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The Best Word Game Apps on iOS and Android

Like puzzle games, word apps are synonymous with ‘gaming on the go.’ They are often designed with a life on the move in mind. Any given round of word finding, or letter stacking can last just long enough to span the wait for a morning coffee. This sort of quick convenience has led to a devaluation of word games. We don’t respect them like we should. We are wrong.

Want to check out some non-word puzzle games? We’ve got you covered!

There are some incredible word games available in the palms of our hands, but with the massive crush of content that hits the App Store and Google Play store every day, it’s very difficult to find them. Fret no longer, we’ve curated a list of the must play word games available to mobile platforms, so you don’t have to.

Reader Recommendations

We don’t get a chance to play every game, especially ones released prior to a list’s first creation, but that’s where our readers come in. Here’s a quick summary of some reader recommendations, in case you’re looking to anything beyond what we’ve got below:

  • W.E.L.D.E.R.
  • WindWord (pictured)
  • V Words

TypeShift

Developer: Zach Gage
Platforms:  iOSAndroid
Price: Free with IAP

TypeShiftWG

One of Zach Gage’s unique creations, TypeShift focuses on redesigning the good old crossword puzzle. Columns of letters can be slid back and forth to create a series of words among them on a central row. Every time a letter is used in a word, they turn green. You pass the stage when all of the available letters are turned green. Sounds easy enough, but of course it’s not. Other modes, like Clue Mode, bring it further in line with the traditional crossword.  Either way, a few rounds of it, and you’ll be scratching your head in the best possible way.

Alphabears 2 (Review)

Developer: Spry Fox
Platforms: iOS UniversalAndroid
Price: Free

alphabear 2 header

Following on from something as a sequel isn’t always an easy experience – it can be quite easy to lose sight of what made the original great in the first place. Alphabears 2 has no such issues however, and is comfortably a better game than its predecessor in almost every way. It has an in-game dictionary, more interaction and play modes and it’s only real draw-back is its monetisation.

It’s definitely fairer than the original game, but even buying the full version doesn’t remove the timers or other freemium-like mechanics. Still, this is an incredibly smart word app that any puzzle aficionado should at least try, if not out-right purchase.

Developer: Fowers Games
Platforms:  iOS Universal, Android
Price: $4.99

Hardback best wrod games

This deck-building word game would feel just at home on our list of best card games as it would here, but since Hardback’s central twist is that cards are only playable in a Scrabble-esque system of dictionary-friendly sets, we feel it’s apt to list is here. The sequel to 2016’s Paperback, the key thing to remember about this game is that you can’t play it as ‘just’ a word game.

The beauty of Hardback is that you’re not just out to score long, multi-lettered words, you’re out to play cards that combo well together to acheive high scores. This can be as simple as collecting a great set of cards that just say ‘OFF’, or indeed bagging a great collection for a longer word. The limitations to playing cards as words adds a challenging yet interesting twist to a classic game-type. Main changes over the first iteration include tweaks to Wild Cards, Special Abilities and additional card draw.

Supertype

Developer: Philipp Stollenmayer
Platforms:  iOS, Android
Price: $1.99

Supertype

We get accustomed to the sort of word games that have us finding and planted letters to make words. If we’re feeling particularly creative, we find word games that are just complex versions of word finds or crosswords set in some other sort of puzzle motif. In Supertype, words are tools. After typing a word, the letters fall through the obstacle course below, the goal being to find the right letters to roll or slide through the right nooks and crannies in order to burst the target dots below. On harder puzzles, making sure your word has skinny enough letters in the right places is key to shimmying into victory.

Wordgraphy

Developer: Alper Iskender
Platforms: iOS
Price: Free with IAPs

WordgraphyWG

Wordgraphy takes the old trope of unscrambling arrays of letters to make new words and crosses it with some Sudoku elements. Words line the outside of the table, and letters can only be switched with letters in the same position as other letter groups on each side. For example, the second letter in a five letter array at the top of the square board can only be swapped with the second letter of another of the other for arrays lining the other side. The result is a clever word construction gimmick that keeps you guessing and tests the depth of your own vocabulary very quickly.

