From what began as a fun little addition to cellular phones, mobile gaming has become one of the most important markets in the interactive entertainment space.
Covering every possible genre and matching practically everything from PC and consoles, making a list of the best mobile games of 2021 is a difficult task.
Putting in the work, our panel of experts have done their best to find something for everyone, no matter your tastes and demands.
Like books, movies, and tv, the best for you depends on the individual, so all we can do is guide you in the right direction.
Of course, in order to play them on mobile, you need to download games - as opposed to many PC games that are available to play straight on your browser.
For this reason, many of us like to know as much as possible about a game before we go ahead and download it to our device, and this is where our guide comes into play. Read on to discover our 2021 mobile game choices.
And if you are looking for the best device for that purpose, check our blog post about our picks of top gaming phones.
Inside is an oddity in the world of mobile games, going for a story that leans heavily into feelings of isolation and terror. Coming from the creators of Limbo, Inside tells a story of escape in a hostile world.
Running from forces not truly understood, all the player knows is not to get caught, and that they might be more of a threat than they seem.
Navigating the world of Inside is remarkably simple, with the game leaning more on puzzles and slow deliberate action than fast reflexes. This makes the occasional moments of terror all the more engaging, as you guide your character through the bizarre and fascinating world.
Most of all, Inside tells a story through its gameplay, and while we don't know for sure what that story is, we do know it leaves us deeply unsettled. If you want to both play and be terrified, Inside is easily one of the best mobile games of 2021.
When it was first released on PC back in 2013, Cookie Clicker was the title that popularised the idle browser games craze. The idea is simple: click cookies, use those cookies to buy faster ways to get cookies, and continue this pattern until you have more cookies than atoms.
It's a simple premise built on the idea of continual growth, and it's just as fun now as it was on release. With constant updates and an interface perfectly suited to mobile screens, it was inevitable that Cookie Clicker would be one of the best free mobile games 2021 has to offer.
Even if just running in the background, the constant growth is always rewarding, as bigger numbers give rise to incomprehensible amounts of sugary treats.
If you want to feel rewarded for little action then Cookie Clicker could be among the best mobiles games 2021 could possibly provide. Just don't be surprised if it leaves you hungry...
Super Mario is easily the most famous video game protagonist, and now he's stepped out of Nintendo consoles as one of the best mobile games 2021 stores have for players to enjoy. As a runner game, players of Super Mario Run can simply press the screen to time Mario's all-important leaps.
Traveling through a range of different worlds and challenging arenas, Mario never stops for anything, just so long as you guide him in the right direction...
The game brings a consistent challenge, combining classic retro charm with the modern mobile landscape. Whether you're a new player or a long-time Mario enthusiast, Super Mario Run is easily worth a look.
Ever since Rogue was released in 1980, developers have been trying to find ways to implement its ideas into more modern forms of gaming. With Dead Cells being one of the most challenging and yet not frustrating modern incarnations of this idea, it's a difficult title to put down.
Dead Cells will be one of the best mobile games 2021 has to offer if you like randomly generated worlds with a slow sense of RPG progression. Make no mistake, though, this isn't an easy game, and you can expect to fail far more often than you succeed.
Ultimately, the goal in Dead Cells is to escape the cycle of death as the player attempts an escape from their dreaded prison. This means customizing your character as you fight a range of different enemies and bosses while adapting to the changing item drops and threats as you go.
Only the luckiest and most skilled will be able to confront the king, but for those who put in the effort, the game's place among the best mobile games 2021 provides is undeniable.
As the latest game in a long-running series, Asphalt 9 had a lot to live up to. Taking cues from older console and PC series like Need for Speed and Burnout, the newest entry managed to do something not all new games can - taking what was already a strong formula and raising the bar even further.
With four different game modes in classic, time attack, hunted, and slipstream, Asphalt 9 has players racing through fictional tracks in famous cities including New York, Osaka, and Shanghai.
So, what makes this racing game stand out to the point where it's one of the best free mobile games on 2021 stores' list?
