We’re halfway through the year, folks, and we’ve already seen some absolutely mind-boggling games explode on the Play Store charts.
But there’s so much more to come, and with so many major titles in android gaming scheduled for release in the second half of 2019, we thought we’d take another look at what you should be most amped up for.
So without further ado, here are the 10 best upcoming Android games of 2019 we’re routinely freaking out over:
5. Minecraft: Earth
- Pricing: Free-to-Play
- Developer: Microsoft
- Genre: Augmented Reality
- Release Date: Closed Beta out this summer
Remember that time the human race drank deep from the Nostalgia-Goblet and lost 20 pounds playing Pokemon GO! Yeah, of course, you do. We all do shudder. That was a crazy time, man. I mean, I went outside!
Well, get those sneakers on, and preferably some pants too, because it’s about to go down — again — with Minecraft: Earth.
Minecraft Earth in most respects operates like the original: Collect blocks and items, build ridiculous whatever-you-wants and fight a variety of polygonal mobs along the way. Where it gets crazy is how well Minecraft: Earth has merged that concept with AR.
First of all, the graphics are sick. The textures, spatial awareness and placement consistency all off the charts. Whatever you build really sticks where it’s supposed to be when you move your phone around, genuinely displaying like a real-world object you can only see through your phone (albeit with the trademark Minecraft art-style, of course).
You can make stuff at home, carry it outside, and then inflate it up to absolutely massive. Your creations are constructed on ‘Build Plates,’ a small space where you can work on the thingamajig right in front of you. But then you can scale it up to life-size (i.e. a castle that’s the size of… a freakin’ castle).
In terms of embracing the possibilities of AR, Minecraft: Earth seems to be what Pokemon GO! would have evolved into (more on that later). But whether Minecraft: Earth will be able to capture the same, surreal level of hysteria Pokemon GO! did at the height of its power remains to be seen — however, from the brief snippets we’ve caught, the game looks like something with the potential for much more rewarding and deeper, more multi-faceted gameplay.
Most of us jumped on the Pokemon GO! Bandwagon because it a) was a delicious dose of nostalgia and b) touched on an ever-dormant desire from our childhood to put magical creatures into very small containers and have them engage in the fantasy-equivalent of an MMA match. And it was awesome while it lasted (not long). And while Minecraft: Earth might not have that going for it, what it does have is a faithful integration of a beloved classic with a brand new medium.
Using the same construction mechanisms that made the original game so great, and coupling that with a sprinkling of dangerous Minecraft mobs across your neighborhood, there simply seems like more to do than any AR game before. You know, if you’re willing to leave your house, like, ever.
- Probably the best grasp of AR yet
- Its real, legit Minecraft
Who should be excited
Anybody who likes the original will probably be stoked over how faithfully the core concepts have been ported to mobile and how well Minecraft: Earth grasps the new AR medium. It strings together well the old with the new and capitalizes effectively on the possibilities AR provides.
Anybody who’s ever played an AR game, whether its the new Angry Birds, Pokemon GO! or whatever that game was that came out before it was called (Ingress?) will be utterly blown away by how much sleeker Minecraft: Earth melds with the technology. Seriously, it’s pretty crazy.
- Sign up for Updates from Minecraft: Earth here
- Watch official trailer
- Watch the mindblowing demo of Minecraft: Earth at the WWDC
4. Diablo: Immortal
- Pricing: Unannounced, expected Free-to-Play with In-App Purchases
- Developer: Blizzard
- Genre: Dungeon Crawler, MMO, Fantasy
- Release Date: Unannounced
Okay, you win, Blizzard. We officially recognize you as High King of the Cinematic Trailer. The beautiful animation for Diablo: Immortal features not only the worst day at work for a classic bearded-badass who looks like he’s on just… all of the roids… and an OP Mage who probably should’ve shown up a minute or two earlier, but also showcases just how seriously Blizzard takes the visual quality of their games — even on the phone.
