-up multiplayer fun found in the original. Build, customize, and deploy tanks and participate in dynamic, action-packed battles.

07
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Infinity Blade III

Infinity Blade III

What We Like

  • Exhilarating soundtrack.

  • Nice blend of action and RPG.

What We Don't Like

  • Complex weapons crafting system.

  • Missions require backtracking and fighting the same enemies.

The Infinity Blade series is no longer available on iOS. Still, those games were hailed as the most console-like mobile games when released. We're including the third in the series for that reason alone.

Infinity Blade defines high-end gaming on the iPad. From the start, it has proven that you don't have to sacrifice graphics to deliver a fun and engaging mobile game. It may not have the visuals of an Xbox One or PS4 game, but it still looks fantastic. 

Infinity Blade also uses touch-style elements to control gameplay, which may be more common now but was unusual when the first edition came out. 

08
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Punch Quest

Punch Quest on iPad

What We Like

  • Punching things is a great way to relieve stress.

  • An abundance of unlockables encourages more play.

What We Don't Like

  • Grinding can get monotonous.

  • Controls can't be customized.

Even its name sounds fun. Punch Quest is a standout title in the genre of retro-style games, breathing new life into a classic game design. Jump while punching. Dash forward while punching. Or just punch. You get the point. It's a simple idea that's sure to hook you (excuse the pun) as you progress along. So proceed with caution.

09
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Minecraft

Minecraft on iPad

What We Like

  • Extensive parental controls.

  • Easy integration with Xbox Live and the Windows version.

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't include all the features of the PC version.

  • Can't connect to third party servers.

At its essence, Minecraft is a crafting game. You build things. You find material to build new things. You build living things. You fight those living things. Or, you let other living things fight those living things. But mostly, you create, have fun, and destroy. All in a retro, block-like fashion.

If you don't know Minecraft yet, you need to experience it. It's one of the most popular and sensational games of the last decade. Though it's intentional lack of direction means it may not be for everyone.

10
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The Room

The Room

What We Like

  • Despite the dark theme, there's no violence, so the game is appropriate for all ages.

  • Innovative touch controls.

What We Don't Like

  • The story is thin and disappointing.

  • Not as elaborate as its sequel, The Room: Old Sins.

Because of titles like Dark Souls, highly difficulty games now enjoy mainstream appeal. Adventure-puzzle games have always put an emphasis on being difficult to solve, and The Room takes this trend to the limit.  

As the name suggests, you spend most of your time in The Room, unraveling its mysteries by solving various puzzles. The first few aren't very challenging, but over time you'll find yourself scratching your head, tempted to turn to Google for a way out of the puzzle.

11
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Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery

Superbrothers on iPad

What We Like

  • In-game hints are helpful.

  • Puzzles are well integrated into the game's world.

What We Don't Like

  • Real-time moon cycles are annoying.

  • Looks better on smaller screens.

Despite what the name might suggest, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is more of a platform adventure game than an RPG. It has a retro look but somehow manages to update the ambiance with a modern perspective. As with any good adventure game, there are plenty of challenging puzzles, but you should expect a lot of new twists thrown your way. With compelling level design and aesthetics, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is a unique gaming experience.

12
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Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep on iPad

What We Like

  • Dungeons and Dragons fans will grasp the rules quickly.

  • Fantastic artwork consistent with the tabletop version.

What We Don't Like

  • Might be too complex for casual gamers.

  • The D&D theme feels tacked on as an after thought.

Lords of Waterdeep packs a two-for-one punch. First, the board game is fantastic. Taking place over eight rounds, you acquire resources, fighters, mages, and gold to complete quests and earn victory points. You also compete against other players by giving them mandatory quests or using Intrigue cards to steal their resources. Because you get a random Lord card at the beginning of each game (giving you bonuses for completing certain types of quests) each game plays out a bit differently.

Second, the game has been adapted to the iPad brilliantly. It looks and plays just like the board game, so you can seamlessly switch from one to the other. The AI opponents can be pushovers, but when you dial in the hardest settings they prove quite challenging. 

13
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Machinarium

Machinarium on iPad

What We Like

  • Characters express a lot of emotion without any dialogue.

  • Hand-drawn maps are visually stunning and timeless.

What We Don't Like

  • You'll frequently find yourself stumped.

  • Characters move at a slow pace.

If you loved The Room, Machinarium is your game. For puzzle-lovers, it may be the only game able to trump The Room. The puzzles in Machinarium are beyond tough, keeping you thinking about possible solutions late into the night. This makes it a rather addictive game. Beautifully designed and nearly silent, Machinarium is almost like playing inside of a painting with its own ethereal soundtrack.

14
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Temple Run 2

Temple Run 2 on iPad

What We Like

  • Fast paced gameplay that isn't mentally taxing.

  • Improves upon the formula that made the original successful.

What We Don't Like

  • In-app purchases diminish competitive elements.

  • There are hundreds of similar games available.

Is it possible to create a list of best games for the iPad and not mention Temple Run? The original Temple Run put the endless runner genre on the map, and the sequel kept the same addictive gameplay while adding better graphics and more gameplay mechanics. Best of all it's a free game, though the in-app purchases can restrict the gameplay somewhat. If you like fast-paced, vertical-scrolling action there's no reason not to try it.

15
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Traps n' Gemstones

Traps n Gemstones on iPad

What We Like

  • Puzzles are challenging without being frustrating.

  • Graphics are reminiscent of a classic 16-bit game.

What We Don't Like

  • A little too short.

  • Many of the collectibles feel pointless.

