The Best iPad Games of All Time

iPad screenshot with several best iPad games on it, including Hearthstone, Minecraft, The Room, and PunchQuest

The iPad is a fantastic tablet. It can be used for productivity. It can be used to browse the web. You can connect it to your TV. You can use it as a radio. Heck, it comes with its own personal assistant, so it is no wonder it can easily replace your laptop. Oh, and did we mention it makes an awesome portable game console? 

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 much of the strategy of Magic: The Gathering and adds the polish and sense of humor of a Blizzard game to make one of the best card battle games on the iPad. Normally, creating any type of best-of list is difficult, especially choosing what to put first. And even though this list isn't put in any specific order, starting with Hearthstone makes a lot of sense because it embodies everything good about iPad gaming.

First, it is a free-to-play game that doesn't push you into paying. You can have a fine time playing the game while using gold earned in-game to unlock new cards or expansion packs. It may take you a little longer to build the deck of your dreams, but you'll have loads of fun on the way.

But mostly, it is one of those rare games that is both easy to pick up and learn and yet has enough depth that you are constantly refining your strategy and gameplay. 

02
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Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition on iPad

What We Like

  • Excellent writing still 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 so well.

Baldur's Gate arrived at a time when the role-playing game genre was thought to be mostly dead. If it weren't for the release of Diablo two years prior, RPGs may have been given their own casket. While it's a great game in its own right, Diablo wasn't exactly the based-on-tabletop story-based role-playing experience many people craved. Baldur's Gate not only hit the mark, but it also blew the mark into thousands of pieces as it delivered a gaming experience that helped bring RPGs into the modern era.

Both Baldur's Gate and its sequel have been ported to the iPad and they are just as good 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 download.

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 start to 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 concept of enemies moving in a line toward a target they intend on destroying while the player fends them off has branched even as far as MOBA games like League of Legends, but the essence of fun, the quick-thinking gameplay remains the same.

Plants vs Zombies is easily one of the best defense games on the iPad. A fun idea that capitalizes on the ever-popularity of zombies, you take on the role of planting fungi in order to fend off the advancing hordes.

04
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XCOM: Enemy Within

XCOM: Enemy Within

What We Like

  • Presents a difficult but fair challenge.

  • Missions are unique and fun to replay.

What We Don't Like

  • Occasional glitches.

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

Speaking of consoles, XCOM: Enemy Unknown may have been the first high-end console game that was ported in full to the iPad around the same time as its console release. Sure, it's easy to port a game from a decade ago, but making a great game that is almost exactly the same on the iPad, the Xbox 360, and the PS3 is pretty cool.

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 actually includes all of the content from the original, so there's no reason to buy two separate games. 

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. In fact, many people solve it within a few hours. But it is a really, really fun few hours, which is why Monument Valley remains so popular. A beautiful game that sucks you in with casual game style, it's well worth the price of admission.

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.

It would have been very easy for World of Tanks to get it wrong with the move to mobile gaming. A popular and complex multiplayer game on desktop computers, even a powerful tablet like the iPad would have difficulty replicating the gameplay found on PCs. And often, when you trim a game, you gut a lot of the fun, but Blitz threads that middle ground between simplicity and over-simplicity, delivering the same engaging blow-em-up mutliplayer fun on the iPad as is found in its bigger brother on PCs.

07
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Infinity Blade III

Infinity Blade III

What We Like

  • Exhilarating soundtrack compliments the story and gameplay.

  • Nice blend of action and RPG elements.

What We Don't Like

  • Weapons crafting system is overly complicated.

  • Missions require backtracking and fighting the same enemies.

The Infinity Blade series of games are no longer available on iOS. Still, they were hailed as the most "console-like" mobile games of the day when they released. We're including the third in the series on this list for that reason alone.

The Infinity Blade series defines high-end gaming on the iPad. From the start, Infinity Blade has proven that you don't have to sacrifice as much in the graphics department to have a lot of fun on your tablet. It may not have Xbox One or PS4 quality graphics, but the Infinity Blade series looks fantastic. 

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

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.

Punch Quest. Even its name sounds fun. One part endless runner. One part side-scrolling platformer. One part punching everything that gets in your way. Punch Quest is one of the delights of the retro-style genre, which concentrates on breathing new life into older game ideas. But beyond punching, you get to do a lot of other things, like jumping while punching or dashing forward while punching. You get the idea. A simple idea turned massively addicting, 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 of the features of the PC version.

  • Can't connect to third party servers.

At its very 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, you have fun, you destroy. All in a block-like fashion.  

If you don't know Minecraft yet, you need to experience it. 

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.

  • Creative touch screen controls.

What We Don't Like

  • The story is thin and disappointing.

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

Difficult games have become a real hit in the last few years. On consoles and the PC, the Dark Souls series is known for bringing high difficulty back into gaming. Adventure-puzzle games have always put an emphasis on not being easy to solve, and The Room really takes this trend to the max.  

