With tens of thousands of different apps available, finding quality apps and games for your iPad can be a thankless task. If you’ve just received an Apple iPad for Christmas and are looking for some decent games to load it up with, the sheer amount of low-quality apps available can make it pretty daunting. Despite the endless supply of low-effort, bottom of the barrel apps around, there are still plenty of fun and original games to get stuck into. Here’s our pick of the best games you can download on iPad right now.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
This recent addition to Nintendo’s mobile and tablet roster takes the things you love about the console and handheld versions of Animal Crossing and puts it on iPad. Whilst Animal Crossing and smartphones are a match made in heaven, Pocket Camp is also a dream to play on iPad due to its charming visual style and addictive gameplay.
Fans of the series will be in familiar territory here, with the player befriending various animals, shaking fruit from trees, fishing and catching bugs. The twist this time is that you’re constructing your own camp rather than looking after a town and paying off your mortgage. Pocket Camp lets you invite animals to your campsite and attract other animals by building specific things. This fun and easy-going iPad game is free on the App Store now.
This sublime puzzle game has sold over 250,000 copies on the PC and has even been nominated for a game BAFTA. Mini Metro has you design the subway system for an ever-expanding city by drawing the lines between stations and keeping the trains moving. The deceptively simple gameplay gets gradually tougher as you progress and the randomly generated levels mean each game is unique.
Mini Metro is the rare breed of App Store game that you just buy outright - there’s no microtransactions you’ll need to pay to keep playing. For just a few pounds, this fun and addictive puzzler provides hours of gameplay.
Active Soccer 2 DX
If you’re after a short hit of footy but don’t want to mess around with the poor version of FIFA EA puts out on the iPad, Active Soccer 2 DX could be right up your alley. Based around the arcade-style Sensible Soccer games you might have played years ago, Active Soccer provides a fast-paced and slightly silly version of the sport, one where you can ping the ball about and pull off goals that defy physics.
Active Soccer only had 4 inputs, making it easy to play on just the touchscreen of the iPad. Players will also be able to enjoy a career mode made up of 11,000 club and national teams as well as 25,000 players with individual skills. If you’re looking for some football away from the PlayStation, Active Soccer 2 is ideal.
Grim Fandango Remastered
Another good example of a PC gaming making its way over to iPad, Grim Fandango Remastered offers a stylish, old-school adventure game experience. This remaster of the PC adventure game from 1998 has been improved in both the visual and gameplay department, allowing players to use the touchscreen to play.
Grim Fandango is set in the Mexican Land of the Dead, where players must unwrap a noir-style mystery. The game remains very unique, with players having to get their heads around complex puzzles to progress through the story. If you’re up for a challenge and a game story like no other, try Grim Fandango Remastered.
One of the best things about gaming on an iPad is the ability to play PC and console games that have been ported over without compromising the experience. Banner Saga is a perfect example of this, offering a stunning premium experience that you don’t need a console or PC to play.
Banner Saga is a turn-based tactical RPG where you play through the story of a Norse tribe trying to find a new home. On the way, you’ll fight Drudge soldiers, make important decisions and level up your characters to become more powerful. The Banner Saga features gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, giving it an art style all its own. Whilst the game is expensive compared to most iPad games, it’s worth it for one of the best iPad games available.
Combine Tinder and Game of Thrones and what have you got? Reigns. This clever mobile game is also available to play on iPad, where it works just as well. Reigns puts you in the throne of a medieval monarch and tasks you to rule over the land by going through a never-ending gauntlet of requests from your subjects. Make the right decisions and your people will love you; the wrong ones, they may lop your head off.
If you’re looking for an iPad game that does something a little different, Reigns scratches the itch. Its swiping gameplay means you’ll always be coming across new things and its engaging narrative make it ideal to get into on iPad.
Lara Croft Go
Taking a world-famous game character and putting her in a new style of game, Lara Croft GO puts the tomb-raiding, dual-wielding archaeologist into a puzzle game with over 115 challenging levels. The game has you move a board game-style Lara through grid levels, avoiding dangerous animals, traps and demons.
Lara Croft GO is part of the GO trilogy, which also features Hitman GO and Deus Ex GO. Any one of these games is well worth a try if you’re interested in puzzle titles or even if you’re a fan of the console counterparts. With stunning art styles and multi-tiered levels that keep you coming back for more, the GO games are at home on iPad.
XCOM: Enemy Within
Strategy fans are a bit spoiled on iPad, with a huge amount of quality titles available to play. The pick of the bunch, however, is XCOM: Enemy Within. This game was released at the same time as the PC and console versions all the way back in 2012, but remains one of the iPad’s best experiences. XCOM tasks you with managing a special ops team that deals with extraterrestrial threats, with the player creating a squad and toasting aliens in turn-based combat.
XCOM was one of the first games to receive a simultaneous release on iPad, with players able to experience the game without any compromises. Even though the game is a few years old, this isn’t as issue thanks to the timeless gameplay. Plus, if you have one of the new iPad or iPad Pro models, you’ll be able to play this game at a higher fidelity than ever before.
Really Bad Chess
This delightful (and free) version of chess will keep fans of the game guessing and may even draw in new players. Really Bad Chess is just like chess, but with totally random players. If you’ve ever wondered what a game of chess with 8 knights, 4 bishops and 3 pawns would be like, this game lets you try it. Players can try their hand against the computer or play against another player via online.
Really Bad Chess is a great twist on the classic game as it allows anyone from chess pros to novices get involved without too much learning. The random nature of the game ensures you’ll always be on a level playing field with whoever you’re playing.
Monument Valley 2
This sequel to the legendary mobile and tablet puzzle game offers a brand new adventure set in an impossible world. Monument Valley 2 has you exploring a unique and varied world, telling a story whilst also challenging you with tricky puzzles. Whether you’re a fan of the first Monument Valley or not, this sequel is well worth picking up as it tells an entirely new story.
Monument Valley 2 is the ideal game to test out the visuals on your new iPad, as it combines a stunning art style with beautiful music to create the perfect gaming experience on a tablet. If you’ve got a shiny new iPad for Christmas just waiting for a great game, Monument Valley 2 should be one of your new stops.