It's no secret that while the best iPads work super well, they're also rather expensive. Fortunately, if you're into gaming there are plenty of titles available on iOS for free, so you don't have to spend any more money to play them. It's worth noting that many free-to-play games do tend to have in-app purchases. However, we've only included games on this list that aren't pay-to-win. Here are the best free iPad games to check out right now.
Remember those in-person parties where you used to play Mafia or Werewolf? Well now, you can still play this kind of social deduction game with your friends whether you're all together or all in separate locations. Among Us is about a group of astronauts attempting to fix their spaceship by completing different tasks. However, some of you are imposters out to sabotage the ship and kill the crew.
If you see something suspicious or come upon a dead body you can call a meeting and everyone can discuss who they think the killer is. If enough votes are cast for one person, they're thrown out the airlock. If it was the imposter, the astronauts win, but if it was an innocent crewmember, the game continues. It's a fun time and since rounds are short, you can easily play for as long or as little as you'd like.
Play quick rounds of a popular social deduction game with friends or random players online. It can support up to 15 players, so you can really get everyone to play with you.
Welcome to the world of Teyvat, where elemental magic is common, dragons exist, and there are gorgeous locations to discover. You find yourself playing as either a young man or woman with magical abilities who is out to uncover their past. Along the way, you'll encounter several other characters and can add them to your team.
This game does have a gacha system with in-app purchases, but you could play the game just as easily without spending any money. Take on various challenges using your team members and their unique skills either alone or with friends.
Master elemental magic as you explore the land of Teyvat and try to uncover your past.
As we said in our review, Pokémon Unite is a MOBA for everyone. That's because it took the basic mechanics of a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), but kept it simple for players of all ages to enjoy. That being said, there are plenty of chances to show off your veteran MOBA skills as well.
Players engage in 5v5 teams where each player takes charge of one Pokémon. You're out to defeat wild Pokémon and opponent Pokémon and then score the points you earned from these encounters in goals. There are five roles or playing styles that each Pokémon falls under, not to mention each Pokémon has unique skills to help your crew out. The team with the most points at the end of the countdown wins.
Acquire more Pokémon and use their skills to defeat opponents and score points for your team. There are in-app purchases to buy new Pokémon, but it isn't necessarily pay-to-win.
Want a quick and simple way to relieve your stress? Why not engage in a pew pew shooter that makes colorful geometric shapes explode? This is a twin-stick shooter that requires plenty of skill to get rid of those shapes without getting injured.
The best part is, there aren't any hidden in-app purchases and no frustrating ads to detract from the game. Just get in there, make those shapes explode, and enjoy. Keep track of your scores on the leaderboards or participate with other players in multiplayer.
Destroy geometric shapes in this complex twin-stick shooter. There are no ads and no in-app purchases, just a good time.
You'll find yourself on a tall platform high in the skies commanding a small fighter. Move on to new locations in this open-sky dungeon crawler to take on new challenges. It's up to you to hack and slash any enemies that appear in this one-button masher and uncover any treasures.
This is a relentless game best meant for those who are looking for a challenge rather than a relaxing time. If you're looking for something less stressful, there are plenty of other options on this list.
Hack and slash your way through enemies in this open-sky dungeon crawler. See how long you can last for.
The King of Fighters All Star
The King of Fighters All Star is perfect for anyone who likes a classic fighting game. While there are others to choose from, this one stands out since there are over 200 characters both from previous games and new to this one. That way, there are plenty of different fighting styles to entertain yourself whenever you jump in.
Play on your own in arena mode, or if you have someone you like to play with, enter multiplayer or co-op mode. The visuals are fun to watch and the iPad screen is well suited to letting you see all of your opponents. Be warned that there are in-app purchases, but they aren't necessary for enjoying the game.
Prove your fighting prowess by beating up everyone you see on the streets.
Ever been stuck in traffic and just wish you could speed past anyone and everyone? Well, now you can do it without risk to yourself or your car in Dashy Crashy. Your car only knows one direction and that's forward. Swipe left or right to change lanes and avoid any other drivers in your path. There are also fun items to collect to increase your score.
The art style is vibrant and pleasant to look at and there's enough variation between night and day to keep things interesting. You'll unlock more cars as you go, with each one having different abilities to help you switch it up a bit.
Slide into different lanes to avoid hitting obstacles as your car goes careening down the freeway. Each car not only has a different style but different abilities as well.
While some games are all about moving fast and fighting, others are more relaxing and offer puzzles like Casual Metaphysics. This self-proclaimed "spiritual game" provides plenty of different challenges to get your mind going in a more restful way. As you progress, puzzles become harder, giving you something to work towards.