BAIKOH

Developer: Mum Not Proud
Platforms: iOS, Android
Price: Free with IAPs

BAIKOHWG

Take the pressure of a gradually filling space that has to be emptied by you, the intrepid player, a la Tetris. Combine the added bonus stress of each falling piece being a letter that needs to be used to create words as fast as you can. Then sprinkle on top a narrator that has an aggressive ire towards you, and you have all the ingredients for BAIKOH. Falling letters can come with added attributes as well, like frozen ones that will gradually freeze other letters, making them harder to remove. Unlockable badges can help even out the playing field, but this is a hard game meant to push your reflexes and critical thinking skills to the limit and break them on rapid occasion.

Sidewords

Developer: Milkbag Games
Platforms: iOS, Android
Price: $2.99

SlidewordsWG

Taking words and making other words out of them is nothing new in the genre, but Sidewords commands a new, brain-bending approach to the concept. On the top and to the left of a grid are two words. The size of those words determines the size of the grid, which each letter creating a row or column. Using the letters of the two words, you must make new words of course. But the twist is that the words you make take up the spots on the grid where those letters intersect. You have to fill the whole grid with words to move on, so using a lot of letters to make a word can take up a lot of real estate in the grid, making it hard to create words with the scraps. Strategy and spatial awareness are key.

Spelltower

Developer: Zach Gage
Platforms:  iOS
Price: $2.99

SpelltowerWG

Before Zach Gage was upending billiards, he was setting the word game world one fire with entries like Spelltower. Take your average Sunday paper word finding puzzle and add that block-crushing Tetris mechanic that we all know and lover. New letters file in from the bottom, and you must find words with adjacent letters to removed them from the ever growing pile. Different game modes alter the many mechanics at play, including a clever multiplayer mode that burdens your opponent with your current tower of words when you score.

Puzzlejuice

Developer: Sirvo LLC
Platforms: iOS
Price: $1.99

PuzzlejuiceWG

A brainchild from Asher Vollmer, of Threes! fame, Puzzlejuice takes the best parts of Boggle and Tetris and slaps them together to make something that is much more challenging than the sum of its parts. Colorful shapes drop into the field like Tetris, and as you form lines or match colors, they turn into letters. To remove the blocks, you must turn those letters into words. There’s a lot going on at once, and as difficulties unlock, and different play modes open up, this becomes one of the most brain-turning games on the App store.

Hall of Fame

This list is a little smaller than others, so we’re not in a place where we need to think about rotation just yet. Still, there are some previous great releases that deserve remembering, even if they’re not going to make it onto the list itself.

What would your list of the best word-puzzle games look like? Let us know in the comments!

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The Weekender: Civil War Edition

I’m still unnecessarily upset over the fact that Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare still isn’t available in the UK. I mean, gacha nonsense should all get in the sea, but if I’m actually willing to try one out for the greater good of mankind, the least it could do it be available in my region. Oh well, guess I’ll have to settle for Pokemon Masters instead whenever that comes out.

It’s been another list-heavy week this week, so apologies for that, although we did review Beholder 2 and learn that Company of Heroes is coming to iPad. Also, make sure you catch up on what games are still due to release this year. Next week is GamesCom so I’ll be out in Cologne – it may be I’ll need to do some more placeholder content mid-week but I’ll be able to work as normal by and large so if a review or feature does come in, I’ll still put it up.

Out Now

Orc’s Civil War (iPad) – Full Review In Progress

This game came out of nowhere – I have to tip my hat off to Touch Arcade’s round-up for this one as I’d honestly never heard of it until it was released. The game claims to be “the best” iPad RTS game, and it’s a claim I’m eager to put to the test.

It seems very much like a passion project made by a single person, and that person may not speak English as their first language. Still, the graphics aren’t too bad all things considered, and it seems to mix elements of RTS and Tower Defence, with some advanced unit behaviour mechanics thrown in there too. We’ll get a review out as soon as we can, since the price point is unusually high. There’s an official website you can check out too.

