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The biggest names in the games industry have descended on LA to show off their wares at this year’s E3 expo. Roofs were raised, rivalries intensified and a window into the future of the medium opened up.
Although the triple-A titles on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One dominated the showcase, mobile gaming was well represented at the event, with several of the leading publishers revealing major plans for iOS and Android devices. Here are the biggest announcements you need to know about.
An Elder Scrolls RPG is heading to mobile
Attendees flocked to Bethesda’s press conference hoping to hear more about its upcoming Fallout and Doom games. They left satisfied, but equally surprised because the studio also revealed an all-new Elder Scrolls game for mobile. The Elder Scrolls: Blades is no mere card battler. It’s an RPG with stunning console-quality graphics and gameplay designed from the ground up for tablets and smartphones.
Command & Conquer returns… on mobile
It’s been six long years since a new entry in the iconic Command & Conquer series was released, but Electronic Arts is about to change that. During the publisher’s E3 press conference, C&C: Rivals was announced for iOS and Android devices. It’s a 1v1 real-time multiplayer strategy title in which players pit their military units against one another on a tile-based map. Hardcore Command & Conquer fans have blasted the game on social media, but those who have actually played it during pre-alpha testing have been generally complementary.
Gears of War gets a Funko Pop-themed spinoff
Gears of War and Funko Pop figurines had a lot less in common prior to Microsoft’s E3 press conference. Gears POP! is a newly-announced mobile entry in the shooter series in which its main cast take on the form of the popular toys. While Microsoft is yet to confirm what kind of game this will be, something fun, accessible and free-to-play is a safe bet.
Microsoft wants to bring Xbox streaming to phones and tablets
Microsoft also hinted at exciting plans for mobile gaming during its presser. Xbox head Phil Spencer said the firm is working on a streaming service that will bring its games to “any device”. Smartphones were specifically mentioned but there’s no word on pricing, hardware requirements and whether all Xbox One games will be supported. Watch this space…
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While the world has been waiting for the announcement of Pokemon games for the Nintendo Switch since the console was first launched, what Nintendo actually revealed this week was even better — especially for mobile gamers. Not only will the upcoming games arriving this fall have a direct connection to Pokemon GO, there’s also a third title that is on Switch now and coming to mobile in June.
We’ve summarized everything you need to know about the Pokemon Switch games and what they mean to you as a mobile gamer, so let’s get into it.
Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee
As was heavily rumored since people caught wind of Nintendo making moves to trademark the names, the pair of core Nintendo Switch Pokemon games centers on two of the oldest and most popular Pokemon, Pikachu and Eevee. In keeping with the tradition of the franchise, this pair of games that arrives on Nov. 16 will be similar in terms of content but have different characters in the spotlight.
The announcement trailer shows exactly why the word ‘Go’ is in the titles, as throwing a Poke Ball to collect Pokemon will be a big part of these games too, and while they will be playable with a single Joy-Con, there’s also a new Poke Ball Plus peripheral with lights and sound to add to the immersion factor.
It will be interesting to see exactly how the new games push things forward for the Switch or if they end up being exactly what people wanted, but with Game Freak behind them, there should be strong RPG elements as well.
Another big part of Nintendo’s reveals is how Pokemon GO will connect with the two Switch games in a very direct fashion. For starters, people will be able to catch Pokemon from the Kanto region in GO and bring them directly into Let’s Go, which is a cool idea. The Poke Ball Plus will also be usable in the mobile game, though you’re almost certain to get some unusual looks from the uninitiated if you do that.
There was also a very intriguing tidbit in the Nintendo press release that promised the following:
Something special will also be coming to the world of Pokémon GO, making the connection between both games even more appealing for Trainers. Details for this will be revealed in the near future.
That makes it sound like Pokemon GO itself will get a big update to correspond to the Switch games when they launch, so it’s worth keeping tabs on news headed into the fall even if you never plan on playing the Let’s Go titles.
Last but certainly not least, given that it’s coming to mobile soon, is Pokemon Quest. A completely separate game that is already available on the Switch, Pokemon Quest is an action RPG with a blocky, pixel art style (think Pokemon x Crossy Road and you’ve got it) that is said to be targeting a late June release on iOS and Android.
We’ve played it briefly and can report that it throws you into simple but hectic battles as your team of three Pokemon explore a mysterious island and run into lots of the native Pokemon on the way. They execute basic attacks on their own, but your timing with their special moves is critical. You also have a base camp you can expand with decorations to gain buffs, plus you can cook different types of food to attract more Pokemon to befriend.
Pokemon Quest is a lot of what people traditionally like about Pokemon but with a few new tweaks, and it should be popular when it hits mobile. We’ll keep you posted on release information as we learn it.
