I’m the kind of person that’s always glued to my phone. If I’m not “doomscrolling“ through Twitter, I’m working, responding to emails, or just generally distracted by something going on online.
Despite having been a smartphone owner for almost as long as they’ve been around, I never really bought into the idea of playing games on it. Sure, I dallied in Hearthstone when it launched, and I played Flappy Bird for the week in which that was popular, but for the most part I just play games on consoles.
In truth, despite the undoubted popularity of mobile games, I was a bit of a snob. Sure, I could play something on my phone, but why not play on my console or PC instead?
In 2020, that all changed.
I Was Wrong About Mobile Gaming
During the first UK lockdown, I spent some time isolating at my mother-in-law’s, and while I was there I was tasked with writing about a game called Legends of Runeterra for this very site.
I researched the article, wrote the story, and immediately felt my Yu-Gi-Oh roots twitching to play Riot’s card game. So I did, installing it on my iPad.
I can safely say that Legends of Runeterra is one of my favourite games of the year. It’s call-and-response turn structure, champion levelling, and excellent tutorials and tooltips had me ploughing hours and hours into it.
I enjoyed it so much I installed it on PC and phone, too, and find myself reaching for it when I have ten minutes spare.
Not only did Legends of Runeterra open up my eyes to mobile gaming, but it also prompted me to check out League of Legends as a whole. I’ve already written about my early impressions of the PC version, but with Wild Rift, I’ve been able to take the experience on the go.
If you read my recent overview then you’ll know that yes, Wild Rift is worth playing. It’s a streamlined experience, sure, but it’s this distillation that makes it feel like a great first step into League of Legends, or MOBA titles in general.
But enough about Riot Games, there was another mobile hit this year that stole my heart.
Genshin Impact may have drawn plenty of ire when it was first announced, owing predominantly to its undeniable aping of Breath of the Wild’s vibrant art style, but it offers a full-featured, open-world RPG that you can play on your PS4, PC, or… the device that you carry in your pocket throughout the day.
Genshin Impact runs so well on my phone (iPhone 11 Pro Max, thanks for asking), that I almost miss having a commute so I can block out the world and grind levels for an hour and a half of my day while standing on a train where I’ve paid for a ticket. Almost.
If there’s one genre that simply shouldn’t work on a touchscreen device, it’s a shooter, but Call of Duty Mobile actually works… and works well.
Sure, it’s not as tactile as left-trigger ADS and right-trigger firing, but the game’s collections of maps, skins and weapons almost feel like a “Greatest Hits” compendium of Call of Duty.
There’s Crash, Nuketown, Firing Range, Rust, and Terminal, and they’re presented just as you remember them. You can even mash most of them together in Battle Royale, too.
If you’re on Apple devices, you can use Apple Arcade, too. A really varied mix of games, you’ll find everything from the excellent Sonic Racing to Lego Brawls and Grindstone, one of the finest puzzle titles you can play on any platform or full-on Zelda facsimile Oceanhorn 2.
All of this is to say that I’m very sorry, mobile gaming. I’m sorry I didn’t give you my attention until now, but I’ll make it up to you in 2021.
Right, I’m off for a quick game of Legends of Runeterra.