Spy Tactics (iOS & Android) – Full Review in Progress

This is the other game of note this week – while it’s listed as ‘free’ there’s actually an IAP to unlock the full game. Spy Tactics caught my eye as it reminds me of the GO titles that Square made, which were pretty excellent puzzle/tactics games. This one has a spy/cold war aesthetic which some may enjoy, and boasts over 40 levels with multiple routes to completion.

The trailer is from the PC version on Steam, although admittedly it doesn’t serve as the best advertisement. We’ll see what Michael thinks when he’s done with his review.

That’s about it as far as interesting new games is concerned. I took the liberty of trying out Warhammer Combat Cards after it released this week. It’s… well, not really sure how to describe it. Utterly harmless, but also very skippable. It’s essentially a collect-em-all battle game using cards. Except they’re not really cards they’re just pictures of really nicely painted Warhammer 40K miniatures with some stats. You can have up to three on the board at once, and you fight it out. Winning battles gets you more cards, and if you get a dupe you can use it to upgrade a card… and the cycle continues. That’s it. That’s all you do.

There may be some tactical depth in terms of building your mini-deck and how different cards synergies together, but to be honest it feels like a subtle plug for the table-top game. Another RPG card battler released this week is Traitor’s Empire Card RPG. The graphics aren’t amazing, but it’s got a lot more to it and so might be more worthy of your time.

Updates & Other Junk

There’s been a few updates worth looking at this week:

Six Ages: Ride like the Wind received its first update since last November. It introduces a new interactive scene, some gameplay tweaks and fixes, and then improves compatibility for specific devices like the iPhone 4, and the large iPads.

Now that there are several major Auto Chess contenders on mobile, we’re finally starting to see some more creative updates and new modes. Chess Rush is the latest game to try something new with a new 4v4 mode called Squad Clash. It’s similar to the already introduced Co-op mode, just with more people. You can send your pieces to other people’s boards to help them out in their fights. Once Squad Clash has had some time to settle in, it will be put into a rotation with co-op mode where they will alternate.

Pokemon Masters’ impending release can be seen on the horizon, and there’s apparently going to be a lot of us that will be jumping on board when the collect-and-battle game gets its global roll-out. Recent news suggests 5 Million of us have pre-registered for the game across iOS and Android. That’s a lot of trainers.

While we’re sharing trainers, how about looking at some Commandos 2 HD footage? If you’ll remember, we posted up just after E3 about how Kalypso Media are doing remasters of both Commandos 2 and Praetorians, both of which are classic strategy games. While this is mainly a thing for PC audiences, Commandos 2 HD is also coming to iOS and Android. Kalypso recently shared some new gameplay footage (albeit, PC) which I thought you’d all be interested in.

Sales

There’s quite a few more sales this week than usual, so let’s run through them. Unless stated otherwise, assume both platforms:

  • Lost Portal CCG (iOS Only) is down to $0.99 for the first time this year.
  • Pocket City has also had its priced reduced for the first time this year on both platforms, but it has been cheaper.
  • Mystic Vale was only released in June, but it’s already been discounted by a couple of dollars on both platforms, probably to coincide with the release of some new DLC.
  • Clarusvictoria are doing a sale on their entire catalogue on both iOS and Android. You’ll remember them recently from Egypt: Old Kingdom.
  • Cosmic Express has had its price reduced for the first time this year, but it’s been cheaper.
  • If there are any Baseball fans out there, R.B.I. Baseball ‘19 is down to $3.99 on iOS and Android.
  • Last but certainly not least, Titan Quest HD is also reduced to just below half price.

Seen anything else you liked? Played any of the above? Let us know in the comments!

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Company of Heroes will be storming iPad like its Normandy Later This Year

By Joe Robinson 15 Aug 2019

Company of Heroes will live on forever as the most iconic tactical RTS in the history of strategy games. Not only is it one of the best WW2 strategy games, it’s one of the best games period. Probably.

Smartly evolving the rather old-school base-building idea into one that perfectly fits with realities of the Normandy campaign, it also brought with it a very versatile tactical interface where the lives of your units mattered, and exploiting the terrain was key to victory.

