Even the best video game consoles don’t offer the same combination of freedom and power as the iPad Pro. In addition to the massive library of available titles (many of which you can download in just a few minutes), you get a big, beautiful screen with excellent touch controls and the ability to play anywhere, at any time. The best iPad Pro games leverage all these advantages, letting players enjoy awesome games on the go, usually at a fraction of the price that console and PC titles cost.
The nearly unlimited library of games comes with a caveat, though — it’s hard to hack through all the rough to find the diamonds. If you’re gaming on an iPad Pro, you will want to check out graphically impressive titles that maximize your screen’s real estate and take advantage of the Retina display. If you’re looking for suggestions, you’ve come to the right place — here are our picks for the best games to play on your iPad Pro.
‘Civilization VI‘ ($24)
Who would have imagined that we would ever see the grandaddy of deep turn-based strategy on a mobile device? But here it is in all its complex glory. The game challenges you to shepherd your fledgling civilization from a single village to a globe-dominating nation. Exploration, city building, research, trade, religion, and war — Civilization VI has it all. Impressively, most of the features that grace the full PC game are present and correct in this port, though there is no online multiplayer option. You can try it out for free for 60 turns, which we strongly recommend you do, particularly if you’re not familiar with the franchise. You may balk at the full $60 price, but it’s no exaggeration to suggest that this game will hungrily devour hundreds of hours of your time.
‘PUBG Mobile‘ (Free)
Ready for some shooting mayhem on your iPad Pro? Parachute onto a remote island and duke it out with 99 other players to see who can survive this Battle Royale and secure ultimate bragging rights. There is plenty of loot to scavenge, boatloads of weaponry, and vehicles galore. Get tooled up, hunt your enemies mercilessly, and try not to get killed. The controls take some getting used to and there are some simplifications to make it playable on a tablet or phone, but make no mistake, this is PUBG all the way. The iPad Pro makes the most of the visuals and sound, with the extra screen real estate boosting your chances of picking out enemies in the landscape and putting them down.
‘Monument Valley 2‘ ($5)
The first Monument Valley blew players away with its MC Escher-style optical illusion puzzles, all of which were set against gorgeous, colorful backgrounds. Excellent sound design and smooth, mind-twisting animations provided the perfect vehicle for a brief 10-level story that followed a silent princess through a series of ever-evolving geometric worlds. The sequel brings back the puzzle-based gameplay and adds several new elements, like a new playable character and tools like light and water that you’ll use to navigate the game’s 14 levels. Art design is more varied this time around, too, and the graphics are better than ever — perfect for showing off your iPad Pro.
‘Infinity Blade III‘ ($7)
The Infinity Blade series has been heralded as one of the most visually-impressive franchises available on mobile devices, rendering epic battle scenes with surprising clarity and the kinds of effects you wouldn’t expect to see on a tablet or smartphone. Infinity Blade 3 carries on that tradition, returning to the series’ tried-and-true fighting formula, which sees players swipe their screen at opportune moments to block, parry, and slice opponents that are often massive and intimidating. A basic, yet engaging, RPG-style system keeps the game relatively fresh, and a decent variety of enemies means you’ll need to learn how to counter lots of different attacks. Plus, you can reforge gear via the blacksmith to improve its power level.
If you want to play a Legend of Zelda game on the fly, you’ll have to shell out $300 or so for a Nintendo Switch. Luckily, there are similar games out there, and Oceanhorn is among the best. Players control a young man who sets out to find his father, who has been lost after heading to find the Oceanhorn, a mystical beast that resides in the sea. Gameplay is quite similar to the Zelda games — namely, The Wind Waker — as you’ll complete small puzzles to receive loot, collect hearts to replenish lost HP, and drop bombs to uncover hidden paths. Combat is simple yet enjoyable — and not a chore, which is all too common on touchscreen devices — and exploration is absolutely exhilarating, especially while sailing.
‘Asphalt 9: Legends‘ (Free)
The newest version of this Need for Speed meets Mario Kart racing game, Asphalt 9: Legends takes you to over 70 tracks in real-world locations. Legends starts you in Career mode and once you complete over 60 seasons and 800 races you can become a real legend. Also, for the first time in the Asphalt series, you can create your own private races in Club Race Mode. Challenge your friends to see who is truly the best. Like most games of this caliber, Legends takes a lot of storage, so, if your iPad is already pretty full, you may want to clear some room.
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‘Samorost 3‘ ($5)
As fun as it is to play iPad Pro games that push the hardware to its limits, sometimes a simple puzzle adventure can be just as rewarding. Case in point: Samorost 3. As the character Gnome, you go on a journey that spans the universe to discover the mystery and dangers behind a magical flute that showed up at your house one day. The point-and-click game is heavy on puzzles and it can take some time to figure out what to do next. This could be frustrating for some, but you really won’t mind having to stay in one place for a while because Samrost’s artwork is just so beautiful and mesmerizing to look at.
‘Crypt of the Necrodancer‘ ($5)
Fans of roguelike games and rhythm games alike will go bananas for Crypt of the Necrodancer, a creative dungeon crawler in which players — and enemies — move to the beat of the music, turning each encounter into a tactical dance, of sorts. Finding different weapons, tools, and upgrades can help you survive, but ultimately, you’ll need to learn the movement and attack patterns for each of the game’s foes, while mastering some subtle tricks along the way. Boss fights and randomly-generated levels spice up the action and ensure you don’t get too comfortable, and the four themed zones are broken up into floors, each with music that moves at different speeds. You’ll need to make critical decisions in real time, making this a heart-pounding experience.
For many gamers, Advance Wars — released back in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance — was a seminal title, bringing turn-based tactics to the mobile realm in an accessible and fun way. Warbits takes that formula and retreads it, adding some nice graphical touches and online play in the process. Learning how each unit works is more enjoyable than frustrating, and the levels ramp up in difficulty to a satisfying degree. This is a premium game — with a pay-once price tag — that looks great on the big screen. It’s a game that needs time and effort, and unlike some strategy games, it’s not all about who has the biggest army. Show some love for a game that hasn’t gone down the freemium road, when it so easily could have.