For a mobile game, Diablo: Immortal burns the house down with absolutely stellar, eye-popping graphics and overall comes across as an upgrade of every classic dungeon crawler with a few key additions that haven’t been done before. Some longtime fans of the Diablo series itself might be peeved that the latest official installment of the franchise is housed on the phone, but Android gamers, in general, should be stoked about the pure quality that Blizzard is putting on the table with Diablo: Immortal.
Choose from one of six classes as you and a group of other players storm multiple, distinct play-zones and send Hell’s worst citizens straight to… I don’t know, Hell? There are also peaceful zones where you can socialize, recruit people to team up with, or just stop and smell the blood-soaked roses. But who plays Diablo for peacetime? I mean its called Diablo.
Diablo: Immortal’s six classes feature familiar faces for those acquainted with the Diablo universe, with Barbarian (Classic Warrior), Monk (Squishy, HIgh Damage/Mobility), Crusader (Supertank), Wizard (Gee, I wonder what they do), Demon Hunters (A ranged, crossbow-wielding murderer of night-creatures—wait, so… Vayne from League of Legends?) and Necromancers (who you should never ask for a raise. Get it? Get it? Ah, I’m here all week, folks!
One of the coolest features of Diablo: Immortal is the ability to combine moves with other players, resulting in unique gameplay effects and adding a new dimension to teamwork beyond ‘since we’re all in the same room, let us aim at the small ones first, then the big one. Also, heal me.’
So expect things to get pretty crazy: early footage shows up to ten players operating in a single group, which means lots of eye candy and more emphasis on decision making than pure button-mashing.
- Insane Graphics
- Tried and Tested Game Design
- Overall Production Quality
Who should be excited
While in its broadest strokes, Diablo: Immortal seems like nothing out of the ordinary in terms of game mechanics — enter dungeon, slay all that moves — what makes it stand out is it just seems… well, better the way the Note 9 is better than the 8.
The class system looks deeper than any of its dungeon crawling counterparts, the graphics are simply peerless, and its story is official Diablo canon with it being treated as a genuine, standalone installment in the overall series. So if you’re a fan of the Diablo franchise, a fan of quality dungeon crawlers, or just a fan of gaming in general who wants to see the next step in a major genre, you’ve got more than a few reasons to be excited for Diablo: Immortal.
- Their dope official page with that insane Cinematic Trailer, sign-up options, and other info
- Some sick gameplay footage from the official Diablo YouTube channel
3. RuneScape (the new one, not the old one)
- Pricing: Free-to-Play with a Monthly Subscription for expanded privileges
- Developer: Jagex
- Genre: MMORPG, Open World, PvP
- Release date: Expected in Summer 2019
While original RuneScape is far from new, the mobile port of modern RuneScape (or RuneScape 3 rather, as it is the latest iteration of the game dating all the way back to 2001) is big, big news for mobile gaming. Old-School RuneScape, with its choppy 2.5D graphics, was one of the forerunners of browser-based gaming back in a time when flash games were really your only option if you didn’t want to download anything, and back then it was huge.
A lot of us remember mining ore like it was a full-time job, living under constant fear of being hacked, and savoring the adrenaline rush that came with its open world PvP zones where defeat meant losing everything. Everything. Seriously, Old School RuneScape PvP made more children cry than the Crocodile Hunter being stabbed to death by a stingray.
The new-school version of RuneScape with its enhanced graphics and new features coming to mobile is great news for those looking for a real, full-fledged MMORPG to play on their phone so they can never get any work done again. The best thing about RuneScape is how flexible it is; whatever you want out of an MMORPG, RuneScape has it. Crafting, Questing, Combat, PvP, Exploration, it can accommodate all tastes.
There is a massive world built for exploration without any level restrictions; a quest system that leans on compelling storytelling with none of that ‘go kill 3000 Storm Goblins for some delicious experience!’ nonsense; 27 crazy diverse skills to master all the way from the predictable Strength, Defense, Magic and Crafting to the totally unique and unexpected like Prayer, Dungeoneering, Firemaking, Construction, Divination and a bunch of other wacky skills.