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Fortnite is so big that is probably would have caught on even if it was confined to a single gaming platform. Happily, you can play it on just about anything you own that plays games, though since we’re about mobile games here at Gamezebo, we’ve been echoing a thought that many other people have had for months now: When is Fortnite coming to Android?
Epic Games still hasn’t given an exact answer to that question yet, but it did offer the best hint yet as a Fortnite Android release date in its “State of Mobile” blog post today.
We are targeting this summer for the release. We know many of you are excited for this release, and we promise that when we have more information to share, you’ll hear it from us first.
That obviously is a pretty wide window, but the thought here is that with E3 coming up in mid-June, that would be the perfect time to capture some attention when the eyes of the gaming world are on L.A. E3 isn’t traditionally a prime time for mobile releases, but big name studios do occasionally use it as a launchpad. Bethesda gave us the most prominent example back in 2015, not only revealing Fallout Shelter but also announcing it was live immediately, and that game went on to be a smash hit.
Fortnite obviously doesn’t need any help in that regard, but it would make some sense for Epic Games to just casually announce during E3 that, “oh yeah, Fortnite is out on Android now.” It will also be interesting to see if the Android launch is like the iOS rollout was, with codes needed to play the game in the first few days.
Here are the other topics Epic touched on specifically for mobile:
This is kind of a biggie because there’s no built-in way to chat in-game like there is when playing Fortnite on other platforms. There are simple enough workarounds, including just getting your squad-mates together on a Discord server, but it would be easier still if the game simply supported voice chat on its own.
Epic Games says it’s not only working on that but hints that voice chat will eventually be cross-platform, which will be a super welcome addition. The devs also envision it being easy to mute yourself, your entire squad or open mics back up with a single tap.
Controls and gameplay improvements
If you’ve played Fortnite on mobile for even a match or two, you’ve undoubtedly come away not so enthused about the firing options. Tapping on the screen isn’t the best solution — we’ve all fired when we didn’t want to because of it — and there are other ways the control system is imprecise, like when it’s difficult to pick up an item and you end up swinging your pickax instead.
The developers are aware of this too, noting that they are working on “improving Autorun and adding better ways to fire.” Once the control system gets more choices, you’ll be able to test them out and decide which one you like best in the settings menu.
Install size and performance
One of this writer’s children comments often on how the Fortnite graphics “stink on tablets.” That’s true compared to console or PC, but some mobile devices are capable of providing something that looks nicer, and Epic Games is cognizant of this fact. On the other end of the spectrum, the studio wants to add a battery saver mode if you voluntarily decide on a lower graphics quality, which will be nice when gaming on the go.
Finally, the sheer size of Fortnite can be an issue as well, but future builds should shrink as the dev team gets better at optimizing code for mobile.
Can’t get enough of Fortnite on iOS or just psyched for its Android release? Make sure you stay up to speed with the number one battle royale game by checking out our guides, including our skins list and tips on how to find and use vending machines.
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Soft launch is an important part of any mobile game’s gestation, as it allows developers to iron out any creases and fine-tune their title ahead of its forthcoming global launch. It also enables players in a select few regions to get their hands on the title early, while the rest of the world gets to take an advanced look at what’s in store.
Keeping an eye on the iOS and Android games in soft launch is a good way to stay up to date with what’s about to go global, and here are the most anticipated games currently at that stage in their development.
15. Age of Magic
Publisher: Playkot Limited
Available On: iOS (Canada, Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Turkey)
Age of Magic is a bona fide turn-based RPG for iOS devices, steeped in classic sword and sorcery values. You’ll find yourself battling your way across a fantasy world to fulfil an ancient prophecy, collecting items and upgrading your heroes as you go.
14. Final Space AR
Publisher: Time Warner
Available On: iOS (USA)
Based on Olan Rogers and Conan O’Brien’s TBS show of the same name, Final Space AR will bring Gary, Mooncake and the gang to your phone where they will play out various scenarios that can be recorded and shared. This free-to-play title is up for grabs in the US of A right now.
13. Fishing Strike
Available On: iOS (Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey)
Fishing fans can sink their hooks into Netmarble’s simulation of the popular pastime in Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey. Fishing Strike tasks players with catching more than 500 different types of marine wildlife, from saltwater tiddlers to great white sharks, and it even comes with optional AR and VR features.
12. Battle Bombers Arena
Available On: iOS and Android (Ukraine, Finland, Poland)
In a nutshell, Battle Bombers Arena is a Bomberman clone with cutesy animal sprites replacing the eponymous explosives enthusiast. Players in the Ukraine, Finland and Poland can check out whether it’s as much of a blast as the original right now.
11. Best Fiends Rivals
Available On: iOS (Finland, Australia, Philippines)
Best Fiends Rivals is a casual puzzler where the emphasis is firmly on beating your friends and scoring bragging rights over them by outranking them on the leaderboard. It’s currently doing the rounds in soft launch in Finland, Australia and the Philippines.
