Looking back at how iOS gaming has evolved since December 2017 where we suddenly had a plethora of console and PC ports has been interesting. I didn’t think 2018 would top 2017 but mobile now has two of the biggest games in the world and one of them is more polished on mobile than it is on PC and consoles. 2018 has also been an interesting year for the Switch and for indie developers who make games for multiple platforms. Instead of doing a top 10 list of games for 2018, here are 10 things I liked about 2018. If you want just a list of the best iOS games, read our huge list of the best games in 2018 here.
Donut County, $4.99 Donut County releasing on iOS alongside the PS4 version was great because it looked like a game that would work best on touch. Having bought it everywhere (I do this with a few games) and playing it, this is best on iPad. Annapurna Interactive might be my favourite publisher of 2018 alongside Capcom and Donut County is an excellent and relaxing experience. Be a hole and get this. It is like a modern indie take on Katamari Damacy.
Monster Hunter Stories, $19.99 Monster Hunter Stories hitting iOS and Android in English is a huge deal for a variety of reasons. Capcom’s spinoff to the super popular Monster Hunter series in the form of a turn based JRPG with Pokemon like mechanics was great. It also is quite the tech showcase on the 3DS with its gorgeous visuals that put other monster collecting games on that platform to shame. It was published by Nintendo in USA and Europe so I assumed it would likely not see a mobile release. Thankfully I was wrong and Capcom brought it out in English and the port is great. When the game was originally shown off, people assumed the high resolution footage was from the next Nintendo console version but it turned out to be the mobile version.
Florence, $2.99 Florence is another Annapurna Interactive release that is a must play game on mobile. I love visual novels and interactive novels but Florence is on a whole other level. This is what I imagine the future of comics will be with gorgeous visuals and great interactions to tell a story. Florence also has a very nice soundtrack. I love how Simogo games play on iOS and Florence from Annapurna Interactive is as close as it gets to perfectly using the touchscreen.
Dragalia Lost, Free While I’m still annoyed that Dragalia Lost is only available in a handful of countries, Nintendo and Cygames’ mobile exclusive IP has been interesting to see in its infancy. They are also pretty generous with bonuses and rewards for players and the story has been very interesting so far. It feels like a 3DS RPG in temrs of visuals and story for me and I mean that in the best way. My favourite aspect is definitely DAOKO’s music in game. I hope 2019 sees this expand to more regions.
PUBG MOBILE, Free PUBG Mobile basically becoming the more popular version of PUBG compared to the PC and console version is also hilarious to me. PUBG‘s PC version is what made the brand what it is but the mobile version is definitely the more popular one right now. While PUBG hit Xbox and eventually PS4, neither of those versions are as polished as the mobile version. PUBG Mobile being treated brilliantly by Tencent has been great to see.
Fortnite, Free Fortnite ditching Google Play (and also the Epic Games Store on PC) is a highlight for 2018. While PUBG Mobile is no doubt more popular on Android, Epic has done a lot of good stuff in 2018 with iOS optimisations like 60fps and the Switch release of Fortnite. It remains to be seen how this all plays out for them in 2019. Making Sony finally allow cross play when something like Minecraft couldn’t manage it speaks volumes.
Subset Games’ Into the Breach debuted on PC earlier this year and I skipped that release in the hopes of an iPad release. FTL is a better experience on iPad and Into the Breach felt like something that would work best on a portable. We didn’t get an iPad release but the Switch version is superb. If you’ve ever wanted Chess with Mechs, this is the most polished and well designed version of that you will ever be able to imagine.
The final thing I liked a lot about 2018 is how both Switch and iOS as platforms helped indie developers. Both platforms saw ports from the other and many developers launch first on one before hitting the other. Civilization VI on Switch is basically a port of the iOS version. Games like 7 Billion Humans launched on Switch first and then hit iOS with similar control options. I’m glad indie developers have another avenue to make some revenue and the fact that Switch is so similar to mobile has helped more games come to both platforms.