It’s perhaps too easy to dismiss the iPad Pro as a legitimate gaming tablet. After all, it’s hard to believe even a 12.9-inch tablet can hold a candle to something like a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. However, while games certainly play nicer on a bigger screen, the iPad Pro offers internals every bit as powerful as the best video game consoles while giving you the freedom to take your games just about anywhere.
- Papers, Please
- Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
- Very Little Nightmares
- The Gardens Between
- Alto’s Odyssey
- Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition
- Genshin Impact
- Magic the Gathering: Arena
- League of Legends: Wild Rift
- Divinity: Original Sin II
- The Oregon Trail
- Grid Autosport
- Oxenfree: Netflix Edition
- Call of Duty: Mobile
- Hyper Light Drifter
- Star Traders: Frontiers
- Civilization VI
- PUBG Mobile
- Monument Valley 2
- Asphalt 9: Legends
- SimCity BuildIt
- Hitman Go
- The Room: Old Sins
After all, the latest iPad Pro (2022) models pack in Apple’s insanely powerful M2 processor — the same chip used in Apple’s MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. It offers more than enough performance for even the most demanding games. Combined with Apple’s Metal 3 hardware-accelerated graphics and support for the latest game controllers, it’s pretty hard to find a game title that Apple’s tablet can’t handle — and there’s a of games to prove it.
There’s a reason why the iPad Pro tops our list of the best gaming tablets, and while the 11-inch model is a great pick for portability, serious gamers will want to check out the larger 12.9-inch version, which not only offers more screen real estate, but sports mini-LED technology for even more vibrant colors and deeper blacks. If you’re ready to take your powerful iPad Pro to the next level, here are our picks for the best iPad Pro games in 2023.
Glory to Arstotzka! You’re an immigration inspector in the border town of Grestin, in the communist state of Arstotzka, and your job is to check papers, take fingerprints, and search the throngs passing through the border to uncover spies, terrorists, and smugglers among the visitors and immigrants. Who will you allow to enter? Who will be turned away? And who will you arrest? This critically acclaimed, award-winning dystopian thriller is strangely addictive, painting a dark, fascinating tale of morality versus progress. Play the full game on iPad Pro, set over 31 days and with 20 different endings, as well as unlockable multitouch support to inspect paperwork faster. Papers, please! It’s available for a one-time $5 purchase.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
If you’re missing watching Henry Cavill grunt and slay monsters as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher on Netflix, let this fill your time instead. Hardcore Gwent fans are no strangers to the PC version, but now you can get your fill on your iPad Pro — and it’s every bit as eye-catching. Hand-drawn art and stunning visual effects breathe new life into every PvP duel, and there’s no shortage of challenges thanks to the new Arena mode that Geralt of Rivia himself would relish. You can choose from a variety of other modes, too, from classic to seasonal.
It’s free to play Gwent, but a word of warning — you may see little of the light of day as you toil to build a deck you can be proud of and collect cards to gain spells and special abilities. If you’re up for the challenge, then you’ll find Gwent: The Witcher Card Game easy to get into and hard to master — and it makes for a satisfying morning commute or a sweet time-sink whenever you have some time to spare. You can play for free with optional in-app purchases,
Very Little Nightmares
If you’ve played the original Little Nightmares games on Steam or console before, you’ll notice that this prequel puzzle adventure game is set in the same universe, with lots of intricate puzzles to solve. You play as a little girl in a yellow jacket, trapped in a spooky mansion called The Nest. Everything in the mansion is out to see you dead, and you must get to safety, avoiding enemies and solving puzzles to piece together The Nest’s dark secrets. Equal parts cute and creepy, Very Little Nightmares looks its best on the iPad Pro. Get it now for $7!
The Gardens Between
This highly-rated puzzle game is a must if you love puzzles — but it’s so much more than just a puzzle game. With a bittersweet story, magical moments, creative touches, and gorgeous graphics, The Gardens Between looks best on iPad Pro. Best friends Arina and Frendt fall into a world of dreamlike garden islands where objects from their childhood are hidden. Together, they must set off on an emotional journey to examine the significance of their friendship. Cause and effect are malleable in The Gardens Between, and you must manipulate time to solve puzzles and reach each island’s apex. You can get the game as a one-time $5 purchase, or play for free if you subscribe to Apple Arcade.
The follow-up to 2015’s Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey sees Alto endlessly sandboarding through the desert. Explore beautiful, varied landscapes ranging from vast dunes to temples and canyons, unlock six unique characters with their own attributes and abilities, and complete 180 goals. The one-touch trick controls are easy to learn but a challenge to master, and chaining together combos is some of the most fun you’ll have on your iPad. Dynamic lighting, weather effects, and an original soundtrack round out one of the most stunning games around. Just want to relax? With Zen Mode, there are no coins, goals, or scores — just you, the endless desert, and a serene soundtrack. If you’re an Apple Arcade subscriber, you’ll want to check out Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City, an exclusive remastered version that weaves in several additional fun elements, including a new landscape to unlock and explore. Alto’s Odyssey is available for $5.
