Professional and/or competitive shooter games are fast becoming a sustainable industry trend for mobile gaming with both game development and smartphone hardware reaching the point where phones can absolutely deliver top-notch gaming experiences — even for first-person shooters.
This still probably sounds like crazy talk to traditional PC gamers but the facts are that mobile shooters have cut out a nice niche within the pro gaming community — franchises such as PUBG Mobile and Guns of Boom have competitive eSports leagues that can be advantageous to people who love to stream or try playing for cash in tournament. Just like other online games for console or PC, mobile games reward teams who can practice and train together — or you can just jump into the game and have some fun on your phone.
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of Duty is one of the most popular selling game franchises of all time, so it was only a matter of time before a proper mobile version of the game was released by publisher Activision. CoD Mobile offers several ways to jump into multiplayer action with friends or strangers. Each multiplayer match type is 5-on-5 and the parameters are slightly different depending on the mode you choose:
- Team Deathmatch is pretty standard fare with random respawn points and each team racing to get to 50 kills (40 if you’re playing a ranked match)
- Frontline is similar to Team Deathmatch except each team’s respawn point is fixed on either side of the map.
- Domination adds in capture points that each team must secure and hold to earn points. First team to reach the score limit wins.
- Search and Destroy is a tactical mode with no respawns that is played over several rounds. One team is tasked with destroying an objective while the other team plays defense.
All those modes are available to play in unranked matches, while only Team Deathmatch is available to start for ranked matches. Ranked Domination and Search and Destroy modes are only unlocked as you move up the rankings ladder.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a 100-player Battle Royale mode that you can play in first-person or third-person view in solo, duo, or 4-person team modes. Battle Royale mode also introduces a class system that gives your player a special ability to assist your team on the battlefield.
Call of Duty: Mobile is another free to play game that is buoyed by a Battle Pass system that encourages you to buy in-app currency to spend on a premium battle pass for more rewards or even more cash on cosmetic skins for your character and weapons. The good news is that you really don’t need to pay any attention to the in-app purchases to enjoy the game, but they are there if and when you’d ever want them.
Developed by Tencent Games, Call of Duty: Mobile is about as good as a mobile FPS can get and I would expect nothing less the company that has already been dominating the mobile shooter genre with PUBG Mobile.
Download: Call of Duty Mobile (Free, w/IAPs)
It’s pretty incredible how well PUBG Mobile plays on Android. The main attraction is the massive PvP Battle Royale mode that pits 100 players against each other on a massive island loaded with weapons, ammo, tactical gear, and vehicles. You drop in as a solo player or as part of a team and must use all your best skills to take down your opponents until you’re the last man standing.
Tencent Games continues to add new content to the game every couple of months with new maps or different arcade modes added over the years to add a depth of gameplay that is unlike other free-to-play games. Of course, there’s a tiered progression ladder with a free game pass and a premium one that offers more cosmetic rewards. Every six to eight weeks, the game pass resets to introduce a new season that typically introduces new premium cosmetics rewards to unlock and collect.
For players looking for a more competitive experience, you are able to join or custom create a clan where you can team up and practice your tactical strategies. Due to its global popularity, PUBG Mobile has developed a bustling eSports community. Think you’ve got the goods? You can try out for a competitive team and start competing in privately-run tournaments, and then assemble your best squad and enter the PUBG Mobile Club Open.
PUBG Mobile manages to deliver a deep, well-rounded and varied gaming experience with graphics, controls, and game performance scaled down perfectly for play on mobile devices. There’s just so much to enjoy here without having to participate in the in-game economy or premium game passes. In fact, I’ve almost given up playing the core Battle Royale mode because some of the Team Deathmatch and zombie modes are so dang fun to play all on their own.
Download: PUBG Mobile (Free)
Critical Ops is still in beta, but it’s still worth checking out. Right now, there are three game modes to choose from: bomb defusing, team deathmatch, and gun game where you cycle through different weapons every time you kill an opponent. Despite still being in beta, this game is really good.
It’s kind of got that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare vibe to it, mixed with a healthy dose of CounterStrike to create a best-of-both-worlds scenario that offers great graphics and really solid controls. It’s free to play with in-app purchases available but you can only buy skins for your guns and the developers have assured players that this game will never be pay-to-win. If that remains the case, then Critical Ops is absolutely one of the best shooters available for Android!
Download: Critical Ops (Free w/IAPs)
Modern Strike Online
Not interested in anything other than the thrill of online multiplayer? Modern Strike Online offers just that: a pure online FPS experience packed with features and game modes we’ve come to expect from the genre. Once you’ve leveled up some, you unlock all six game modes, which include the standard fare you’d expect — free-for-all, team deathmatch, seek and destroy, and a hardcore mode. In-game currency can be bought via in-app purchases or earned via daily rewards, crates and generally kicking ass. Spend your gold and credits on new weapons, armor, and accessories for your character. There’s a decent amount of customization available for kitting, with over 30 types of weapons available to rent or buy.
