Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

The 10 best location-based games

Pokémon Go has provoked legions of gamers all over the world to get off their butts and explore their surroundings. There’s something exciting about this newfound popularity for location-based games, a genre that has been technically possible for several years but languished in relative obscurity until now. The widespread adoption of mobile devices with GPS and powerful processors has enabled developers to explore new types of gameplay that blend the digital and analog worlds.

The genre is still growing, but we’ve seen some new titles released over the past few years. Here are the 10 best location-based games for iOS and Android.

Further reading

Ingress

Ingress
64%
Platforms
Android, iOS
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Strategy, Tactical, Adventure
Developer
Niantic Labs
Publisher
Google
Release
October 30, 2013
Pokémon Go didn’t come out of a vacuum. Developer Niantic (founded in 2010 as a Google subsidy) released Ingress in 2012, which was — until now — the biggest location-based mobile game. Players are divided into two competing factions of “agents” that struggle for control over “portals,” which correspond to real-world points of interest much like Pokémon Gos Pokéstops and gyms. Triangulating three portals gives control over the bounded area to that faction, earning them points for as long as the area is held. The narrative frame for Ingress is a sci-fi scenario wherein a newly discovered form of Exotic Matter (XM) sparks a heated division about how it should be used for humanity. Because of their direct relationship, Ingress shares a lot in common with Pokémon Go, but the former features more robust game and social elements, along with a passionate community that’s already invested years. The game has changed a lot over the years, so much so that the devs decided to rename the entire project to Ingress Prime.

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run!
Platforms
Android, iOS
Genre
Strategy
Developer
Six to Start
Publisher
Six to Start
Release
February 27, 2012
Ingress and Pokémon Go boast exercise as a secondary benefit of gameplay but don’t quite provide the same direct motivation as a horde of zombies nipping at your heels. As the name implies, Zombies, Run! is an “exergame” that provides a mission and reward structure as motivation for jogging. With more than one million players, its website boasts that the title is the most popular fitness game ever for smartphones. While zombies, as a whole, might be a bit played out in pop culture at this point, it’s hard to argue that the theme doesn’t fit the game’s activity perfectly. The game has more than 200 missions and a base-building metagame, too, which should help even the most reluctant runners stay committed.

Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO
66%
E10
Platforms
Android, iOS
Genre
Simulator, Strategy, Turn-based strategy (TBS), Adventure
Developer
The Pokémon Company, Niantic Labs
Publisher
Niantic Labs
Release
July 06, 2016
Without a doubt, the most popular of all location-based games, Pokémon Go, continues to dominate charts nearly six years after launch. Niantic has provided players with constant updates to keep things exciting, and you can even take part in a yearly “Go Fest” celebration for added rewards. Most Pokémon games can survive on brand awareness alone — but Pokémon Go isn’t content to let its IP do all the heavy lifting. Competitive multiplayer, team-based battles, and engaging solo play make it a game that’s difficult to put down. There’s always something new to discover (especially if you live in a large metro area), and the Pokémon charm is simply the icing on the cake.

Pikmin Bloom

Pikmin Bloom
E
Platforms
Android, iOS
Genre
Adventure
Developer
Niantic Labs
Publisher
Nintendo
Release
October 27, 2021
Pikmin Bloom is from the same studio that brought you Pokémon Go. It doesn’t have the same player base as the ultra-popular game, but Pikmin fans will find a lot to get excited about with the latest augmented reality (AR) experience. The relaxing game has you walking around your neighborhood to grow your squad of Pikmin. The quirky creatures hatch out of seedlings you’ll acquire as you play, and after a few weeks, you’ll have a whole army following you around wherever you go. It’s not as deep as some other GPS-based games, but the casual adventure is a great way to get outside and relax.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer

The Witcher: Monster Slayer
Platforms
Android, iOS
Genre
Role-playing (RPG)
Developer
Spokko
Publisher
Spokko
One of the few high-profile AR games not developed by Niantic, The Witcher: Monster Slayer is a mature take on the genre. You’ll still be roaming around town with your phone in front of you, but this time, you’ll be fighting deadly creatures and going on a variety of quests. You’ll be tracking monsters using Witcher Senses, kitting yourself out with a wide assortment of gear, then swiping your fingers on the screen to perform a variety of actions during combat. The narrative driving the action isn’t quite as deep as the main Witcher games — but it still draws from the same lore and offers hundreds of hours of gameplay.