Hironobu Sakaguchi’s stunning Fantasian is easily one of the most compelling reasons to subscribe to Apple’s gaming service. Bankrolled by Apple to be a flagship exclusive for Apple Arcade, this Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) was designed by the creator of the Final Fantasy series with over 150 handcrafted physical diorama models — and it shows. Sakaguchi said he borrowed heavily from his roots in building Final Fantasy VI, so there’s a lot to love here for fans of that series. In the game, you take on the role of Leo, the young protagonist who awakens in a world governed by machines with almost no recollection of who he is or how he got ther. Lro is forced to gather allies and piece together his history.
The first part of the game offers a massive world to explore, with a fairly linear plot that easily offers 50-plus hours of gameplay to enjoy. Players then move into a more open-ended quest-driven play style that takes them into even more new realms and unique boss encounters. This is every bit the kind of console-quality game you’d expect from the creator of Final Fantasy, and if you’re a fan of JRPGs, it’s easily worth the price of an Apple Arcade subscription.
Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition
The popular wilderness survival game now comes to iPad! You play as Wilson, an intrepid gentleman scientist who has awoken in a strange wilderness. Your goal? Utilize the environment and fend off dangerous creatures, then escape and find your way home. Starting with nothing, you’ll gather resources, craft items and structures, farm, fight monsters, and hunt for food. The dark, whimsical graphics and randomly generated new worlds mean you’ll never tire of starting over in Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition. You can get the game for $5, or included with an Apple Arcade subscription.
Bastion is one of those games that sticks with you long after the end credits roll. The hand-painted artwork, critically-acclaimed score of original music, and deep, fulfilling story make it a really memorable experience. It’s great to play on the iPad Pro thanks to touch controls created for iOS, and there are over 40 hand-painted environments to explore as you discover what happened during the Calamity, a catastrophe that decimated the world.
Combat is fast-paced and action-packed as you take on new beasts roaming the planet, with a choice of more than 10 unique upgradeable weapons to wield, and varied difficulty settings are available to suit all levels of player and gameplay styles. You can play the start of the game for free — a great way to get a feel for it — after which it costs $5 to unlock the full experience, and it’s definitely worth the price of entry.
Genshin Impact was arguably one of the most-played games of last year, and for good reason. For one, the game is gorgeous, with its JRPG-style art direction, but the game also has an addicting gameplay loop, loads of collectible fully-voiced characters, and a lengthy story with tons of side content. Genshin Impact is available on every platform imaginable, but it’s particularly enjoyable on the iPad Pro. The larger and higher-quality screen lets the animation pop, and the beefed-up processors ensure the game always runs smoothly. Players can either use the touch controls or a controller. Best of all, it’s free to play!
Magic the Gathering: Arena
Fans of Magic the Gathering: Arena have been patiently waiting for a mobile release of the game for some time, and iOS and Mac users had to wait longer than their counterparts to get the game. But at long last, it is here, and it was well worth the wait.
Arena is a mobile version of the popular strategy collectible trading card game. The game has solid animations as well as lengthy and informative tutorials. These tutorials cover the basics of the game as well as the ins and outs of the various deck colors players can use. That makes Arena a great starting place for people new to the game. Combine that with digital card packs that line up with the physical releases and an active online community, and Arena is shaping up to be a game people will play for a long time to come. Play it now for free!
League of Legends: Wild Rift
League of Legends popularized the MOBA genre on PC and helped push esports into the mainstream. Now players can enjoy the game as their favorite champions in Wild Rift, a version of the game built from the ground up for mobile. While a lot of the controls have been streamlined for touch controls, Wild Rift is very much the game fans know and love. Players can unlock new champions and compete in ranked matches to test their skills against other top players.
The game is free to play, just like the PC version. Players can use in-app purchases to unlock champions faster and get unique skins, but it certainly isn’t a pay-to-win game. Whether you’re a League veteran or new to the game, Wild Rift is a great time that is all the better on the iPad Pro.
Divinity: Original Sin II
With the power of the A12Z chip and now the M1 in the latest iPad Pros, ports of popular PC and console titles are becoming more common. Probably the most impressive of these is Divinity: Original Sin II. The Divinity series helped re-popularize the isometric RPG genre, with this sequel improving on the already impressive original game.
Players can explore a vast and open world with a branching narrative system. There is enough content here to make every playthrough a wholly different experience. The game only works on the latest iPad Pro models (2018 and newer), and as such, it can push the graphics to the very limit.
