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. You may also want to check out our favorite iPhone games.
Take on the role of a starship captain, put a crew together, and carve a path through a war-torn galaxy full of opportunity and threat. This epic space RPG allows you to play as a pirate, merchant, explorer, smuggler, or something else entirely — there are 26 potential careers. You can fully customize your ship and crew, but they’ll change as you make decisions in the game. The open universe is there to be explored and there are all sorts of stories waiting to unfold. Will you ally with a specific faction, or try to walk your own path? This a deep, addictive sci-fi game that you can really get your teeth into.
Immortal Rogue ($5)
Enjoy classic hack n’ slash action in this roguelike where you play as a hungry vampire. If you love to swipe your way through hordes of enemies, there are 70 unique varieties to fight right here and a dynamically generated world that changes based on your actions. The pixel art style is cute and it has a lovely soundtrack, but this is all about the challenging, relentless combat that will have you frenziedly tapping and swiping your way through different time zones felling robots and shotgun-toting monsters as you carve a path to the big boss, Dracula himself.
If you’re already addicted to the battle royale action on console or PC, why not try it out on the iPad Pro? The challenge is the same: Jump out of the flying battle bus, seek out useful items and deadly weapons, and send your opponents to meet their maker. The last one standing wins, but you can also play squad games. The controls take some time to get to grips with, but they are a little more forgiving. You’ll also enjoy the same weekly updates and battle pass options through your Epic Games account and you can play with people on other platforms.
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 thrilling racing game, Asphalt 9: Legends takes you to over 70 tracks in real-world locations and puts you behind the wheel of countless sports cars. 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.
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.
Fallout Shelter (Free)
Before the release of Fallout 4, Bethesda rolled out a mobile game with the same theme: Fallout Shelter. In it, you recruit new adventurers into your vault and build it out, crafting a community and balancing resources to keep your dwellers alive. Matching your citizens’ stats to the correct room type will boost your production, but you’ll need to carefully manage everything in case of a raid or fire. Little comedic touches and dialogue are nice tributes to the Fallout universe, and the game is a perfect fit for those looking to kill some time on the bus or train. Whether you’ve been playing the game since it was first released or just getting started — don’t worry, we have plenty of Fallout Shelter tips if you fall in the latter category– your vault will never look as good as it does on the iPad Pro.
Hidden Folks ($4)
Most of us are familiar with the Where’s Waldo series of books, which tasks readers with finding the titular character — and, eventually, other characters — in vast, two-page illustrations that teem with people and objects. Hidden Folks takes the same idea and modifies it for a contemporary audience, adding tons of cool sound effects and responsive animations to make the game more engaging. For example, one portrait requires you to find a chicken; tap on a snake with a bulge in its belly and the bird will come squawking out. Later levels ramp up in complexity, providing even the most experienced Waldo-finders with a stiff challenge.
If you’ve never played Bloons, you should — it’s an addicting flash title where you use darts to pop balloons in increasingly difficult formations, with obstacles and modifiers added along the way. Bloons TD 5 applies that same concept to the tower defense genre, resulting in a game where balloons will float along a path and players need to build different types of towers to shoot them down. The game offers several different modes and difficulty levels, too, so both newer and more experienced players can get their fix. There are 21 upgradable towers to choose from, along with a host of “secret agents” to make things more fun. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as polish it, but if you like tower defense games, this is a great one.
SimCity BuildIt (Free)
SimCity BuildIt has been around on iOS for a while, and although it’s playable on the iPhone, it has always been more enjoyable on the iPad. Now, the iPad Pro’s large screen takes it that step further, particularly because the game’s control system is all about pinching, zooming, and rotating highly detailed 3D buildings. Fans of the SimCity series should enjoy building massive metropolitan centers, and the game keeps things fresh by introducing new requirements — such as fire departments, police stations, and city utility services — without which your town has no hope of survival. The graphics are stellar, with lots of little touches that’ll surprise and impress you. Keep your wits, though — there are also plenty of in-app purchases.
Hitman Go ($5)
You’d think making a mobile game for a AAA franchise sounds like a cash grab (cough, cough, Final Fantasy), but Hitman Go does it right because it keeps the core of the game’s strategy alive. Hitman Go strips the expansive set pieces, convoluted plot, and action over strategy gameplay that’s plagued some recent Hitman games, and brings it down to a literal board game. Like a board game, you take one turn at a time as you try and sneak past guards and kill your target. Even with its minimalist approach, Hitman Go looks great, and it immerses you just like a big-budget Hitman game would. The game shares a lot of similarities with indie favorite Hotline Miami in the sense that you have to learn from your mistakes, so there’s a lot replaying of the same level over and over again. That doesn’t sound fun to some, but it’s definitely rewarding to see your hard work paid off once you succeed.
Slayaway Camp ($3)
Slayaway Camp is a unique game that combines classic horror pastiche with various strategy elements, making for one of the most creative and original gaming experiences for iOS. Originally designed for PC and ported to mobile, the title’s tactical, grid-based gameplay works best on the big screen of an iPad Pro, where you can better observe your environment and make informed choices. In it, you’ll take control of a serial killer and hack your way through a series of levels filled with innocent bystanders. The twist is that Slayaway Camp is a sliding puzzle, one where you’ll continue to move in your chosen direction until hitting an obstacle or killing someone. Careful, though: The game is fairly gory despite its voxelated appearance, and is not intended for young audiences.
Alto’s Odyssey ($5)
A follow up to Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey takes Alto to the desert. The game mirrors the atmosphere of snowboarding but in a new sandy terrain. Complete 180 goals, all while exploring diverse landscapes, including dunes, canyons, and temples. Glide through sandstorms and shooting stars, and meet Alto’s six unique friends. Switch to Zen mode, where there are no scores, coins, or power-ups, just you and the desert.
This beautiful black and white puzzle game was created by two brothers, who also happen to be architects. Starman is a challenging game where you won’t find a single puzzle twice. Guide Starman through breathtaking architectural scenarios with soothing music. The game features feedback on each touch including sound, haptic vibrations, light, and effects.
The Room: Old Sins ($5)
Enter The Room: Old Sins, a first-person tactile exploration with challenging puzzles. You are asked to help figure out why the ambitious engineer and his wife suddenly disappeared and begin by searching for a precious artifact. Discover unsettling secrets and follow obscure clues as you try to solve the mysteries that lie within Waldegrave Manor. The stunning 3D puzzle adventure is matched with a haunting soundtrack and dynamic sound effects.
First released for Xbox One and Windows PC, Inside by Playdead is a haunting adventure game, where a little boy stumbles upon a bizarre scene of people being loaded into trucks. From the same developer as the 2010 game Limbo, both games have eerie visuals, haunting soundtrack, and simple yet powerful animations. The winner of more than 100 awards, Inside is a mesmerizing 2D puzzle sure to terrify and delight.
Leo’s Fortune ($5)
The game is simple: In Leo’s Fortune you need to hunt down the thief that stole your gold. Luckily for you, the thief has dropped gold pieces like breadcrumbs that you can follow through the woods. Featuring 24 levels where you must survive vicious traps and solve physics-based puzzles, Leo’s Fortune is fun for the whole family. The epic journey is showcased best on your iPad Pro.
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