It’s a series that has few rivals, and now it’s coming to iPad thanks to those mad folks over at Feral Interactive. Queue trailer:

These are the guys that’s brought over games like Tropico and Rome: Total War (along with both its expansions), so they should know a thing or two about porting over well-loved strategy franchises. Here’s what we know for certain:

  • It’s coming ‘This Fall’.
  • It will be a premium game with no IAPs.
  • It will be iPad only to start with.

This is par-the-course with how Feral have ported things in the past: iPad first, then iPhone and then if we’re lucky, an Android port will follow at some-point as well. The IAP thing is fine, but remember Company of Heroes did have two expansions, one of which added the British Army (which was always my favourite) so it’ll be interesting to see whether those are also in the works, and whether they’ll be released as stand-alones a la RTW’s Barbarian Invasion and Alexander add-ons.

Regardless, this is exciting news – only yesterday I was lamenting how the Nintendo Switch seemed to be stealing all of our decent strategy games, and now Feral swoop in to brighten our day. We’ll give you more info as we get it.

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Opinion: The Nintendo Switch is beating out mobile to some of our favourite strategy games

By Joe Robinson 14 Aug 2019

The Nintendo Switch represents an interesting question for an Editor like myself. It’s not a new question – Nintendo’s hand-held consoles have always kind of been a potential new area to look at for a website that focuses on ‘mobile’ gaming, even though I’d argue that ‘mobile’ has a more narrow definition than ‘handheld’. Still, it’s ‘close enough’ territory and a place where we could try to grow our audience if we felt the need.

In the past, we’ve been saved from having to address with this issue because the 3DS and the handhelds before it pretty much didn’t cater to the same people we did. Every now and then you’d get one decent game but generally what I’d consider ‘serious’ strategy games largely didn’t appear on the 3DS. Not enough to warrant dedicated coverage anyway.

nintendo switch firmware update 8.0

When the Nintendo Switch release in 2017 I still largely overlooked it on the same grounds as before (and also because it was being billed as a home console as much as a ‘handheld’ console), but in the past couple of years there’s been a steady trickle of games porting themselves over that you wouldn’t have seen before on the handhelds of old. Civilization 6, Bad North… even board games like Pandemic are making the crossover. We’ve been expecting a mobile port of Bad North since it was announced, it’s worth pointing out. In general I’m noticing a trend where Switch ports are now more likely than a mobile port.

It’s possible that the Switch, with it’s quasi-handheld status, is a more attractive proposition than even an iOS port. There’s a much narrower hardware set, and despite the wonders of modern tablet and phone technically the Switch is a more bespoke gaming machine, so I imagine development is easier. It’s a closed ecosystem like iOS, but it’s one where anyone who owns a switch is happy shelling out premium money for a copy of their chosen game. As a new game Fire Emblem: Three Houses is selling for £40-£50. Would an iOS user pay that if it suddenly turned up on iOS?

civilization vi ipad

Fairer examples would be to look at games like Civilization 6 and Bad North. 2K have stuck to their guns with regards pricing of Civ 6 on iOS, which is to their credit – I wonder how many people have bought the game at that price on Switch vs. iOS. Bad North is available $14.99 as a digital download from the Switch. It’s not unheard of for mobile games to cost this much but if Bad North’s mobile version ever does turn up it’ll be interesting to see what its price-point will be. Again, I can’t help but wonder at the different demographic attitudes towards pricing.

Our friends at Touch Arcade and Pocket Gamer have long embraced consistent Switch coverage, and I hope it’s served them well. I’m not against the concept myself, but I know it’d stretch our resources and a part of me still sees the value in being a website wholly dedicated to iOS and Android games. But I think we might start paying closer attention to the Switch.

Don’t expect any big changes overnight – for now I’ll leave the heavy lifting to our sister website Strategy Gamer. Everyone’s been talking about the new Fire Emblem lately, but I hadn’t fully appreciated the calibre of strategy games available on the Switch until I had one of my writers put together a list for us. Some, like Valkyria Chronicles 4, is probably a bit beyond the specs of your average tablet or phone, but there’s still plenty on this list that we also have on mobile (or we were expecting but hasn’t turned up yet.) Maybe we’ll experiment with some one-off features here on PT, but we’ve got our hands full keeping top of the mobile-first release schedule to worry about reviews.

