The Most Hardcore Free Android Games of All Time

It’s happening slowly, but free Android games are slowly working out their glitches, as developers abandon terrible gameplay gimmicks like timers and gem and energy purchases for better crafted experiences. We still have a long way to go before free games reach the heights of expensive industry productions. However, that said, if you haven’t done so already, pick up one of these free Android classics and Android’s vast potential will become clear to you.



 12. Injustice: Gods Among Us

Although based on that annoying brand of digital card game that amounts to little more than a thinly veiled attempt to drain you of your money, Injustice does a surprising justice to the genre. A simplistic fighter that mines the deep DC comic archives for characters and Batman variations, Injustice manages the freemium purchase system in a way to provide options while you purchase and build your roster of superheroes.

The tag-team action within the actual game itself is reminiscent of Street Fighter. Injustice is a button-masher’s wet dream where you recruit Superman, Wonder Woman, Lobo, Joker, and more to duke it out for supremacy of your Android device.


11. Marvel Contest of Champions

In many respects Marvel Contest of Champions is the Marvel Comics version of Injustice: Gods Among Us and no doubt some of you may hem and haw about us placing it before its prettier and more original brethren. Why, you’re liable to ask, if we have two very similar types of mobile fighting games, both about superheroes, and both boasting an overall decent take on freemium (you buy superheroes—that’s cool) marketing, would we place the knockoff above the original? Two reasons: One, you have more control over your combatants in Marvel Contest of Champions and we’ll take gameplay over bells and whistles any day of the week, and two, our number 11 here is called *Marvel* Contest of Heroes. I mean, really. While in the world of graphic novels and occasionally in Hollywood, DC has had a few moments where one might make the mistake of thinking they’re the cooler brand. In general DC Comics are road kill to Marvel’s Mac Truck. C’mon, Wolverine, The Hulk, The Punisher. Where is the equivalent?



10. Zombiewood

The worst thing anyone wants is a game that’s so boring you’re compelled to pay in order to skip levels. Of all the things Zombiewood does right, its biggest draw is simply the fun factor. Zombiewood never feels like it’s taking advantage of you for your wallet. Instead the game is a pure thrill ride, reminiscent of the classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

Run through cartoony movie sets and clever puns while demolishing hordes of undead with a large variety of fun weapons. The variety of gameplay options alone makes Zombiewood the perfect game to have with you on the go.



9. Five Nights at Freddy’s

You’d think the Android platform would lend itself to some amazing point-and-click adventures, but that hasn’t been the case. Scott Cawthon is the only developer who managed to get it right, with Five Nights at Freddy’s, a point-and-click-horror game based on a Chuck E. Cheese-style pizza place where the animatronic animals are going Jurassic Park on everyone.

The simplistic controls in the game make it seem like just another not-really-free garbage marketing tool, but the excellent writing and storyline in this game make you excited to play every day, similar to the Professor Layton franchise on Nintendo’s portable systems. The brilliant animation style only rounds out this polished indie Android game.



8. into the Dead

The success of Dead Trigger spawned a rush toward zombie games that, while annoying, definitely beats the microtransaction-in-boring-game formula the industry flocked to in droves over the past five years. Into the Dead certainly isn’t original, but it’s a solid FPS that easily satiates the need to play Call of Duty zombie levels on the go.

Choose a weapon, and head out to explore dreary levels filled with hordes of undead minions. Level variety and precise controls show developer Pepkor are gamers interested in impressing other gamers. The minimalist approach to Into the Dead reminds hardcore gamers the Android is more capable of great games than dozens of early console hardware.



7. Spider-Man Unlimited

Runners are nothing new in video games. During the silver age of consoles, Crash Bandicoot made auto-runners a popular level perspective for gamers to mimic for decades to come. Even on Android, runners like Subway Surfers remain popular, but it’s Spider-Man Unlimited that reigns supreme in the genre.

This is mostly because it’s Spidey, slinging webs, jumping in acrobatic poses, and doing everything else a spider can. Aside from that, it’s also one of few (and I mean so few you should be ashamed of yourselves, Marvel and Disney) decent superhero games out there. If you can’t get enough super powers, Spider-Man Unlimited is best in class.