It’s as complete an FPS as you’ll find on Android. You’ll want to head into the settings first to customize your controls and screen layout and tweak the graphics quality to optimize gameplay on your device. By default, your gun will auto-fire as soon as an enemy enters your crosshairs — you can switch this off in the settings, but it’s actually a pretty handy feature to have when you’re already using your thumbs to move and look around. Yes, there’s the occasional in-game ad and constant pressure to invest real cash, as is the case with most mobile games these days, but it’s not terribly invasive and there’s plenty of fun and loot to be had relying on the free crates and daily rewards.
Download: Modern Strike Online (Free)
Guns of Boom
Guns of Boom is a bright and colorful cartoony first-person shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously while still delivering one of the purest competitive online shooter games for Android. The game gets all the basics right that you want from a good FPS — quick and responsive controls that are customizable, well-designed maps and weapons that allow for adaptive gameplay, and a healthy community of players.
Matches are 4-vs-4 deathmatches which take place in vibrant and colorful maps that allow for a mix of rush assaults, close quarters combat, and long-range sniping. One of Guns of Boom’s biggest strengths is how easy it is to load up the app and jump right into the game. Alternatively, you can spend time in the menus connecting with friends or organizing with a clan, or dive into the Arsenal to buy and upgrade new weapons and health kits using in-game cash and gold. To that end, Guns of Boom may give you the feeling that it’s pay-to-win and that might be the case once you get up to Level 30 with the hardcore players who may have invested up to $100 or more into the game. But the game is super generous with cash and powerups if you work towards completing daily challenges and grind away.
If you can work your way up to Level 22, you are able to try and qualify for the relatively new Guns of Boom eSports tournament. The second season of competitive play has just started so there may still be time to get into a regional qualifier tournament.
Download: Guns of Boom (Free w/IAPs)
N.O.V.A. 3: Freedom Edition
N.O.V.A. 3 picks up the story of former N.O.V.A. commander Kal Wardin as he crash lands in San Francisco amid an ongoing battle. Gameplay is mixed with cutscenes that tell the fairly in-depth story — it might, in fact, be the reason you keep coming back to N.O.V.A. 3.
Play against enemy A.I. units or play multiplayer over local Wi-Fi or the internet. Gameloft implements some measures against cheaters and boosters, namely encouraging players to record or document the actions of said cheaters.
Controls are responsive and targeting is aided by tapping a button to aim down sights, a nice feature for those with big fingers. There are some ads displayed on the menu screens and a popup once in awhile when you die, but nothing the experienced mobile gamer can’t handle.
Download: N.O.V.A. 3 (Free)
Looking for nothing more than solid online FPS action? Look no further than Bullet Force!
This game supports 20-player battles and includes popular game modes including Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Free-For-All, and Gun Game. The graphics are pretty great for mobile and the on-screen controls can be tweaked as needed. There are over 20 weapons to unlock and customize and if you’re out of service range, don’t fret! You can play offline matches against bots and keep your skills sharp.
Download: Bullet Force (Free w/IAPs)
JYDGE is a gritty and violent top-down twin-stick shooter that is an absolute blast to play. You are the JYDGE, a cybernetic enforcement officer who uses his Gavel (see: BIG freaking gun) to dole out RoboCop-style justice.
Each level features different challenges that you must complete to progress through the different stages, but it never drags on or feels like a chore to play. Confiscating illegal cash along the way, you’re able to upgrade JYDGE and his gavel with a deep selection of accessories and upgrades. In that way, JYDGE retains the rogue-like element from its predecessor Neon Chrome by encouraging players to revisit levels with different upgrade combinations until you complete all the challenges.
With a game that has you replay levels over and over again, it’s imperative for a game to find that mix of great gameplay with an interesting soundtrack that isn’t super annoying or repetitive — and JYDGE absolutely delivers there, too.
Download: JYDGE ($5.99)
Hitman: Sniper finds you, Agent 47, stationed with a sniper rifle outside an estate filled with rich people, bodyguards, and a certain high-priority target. Your job is to take your time, plan a course of action, and begin removing enemies any way you see fit (as long as it’s through a scope). Each mission has different objectives you can complete for extra money, which you can then spend on weapon upgrades and new sniper rifles. If you’re especially proud of a mission, use the Share Replay function to share gameplay footage with your friends.
This game has nice graphics and great mechanics: you must lead enemies who are on the move and must account for their sometimes unforeseen actions. They will not shoot back but will take cover and move around the map attempting to help your prime target escape. Controls are easy and responsive, meaning you won’t have too much trouble lining up the shot. The music is great, especially when you miss a couple of shots and set off some alarms, and the voice acting is also above par for mobile games. Get your heart beating with this great shooter, and enjoy no ads or in-app purchases.
Download: Hitman: Sniper ($0.99)
Tired of mobile first-person shooters that feel too familiar — almost cookie-cutter? Combat Squad brings an extra layer of tactical strategy to the table by having you control your own squad in one-on-one battles against online opponents. It works by letting you “dive” in and out of controlling your squad members, while the remaining teammates follow your lead via A.I. control.