The visuals are very unique and make it stand out from other puzzles games on iOS. You can play on your own or against a friend in two-player mode.
This "spiritual puzzle" game gives you interesting challenges that you can solve on your own or in two-player mode.
With its gorgeous-yet-simple visuals, OCO provides a minimalist platforming experience where players must guide a small white square through an available pathway on a circular level. It requires precision and quick timing to master but can be a fun experience for anyone.
You'll learn to strategize while listening to a chill soundtrack and can even create and upload your own levels for others to play through. Get involved in the creator community and enjoy this unique platformer.
This minimalist game combines vibrant round levels with simple to play but hard to master platforming elements.
Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs
Remember back several years when Angry Birds was new and took the mobile world by storm? Nowadays, these are more like classics from the early mobile period, but fortunately, there's a new version of the game that takes it into the modern era. Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs uses your phone camera to see levels in locations you're currently in. Launch a 3D bird straight ahead and attempt to knock down as many pigs as possible.
The best part is that you can walk around the level and attack the structure from different angles to best increase your score. Just make sure you have plenty of room to play.
Try a new spin on the classic Angry Birds game by bringing the levels into augmented reality. Launch those birds and bring down those pig structures to get points.
Unlike other Asphalt games, Xtreme is all about that off-roading experience, whether that means sliding through sandy dunes, racing past forest ruins, or tearing up an old industrial road. Take control of your favorite cars, unlock new ones, and level up their handling stats.
You'll find your way racing through several different locations and will need to get the hang of your car's performance in order to do well. Use nitro to go faster, but do your best not to crash into anything.
PUBG Mobile: Aftermath
You currently cannot play Fortnite due to the Apple Vs. Epic court case. However, you can play one of Fortnite's biggest competitors: PUBG Mobile. It's also a battle royale where 99 players drop into a large space, grab weapons, and attempt to be the last ones standing.
PUBG Mobile has a more realistic art style than Fortnite but it's still a whacky experience for anyone who likes battle royales. Play on your own or with friends in the 4v4 modes.
Jump from a plane, land on the ground, and immediately look for weapons and loot. You'll need to fight to be the last team standing.
In this crazy adventure, all of the foods and inanimate objects you find in a home have come to life. You play as a piece of food with legs like a hotdog, bowl of noodles, or pizza who's out to save his friends from the evil blender. To do this, you'll need to make your way past baddies, collect items, and complete level challenges.
This is a truly silly game with memorable visuals and goof characters. In app-purchases aren't overbearing so you can enjoy this game without ever needing to open your wallet.
Take on the role of a piece of food who must travel from one place to another in order to save his friends from the evil blender.
The Battle of Polytopia
If you're a fan of civilization games like Age of Empires or well, Civilization, then The Battle of Polytopia will be right up your alley. What makes this game so good is that it doesn't take forever. It takes the basic elements from this genre and boils them down into turn-based combat that only lasts for 30 turns. Use that time to explore the map, level up, and advance your society before engaging in combat with other tribes.
The Battle of Polytopia offers simple visuals with strong geometric shapes surrounded by vibrant colors. It's a visual treat while your mind works to strategize. Best of all, it won't take nearly as long as several other civilization games.
A civilization game that doesn't have to take very long. Strategize, advance your civilization, and explore the map in 30 turns or less.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends
As we said in our The Elder Scrolls: Legends review, this game breathes fresh air into a stale genre. This is the kind of game made for fans of Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone as it's a deck builder card game rather than an open-world adventure.
Players are thrown into the middle of a story where they must flee for their lives from some cultists. You'll need to engage in card battles to progress, acquire more cards, and become stronger. What makes this game different is that there is a two-laned battlefield, which means that fighters in a given field can only go up against an opponent in their field. You can spend money to get more cards, but it's also enjoyable without reaching for your credit card.
A deck-building card game in the world of The Elder Scrolls that takes cues from Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone.
Gaming that's easy on the wallet
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The best iPads can help you entertain yourself without needing to spend any money thanks to these free iOS games. If you're not sure where to start, I highly recommend checking out Among Us. Rounds go really quickly, making it perfect to play while waiting for the doctor or when playing with a bunch of friends.
If you're looking for something you can really sink your teeth into, Genshin Impact will be of interest. You'll be exploring a vast open world filled with elemental magic, legendary creatures, and plenty of different locations to explore.
Finally, looking for something a bit more classic? Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs takes the original 2D game and brings it into 3D with Augmented Reality. Shoot birds at the 3D structures that appear onscreen and see how well you score.
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Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.