As the name suggests, you spend most of your time in "The Room," unraveling its mysteries by solving various puzzles. The first few many not give you too much challenge, but soon enough, you'll be looking at your web browser and thinking of Google searches that may help you get past a particularly difficult puzzle. 

11
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Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery

Superbrothers on iPad

What We Like

  • In-game hints are extremely 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 the name, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery falls more on the adventure side than the role-playing side. It also has a retro look, but somehow manages to blend that ambiance with a modern perspective. As with any good adventure game, there are plenty of challenging puzzles but expect a lot of new twists to be thrown at you.  

12
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Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep on iPad

What We Like

  • Dungeons and Dragons fans will grasp the rules fairly 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 for this list. First, the board game itself is fantastic. Taking place over eight rounds, you acquire resources like fighters and mages and gold to complete quests to earn victory points. You also compete against other players by giving them mandatory quests or using Intrigue cards to steal their resources. And 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 little different. 

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

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 stuck or stumped.

  • Characters move at a very slow pace.

If you loved The Room, Machinarium is your game. In fact, it may be the only game able to trump The Room for the puzzle-loving crowd. The puzzles in Machinarium are beyond tough in that addictive fashion that keeps you thinking about possible solutions late into the night, but it is the packaging the puzzles are wrapped in that pushes the game over the top. A beautifully silent game, it's 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 too mentally taxing.

  • Improves upon the formula that made the original successful.

What We Don't Like

  • In-app purchases diminish competitive elements.

  • There are literally hundreds of similar games available.

Is it possible to create a list of best games for the iPad and not mention a Temple Run game? The original Temple Run put the endless runner genre on the map, and the sequel kept the same addicting gameplay while adding small elements and better graphics to add to the fun. Best of all, it is a free game that doesn't push you into buying a lot of stuff. 

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 the classic 16-bit era of gaming.

What We Don't Like

  • The game is a little too short.

  • Many of the collectibles feel pointless.

If you've watched every Indiana Jones movie, it might be time for you to live the adventure. A "Metroidvania" game, so named for being a cross between Metroid and Castlevania, Traps n' Gemstones is a platformer with a distinctly archaeological theme. And we mean that in a very whip-wielding sense of the word. 

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 rogue-like 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 light, the game has a nice level of strategy to it. You'll soon find that managing a starship isn't all it's cracked up to be, but at least it is better than being one of the red shirts.

17
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Vainglory 5v5

Vainglory on iPad

What We Like

  • Battles are more fast paced than in similar titles.

  • Frequent updates.

What We Don't Like

  • In-game tutorials are a little lacking.

  • Community is very good; 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 in style. A difficult task mainly because of how complex and chaotic these games can become, Vainglory accomplishes this feat in a beautiful package that looks as if it belongs on a PC monitor or an Xbox screen rather than on 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 reasonable price point.

  • Combat is easy to learn but challenging to master.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited character customization.

  • Some game mechanics feel aged.

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. And if you have never played KotOR, you are in for a real treat.

19
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Angry Birds: Star Wars II

Angry Birds: Star Wars II on iPad

What We Like

  • Attention to details on the animation is remarkable.

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

What We Don't Like

  • The screen gets quite cluttered sometimes.

  • Significantly harder than other Angry Bird titles.

Pick your flavor, the Angry Birds series is filled with quality physics-based puzzles done with a comical mindset that never takes itself too seriously. This one is great for both casual gamers and puzzle-lovers, but don't take that "casual gamer" title too seriously. Angry Birds is just as addicting as World of Warcraft. The original Angry Birds: Star Wars is iPhone-native; playing it on 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 are a little excessive.

  • Likely too easy for hardcore gamers.

Temple Run may be the definitive endless runner, but Despicable Me: Minion Rush is no doubt the cutest. But Minion Rush isn't just a game that relies on the lovable minions to cash in on their fame. The game itself adds some nice elements to the endless runner genre, with little mini-games that you must complete while competing for your new high score. 

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 made for racing games. You'll defy gravity as you perform various air stunts to gain nitro boosts. 

Asphalt 8 is also a long game. 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

  • Many creative and cool looking enemies.

  • Unlockable character classes add variety to gameplay.

What We Don't Like

  • It's not a game for the impatient.

  • Enemies sometimes spawn at ridiculous rates.

The rogue-like genre of games is defined by two basic concepts — procedurally generated content, usually in the form of random dungeons or areas, and difficulty. The idea with these games is that challenge not only brings out the fun and excitement while playing but translates into a sense of accomplishment. Wayward Souls definitely fits the bill here. If you are a fan of games like Dark Souls and Diablo, this is your game on the iPad.

23
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Order & Chaos 2: Redemption

Order & Chaos 2: Redemption on the iPad

What We Like

  • Great graphics.

  • The persistent world feels large and immersive.

  • Seamless transition from iPad to iPhone and back via Game Center.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks the depth of other MMORPGs.

  • Nothing about the game is 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 still derivative as all heck, but the easy account connection between iPad and iPhone, plus the upgraded graphics from the original make this worth a download all on its own. 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.