The possibilities are endless. If you want to go full fledged murder-machine and slay dragons, demons and subterranean skeletons or you prefer to go a more Martha Stewart route and focus on cooking, crafting and artisan skills, go for it! Do whatever you want! You have a huge open world to explore without level locks.
If you want a game with a huge player base, sick PvP, and tons of game-related content with an active, engaging community to boot, the door’s open now. And the best part is, now you can do all of this on the toilet! Ah, technology.
One thing to keep in mind however, is that while the game can deliver many hours of fun and adventure without paying the monthly $8 (or $40 for 6 months) subscription fee, most of the game is reserved for paying members with greatly expanded freedom of movement, access to exclusive skills and quests, members-only mini-games, and a bunch of other stuff.
- Vast Open World
- A plethora of gameplay possibilities
- Legit Cross-Platform capability
Who should be excited
Anybody who’s been dying for the clouds to part and a legit MMORPG with some actual depth to descend into the Play Store. This is a game developed for the PC that’s coming to mobile, so what you’re getting is a real deal MMORPG that you can scoop hours and hours of fun out of.
- Sign up for updates and notifications
- Check out the full RuneScape website
- If you’re feeling adventurous or perhaps nostalgic, check out the old-school RuneScape website
2. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Pricing: Free to Play, probably In-App Purchases
- Developer: Niantic
- Release Date: Latter half of 2019
- Genre: Augmented Reality, Fantasy
Niantic proffers the nostalgia goblet once again for you to sip from with yet another AR Game-Franchise tie-up to check out this year: Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (A.K.A one more attempt to get gamers some tan-lines).
Harry Potter fans will be undoubtedly be nerd-happy to see a lot of the original characters from both the flagship series (Hedwig! Where are you! Hedwig!) and the Fantastic Beasts timeline, along with familiar spells, magical beasts, artifacts and fully immersive 360° AR locations like Ollivander’s Wand Shop, apparently. Whether or not it turns out to be cash-grab remains to be seen, but there seems to be some promise to Niantic’s latest tie-up.
Game-wise, The first thing you’ll notice is how strikingly similar the underlying mechanics are to Pokemon GO! — except, in this case, it’s a wand hovering at the bottom of the screen and you can throw a heck of a lot more than pokeballs this time around.
Basically the objective in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is seeking out magical artifacts called Foundables that have spilled into the world muggles, using Spells to defeat/disarm the Confounding Magic that guards them and then returning said Foundables to the world of wizards. Because muggles just aren’t allowed any fun.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite actually has some cool RPG elements too, with three unique professions to choose from, each with a unique skill-set and their own strengths and weakness: Aurors, Magizoologists, and Professors.
These three classes essentially boil down to a rock-paper-scissors paradigm with their three respective enemy types: Dark Forces, Beasts, and Curiosities (they might not sound threatening at first, but wait until you find out what Curiosities do to cats). The setup is as follows:
- Aurors: Strong against Dark Forces, Weak to Beasts
- Magizoologists: Strong against Beasts, Weak to Curiosities
- Professors: Strong against Curiosities, Weak to Dark Forces
It goes a little deeper than that too, with skill trees independent of professions and a host of items to up your game with, but like original Pokemon, it equates to an extra-complex game of roshambo.
Also, You can consider “Inns” the new Pokestops, where players can obtain useful items like potions etc, and like Foundables they are more likely to spawn in high traffic, high population areas. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s basically Go Harry Pokemon Unite! But cool nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the actual combat mechanics look pretty dope too, and seem a lot more robust than PO-GO! ever was. In Wizards Unite, spells are cast by tracing their unique glyph fast and accurately (i.e. actual skill) and force you to rely on fast-twitch reflexes to defend against counters.
There’s also more room for multiplayer combat than its predecessor with the inclusion of Fortresses, where you and your friends (or, if those are in short supply, strangers who just so happen to be around work too) can team up on difficult opponents like Death Eaters, Dementors, Werewolves, etc.