6. Death Rally

Racing games can be hit and miss, but Death Rally really delivers an innovative experience. The overhead view is a throwback to the days of the 16-bit Micro Machine games, although this is more arcadey combat than a driving simulator. There are in-app purchases to be made in Death Rally, but it certainly doesn’t come at the expense of gameplay.

Upgrade weapons and defenses and prepare to do whatever it takes to overcome the competition by any means necessary. Shoot anyone you can’t run off the road, and cross the finish line first in the best racing game this side of Mario Kart.



5. Madden NFL Mobile

Few games spawn a sequel, and even fewer manage to convince millions of players every year to shell out more money to buy the same game again. Nobody does this better than EA’s Madden franchise, and the best football experience this side of the actual NFL is every bit as clean on Android.

Pick plays, call audibles, run, pass, and manage your team on the gridiron like you always wanted to but were too scared to try. Madden NFL Mobile is a fantasy simulation of football that makes your dad’s fantasy football league look like a bunch of losers whose biggest achievement will always be that time in high school where they scored four touchdowns in a single game.


4. Age of Civilizations Lite

A global strategy game that puts Risk to shame, Age of Civilizations Lite is an immersive game that never gets old. Taking control of a random civilization in Europe or Northern Africa and recruiting armies to storm neighboring nations is one way of winning this war, although you’ll need to negotiate the occasional truce or alliance to last long enough.

Even after playing hundreds of games, AoC’s AI never fails to occasionally surprise you with a strategy that quickly ends a well-planned-out game. Living like a general has never been more intuitive.


3. Dead Trigger

First-person shooters are getting better and better on mobile platforms. Dead Trigger, however, is still the bar to which they’re all compared. This freemium offering takes advantage of an intuitive UI to create a zombie-slaughtering FPS experience that will continue being hard to beat for years to come.

The array of weapons, upgrades, level styles, and side quests blend to make DT an immersive experience for both veteran and casual gamers alike. Aside from how much fun the game is, the lack of paywalls, timers, and other annoying freemium mainstays from Dead Trigger easily make it one of the most hardcore free Android games ever made.

Be wary of the sequel, though, as it has clearly falling victim to the pay to win curse.


2. The Walking Dead

Only the first part of this five-part series is free, but it’s so good it makes all other “free” games pale in comparison (no matter what the haters say). The Walking Dead set the standard for mobile gaming, combining intricate plotlines with vast landscapes, smooth cinematic cut-scenes, and cameos from characters you love seeing in the show, TWD is as good as free gaming gets on Android.

What makes The Walking Dead so classic, despite being one of very few well-programmed and fun free games on Android, is how the storyline evolves based on your decisions. This RPG element provides depth to the game that’s not usually found in casual games. With so many forgettable Zynga clones on Android clearly more focused on profits than gamers, The Walking Dead reminds the entire industry what a real video game is supposed to look like.


1. Hearthstone

Oh no they didn’t!

I’m afraid we did. That is, we picked a digital card game as the most hardcore free Android game of all time. We could explain ourselves by writing: “Blizzard made it” and leave it at that but you deserve a little better.

And this title deserves its number one spot in spades for two reasons. One, for our money, no other high quality free Android game gives you as much value for nothing as Hearthstone does. And two, it’s hardcore to the bone. As most of you know, by hardcore we refer to hardcore gamers and what are elsewhere sometimes called core video games, which more often than not suggests the kind of games that are most likely to appeal to hardcore gamers. While visually more static than most of the titles on this list, Hearthstone is nonetheless rich with character and rife with beautifully rendered 2D images, but most importantly in terms of sheer game design, we cannot think of a single Android game that is as elegantly, nor as deceptively deep as Hearthstone. Blizzard’s magic recipe for incredibly easy to learn and equally as difficult to master is at play here full force, the end result is a game that is equal parts brain-racking challenge and seriously fun. And, if that not a hardcore we don’t what is.


Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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