02 Dec 2019
The mobile gamer can look back at 2018 with an affectionate and misty eye, secure in the knowledge that gaming on mobile devices gets more diverse, sophisticated and polished with each year. In this respect, 2019 has also proven to be a banner year on this front.
Roughly speaking, the most exciting upcoming games can be split into three groups: the name-brand mega hits-in-waiting, boardgame adaptations, and indie projects. Read on to see what the who’s who of mobile gaming are cooking up for this year’s treats.
The Best iOS & Android Games of 2019 (So Far)
There’s already been some excellent releases this year, and not all of them were expected/on this list. If you haven’t already, check these games out:
Upcoming Mobile Games 2020
- Commandos 2, which was originally in the main list below, has slipped to 2020 on mobile. It’s still due out on PC this year but speaking to the devs at GamesCom, they’re probably not going to even start testing on mobile until the New Year so we’ve still got some time to wait yet.
- Homeworld Mobile was announced at the same time as Homeworld 3. We’re only guessing at a 2020 release here, but it’s within the realms of possibility.
- Eve Echoes – the EVE Online spin-off is going to go into Open Beta in December, which means we’re look at a general release in 2020.
- Teamfight Tactics Mobile – Riot’s take on Auto Chess is confirmed to be coming to mobile.
- Legends of Runeterra – Riot’s (incredibly belated) answer to Hearthstone. Yay, another CCG…
- League of Legends: Wild Rift – A mobile variant of Legaue of Legends for mobile devices.
- Runescape Mobile – current in Early Access on Google Play if you’re a PC Subscriber. I don’t imagine a full roll-out will be till 2020 but you never know.
- Diablo Immortal – Project is still alive and well as of BlizzCon 2019, but no release date means this is definitely a 2020 release, at least.
- Minecraft Earth – It’s now out in Early Access in most major territories, although the ‘full’ release won’t be till 2020.
- Maze Machina – Arnold Rauers/TinyTouchTales’ current new project. It’s in Alpha right now so we probably won’t be seeing this till 2020.
Space Grunts 2 (Turn-based Strategy/Roguelike)
Release Date: December 3rd, 2019
The original Space Grunts was one of our favourite games back in 2016 – an excellent combination of turn-based strategy with roguelike elements. Now OrangePixel are looking to try and recapture some of that magic with a sequel. Space Grunts 2 brings back that typical turn-based flair with procedural generation, but is now adding a card-based battle and inventory system to shake things up a bit.
It’s currently in Steam Early Access on PC, and the iOS release is expected tomorrow. You should check out OrangePixel’s official YouTube channel for regular dev-logs on how the game is progressing.
Black Desert Mobile (MMORPG)
Official Release: December 11th, 2019
Black Desert Online is a popular free-to-play MMORPG that’s become something of a quiet sensation in the now-desolate realm of PC MMORPGs. With the war officially ‘over’ and World of Warcraft still king, you wouldn’t think they’d be room for another big MMO, but here we are. Black Desert Online is a freemium game that actually balances its free content and premium pricing options really well. It’s also got a lot going for it in terms of quest content, crafting and customisation, not to mention a wide array of interesting classes.
Now the developers want to bring the game to mobile, which is due to happen in December. We imagine the graphics are going to be reduced to faciliate play on tablet and phones, but other than that it’s not 100% clear what the differences will be at the moment. We know ‘MMORPG’ has its own rather negative connotations on mobile devices, but there’s a reason this is so popular on PC so if you’ve been looking for something like WOW on your handheld device, this is as good place as any to start.
Company of Heroes (WW2 Tactical RTS)
Release Date: December?
We don’t deserve Feral Interactive, quite frankly. In a sea of games fighting and struggling against the whims of mobile gamers and business models, here’s a company that decided to just get really good at porting things to iOS, and at the same time decided to get really chummy with companies like SEGA. This is the company that’s brought us Rome: Total War and Tropico to tablets and phones… and now they’re bringing us that most sacred of strategy games, Company of Heroes.
The gold standard of squad-based real-time tactical strategy gaming, and they’re just casually bringing it to your handheld device likes it’s no big deal. We don’t know much about it, at this point, other than it’s still officially due out in 2019… so sometime within the next 29 days. It’s only coming to iPad to start with, as is their tradition with most of their ports. It will also be premium, with no IAPs, and just include the base game content for starters.
Phantom Doctrine (Turn-based Strategy)
Another one a few of us here are really looking forward to. Phantom Doctrine was an attempt to make an XCOM-like game set during the Cold War. You run an international spy agency and you must train up your agents, develop their cover and embed them in locations, as well as engaging in other acts of espionage and intrigue. There’s a ‘base/strategic’ part, and then a turn-based tactical part. What stops this from just being a token nod towards Bond-style espionage is that most turn-based tactical battles can start off peacefully, and even end without a shot being fired provided you do your job well enough.
It’s pretty good, although it was a bit glitchy when it first launched, but provided how well XCOM fits on tablet and mobile, I have no doubt the mobile version of Phantom Doctrine is going to be right up our alley. Considering there was no word of an actual release window, perhaps a 2019 release is a bit ambitious but what the heck, we’re excited!
Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad (Collectable RPG/Battler Thing)
Not sure if this is turn-based or real-time thing – there’s not much information beyond the E3 2019 trailer. Ubisoft will be offering players the chance to assemble a 5-person squad with characters from across their franchises, where you need to collect and upgrade characters and fight in 5v5 battles against either the AI or other players. There’s going to be a single-player story + guild vs. guild warfare.
No release date, but pre-registration is already live so I’m expecting at least a beta or something this year, with perhaps the full release early next year if not by Christmas. I stand by what I said when we originally reported on this though – I think Ubisoft are missing a trick by not making this an Auto Chess game.
Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall (As Above)
Behaviour Interactive (them what made Fallout Shelter) had their own announcement as this year’s E3. In the same vein as Ubisoft’s Elite Squad, BE are working with HBO on Beyond the Wall, another RPG/Strategy/Squad Battler thing. Usually, separate new games sharing the same basic DNA signifies an emerging trend but, again, I think the guys have completely missed the fact that Auto Chess is happening.
Still, all the parts are there to make this a potentially compelling experience – you’ve got to recruit people into the Night’s Watch, go on rangings beyond the Wall and defend said Wall from wildlings. This trying to cash-in on the recently finished television show, there will be some magical based mumbo-jumbo reason to recruit, or collect, famous people from the TV series as well (this game is officially set half a decade before Book 1, so you can imagine there’ll be a bit creative license going on here). Pre-registration is live on both iOS & Android, and so far an open beta has rolled out to users in the Phillipines.
Final Fantasy (Tactical RPG)
We’re lumping two Final Fantasy games into one entry because there’s not much to say on them at the moment. At E3 it was announced that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicle‘s Remaster will also be hitting tablets and smartphones. We’re expecting that to drop in the Winter. Here’s the trailer:
Meanwhile, Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius is getting a tactical RPG spin-off, War of the Visions. We’re not 100% on details or release window yet, but it’s also got a trailer:
Out of the Park GO! (Sports/Management)
While not the all-father of sports sims that is Football Manager, the OOTP Baseball series holds just a firm a place in baseball fans hearts. The mobile incarnation of OOTP has been a series of games called MLB Manager, the most recent of which we reviewed last year. It seems the developer is starting from scratch for the next iteration, even re-branding it to become OOTP GO! Here’s what they have to say about it:
OOTP Go! will be free to play, which includes full access to Perfect Team and the ability to create and play fictional solo leagues. The current MLB rosters are a $4.99 in-app purchase, international leagues will be $1.99 each and historical MLB seasons will be (as usual) $0.99 (plus there will be bundles available for a reduced price).
Last thing we heard a public beta for it was due to start soon, so we’ll be amazed if it still manages to release this year. Coming to both iOS & Android.
Dire Wolf Digital (Board Game)
This isn’t the name of a game, but the name of a company that announced this year they’re making a bucket-load of digital board game adaptations. Because we only have the announcement text to go on, we’ve decided to keep the new games all in one place until we know more. The company recently released their first offering from the list, Raiders of the North Sea, at the end of July. We’re not sure if they’ll be able to release many more before the year is out, but here’s the remaining ports they have on their slate:
- Mage Knights – It’s worth noting this is the first step in a bigger agreement with WizKids, so it’s likely we’ll be seeing more announcements this year.
- Wings of Glory – A popular table-top aerial skirmish game.
- Sagrada – A dice drafting game about creating works of art.
- Root – the recent Kickstarter sensation about asymmetrical warfare in the woods.
We’ll update as we learn more.
Terraforming Mars (Boardgame)
Terraforming Mars sounds like a noble goal for all of humanity. In reality, the game is a push-and-pull competition for corporations to garner by prestige by…terraforming Mars. Three categories: oxygen, temperature and ocean coverage dictate the endgame, but to get there, players will reshape the red planet into a bright blue hope. It’s a Euro though-and-though: precisely balanced, intricately co-dependent and inevitably point-based. But the close match between theme and mechanic makes this game deeply satisfying and intuitive to learn and explain, and the action selection mechanic is uniquely innovative and inspired. Just when I think boardgame design is tapped out, something truly exceptional rises to the top.
A limited beta was in progress on mobile, but then the developer went bankrupt. Last we heard Asmodee Digital have retained the rights and assets to the mobile version so hopefully they’ll be able to get a new developer on board sharpish. Whether we see this by the end of the year though is anyone’s guess.
Impossible Bottles (Rhythm/Action)
Various robots move about in their bottles and raging about like a bull in a china shop. Each level presents one of these Impossible Bottles for the player to fix by manipulating the environment and repairing the situation, or at the very least soothing its sole occupant. A scientist built these robots as part of a perpetual motion machine for unlimited energy, but they don’t quite work as is. The secret to fixing everything is music, or in gameplay terms: rhythm.
One-touch gameplay and lush, fantastic art: it was slated with a mid-year release which obviously hasn’t happened yet, and we’ve yet to hear anything else about it.
Heaven’s Vault (Interactive Fiction)
We’re not sure what’s going on with Inkle’s of 80 Days interactive fiction fame) newest game Heaven’s Vault. It’s currently available on Steam and Playstation, and a Switch version is planned for 2020. As for mobile? Who knows. I’ve been worrying that the Switch is stealing some mobile ports, although you never know – Apple Arcade might change that now.
An archaeologist-slash-xenolinguist explores the dusty remains of an alien civilization on an unknown planet, with a vivid backdrop of sienna sand and celestial blue. There’s some pretty nifty procedural tricks behind the code-breaking and translation, and while its approach to storytelling is a little less handcrafted, it has the potential to have even more surprises and replayability than the globe-trotting 80 Days.
Other Missing Games From 2018
As a reminder, here is a quick list of some other games we were expecting last year, but never turned up on mobile:
- Exodus: Proxima Centauri (Boardgame)
- Epic Card Game (Card Game)
- Lord of the Rings Living Card Game (Card Game) (Out now on PC)
- Monster Slayers (Card Game)
- EVE: War of Ascension (MMO) (Possibly replaced by EVE: Echoes?)
Seen any other games coming out this year you’re excited about? Let us know in the comments.