Traps n' Gemstones is a platformer with a distinctly archaeological theme. It presents a 2D map that players can explore, solving puzzles and beating foes along the way. It's very much in the tradition of a classic Metroidvania game, meaning a cross between Metroid and Castlevania. The puzzles are difficult but not too difficult, and it evokes the classic aesthetic of an NES game.

16
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Faster Than Light

Faster than Light

What We Like

  • Unpredictable battles add endless replay value.

  • Graphics are charming in their old-school simplicity.

What We Don't Like

  • The controls and UI are better in the PC version.

  • Limited ability to save your progress mid-battle.

A satirical look at the sub-genre of Star Trek games, Faster than Light is perfect for any sci-fi nut. The rogue-like elements ensure the game plays out a little differently each time, and while the atmosphere is lighthearted, the game has a serious degree of strategy to it. You'll soon find that managing a starship like Captain Kirk isn't all it's cracked up to be, but at least it's better than being one of the redshirts.

17
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Vainglory

Vainglory on iPad

What We Like

  • Battles are more fast paced than in similar titles.

  • Frequent updates.

  • Good community.

What We Don't Like

  • In-game tutorials are a little lacking.

  • Beginners may have a hard time scaling up.

Following in the footsteps of Defense of the Ancients and League of Legends, Vainglory brings the multiplayer online battle arena genre to the touch-based world. That's no easy task, considering how complicated and CPU-intensive games in that genre tend to be. Nonetheless, Vainglory lives up to expectations in a beautiful, fast-paced package that looks as if it belongs on a PC monitor or an Xbox screen rather than a mobile device.

18
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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

screenshot from Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic

What We Like

  • Hours of content justify the price.

  • Combat is easy to learn but challenging to master.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited character customization.

  • Some game mechanics feel outdated.

The original game is faithfully translated, so if you want to go on one more romp around the galaxy, you are sure to have some fun. Knights of the Old Republic is a classic adventure game. Having first launched in 2003, it puts you in the shoes of a chosen character that you can level up in true RPG fashion. The gameplay, however, is more akin to an adventure game. If you've never played Knights of the Old Republic, you are in for a treat.

19
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Angry Birds: Star Wars II

Angry Birds: Star Wars II on iPad

What We Like

  • Attention to animation details is remarkable.

  • Simple controls make it easy to pick up and play.

What We Don't Like

  • The screen gets cluttered sometimes.

  • Much harder than other Angry Birds titles.

The Angry Birds game series is filled with quality physics-based puzzles done with a comical mindset that never takes itself too seriously. This one is great for casual gamers and puzzle-lovers alike, but don't take the casual gamer label to heart. Angry Birds is just as difficult as it is addictive. The original Angry Birds: Star Wars is native to the iPhone, so playing it on the iPad requires upscaling. Angry Birds: Star Wars II will fit your iPad screen even better.

20
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Despicable Me: Minion Rush

Despicable Me: Minions Rush on iPad

What We Like

  • Accurately captures the humor and spirit of the movie.

  • Fun for all ages.

What We Don't Like

  • In-app purchases seem excessive.

  • Probably too easy for serious gamers.

Temple Run may be the definitive endless runner, but Despicable Me: Minion Rush is no doubt the cutest. Minion Rush adds some nice elements to the classic vertical-scroller genre, with mini-games that you have to complete while aiming for a new high score. If Minions aren't your pop-cultural cup of tea, then maybe stick to Temple Run. If you are a fan then there's no reason not to download this free game.

21
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Asphalt 8: Airborne

Asphalt 8 on iPad

What We Like

  • Play with or without an internet connection.

  • Multiplayer mode makes it easy to race with friends.

What We Don't Like

  • Upgrades are expensive, and the game is stingy with its currency.

  • The selection of vehicles could be better.

Play Asphalt 8: Airborne and you'll quickly realize that the iPad is perfect for racing games. You'll defy gravity as you perform air stunts and nitro boosts to reach the finish line. It's also quite a long game, especially for the mobile platform. You aren't going to solve this one in a few hours. You'll be playing it for weeks or months. With some of the best graphics the iPad has to offer, you'll also dream of hooking your iPad up to your HDTV so you can go console all over the game. 

22
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Wayward Souls

Wayward Souls

What We Like

  • Creative enemy design.

  • Unlockable character classes add variety.

What We Don't Like

  • Not a game for the impatient.

  • Enemies sometimes spawn at ridiculous rates.

Rogue-like games are defined by two basic ideas: difficulty and procedurally generated content, usually in the form of random dungeons or level designs. These games are challenging not because they want to frustrate you, but because they want to delight you with a sense of accomplishment when you win. Wayward Souls definitely fits the bill here. If you're a fan of games like Dark Souls and Diablo, this is your game on the iPad. It has a retro aesthetic with a top-down perspective, but the action is dazzling and fast-paced.

23
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Order & Chaos 2: Redemption

Order & Chaos 2: Redemption on the iPad

What We Like

  • Great graphics.

  • World feels large and immersive.

  • Seamless transition from iPad to iPhone.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks the depth of other MMORPGs.

  • Nothing about the game is very original.

World of Warcraft meets the iPad. This sequel to one of the first (and best) MMORPGs to go mobile, Order & Chaos 2: Redemption checks all the boxes of a fun online experience. It's very derivative, but the easy account connection between iPad and iPhone, plus the upgraded graphics from the original, make this game worth the download. If you loved Ultima Online, got addicted to Everquest, or went nuts for World of Warcraft, then Order & Chaos 2 is one of the best (and only) games of its type you can get on the iPad.