- Delivers in every way Pokemon GO! did and then some
- Bound to make a huge splash
Who should be excited
- Potter fans should be the most excited
- Mobile gamers in general
Wizards Unite’s got a lot to offer mobile gamers from all walks of the Play Store; from its interesting RPG elements to the impressive Fruit-Ninja-on-Steroids combat system.
Plus this game should be enticing to anybody who genuinely enjoyed those strange, strange days when people were quitting their jobs to travel the world playing Pokemon GO! and want to be a part of the next potential wave of crazy that confirms everyone’s suspicion that millennials are losing their minds.
- Official page for early-sign up or see a well-produced but inexplicably gameplay-free trailer
- A fleeting glimpse at their gameplay where you can really see its Pokemon GO! roots
1. Dead Cells
- Pricing: Probably a one-time flat fee somewhere around 10 bucks (USD).
- Developer: Motion Twin
- Genre: Sidescrolling Chaos, Utter Madness, Awesomeness
- Release Date: Probably sometime this summer
There are games, and then there are games. Dead Cells is possibly the most exciting game to expect this summer for Android. Sure, it might not utilize emerging technology like Minecraft: Earth and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite or come from an insanely high pedigree like Diablo: Immortal (side note: seriously, what’s with the colons in gaming titles?) but the maddening, scouter-shattering levels of fun the mobile port of Dead Cells is set to deliver is hands down second to none.
There exists nothing more frantic, more gratifying, more perfect in its simplicity than this critically acclaimed smash-hit from indie-developer Motion Twin. Often likened to an amalgamation of Metroidvania and Dark Souls, Dead Cells sets you up as a recently reanimated headless corpse in the Prisoner’s Chamber of a strange, zombie-monster infested castle that is never the same twice.
You will literally feel parts of your brain lighting up as the game grabs ahold of you and sends you on a fast-paced, hacking, slashing, side-scrolling killing-spree through a dozen levels of colorful insanity towards a monstrous final boss. The gameplay is so slick, so smooth, so fast it quickly transforms into a primal, dopamine-fueled rush of monster-murder and mayhem so sublime that addictive isn’t even the right word.
In Dead Cells, the levels are never the same twice but don’t suffer from the same bland disorder most procedurally generated games end up with. The gorgeous, eye-popping art-style is perfect for the high octane nature of the game.
The story, for what little of it exists, is intriguing and speaks to the creativity behind every fact of the game. I mean you’re a headless corpse resurrected by a slimeball of green goo! Come on! Move over Red Dead Redemption, that’s what I call storytelling!
As you progress through the game, you collect powerups, bonuses, and abilities that incrementally make you stronger and unlock new pathways through the levels until you are Lord Murdercrush, Bringer of Colorful Death himself.
Dead Cells also ingeniously encourages a high risk, high reward play-style using elements like Timed Doors that only open if you reach them fast enough—nudging players to tap into Dead Cell’s absolutely ridonkulous potential for mayhem. After enough artful chaos, you bring everything you’ve learned, earned, and acquired to battle with a terrifying final boss who will push your death-bringing capabilities to the limit.
Oh, and did we mention there’s Perma-Death? We didn’t, did we? Yeah. If at any point during your descent into side-scrolling Ragnarok you slip up, miss that jump or get hit by that wayward grenade — you’re dead. Dead dead.
Like start over from the beginning dead. But that’s exactly what makes Dead Cells so special, and why we’re so excited it’s coming to Android sometime this summer (probably). At every moment, all the progress you’ve made balances on knifepoint, and yet you must remain the eye in the hurricane: a bastion of calm order within the swirling chaos that is Dead Cells.
And besides, even if you do make it through on your first run (you won’t) your reward is a replay and starting over anyway (though there are permanent bonuses you can acquire that unlock new possibilities every run through) — but again, there is no ‘starting over’ when its never the same game twice. So go! The moment Dead Cells is up on the Play Store, download the hell out of it and buckle up because it’s going to be a wild ride.
- Nigh-limitless replay value
- Simply so. much. fun.
Who should be excited
- Everyone without a heart condition
- The frantic official mobile trailer
- The official website where you can sign to be notified when mobile’s released
You favorite of the lot?