There are also multiple ways to play the game. Players can use touch controls, a Bluetooth controller, and even a mouse and keyboard. Although it’s by far the most expensive game on our list, Divinity: Original Sin II is a landmark game that’s a must-play, and having it on the iPad Pro will fundamentally change mobile gaming for a long time to come. The $25 price won’t be for everyone, but there’s a lot of game here to get lost in.
The Oregon Trail
Apple Arcade may have been a bit barebones when it first rolled out, but Apple is steadily fleshing out its catalog with a list of great games. The Oregon Trail is a remake of the classic educational title, and it more or less maintains the same core mechanics but updates the game to be more lively and modern.
The game has a lovely and distinctive art direction, which makes the game’s perilous journeys across the American West all the more exciting to play. There are also plenty of mini-games and other content to keep players returning. It’s a treat for fans of the original or younger kids being introduced to the series for the first time.
There are plenty of racing games available for iOS, but there aren’t any quite like Grid Autosport. For one, the game has absolutely stunning visuals, with some of the most realistically rendered vehicles ever seen on a mobile platform. The game features 100 cars and 100 circuits, so there is an absolute ton of content for users to explore and master.
The game also has a robust amount of customization for the controls. Players can use tilt controls or touch inputs, and they can fine-tune everything to make the game precisely how they want it to be. If you’re looking for a realistic racing sim with some arcade-like fun, Grid Autosport is a must for you. All of it can be yours for $10.
Oxenfree: Netflix Edition
Also available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox, and Android, Oxenfree is a game for those who like a good supernatural mystery. Oxenfree has a bit of an ’80s Stranger Things vibe going on, with a haunting synth-pop soundtrack, and gorgeous visuals. In terms of play, each decision you make and every conversation you have in the game changes the lives of you and your friends. You play as Alex, a rebellious teenager attending an overnight party on a creepy island with her stepbrother, Jonas.
The night takes a turn for the worse when you and your friends accidentally open a ghostly gate that releases ominous creatures and sets a strange series of events in motion. You can choose to play in touchscreen or controller mode, depending on your preference. The game looks great on the iPad’s large screen, and you’re likely to find yourself listening to the soundtrack on Spotify long after the end credits roll. The only catch is that the original Oxenfree has been replaced by a new “Netflix Edition” following the streaming service’s 2021 acquisition of developer Night School Studio as part of its push into mobile gaming. This means you’ll need a Netflix subscription to play, but the good news is that there are no ads or in-app purchases to contend with.
The sequel, Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals, should be arriving later this year.
Call of Duty: Mobile
If you’ve been missing Fortnite on your iPad since its removal from the App Store then Call of Duty: Mobile is well worth playing. This free-to-play mobile version includes multiplayer maps from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Team up with friends in the 100-player Battle Royale deathmatch, take on your enemies in a sniper-vs.-sniper battle and compete for top place in Ranked Mode. With dozens of characters, outfits, and weapons to unlock, there’s plenty to keep you entertained, and there are new seasons released regularly with events, modes, and maps.
Hyper Light Drifter
Travel deep into the lands of Buried Time, collecting forgotten knowledge, broken histories, and lost technologies along the way as you fight to cure your mysterious illness in Hyper Light Drifter. This award-winning action-adventure RPG has a nostalgic vibe reminiscent of 16-bit classics, with gorgeous art, a beautiful original soundtrack composed by Disasterpeace, and a vast world to explore. Easy to get into, difficult to master, the game lets the player figure things out as they go — which makes for a real challenge at times. You can play using the touchscreen or — as we’d recommend — use a controller. Either way, it’s an immersive experience that is hard to step away from once you start playing. If you’re ready to play, you just need to spend $5.
Star Traders: Frontiers
Take on the role of a starship captain, put a crew together, and carve a path through a war-torn galaxy full of opportunity and threat. This epic space RPG allows you to play as a pirate, merchant, explorer, smuggler, or something else entirely — there are 26 potential careers. You can fully customize your ship and crew — with over 350 upgrades to choose from — but they’ll change as you make decisions in the game. The open universe is there to be explored, and there are all sorts of stories waiting to unfold. Will you ally with a specific faction or try to walk your own path? This is a deep, addictive sci-fi game that you can really get your teeth into. It’ll cost you just $7.
Who would have imagined that we would ever see the granddaddy of deep turn-based strategy on a mobile device? But here it is in all its complex glory. The game challenges you to shepherd your fledgling civilization from a single village to a globe-dominating nation. Exploration, city building, research, trade, religion, and war — Civilization VI has it all. Impressively, most of the features that grace the full PC game are present and correct in this port, including downloadable expansions and scenario packs. There’s even local multiplayer support that works well as long as everyone is on the same local area network (LAN).