What are your thoughts on the Switch, as a console on its own and as a potential rival for iOS/Android gaming?

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Beholder 2 Review

Beholder 2 is nothing if not ambitious, even from the get-go. Its opening scene sets the stage for a cinematic tragedy that springs the plot into motion. Evan Redgrave, the distant son of a prominent Ministry official, comes to fill a post at the shadowy Ministry and discover the truth of his father’s legacy. To get to that grand, juicy finale, though, he has to move up the corporate ladder while paying rent and maintaining a patriotic facade. It’s a story-driven dystopian game about the soul-crushing drudgery of the daily grind and bureaucratic evils. So, yes, the black-and-white scheme here might look like a moral frame, too, and not just an aesthetic one. Beholder 2 is a marked improvement on its predecessor but its wonky control scheme and unpredictable tone make for a diminished experience.

The first game played out like Rear Window writ large, with more gadgets. It had a claustrophobic feeling, with constant surveillance of your neighbors being mandatory for pure survival. You had to try to feed your kids, satisfy your wife, grow close to the neighbors all while pleasing the State and its constant demands for intel. From a mechanics standpoint, the constant real-time clock made the game feel like a real bummer. Survival got in the way of story immersion. Well, the sequel has a totally new approach. First of all, ‘time’ is a discrete resource spent on tasks, so the game has become a management sim rather than a frantic click-fest.

Beholder 2 1

The other big change is the location and camera. Beholder 2 is now populated with scenes and people in serviceable 3D, though its 2.5D environment is still a matter of shuffling back and forth linearly. It uses some tricks of perspective and depth to make the building seem like one endless slab. To earn money and authority, you need to excel at both Evan’s day-job, listening to citizen concerns and filing the pertinent paperwork to refer them to the proper authorities, as well as the various sidequests and tricks used to generate authority. It’s technical enough to be thought-intensive, but the demands are all mundane and run the gamut from existential to trifling. Oh, and your work-buddies are rife with their own insecurities and weaknesses, which Beholder 2 encourages you to exploit for personal gain.

And there’s the rub. In a broken system where the framework for justice and truth have been systematically dismantled and replaced by the rules and needs of a central State and its eternal (literally?) Wise Ruler, any kind of moral compromises are just necessary. Put simply, the game is full of people just struggling to get by, keeping their heads down and their hands (relatively) clean. But our dear Evan is stirring the pot, and to do this he risks losing his head to upset the status quo and get to the truth of his father’s death. Beholder 2 mixes the grand classic sense of good-vs-evil moral absolutism with a pragmatic sense of survival.

Beholder 2 2

So it’s about boredom and the banality of evil. It constantly tempts the player to try to white-knight some situations and black-hat others, and this whiplash is only made possible because every player is holding out for the mythic ‘Good Ending,’ traditionally gated by the purest, nicest choices possible. Well, throw that ideology out the window, because Beholder 2 cares not a whit for precious conventions. It makes suffering and corruption feel boring and everyday because for those living under dire circumstances, the crisis at some point becomes everyday. 

This plays out in good dialogue and character writing. Our main character is a generic bland guy just trudging through life at the player’s command, but everyone else has a unique agenda and voice, and the writing reflects this. It’s satirical bent also comes out strongly. Tons of bizarre quirks are presented unblinkingly, yet the most ordinary folks get sneers and jokes at their expense. The tone is surreal and mis-matched at times. Just like with its predecessor, the plot advances through checkpoints and absolute stat requirements, so for all its feel of slow-paced corporate life, Evan is also breaking into safes left and right, and moving up as fast as possible. 

