iPads are not only great for productivity on the go but also make fantastic mobile gaming machines. With the impressive performance and long battery life of current iPads, gaming on the go has never been more enjoyable. Whether you’re into action-packed racing games, challenging tower defense games, or expansive open-world role-playing games, our guide about the best free iPad games has something for just about every type of gamer.
Of course, there are many other excellent free games in the Apple App Store. However, in this article, we’ll focus on the games we’ve actually tested. We’ll provide you with detailed insights into what we appreciate about these games and also point out any criticisms.
One important aspect we’ll delve into is in-app purchases. Many free games offer additional content or advantages for real money. We’ll explain how these in-app purchases impact the gaming experience and whether the games can still be enjoyable without additional spending.
If you’re a fan of impressive mobile games with console-quality graphics and are looking for the perfect games for long train rides and more, you’ve come to the right place.
Asphalt 9: Legends – Action-Packed Arcade Racing Game with Stunning Graphics
Asphalt 9: Legends has established itself as one of the most popular racing games on the iPad. With its sleek graphics, extensive car lineup, and intense gameplay, the game has secured a place in the hearts of many racing game enthusiasts.
Sleek Graphics and Fast-Paced Gameplay
It may sound cliché, but Asphalt 9: Legends captured our racing game hearts with its attractive graphics and dynamic gameplay. The detailed vehicles and fantastic effects are a sight to behold, and the gameplay is fast and full of action.
The game’s content is also impressive. It features over 150 supercars from renowned manufacturers like Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini, which you can collect and customize. You can tweak your car’s performance, adjust colors, and add individual parts to give your vehicle a unique touch and optimize it.
Asphalt 9: Legends offers 185 tracks in 13 real locations like San Francisco, Cairo, and Osaka. You’ll race through various environments like the American wilderness or the Himalayas while dealing with tornadoes or avalanches.
The game offers both single-player and multiplayer modes. There are over 900 solo career events, and you have the opportunity to participate in live races with up to eight players. The more races you successfully complete, the more rewards you unlock.
You also have the option to create clubs and connect with other players to improve your reputation and unlock milestone rewards.
Freemium Model Can Be Frustrating
Despite its overall package, there’s something we criticize about Asphalt 9: Legends. A significant aspect is the game’s freemium model, which includes in-app purchases and micro-transactions. You can accelerate your progress in the game with real money. If you want to earn all the vehicles, etc., through your efforts, you’ll need a lot of time, and it can become quite repetitive after a while. Another criticism is the high difficulty level of some races, especially in advanced stages of the game. This might make you feel pressured to invest money in faster vehicles or tune your car to win, which can be frustrating.
The Bottom Line
Asphalt 9: Legends is an action-packed, fun, and stylish racing game for the iPad. Thanks to its fantastic graphics, extensive tracks and car variety, and fast-paced gameplay, it’s one of the best arcade racing games in the App Store. However, it’s important to note that the game’s freemium model can result in additional costs, and some races can be quite challenging if you want to win without spending money.
Apple App Store: Asphalt 9: Legends
Plants vs. Zombies 2 – Fun Tower Defense Game with Addictive Gameplay
Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a lovingly crafted action-strategy game that quickly becomes addictive. With its blend of humorous comic-style graphics, challenging gameplay, and various plants and zombies, the game offers a refreshing twist on tower defense games.
Gameplay and Challenges
Your task is to protect your garden from the undead and cultivate a powerful army of plants using special fertilizer to turn legions of zombies into compost.
The tower defense concept is taken to the next level with creative plants like the lava guava and the laser bean, as well as amusing zombies like the rocket backpack zombie. The challenging levels require clever strategy to defeat the zombies and protect your garden.
Diverse Plants and Power-Ups
Plants vs. Zombies 2 offers hundreds of creatively designed plants and zombies. From the sunflower and pea shooter to other fun garden warriors like the mermaid imp, there’s a wide variety. You can strengthen your plants and improve their abilities by earning seed packets. This variety of plants and power-ups provides numerous tactical options to combat the zombies.