Geocaching

Geocaching
Platforms
Android, iOS
Unlike other games on this list, geocaching isn’t a discrete product from a particular developer, but rather a huge, community-driven activity. In many ways, it’s the ancestor of all of these other location-based games, since it started in 2000 when the GPS standard was first opened to the wider public. Participants hide GPS-enabled containers all over the world and then other people use the coordinates to find them and see what they contain. At a minimum, they contain a logbook that players sign, but some contain more exciting secrets. Community standards dictate that if players find something in a cache, they replace it with something of equal or greater value. We’ve included the link to two free geocaching apps below, but there are more feature-rich, premium options available as well. While it may not have the elaborate metagame of something like Ingress, geocaching has a vibrant, global community that’s far more established than any other game on our list.

Jurassic World Alive

Jurassic World Alive
Platforms
Android, iOS
Genre
Role-playing (RPG)
Release
May 24, 2018
Although it may not be as popular as Wizards Unite or Pokémon Go, Jurassic World Alive has a dedicated following of players — and enough content to keep you busy for years. Fans of the series will encounter iconic beasts that they will level up, breed, and battle in real-time matches. You’ll need to roam your world to find these prehistoric creatures and collect their DNA, the main driving force behind the game. Between combat, evolution, and breeding, there’s a lot to wrap your head around. Thankfully, Jurassic World Alive does a great job of walking you through its various mechanics and is pretty easy for beginners to pick up.

Orna: A Geo-RPG

Orna: A Geo-RPG
T
Platforms
Legacy Cellphone
Genre
Role-playing (RPG)
Release
June 17, 2019
Players who enjoy classic turn-based RPGs will find much to love in Orna. This strange title combines common RPG tropes — such as turn-based combat, party building, and class specializations — with all the features seen in today’s best location-based games. You’ll dive into dungeons, tackle challenging bosses, and collect more than 1,000 items as you explore the real world around you. Once you’ve put together an unstoppable team, take the action online and compete with others on a PvP battlefield or join a kingdom for access to online raids. It has a lot to offer players, even if it isn’t as popular as others in the genre.

Editors' Recommendations

Will Fulton
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Will Fulton is a New York-based writer and theater-maker. In 2011 he co-founded mythic theater company AntiMatter Collective…
The best Elden Ring mods
Multiple players look out over a landscape with the Elden Ring co-op mod.

It was thanks to modders that the original PC port of Dark Souls reached a stable and respectable state. Once the technical wrinkles were ironed out, modders turned to expanding and improving the game in numerous ways to keep the game feeling fresh. Years later, those same talented modders have moved on to the latest and largest FromSoftware title, Elden Ring. After having had plenty of time to learn the game, there are tons of mods out there that can not only fix nagging issues in the game,but add entirely new ways to play. Here are some of the best mods out there for Elden Ring.
How to mod Elden Ring
Since Elden Ring is available on PC, that's where modding scene is most popular. However, if this is your first time modding a game, it might sound a little confusing. Thankfully, the process is very simple, and even this tutorial video can show you the basics of modding your game in under three minutes.
Seamless Co-op

Elden Ring uses a more advanced form of the summoning systems from the Dark Souls series, but still has limitations, most notably being partners being forced out of your game after every boss or death. The Seamless Co-op mod aims to make the entire game playable with a partner without any interruptions when players die, bosses are beaten, and no fog walls. It is still being worked on, but already works very well.
Elden Ring Ultimate Cheat Engine Table

Read more
The best games for laptops
A person gaming on the new Acer Nitro 16 gaming laptop placed on a desk.

Gaming on your laptop didn't used to be a serious option outside of very simple games. Newer laptops have a lot more power inside for gaming, but can't quite keep up with the latest and greatest of games on PC and consoles. Plus, you typically are restricted to a keyboard and touchpad that makes more intensive games uncomfortable or too difficult to enjoy. Since you won't always have access to a separate mouse or standard controller, you might need some games that still play great on your laptop without needing any accessories.

These are the best games you can either play with nothing but the keyboard or minimal mouse use to avoid any hand cramps.

Read more
These are the 10 best gaming PCs I’d recommend to anyone
Graphics card in the CLX Hathor PC.

We review dozens of gaming PCs each year. In 2024, there are a ton of great options, but we've narrowed them down to a list of the 10 best gaming desktops that deserve your hard-earned money.

In 2024, we still recommend the Alienware Aurora R16 because of its fantastic design, solid performance, and decent value. However, there are several other options depending on your needs and budget. If you want a deeper look into how we evaluate gaming PCs, make sure to read about how we review desktops.

Read more