Beholder 2 3

The story is urgent and fast-paced, and the ‘campaign’ long enough to satisfy but brief enough to be intense. Just like with Beholder, there’s a constant source of stress. Do I have enough money? Did I do the right thing by that poor sap, or will the game punish me for misplaced compassion? Whelp, dear reader, Beholder 2 plays its cards close to its chest, but generally speaking if your stats are okay, you are okay, so extra skulduggery isn’t strictly necessary.  The quest chains, in particular, give enough direct guidance that failure is explicit. Usually there are multiple paths to success, though, so either role-play the decisions or suss out alternatives before committing to one.

There’s a lot of moving parts to Beholder 2, and in general they work pretty well. The basic movement system makes missing dialogue a tad too easy, though, and some decisions are punishing while remaining relatively opaque. (Cue player frustration and furore, like a lighter case of Pathologic 2). It blends the political with the personal without ever getting preachy or high-brow, and the gameplay is more refined, but Beholder 2 still has that brooding, claustrophobic atmosphere in common with the original. Case in point: you can get your coworkers executed as a purely careerist move.  While the game has a lot of good ideas and a much-improved execution of its predecessor’s spirit, it’s not quite a must-play. The humor is cagey and its satire often flat or unsubtle. Still a great game and experience, but Beholder 2 falls just short of compelling.

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The Weekender: Nobody Explode Edition

I’ve been away on annual leave this week so Ian’s been watching the shop – you’ll have noticed a bit more news-type things as a result. Next week will be back on track, and we’ll be kicking things off with our Beholder 2 review as well as our monthly check-in with what to look forward to in 2019.

Meanwhile, in the world of mobile games…

Out Now

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (iOS & Android)

The hit co-op game about defusing bombs and the art of concise conversation has finally landed on our mobile devices. KTBE tasks one person with defusing a bomb, except they don’t know how because they don’t have the manually – luckily their friends brought theirs with them, and so must talk the defuser through the process. But the defuser must also help the Experts by describing what the bomb looks like so they provide the right information.

This is social-orientated party game where only one person needs a copy to play – the ‘Experts’ only need the manual, which is available free online. There is no online support as it’s meant to be a face-to-face affair, which is fair enough. A little on the pricey side all things considered, but boats several challenges and game-modes to keep things fresh.

Rogue Legacy: Wanderer Edition (iOS)

2013’s Rogue Legacy was a high-mark in the rising indie gaming scene, offering a retro-inspired 2D platformer experience coupled with a ‘rogue-LITE’ mechanic of every hero being succeeded by their child, with variable traits and abilities. Now this classic gaming experience has released on iOS.

The Wanderer Edition has been re-designed from the ground up for iOS, sporting the base game and all content released since then, but also a bunch of other new features and a bespoke control scheme. Further details can be found on the YouTube video page.

It’s also worth noting that another classic indie title, Journey, has also released on iOS. Must be the season for it or something.

Updates

Steam Link App

The Android Steam Link app has officially left Beta, although we’re not sure what state the iOS version (which wasn’t released until after) is in. The Android app supports over 200 devices, as well as Xbox One and Steam controllers (although other controllers are rumoured to work too, they’re just not officially supported).

It’s recommended you use the app with a 5Ghz Router, with bother the computer and the mobile device being paired being on the same band. There’s a handy FAQ and Troubleshooting Guide made by Valve, if you need more help.

steam link app

Battleheart Legacy has also finally received the long-rumoured update that adds support for modern iOS devices, including the iPhone X. The update note doesn’t really expand, but suffice to say modern iPhones and Tablets should be able to display the game full-screen without issue now.

Sales

There’s only two sales of note worth looking at this week:

First off – Star Traders: Frontiers. This excellent sci-fi sandbox RPG was released earlier in the year on mobile and its easily one of our favourite games of 2019. It’s only been discounted once before so far, and now it’s discounted again down to $4.99. It’s worth it even at full price, but if you’ve yet to give it a go we hope this discount entices you. Sadly, this sale doesn’t extend to Android.

Secondly, Rogue Legacy, mentioned above, is enjoying a launch discount until Sunday 11th of August. It’s RRP is $3.99 but it’s currently down to $0.99 – that’s actually a pretty good discount and there’s no telling when it’ll ever be that low again so if you’re even remotely interested, now’s the time.