Arena Mode and PvP Battles
In Plants vs. Zombies 2, you can also compete with other players in engaging arena duels. Success in PvP battles earns you coins, piñatas, and more. The arena mode is an excellent way to test your strategy and climb the leaderboards.
Extensive Game Content
With 11 different worlds, including Ancient Egypt and the Far Future, Plants vs. Zombies 2 offers a wide range of environments and challenges. Over 300 levels, tricky endless zones, fun mini-games, and daily piñata party events ensure long-lasting fun. At the end of each world, you’ll face the formidable Dr. Zomboss, who can only be defeated with clever planning and the right defensive plants.
Pay to Win and Annoying Ads?
Plants vs. Zombies 2 also includes in-app purchases. While the game can be downloaded for free, you have the option to buy in-game currency and power-ups to speed up your progress. As you play more, this can be somewhat frustrating, as you need gold for new plants, which you can only obtain through luck, long gaming sessions, or real money. However, with some patience, you can still make progress without spending money. The frequent in-game advertisements can also be annoying at times.
The Bottom Line
Plants vs. Zombies 2 is an entertaining and challenging action-strategy game for the iPad. With its humorous presentation, variety of plants and zombies, arena mode, and extensive content, it has rightfully earned a place in the hearts of strategy game enthusiasts. The slow progress in the later stages of the game without spending money and the frequent in-game ads are a bit frustrating. Nonetheless, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a clear recommendation and a great choice for a quick gaming session.
Apple App Store: Plants vs. Zombies 2
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD – Space Action with Extensive Content
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is a popular space action game with beautiful graphics and great gameplay.
Gameplay and Challenges
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD offers an extensive space adventure where you travel as a space pilot through a vast universe. The game features a variety of missions, including trading missions, combat missions, and exploration missions. You can upgrade your spaceship, acquire new weapons, and choose your own path through the universe. The missions require tactical thinking and skill to defeat enemies and complete missions.
Rich Universe and Exploration
The universe of Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is stunning. It offers various star systems with beautiful planets, asteroids, space stations, and wormholes. Exploring the galaxy is one of the game’s highlights, and you’ll find plenty of secrets and treasures hidden in the depths of space.
Story and Voice Acting
The game’s story is engaging, with a well-written plot and good voice acting. You’ll encounter interesting characters, build relationships, and make choices that affect the story’s outcome.
In-App Purchases and DLC
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is free to download, but it includes in-app purchases and additional downloadable content (DLC). While you can enjoy the main story without spending money, some of the in-game currency purchases and DLCs can be quite expensive.
The Bottom Line
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD offers an immersive space adventure experience with stunning graphics and engaging gameplay. It’s a great choice for fans of space exploration and combat. However, be prepared for the presence of in-app purchases and optional DLC that can lead to additional costs.
Apple App Store: Galaxy on Fire 2 HD
Subway Surfers: Our Favorite Endless Runner
Subway Surfers has become a true classic in the App Store and is always good for a quick round of fun. Since its release in 2012, the game has gained a large fan base and offers hours of gameplay.
Entertaining Gameplay in a Colorful Cartoon World
Subway Surfers is characterized by colorful and lively cartoon graphics and simple, entertaining gameplay.
The various cities you can explore are detailed and visually diverse. In addition, the simple controls make it easy for gamers of all ages to quickly get into the game. You don’t need to perform complicated maneuvers or difficult key combinations, just a simple swipe on the screen.
Another plus point of Subway Surfers is the motivating reward system. You can collect coins while playing, which you can then invest in power-ups, characters, and new skateboards. This aspect provides additional motivation to play the game from time to time to unlock new items.
Despite these positive points, there are some things that can detract from the gaming experience. One of the biggest criticisms is the fact that Subway Surfers heavily relies on in-app purchases. While the game can be downloaded for free, you are often bombarded with advertisements and in-game offers to spend real money. This can disrupt the gameplay and give the impression that you can’t make real progress without additional purchases. However, it’s also true that you don’t have to spend a single cent to have fun with Subway Surfers.