You can try it out for free for 60 turns, which we strongly recommend you do, particularly if you’re not familiar with the franchise. You may balk at the full $10 price, but that’s a bargain compared to the price of the Mac version, and it’s no exaggeration to suggest that this game will hungrily devour hundreds of hours of your time.
Ready for some shooting mayhem on your iPad Pro? Parachute onto a remote island and duke it out with 99 other players to see who can survive this Battle Royale and secure ultimate bragging rights. There is plenty of loot to scavenge, boatloads of weaponry, and vehicles galore. Get tooled up, hunt your enemies mercilessly, and try not to get killed. The controls take some getting used to, and there are some simplifications to make it playable on a tablet or phone, but make no mistake, this is PUBG all the way. The iPad Pro makes the most of the visuals and sound, with the extra screen real estate boosting your chances of picking out enemies in the landscape and putting them down.
Monument Valley 2
The first Monument Valley blew players away with its MC Escher-style optical illusion puzzles, all of which were set against gorgeous, colorful backgrounds. Excellent sound design and smooth, mind-twisting animations provided the perfect vehicle for a brief 10-level story that followed a silent princess through a series of ever-evolving geometric worlds. The sequel brings back the puzzle-based gameplay and adds several new elements, like a new playable character and tools like light and water that you’ll use to navigate the game’s 14 levels. Art design is more varied this time around, too, and the graphics are better than ever — perfect for showing off your iPad Pro. This beautiful experience is well worth the $4 asking price.
If you want to play a Legend of Zelda game on the fly, you’ll have to shell out $300 or so for a Nintendo Switch. Luckily, there are similar games out there, and Oceanhorn is among the best, and costs significantly less at $7. Players control a young man who sets out to find his father, who has been lost after heading to find the Oceanhorn, a mystical beast that resides in the sea. Gameplay is quite similar to the Zelda games — namely, The Wind Waker — as you’ll complete small puzzles to receive loot, collect hearts to replenish lost HP, and drop bombs to uncover hidden paths. Combat is simple yet enjoyable — and not a chore, which is all too common on touchscreen devices — and exploration is absolutely exhilarating, especially while sailing. If you enjoy the game, you might want to check out Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, which is also excellent.
Asphalt 9: Legends
The newest version of this thrilling racing game, Asphalt 9: Legends takes you to over 80 tracks in real-world locations and puts you behind the wheel of countless sports cars. Legends starts you in Career mode and once you complete over 60 seasons and 800 races you can become a real legend. Also, for the first time in the Asphalt series, you can create your own private races in Club Race Mode. Challenge your friends to see who is truly the best. Recently added cars include the super exclusive Bugatti La Voiture Noire and Apollo IE — and you can now race in the Wild West in Nevada, with 12 new tracks to master. Like most games of this caliber, Legends takes a lot of storage, so, if your iPad is already pretty full, you may want to clear some room.
SimCity BuildIt has been around on iOS for a while, and although it’s playable on the iPhone, it has always been more enjoyable on the iPad. Now, the iPad Pro’s large screen takes it that step further, particularly because the game’s control system is all about pinching, zooming, and rotating highly detailed 3D buildings. Fans of the SimCity series should enjoy building massive metropolitan centers, and the game keeps things fresh by introducing new requirements — such as fire departments, police stations, and city utility services — without which your town has no hope of survival. The graphics are stellar, with lots of little touches that’ll surprise and impress you. Keep your wits, though — there are also plenty of in-app purchases.
You’d think making a mobile game for a AAA franchise sounds like a cash grab (cough, cough, Final Fantasy), but Hitman Go does it right because it keeps the core of the game’s strategy alive. Hitman Go strips the expansive set pieces, convoluted plot, and action over strategy gameplay that’s plagued some recent Hitman games, and brings it down to a literal board game. Like a board game, you take one turn at a time as you try and sneak past guards and kill your target.
Even with its minimalist approach, Hitman Go looks great, and it immerses you just like a big-budget Hitman game would. The game shares a lot of similarities with indie favorite Hotline Miami in the sense that you have to learn from your mistakes, so there’s a lot of replaying of the same level over and over again. That doesn’t sound fun to some, but it’s definitely rewarding to see your hard work pay off once you succeed. Well worth the $5 price, if you ask us.
The Room: Old Sins
Whether you’re a longtime fan of The Room series or a complete newbie to the franchise, The Room: Old Sins is a must-have for iPad Pro owners. In this first-person tangible journey with stimulating puzzles, you are commissioned to help solve the mystery of why the aspiring engineer and his wife suddenly disappeared and start by hunting down precious artifacts. Learn disturbing secrets and follow cryptic clues as you attempt to unravel the mysteries that lie within Waldegrave Manor. The striking 3D puzzle experience is paired with an eerie soundtrack and compelling sound effects. It’s another great game that only sets you back $5.
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