10. Hungry Dragon
Available On: Android (Philippines, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand)
Ubisoft’s Hungry Dragon is an eat-em-up where you take control of a dragon with a big appetite and devour everyone in your path. Oh, and you can burn them to a crisp with your fire breath if you prefer.
9. MapleStory Blitz
Available On: iOS and Android (Australia, Malaysia, Philippines)
MMORPG MapleStory has been given a MOBA makeover for its follow-up MapleStory Blitz, a card-based battler with elements of Clash Royale. Players wage war on one another in furious PvP contests, communicate by emoji and attempt to build up the ultimate deck along the way.
8. Flick Arena
Available On: iOS and Android (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Russia, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine)
Flick Arena is a multiplayer strategy game that was designed to be as simple as possible. Players build up the ultimate army and then decide whether to go for the all-guns-blazing approach or adopt safer tactics out there on the battlefield. It’s in soft launch in numerous regions now.
7. Galak-Z: Variant Mobile
Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment America, Inc.
Available On: iOS and Android (Philippines, New Zealand, Australia)
Blast space pirates into oblivion, exterminate intergalactic nasties and bring justice to the universe in Galak-Z: Variant Mobile, a space shooter with a spattering of RPG components. This one is available now in the Philippines, New Zealand and Australia.
6. Diamond Diaries Saga
Available On: Android (Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Poland)
Candy Crush developer King is back with another mobile puzzler, and again, this one is about matching objects by colour. There’s also a colouring book aspect to the title, to differentiate it from the studio’s other casual fodder.
5. Cartoon Squad
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Available On: iOS (Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden)
Nobody can fault Bandai Namco for its ambition where Cartoon Squad is concerned. The Pac-Man maker has attempted to cram everything besides the kitchen sink into its latest game, blending city-building, match-3 puzzling, role-playing and strategy. There’s also multiplayer support and the option to join guilds.
4. Brick Wizard
Available On: Android (Thailand)
Brick Wizard is another King puzzler, though this one appears to have more in common with Breakout than the rest of the studio’s output. The game involves smashing up multicoloured bricks by shooting spells in their direction. It’s available on Android devices in Thailand right now.
3. Go Boom!
Publisher: Kiz Studios
Available On: iOS (Indonesia)
Kiz Studios’ Go Boom! is a game for anyone who loves to blow s**t up just for kicks. The idea is to destroy as much of Boom Town as humanly possible within a set time limit, and you can compete with friends to see who has the biggest appetite for destruction.
2. Last Day Alive
Publisher: Glu Mobile
Available On: iOS and Android (Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland)
If you want to kill zombies on your mobile device, there are already plenty of options, but here’s another addition to the horde: Last Day Alive. Glu Mobile’s survival-shooter offers more than just the chance to slay undead corpses, with base-building, PvP and co-op modes adding method to the zombie-killing madness.
1. Star Wars: Rivals
Available On: iOS and Android (Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines)
Star Wars fans have been enjoying third-person shooting in a galaxy far, far away for generations thanks to the Battlefront series, and mobile’s answer to it is in the pipeline. In fact, Star Wars: Rivals is already available in soft launch territories now. There’s a solo campaign featuring iconic characters from all three movie trilogies, a PvP mode and the chance to wield blasters, lightsabers and awesome Force capabilities.
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Many of the biggest upcoming iOS and Android games are further along in development than you might think. In fact, players in certain territories might even be playing them in soft launch right now.
Keeping tabs on testbed regions is a good way to stay abreast of the mobile titles that are about to land in your neck of the woods, as well as take a sneaky peek at their features, and here are some of the tentatively-released touchscreen wonders you need to know about.
15. Titan World
Publisher: Glu Mobile
Available On: iOS (Philippines)
Glu Mobile’s new IP takes strategic turn-based battles to extreme proportions by having players pit their teams of heavily-armed titans against one another. Available in the Philippines now, Titan World challenges you to climb to the summit of the Titan League, futuristic warfare’s equivalent of football’s Premier League, where goalscoring and crunching challenges are replaced by mayhem and destruction.
14. Angry Birds Blast Island
Available On: iOS & Android (Hong Kong, Taiwan)
Rovio’s irate avians are no longer a dominant force in the world of mobile gaming, but the Scandanavia studio recaptured some of their early success with the block-matching puzzler Angry Birds Blast. The game’s sequel, Angry Birds Blast Island, offers more of the same and players are already flocking towards it in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
13. Badland Brawl
Publisher: Frogmind Games
Available On: iOS (Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, Vietnam)
Badland Brawl is a free-to-play PvP brawler which takes a page out of Angry Birds’ book. Players will attempt to bring down their opponent’s tower by pinging units at it using an oversized slingshot, and if you’re based in the Netherlands, Scandinavia or parts of Asia, you can take a stab at the tower toppling right now.