Subway Surfers offers fun and solid gameplay, but after a while, the gameplay can feel somewhat monotonous. The repetitive task of dodging obstacles and collecting coins can become monotonous over time. Although new characters and skateboards can be unlocked, the basic gameplay principle remains essentially the same. This is, however, the nature of endless runner games.
The Bottom Line
Despite the valid criticisms, Subway Surfers is our favorite endless runner in the App Store and is perfect for passing the time. If you don’t succumb to “enticing offers” to spend real money and you enjoy the gameplay mechanics of endless runner games, this game is a solid recommendation.
Apple App Store: Subway Surfers
PUBG Mobile – Motivating Battle Royale Game
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) was released in 2018 and has since become one of the most popular battle royale games in the App Store. It stands out with its stylish, relatively realistic graphics and captivating gameplay.
PUBG offers vast open maps and a variety of game modes, weapons, and equipment. The maps are expansive and offer numerous tactical opportunities to play the game your way.
Engaging Gameplay & Various Modes
PUBG’s gameplay is exciting and intense. You can compete for victory with up to 100 players in the Classic mode or challenge other players in modes like Payload, Infection, or 4v4 Team Arena.
The matches last ten minutes, and the gameplay is fast-paced, creating a sense of “just one more round.”
I personally love the Classic mode, where you compete with up to 100 players for victory, and only the last survivor wins. The thrill of fighting for survival adds a high level of addiction and adrenaline, providing hours of enjoyment.
Practice Makes Perfect
PUBG is demanding and requires a lot of practice to be successful. Newcomers may initially feel overwhelmed, especially when facing experienced opponents. This can be frustrating at the beginning.
You can make in-app purchases in PUBG as well. The game itself is completely free, and the in-app purchases are fortunately limited to cosmetic items. Players who invest money in the game do not gain any gameplay advantages over those who don’t spend a cent.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, PUBG is an intense and captivating battle royale shooter for the iPad. It offers an immersive gaming world where you compete against players from around the world to emerge as the last survivor. The game is challenging and has a steep learning curve, which can be frustrating for beginners but doesn’t ruin the overall experience. Nevertheless, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is our favorite battle royale game.
Apple App Store: PUBG Mobile
Genshin Impact – Console-Quality Action RPG for iPad
Genshin Impact is a visually stunning and extensive open-world action RPG. It excels in both graphics and gameplay, reaching console-level quality.
Vast Open World
Genshin Impact offers a massive, beautiful open world to explore, providing weeks of gameplay.
The landscapes are meticulously crafted, offering picturesque environments. The visual effects are impressive and create an immersive atmosphere that draws you into the game world. Furthermore, the game offers a wide range of characters with diverse abilities and combat styles, ensuring plenty of variety.
Another positive aspect is the engaging gameplay. Genshin Impact features a variety of tasks, quests, and challenges to conquer. You can freely explore the world, solve puzzles, engage in battles, and interact with other players. The game also provides regular updates and events, offering new content to discover.
In-App Purchases & Grinding
Despite many positive aspects, there are a few downsides. One major criticism is the “Gacha system” used in Genshin Impact. This system requires you to spend in-game currency to obtain random rewards, including new characters and weapons. To unlock desired rewards, you may need to invest a significant amount of time or money.
The good news is that the game can be completed without spending real money. However, it progresses much faster if you invest money, as you can obtain better equipment and characters more quickly.
Around Adventure Rank 22, you may need to grind for experience points to access further story quests. This can be somewhat tedious but is not a deal-breaker for us.
The Bottom Line
Genshin Impact is a visually impressive and expansive action RPG. It offers a stunning game world, a wide variety of characters, and plenty to explore. It’s unfortunate that the game becomes somewhat slow without in-app purchases over time.
Overall, Genshin Impact is still a clear recommendation for action RPG fans and a great demonstration of what modern gaming on the iPad can look like. So, all that’s left to say is: Enjoy exploring Teyvat!
Apple App Store: Genshin Impact
Dead Trigger 2 – Zombie Slaying Deluxe
Dead Trigger 2 is one of those motivating games that you’ll enjoy playing in between tasks. This action first-person shooter stands out with its sleek graphics, excellent gameplay, and extensive content.
