Apple's ARKit got a big update earlier this year, so I thought it would be a good time to let you in on a little secret; there are some great augmented reality (AR) games available for your iPhone and iPad.
AR is not only one of the coolest things to happen to mobile gaming in a while; it keeps getting better. As new software is developed and more games come out, the possibilities practically seem endless. Here are my favorite AR games you can download right now on your iPhone and iPad.
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I'm pretty sure we all know Pokémon GO, but just in case some of you out there have been living under a rock far away from a PokéStop: Pokémon GO is a location-based AR addition to the beloved Nintendo franchise Pokémon.
In the game, you walk around in your environment and catch and befriend creatures called Pokémon, which you can train and level up to become better and even evolve into new Pokémon. Certain locations in your neighborhood or city are Gyms, where you go to battle, and others are PokéStops, where you go to replenish your items.
Pokémon GO isn't a new game, but Niantic (the developers behind the massively popular game) are constantly updating the game with more content and having special events coincide with big holidays, making the game a fun experience year round!
This was one of the first AR games that I played when ARKit was first launched, and it's still one of my favorites.
You only have one objective in ARise, and that's to escort the knight through the optical illusion AR level you see before you through your iPhone or iPad's camera.
As you look around the level, you'll notice the knight's path is blocked by missing sections; however, you can make the sections connect by physically moving around the space and looking for the right perspective to line up the symbols.
It's an incredibly simple yet fun and imaginative way to use AR in a puzzle game, and I think it's a fantastic gateway game if you're looking to get into playing more AR titles.
Ticket to Earth
Ticket to Earth is an incredible game and is a must-download for gamers everywhere, and I can't recommend it highly enough!
The story is littered with surprising plot twists, impactful characters, and a well-written narrative that will keep you invested in the rich world of New Providence and the people who populate the planet.
Beautifully designed graphics that blend the manga/comic book style artwork with brightly colored backgrounds and landscape make Ticket to Earth pop off the screen in a delightful burst of colors, which never gets old.
An original battle system that breathes new life into the strategy RPG genre, the Movement system offers an incredibly deep and complex combat experience that never goes stale, as there is always new powers and abilities to acquire. It's refreshing to see a strategy RPG that heavily relies on the strategy part of its genre. Ticket to Earth will kill you if you're not careful, you must examine the map carefully and choose your action wisely, or you'll be doomed to repeat the same mission over and over again. It can be mildly frustrating as you're still learning the game, but it's wildly entertaining the whole time.
Plus, since the birth of ARKit, the developers have added a beautiful AR mode that lets you play all the story missions and a bunch of new original mission in AR.
When it comes to making full use of Apple's ARKit, no other game comes close to achieving its full potential than The Machines, and there's no better device to play it on than the iPhone X.
Using your phone's back camera, you can transform any flat surface into a war zone as you and your friends battle it out in an augmented reality wasteland. Control several different types of mechs in a 3D space to shoot down your opponent's troops. You'll need to physically move your phone around to see the whole level and find the best places to launch an attack against your enemies.
The multiplayer in this game is awesome! Being able to grab a friend, set up on your kitchen counter, and play this larger-than-life futuristic battle game is mind-boggling.
In the same vein as ARise, Splitter Critters is a pretty simple puzzle game that requires you to split the level into pieces and rearrange the pieces to clear a path for cute aliens trying to find their way home.
The AR mode is very well executed, and it adds completely new levels to the game, plus a couple of new perspective based mechanics that require you to move around the AR environment set out before you.
I'm not the only one who likes Splitter Critters. The game won an Apple Design Award in 2017 and with over a 1,000 reviews on the App Store the game still has a 5-star rating.
ARZombi is an 80s-tastic ARKit game in which you defend your home against an attacking hoard of zombies.
The undead will try to squeeze their way in through whatever door or windows you point your phone toward, and your job is to board up all the openings and waste the shambling horrors that are able to make their way inside. Also, you up your health by eating slices of pizza. If that isn't the dream, I don't know what is.
While ARZombi isn't the most beautiful, or complex AR games it delivers an incredibly fun experience for only $0.99 — it's hard to ask for anything more.
Which AR games do you play?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.