You’ll need to build up a diverse squad and strategically control each member of your team to achieve victory. The gameplay and controls here are great, so if you’re looking for a fresh take on the genre for mobile, give Combat Squad a try!
Download: Combat Squad (Free w/IAPs)
Modern Combat 5: Blackout
Did someone replace my phone with a console? Modern Combat 5: Blackout is a first-person military shooter that gives you a real video game experience from the palm of your hand. Beginning with an escape mission in Venice, the campaign follows Caydan Phoenix as he travels the world battling Raiders and the World Liberation Army. Customize your soldier’s loadout and special abilities to best suit your playstyle — more options are unlocked as you rank up.
Gameplay is smooth and the controls are easier to manage than most shooters, likely due to the fact you can modify all settings, including audio, control, and HUD. Modern Combat 5 has beautiful graphics for a mobile game and runs without hiccups on an LG G4.
New to Modern Combat 5 is a PvP multiplayer mode that has five game modes: Free for all, VIP, Squad battle, Capture the flag, Zone control, and Team battle. Test your skills against players around the world and work your way up the global leaderboard. This game has minimal ads, though it does have some micro-transactions.
Download: Modern Combat 5: Blackout (Free)
Overkill 3 is a third-person shooter that guides you through the level, also known as being on rails. Your job is to aim and shoot bad guys. Sounds easy? Overkill lets you choose a difficulty before each boss fight, meaning your recent disposal of entry-position bad guys has no bearing on what is to come.
Choose a loadout from the armory before each mission and unlock new weapons and gear as you progress through the game. You must collect stars by completing specific objectives during each mission — the stars are used to unlock more missions. A tally at the end of each level keeps track of your progress, so you’ll never be unsure of where you stand.
Graphics are not as great as other shooters, but Overkill 3 features a co-op mode that lets you team up with a friend or random player to crush the enemy. Ads are few and far between, but there are many in-app purchases.
Download: Overkill 3 (Free)
Unkilled takes you on a wild, zombie-killing ride with a variety of enemies for you to slay using a variety of weapons. Some missions require different weapons and gadgets, meaning you must enter your armory to upgrade current weapons and purchase new ones. There are plenty of upgrades and weapons rewarded to you for free as you move through the ranks, and you will feel like you’re achieving something each step of the way.
The controls are easy to use and sensitivities are adjustable. Your weapons will shoot automatically when you are aiming at a zombie except when you’re in a static mission; here you will aim and shoot using both thumbs.
There are two play modes available now — campaign and skirmish ops — with multiplayer apparently coming soon. Skirmish Ops pits you and your base against other players and zombies. Defend yourself or go on the offensive; either way, you will find yourself moving up the leaderboard as you expend bullets and bash brains.
Ads are infrequent but in-app purchases are everywhere.
Download: Unkilled (Free)
Dead Trigger 2
Dead Trigger 2 continues to be the quintessential zombie-shooting experience on mobile. The graphics are amazing, though the game hardly takes itself seriously — there are lots of tongue-in-cheek references and over-the-top baddies to mow down. This version is a little different in that players now have their own hideout and a crew that can build stuff for them. The controls have also been streamlined for touch; all you have to do is move the crosshairs over a zombie, and if you’re in range, you’ll automatically start shooting.
There are tons of missions to enjoy, and the in-app purchases have been scaled back with the removal of the premium currency — now you can buy and build everything yourself without spending a cent.
Download: Dead Trigger 2 (Free)
Dead Plague is an outstanding top-down shooter that absolutely deserves a place on this list for its brilliant graphics, frantic gameplay, and support for online co-op play. You play as a member of a strike team that’s been dropped on an island where a zombie plague has broken out. You must fight your way through the swarms of zombies to find the DNA samples that are humanity’s only hope of finding a cure.
There’s a nice variety of enemies to battle, including some epic boss battles, along with a full arsenal of weapons to choose from. With tight dual-stick digital controls and an engaging campaign that you can play alone or online with friends, Dead Plague stands out as one of the best shooters for Android.
Download: Dead Plague (Free w/IAPs)
Major Mayhem is a fast, simple run-and-gun side-scroller. Players simply tap on ninjas, secret agents, or whoever else the president has commanded you to wipe out. There’s some kind of storyline in there about a girlfriend or something, but really, you just tap your targets as the pop out from behind cover.
It sounds simplistic, but the great cartoon feel, over-the-top storyline, and wide range of unlockables provide excellent bite-sized gameplay.
Download: Major Mayhem (Free)
Did we miss any?
Let us know in the comments below your favorite shooter available for Android. If none of these games put the ammo in your clip, check out our roundup of the best Android games.
Updated October 2019: Added Call of Duty: Mobile to our list and updated PUBG Mobile’s entry to reflect new game modes added.
Article First Published Here