Addictive Gameplay with Impressive Graphics
Dead Trigger 2 offers a captivating atmosphere and visually impressive graphics. Detailed environments and gruesome zombies create a great mood. In addition, the gameplay is smooth and engaging, providing a lot of fun.
The controls in Dead Trigger 2 are simple. You automatically shoot when targeting a zombie, and you can control the game through touch controls or a virtual joystick. The gameplay is fast and action-packed, tempting you to play “just one more round.”
Your Hideout, A.K.A. the HUB
In your hideout, which serves as a hub, you’ll encounter various characters who make surviving the relentless zombie world easier. These characters, such as the weaponsmith, scientist, smuggler, medic, and technician, offer you the opportunity to purchase new weapons and upgrades.
The more missions you successfully complete, the more useful items and upgrades you can unlock.
Dead Trigger 2 features over 70 different weapons to bring the heat to the zombies. You can choose from pistols, rifles, submachine guns, miniguns, rocket launchers, shotguns, and even quirky weapons like explosive-laden chickens.
You also have access to melee weapons like wrenches, baseball bats, hammers, katanas, chainsaws, swords, and machetes.
With the variety of weapons and items, you have many creative options to take down the undead in style.
The game offers 10 regions and 33 different battlegrounds. The story campaigns are motivating and engaging. Additionally, there are weekly tournaments.
The game is completely free to play. However, you can purchase weapons, etc., with real money, and this can reduce your wait time for the next mission.
The Bottom Line
Dead Trigger 2 feels like a console-level first-person shooter. Thanks to its motivating gameplay, unlockable items, and great graphics, it keeps drawing you back into the virtual zombie world for some more action.
Dead Trigger 2 is our personal favorite zombie game in the App Store and a great way to release some stress outside the gym.
Apple App Store: Dead Trigger 2
Alto’s Odyssey Remastered – Timeless Aesthetics and Meditative Gameplay
Alto’s Odyssey Remastered offers a considerable amount of content and looks beautiful due to its unique art design. It’s one of those games that you can enjoy for a “quick” round in between tasks. However, it is “free” to play only if you have an Apple Arcade subscription.
Relaxed Gameplay in a Beautiful Environment
In Alto’s Odyssey Remastered, you surf through a stunning and atmospherically rich desert world. While doing so, you collect valuable items and avoid obstacles and chasms. The gameplay is both simple and challenging, and it becomes quite addictive after a while.
Unlike many other iPad games, Alto’s Odyssey Remastered has a somewhat calming effect on us due to its special art and sound design. We highly recommend the game to those who appreciate games with a unique style and extraordinary atmosphere.
The graphics are simply beautiful, and the music adds to the relaxing atmosphere of the game.
The gameplay is easy to learn but challenging enough to keep you engaged.
You need to dodge obstacles, collect coins, and perform tricks to earn points.
Another plus point of Alto’s Odyssey Remastered is the variety of environments. The game takes you through different landscapes, from sandy dunes to mysterious temples and enchanted caves. Each environment offers unique elements and obstacles to master, keeping the game exciting and motivating you to play more rounds.
A small criticism from us is the limited depth of the gameplay. Although Alto’s Odyssey initially captivates mainly due to its great visuals and atmosphere, it can feel somewhat monotonous in terms of gameplay after a while.
Because the gameplay remains essentially the same as you progress through the game.
Another criticism concerns the game’s controls. While the touch controls are easy to learn, they can sometimes feel a bit imprecise. This can be somewhat frustrating, especially when you’re trying to execute precise tricks or avoid certain obstacles.
The Bottom Line
Alto’s Odyssey Remastered is a beautifully crafted iPad game that initially captivates with its aesthetics and atmosphere. However, the gameplay may become somewhat monotonous over time.
Nevertheless, we strongly recommend giving the game a try, especially if you enjoy games with a unique style and a distinctive atmosphere.
Apple App Store: Alto’s Odyssey
That brings us to the end of this list of best free iPad games. If you also own an Android tablet or have a friend who does and loves free games, then do check out our list of best free games for Android.
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