Common compliments from fans include the car modification options, the enormous sense of speed, and the over-the-top jumps. Asphalt 9 might not be especially realistic, but for players wanting action first and foremost, a little arcade extravagance is nothing to sneeze at.
Though Fortnite might have had the greater cultural impact on consoles, on PC and mobile, it's PUBG that remains the battlegrounds king. In case you're one of the rare people not aware, PUBG involves dropping up to a hundred players onto a single map in a battle-royale style fight.
Over time, a blue circle of electricity slowly forces players into one central point, making action inevitable as one player or team strives to be the last one standing. Along the way, characters pick up guns, equipment, and vehicles, as they loot the environment and their enemies to get ahead.
There's a reason the battlegrounds genre took the world by storm, and it's still just as fun on mobile as ever before. If the best mobile games 2021 can supply to you are those which raise your heart rate and leave you on the edge of your seat, PUBG is a must-play.
Though it's a tough competition, PUBG currently holds the reins for the biggest mobile title of 2021. This isn't surprising, given it's also one of the best mobile games 2021 players can enjoy.
MOBA games often dominate the PC landscape, but they've always been tricky to get to work properly on mobiles. Countering this long-time truth is Pokémon UNITE, which combines 5v5 arena combat with the Pokémon creatures we all know and love.
Like in most MOBAs, players in UNITE work to gain ground on their opponents, though this game has a much friendlier approach than most.
Operating without a traditional scoreboard, the developers of UNITE wanted it to be a more relaxing and less toxic experience than its contemporaries, and their effort paid off.
With 26 currently available Pokémon to play and many more on the horizon, UNITE is an already great game with massive potential for future growth.
Fans of strategy games can't afford to miss this one, as it's not only a great Pokémon game, but it's also one of the best mobile games 2021 has yet seen.
As with Pokémon UNITE, many of the biggest trending games are those with established audiences on other platforms.
Games like PUBG and COD have a step up when it comes to moving to new systems, so it makes sense that they'd be considered as some of the best mobile games 2021 offers.
Sometimes the best mobile games 2021 players can enjoy are tied to mobile systems. Other times, as with COD Mobile, some of the most entertaining experiences come from long-running PC series.
COD Mobile was a game that many thought impossible to make great without console or PC controls. It's also a game that proved many players wrong.
COD Mobile is still about the action, it's still about moving at break-neck speeds, and it's still about making sick no-scopes that make your opponents feel silly for challenging you.
This is one of the most hardcore games on this list but if you're someone who thinks the best mobile games 2021 provides are those that test your limits, then COD Mobile is a must-play.
If you're talking about the best mobile gacha games 2021 has, then you simply can't ignore the revelation that is Genshin Impact. Heavily influenced by Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact is a stylish title with a sense of scale few mobile games can boast.
The game itself is built around exploring an enormous world and collecting characters to customize your team around. With these characters you complete quests, enter dungeons, and even play with others to combat challenging bosses.
Considered one the best PC and console games in 2021, Genshin Impact is also seen by many as one of the best mobile games 2021 gacha fans can enjoy.
Rounding out this list is a game that keeps seeing updates as it expands more and more. Stardew Valley is essentially a new take on a Harvest Moon game, where players work to expand their farm and build ties with their community.
How is this fun? Well, some players might want to set the world on fire, but some might find the best mobile games 2021 delivers are those where you can settle back and relax.
Whether tending crops, mining, fighting monsters, or romancing one of the town's inhabitants, Stardew Valley is not a game to quicken your pulse.
Stardew Valley gives players a great way to slowly build up to something special, either alone or with friends, as you go from poor beginner to diamond-loaded expert. Whatever your choice, go at your own pace, and you won't be disappointed.
No matter your taste in video games, the above list should detail many of the best mobile games 2021 players can enjoy. From dropping in for a few minutes to spending hours on a long trip exploring a new frontier, you'll never be left wanting.
Of course, this list only scratches the surface of the thousands of games on offer. If you're curious for more, be sure to check out your relevant mobile game stores for rankings, to see just how much deeper the rabbit hole goes.