Gaming on mobile devices gets better and better with every passing year. That’s especially true with services like Stadia, which make streaming games on your phone a tablet a totally viable way to enjoy AAA games. Gaming on iOS is particularly robust thanks to the operating system’s support of external controllers like Sony’s DualShock 4. The App Store also has a ton of great games – including ports and exclusives on the Apple Arcade.
Of course, the best time sinks regardless of platform are RPGs. They offer hours of play, great stories, character customization, and deep combat and mechanics. If that’s what you’re looking for, here are the best RPGs for iOS you can play right now. We cover everything from ports to iOS exclusives.
The best RPGs for iOS at a glance:
One of the greatest role-playing games of all time is available on mobile devices. Knights of the Old Republic came out in the golden age of Star Wars games, and it is still fondly remembered even today. You play as a nameless character who suffers from amnesia and is plagued by strange visions. The player must uncover their past as they train to become a Jedi and fight for either the light or dark side of the force. BioWare developed the game, so you can expect a great story, branching narrative choices, and loads of great characters. It’s a classic game that’s still worth revisiting whether you’re playing it for the first or hundredth time.
The Banner Saga is one of the best turn-based RPGs to come out in recent memory, and the iOS port is the perfect way to play it. The game is hand-drawn and uses rotoscope animation in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics. The game also stands out thanks to its Norse setting, and it has a large and memorable cast of characters. The player must take their caravan across the setting and survive a brutal winter, all while battling horrifying creatures and other Viking clans. It’s a great game with a proven formula and extraordinary animation. The Banner Saga won many awards when it came out for a reason, and it is still worth taking a look at.
If you want to take a break from combat and play something a little more relaxing and idyllic, then Stardew Valley is the perfect game for you. This game brings the Harvest Moon formula into the present, and players can build a farm, raise animals, and make friends and find a partner. There are many secrets to unlock, dungeons to explore, and relationships to foster in this smash-hit indie title. The core gameplay is complemented by a soothing soundtrack, a great cast of characters, excellent writing, and exceptional artwork. It’s the perfect game to sit back and relax with, and the experience on iOS is all the better with controller support.
A surprise hit last year, Genshin Impact demonstrates just how much mobile gaming has changed and what it is truly capable of now. Gone are the days of 2D casual games like Angry Birds. With a fully 3D world, tons of characters to play as, and MMO elements, Genshin Impact offers a lot for players to explore right off the bat. It’s heavily inspired by games like Tales of Symphonia and Breath of the Wild, and the full cast of voiced characters makes the world feel alive. Combine that with frequent events, new characters, and daily quests, and this is a game that can keep players occupied for a long time to call. Best of all, it’s free to start.
Baldur’s Gate is widely considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and it’s the second entry for BioWare on this list. The enhanced edition is available on the App Store, and it’s one of the best ways to play the game. The interface has been redesigned for touch controls, and it feels like a more fluid way to the play game. Plus, the Enhanced Edition comes with the original game and all of the DLC. There are also in-app purchases for additional quests, character portraits, and even voice sets. If you haven’t played Baldur’s Gate yet or want to revisit a timeless classic, playing it on iOS is the best way to do so.
Oceanhorn was a popular RPG when it launched on iOS, but the next game improves on the original concept in nearly every way. It’s actually a prequel that takes place thousands of years before the first game, so you don’t need to play the first one to enjoy this entry. You play a young knight as he travels across the land of Gaia to defeat the Warlock Mesmeroth. The game is packed with puzzles, quests, and a main story that spans over 20 hours. It is also one of the prettiest iOS games available. Oceanhorn 2 alone makes an Apple Arcade subscription worth it.
Monster Hunter usually revolves around players hunting and killing huge…well, monsters. Monster Hunter Stories, however, takes a notably different approach than the mainline series. In this game, players take on the role of a Rider, someone who builds bonds with the various monsters of the world. Riders can take their monsters (called Monsties) into battle to challenge other monsters, fight other players, and collect monster eggs to grow your collection. The Pokemon spin of this game works quite well, and the animation and lovely to boot. There is a story, but it’s really just a vehicle to collect Monsties. If you’re a fan of Monster Hunter and Pokemon, then Monster Hunter Stories was made for you.
Supergiant Games is one of the top dogs in the indie game development scene, and for good reason. Their games are highly polished, fun, and are packed with quality writing and characters. Transistor came out in 2015 and was shortly thereafter ported to iOS, and it is still one of the best action RPGs you can play. In the game, you play Red, a famous singer who comes into contact with the Transistor. After which, you are relentlessly pursued by the Process — a deadly robot force that wants the Transistor at all costs. You must survive the relentless onslaught and discover why they want the Transistor. The game was redesigned for touch controls, but it also has MFi (Made For iPhone) support, so you can play the game the way it was initially designed to be played.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar is inspired by classic RPGs of yesteryear, but the game has its own sense of identity thanks to its solid story and fantastic art design. Players take control of Gully, a young girl who is looking for her missing father. Five unlikely allies accompany her as they explore dungeons and fight in Final Fantasy-style turn-based combat. The game has randomly generated dungeons, so each play-through is always unique and different. Battle Chasers also has a deep crafting system for all the player equipment. Even several years after its release, the game is still a ton of fun to play. It has everything an RPG player could want, and that’s why it makes it on this list.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is worth mentioning just for the sheer audacity of it. Packing one of the largest JRPGs of all time onto a mobile platform sounds insane. And yet, that’s precisely what they did. Not only did Square Enix overhaul the graphics and gameplay for mobile, but it’s also pretty good. In fact, it’s really good. Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition has the exact same story as the console version. And while the gameplay loop is notably different, it packs in a surprising amount of the original experience. If you are curious about Final Fantasy XV but don’t have a console or PC to play it on, Pocket Edition is a perfectly viable way to experience it, and that’s a bizarre and awesome thing to say.
If you’re looking for something genuinely nostalgic, you have to give Old School RuneScape a try. As the name implies, it’s RuneScape as it was originally conceived. This is one of the original, largest, and most popular MMORPGs of all time, and players can now enjoy it in all its glory on mobile. Unlike other RPGs that force players to lock into skills and classes at the onset, RuneScape allows players to switch between skills at any time. That’s because leveling is tied to individual skills rather than an overall level system. That means players can spend hours mastering woodcutting and sword work and then immediately train to be chefs or wizards. It opens up the potential for players and makes for a massive time sink. The developers also release content frequently based on what the community votes for, so there’s a democratic element and robust support. Whether you played it when it came out or want to give it a shot, Old School RuneScape is a great game for anyone.
Knights of Pen and Paper is one of the more unique choices on this list, and it is undoubtedly the most meta. That’s because in this game, you take on the role of players in a Dungeons & Dragons-style campaign as well as the dungeon master. Players can essentially create their own adventures, choosing which monsters the players can potentially face, select their character classes, and earn awesome rewards. You even see the table everyone is playing at during combat. If you’re looking for something a little different, Knights of Pen and Paper might be the game for you. It’s an interesting twist on the formula and a charming homage to the tabletop hobby. Once you’re done with the first one, you can go ahead and dive into the sequel as well.