12. WWE Universe
Publisher: Glu Mobile
Available On: iOS (New Zealand, Australia)
WWE World is wrestling its way onto iOS devices to give fans the chance to experience what it’s like to manage a wrestling company. Players will be responsible for their superstars’ training regime, become embroiled in drama outside of the ring and take down opponents using one-touch controls inside of it. Adding to the authenticity, the game is also fully licensed and feature real-life WWE stars including Ric Flair and AJ Styles.
Publisher: Jam City
Available On: iOS & Android (Argentina, New Zealand, Singapore)
Casual developer Jam City has branched out in interactive fiction with the soft launch of Twist, a portal which thrusts players into the thick of horror, romance, comedy and other literary genres, and lets them determine what happens from chapter to chapter. Here’s a twist you might not want: some of the multiple choice options are locked behind paywalls, though there are subscription models for those who decide this is for them.
10. Legend of Solgard
Available On: iOS & Android (Denmark, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sweden)
Candy Crush studio King is back with a new game and this one sees the developer put its own colourful twist on the RPG. Legend of Solgard blends turn-based combat with match-three puzzling for those who prefer their role-playing accessible and streamlined.
9. MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2018
Publisher: Glu Mobile
Available On: iOS (Canada)
Many successful sports sims dole out annual instalments and Glu Mobile’s MLB Tap Sports Baseball is set to be no exception. Once again, the developer has teamed up with the sport’s governing body to pitch up another helping of America’s favourite pastime, complete with new features including enhanced graphics and a player-management mode.
8. LEGO Quest & Collect
Available On: iOS & Android (Philippines, Singapore)
LEGO Quest & Collect is about to join a long list of games based on everyone’s favourite multi-coloured bricks. This one has players collecting pieces to enhance their army of Minifigs before sending them into battle. Many of the most popular LEGO brands, including Ninjago, LEGO City and LEGO Pirates are featured, and there’s a PvP mode for those who prefer building (and destroying) LEGO with others.
7. Hit the 5 Casino
Available On: iOS & Android (New Zealand, Argentina)
If you want to sample a small piece of Las Vegas without the risk of losing any actual money, Webzen’s Hit the 5 Casino is a safe bet. This slot machine simulation is a mobile version of the Korean studio’s popular Facebook title of the same name, available now in soft launch territories New Zealand and Argentina.
6. Battle Breakers
Publisher: Epic Games
Available On: iOS & Android (Philippines, Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden)
Gears of War studio Epic Games has launched a fresh assault on mobile with the soft launch of Battle Breakers, an RPG with an emphasis on tactical combat. Available in the Philippines, Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, the game tasks players with building up an army of super warriors so they can reclaim their enslaved planet.
5. Armed Heist
Publisher: Av SOZAP
Available On: iOS (Sweden)
Overkill Software is unlikely to ever bring its Payday series to mobile, but that’s okay because Armed Heist is about to burst onto the iOS scene. It’s a third-person shooter based around cover mechanics and bank robberies. Missions come in bite-sized chunks ideal for mobile and levels are randomly generated. iOS users in Sweden are already doing their best impression of the Joker from the opening scene of The Dark Knight.
4. Circle Breaker
Publisher: Motorious Entertainment
Available On: iOS & Android (Finland, Netherlands)
If the devil hasn’t found work for your idle thumbs yet, Circle Breaker should do the trick. Motorious Entertainment has a firm grasp of what works on mobile, at least where simplistic puzzlers are concerned. There’s little to it beyond rotating circles and trying to catch the ball in the middle before it drops off screen, but its 700-plus levels should keep you busy for a good while.
3. Crusaders of Light
Publisher: NetEase Games/LongE Play
Available On: iOS & Android (Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore; Taiwan [Android only])
High-end, World of Warcraft-style MMORPG action is on its way to mobile devices in the shape of Crusaders of Light. NetEase’s latest offering boasts stellar 3D visuals, dynamic combat and fully-fledged raids, as well as social features designed specifically with iOS and Android devices in mind. You’ll find plenty of WoW factor here.
2. Farm On!
Publisher: Cheetah Games
Available On: iOS & Android (Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Singapore)
Raising cattle and tending to crops has never been easier than in Farm On, an agricultural simulation so accessible that it can be played with one hand. The casual smartphone title is in soft launch in numerous territories, including Britain, and it really is top of the crops.
1. Galactic Frontline
Publisher: NetEase Games
Available On: iOS & Android (Philippines)
NetEase Games’ real-time space battler Galactic Frontline is now in soft launch on iOS and Android in the Philippines. Players are tasked with assembling an interstellar fleet capable of withstanding the heat in a galaxy at war. Whether you challenge other users online, take part in global tournaments or simply work you way through the campaign mode is up to you.
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