Seen anything else you liked? Played any of the above? Let us know in the comments!

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EVE Online’s mobile spinoff Echoes will start a closed alpha this month

By Ian Boudreau 08 Aug 2019

EVE: Echoes was announced late last year and it’s the mobile version of CCP’s gargantuan space trading MMO. Like its older, PC-based sibling, Echoes is set to be a persistent universe that players can inhabit and change, while exploring, harvesting resources to sell and trade, and fighting others who want to hijack your haul.

CCP has announced that it’s holding a closed alpha test of Echoes, which will run August 26 – September 20. While anyone can sign up for a chance at being invited into the alpha test, word on the street is that this initial test will be limited to select regions: Australia, New Zealand, and the Nordic countries are the only folks who get to go hands on this time around.

CCP is developing EVE: Echoes in partnership with Chinese games giant NetEase, who you may recall are Blizzard’s partners on the upcoming Diablo: Immortal. CCP announced their partnership with NetEase Games about a year ago, and the companies have worked together on building EVE Online China, which NetEase is operating.

To sign up for the alpha test, head to the official EVE: Echoes site and fill in some information about where you live and the device you’re using. They’ll also ask a little about your familiarity with the EVE franchise.

EVE is a lot of things, so it’ll be interesting to see which aspects of the game wind up taking prominence in the mobile adaptation, or whether Echoes winds up interfacing at all with the existing EVE Online universe. Phone battery life being what it is, I’m not sure the platform lends itself to traditional models of interstellar space exploration, so it’s a fair bet that this experience will be distinct from EVE Online in some key ways.

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Tencent expands its autobattler offerings

Keeping track of how many games Chinese publishing giant Tencent is involved in can be tricky, but what’s clear is that the company is leaning into this year’s autobattler craze in a big way. First, it’s adding an autobattler mode to its MOBA, which is titled Arena of Valor in western markets and Honor of Kings in China.

As our friends at PCGamesN note, Honor of Kings is the most profitable mobile game in the world, which makes the addition of an Auto Chess-style mode a natural choice. The game will also receive a map editor, and both updates are due to roll out sometime this month.

Meanwhile, Tencent is also updating its purpose-built autobattler, Chess Rush. That game now has a co-op mode that pits four teams of two players against each other, with a four-player co-op mode due to roll out August 15, according to Pocket Gamer.

Chess Rush is also starting up its first “season” tomorrow, so expect to be able to purchase a Fortnite-style battle pass in order to earn rewards for playing. This month, Chess Rush will also add two new characters to its roster, the Undead Assassin and Undead Thief.

There are a ton of autobattlers to choose from, and at this point it looks as though most if not all are angling for the lucrative mobile market. It’s a space that’s likely to get even more crowded before the year’s out.

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Best Life: Five Games that are better on mobile

Mobile devices and computers become more and more like each other every day, but desktops and consoles are still considered the superior platforms for serious gameplay. Their ability to push more pixels, accept more control inputs, and deliver complex strategies remain unequalled. Yet, sometimes, a game that was once a “real gamerz” exclusive crosses over to mobile devices. So which cross-platform games are actually better on mobile?

Board and card games do very well on mobile for obvious reasons: a simulation of moving cards and tokens around a tabletop definitely feels better when you’re using your hands. So consider most of the games on our Best Board and Card games lists to be honorary members of this one. Adventure games likewise often control extremely well with touch controls, but the difference is small enough that it’s hard to say they are really ‘better’ on mobile. Beyond that, here are a some cross-platform gems that actually have superior mobile versions.

Steamworld Heist

SteamWorld Heist

SteamWorld Heist is a unique tactics game played on 2D platforms with guns that you can manually aim. It’s got a wide variety of enemies, weapons, and interesting multi-level maps with lots of cover. What’s more, Heist gives the player the ability to nudge their shots ever so slightly to ricochet off one or a dozen surfaces, pinging across the iron spaceships to nip the hat right off that annoying royal guardsman’s head. While mouse control is fine for this, the game really shines as you slowly roll your finger into the perfect position. Missions can take only twenty minutes in some cases, making Heist a perfect mobile game.

