It’s that time of the year, when we all start reminiscing about the year we’ve just had. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens – we take stock of everything. We’re not ones to dwell on the lows at Pocket Tactics though. No, we’re going to focus on the very best that mobile gaming has to offer in this, the very first Pocket Tactics Awards.
Across this double-feature, we’re going to highlight the biggest and best mobile and Switch games that launched in 2020. We’ll include a wide variety of options, from exclusives to ports and cross platform delights, there’s something here to please everyone. What remains consistent though, as that all of the games on this list are of the highest calibre.
If you’re a fan of very good games, we recommend checking out our best iOS games and best Android games lists, as well as our best mobile games 2020 section, which is chock full of reviews of the latest mobile and Switch games. We really do quite like our games on Pocket Tactics.
Pocket Tactics Awards 2020 – mobile games of the year
As we noted in our Genshin Impact review, the game has a fair few similarities with Breath of the Wild, but it’s far more than that. Genshin Impact has in some ways completely revitalised how many of us think about mobile games and the gacha genre, offering a wonderful anime-themed world to explore, and a cast of characters to meet and collect. Mihoyo also supplies the game with a steady stream of content updates and characters, so there’s always something to do.
We think Genshin Impact is so great, in fact, that it should have been mobile game of the year at the Game Awards. But alas, at least we can still celebrate it here.
Shrinking the core Eve Online experience onto mobile is no mean feat. It’s famously an incredibly complex experience, requiring a lot of play time, research, and working with the community to understand it, let alone thrive in the universe.
Yet NetEase has pulled it off. Eve Echoes is a beautiful interpretation of the classic MMORPG, and it’s quickly become one of the best examples of the genre on mobile. You can learn more about why we think so in our Eve Echoes review, and get some helpful tips to help you get started in our Eve Echoes guide.
Legends of Runeterra
Riot launched a lot of games this year from auto-chess inspired Teamfight Tactics to League of Legends: Wild Rift. But the one that impressed us most was Legends of Runeterra. This card-battling take on the League universe centres around collecting champions and their respective realms to create combination decks, which can be surprising and powerful in equal measure.
Aside from the gorgeous artwork, soundtrack, and high production values, what makes Runeterra feel divergent is the sheer variety of champion combos you can create. As we noted in our Legends of Runeterra review, since so many decks feel so good, it’s almost like there’s an equality to that power. We look forward to seeing where Runeterra’s expansions take it.
There’s no way Dark Souls could work on mobile, right? Well, Pascal’s Wager has proven us all wrong. While it lacks the finesse of From Software’s trilogy, it more than makes up for it with its cast of characters, spooky world, and sheer challenge.
Because Pascal’s Wager is a difficult game, but not an unfair one. The touch controls are also really well-implemented, which is the biggest hurdle a precise action RPG needs to leap over on mobile. Learn more about why we love it in our Pascal’s Wager review.
It was a pretty big year for gacha games on mobile, and Guardian Tales is one of the highlights. It combines addictive Zelda-like action combat, a stunning pixelated art style, and a wide variety of characters to unlock, each of which has its own playstyle.
A common complaint regarding gachas is how little you actually have to play them, and Guardian Tales solves that issue. Not only do you have to take charge of your heroes (find the best by reading our Guardian Tales tier list) in battle, it’s also a heck of a lot of fun.
Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale
As a successful genre on mobile, we see a fair number of new roguelike deck builders release every year. But even though Slay the Spire came to mobile in 2020, we actually want to highlight another roguelike card game. As we noted in our Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale review, the game is a smart take on the card-crawling genre, as you select a warrior, a wizard, a thief, a necromancer, or a cleric, and fight through each dungeon-box of surprises using their particular talents.
Krumit’s Tale has so much character, whether in its quirky Adventure Time-esque art style, its offbeat narrator, or in how its different classes completely change the way you play the game. But most of all, it’s easy to pick up, play, and tap out a dungeon or two.
South of the Circle
There were so many gems on Apple Arcade this year that we could run an entire Pocket Tactics Awards for just them. However, to be fair to the rest of mobile, we’ve settled on just one: it had to be South of the Circle.
This innovative and touching adventure casts you as Peter, a struggling academic stranded in Antarctica. The story weaves between past and present as we learn what led to Peter’s current circumstances. Learn more about why we loved it in our South of the Circle review.
What is Randonautica? That was the question on everyone’s lips back in spring (we answered it in our Randonautica explained guide), when national lockdowns had most of us seeking a new hobby. Randonautica was perfect. You simply received a random set of coordinates and headed in that direction, keeping your mind open to whatever you discovered along the way.
Naturally, this led to some very strange Randonautica stories, as people discovered the strange, wonderful, and, in some cases downright disturbing, happenings in their local area.
It’s safe to say I’ve never played anything quite like this game before. In our Moonlighter review we said it was what “Stardew Valley would be like as a dungeon crawler” and that description remains pretty accurate. Moonlighter is a surreal combo of hack n’ slash dungeon crawling and being a homely shopkeeper, as you fight enemies for items to sell in your grandfather’s store. It’s a surprising combo, but both aspects of gameplay perfectly feed into each other.
Moonlighter’s iOS version is also extremely well optimised for mobile, with an auto-battle difficulty option that makes it feel very well suited to the platform.
XCOM 2 Collection
In our XCOM 2 Collection iOS review, we called Feral’s port of the tactics game a “perfect introduction to what makes the series special”. Though difficult as times, the XCOM 2 Collection is excellent, and this port optimises the game’s smart tactics play and action for the mobile platform, adding a great UI and control scheme. This is a brilliant way to experience XCOM for the first time, facing off against the odds, as you try to build an uprising, and rid the earth of its insidious alien overlords.