FTL

FTL was one of the earliest indie darlings to make the jump to mobile devices, and quickly became the obsession of many a pocket gamer. The game’s frantic gameplay has you putting out multiple fires (some of them literal) on a spaceship with limited tools. Tapping on your tablet far exceeds mouseclicking as a control scheme in this situation. What’s more, the ‘episodic’ structure of the game, where you deal with crises in one star system at a time, is perfectly suited for short bursts of play. At the same time, its rogueish world map makes it a compelling long-player.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

Console ports are a dime a dozen on the app store these days, but any review of a classic port is going to mention that a gamepad is basically required for a good experience. On the other hand, Final Fantasy XV got a great port with great mobile controls, but it still needed a lot stripped away to fit on mobile.

Final Fantasy Tactics is the one game that really became better in its mobile iteration, despite losing its multiplayer component. Touch controls are an obvious improvement over selecting your units and their actions through endless scrolling through menus and maps using a joystick. What’s more, the mobile version includes the enhanced script and cutscenes of the PSP port. For experiencing the epic story of a game considered one of the best of the PlayStation era, if not the best tactical RPG of all time, mobile is where its at for Final Fantasy Tactics.

Touchscreen-based games from the Nintendo DS are also worth checking out, including Square’s RPG The World Ends with You and Capcom’s ports of the Phoenix Wright games and forgotten gem Ghost Trick.

Gorogora

Tons of puzzle games have made the crossover to mobile, and a lot of them definitely benefit from having touch controls. One that truly stands out is Gorogora. This game sees the player manipulating a grid of illustrations, dragging pieces, uncovering details, and matching patterns in increasingly unexpected ways. Gorogora is like a jigsaw puzzle for the ubiquitous-computing age, and its highly tactile gameplay really benefits from a touchscreen. It just doesn’t feel the same to click and drag these beautiful paintings that beg to be touched.

Kingdom New Lands

Kingdom: New Lands

Kingdom began as a Flash game, and its boiled-to-the-bone gameplay reflects that simplicity in its instantly-iconic visuals and super-simple controls. You simply swipe to move your monarch around, collecting and distributing coins to build an unimpeachable castle, and eventually escape the ever-multiplying monsters.

While its simple controls suit mobile, there’s one caveat: Kingdom relies on the player keeping the status of their kingdom in mind at all times. It deliberately doesn’t keep a count of how many people you’ve recruited or make an automap for you. That makes it the most accurate horseback-strategy simulator around, but it also makes it hard to pick up and play. It’s easy to forget what you were doing even moment to moment, and get overwhelmed by an attack you forgot was coming.

But, when you have the attention to devote to it, there’s nothing quite as engaging as Kingdom on mobile. The game’s day-to-night cycle is perfect at compelling you to finish just one more task before dark, and its procedural design makes every round unique. It’s the perfect game for a long commute or an rainy afternoon at the beach house. It will hold your attention for hours without requiring more than a few swipes a minute, and is easily played from bed.

What games do you think are better on mobile vs. other ports or versions? Let us know in the comments!

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Creative Assembly has a Total War card game in the works

By Ian Boudreau 05 Aug 2019

Total War studio Creative Assembly has announced a new long-term deal with Chinese publisher NetEase, which will bring more of the developer’s strategy games to China’s massive player base. The deal will also cover a new collectible card game, Total War: Elysium.

Total War: Elysium will be initially exclusive to China, but according to a FAQ posted to the official Total War site, Creative Assembly hopes to bring it to worldwide audiences before too long. The studio said it will be relying on NetEase’s extensive experience in CCGs, which are massively popular in China.

Total War: Elysium is a new title and a new genre for us, and we want to give it the best possible chance for success,” the studio says. “China gives us a huge audience of CCG fans to learn from so we can eventually bring the game to the rest of the world in better shape than ever.”

When that will be remains to be seen, but in the meantime you can find more information about it at the official Total War: Elysium site. There’s not much there at the moment, but the site will likely (hopefully) be updated with more details in the near future.