The best games like XCOM on mobile

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Marie-Ange Demory
@marie-angedemory
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If you love your turn-based, deeply strategic, and grid-based combat, then you've probably played XCOM a lot. You might even have played it on your phone, in XCOM: Enemy Within for example, given that the tactical shooter has been around for about six years now. That's a lot of time, so you're probably a little sick of XCOM at this point, but you might just fancy a similar experience.

If this is you, then you've come to the right place. We've scoured the various app stores to bring you this list of XCOM alternatives that you can play from the comfort of your phone. Although they vary in style, they all contain a variety of your favorite features from the game that inspired them. You could just trade weapons for swords and sci-fi environments for beautiful forests.



Different shots for different people. If you don't find it on this list, it's probably not worth mentioning. So take a good look at your next mobile gaming solution.

What are the best games like XCOM on mobile?

The Banner Saga

Trading assault rifles and grenades for swords and bows, The Banner Saga is an excellent strategic turn-based strategy game set in a frozen, unresponsive world. If you dig Game of Thrones nihilism, you'll appreciate the story offerings here, featuring a series of terrible events that frequently occur during your adventure. The good news is that the combat will appeal to XCOM fans, with a grid and a wide variety of moves for every character ready and present. For even more XCOM game series, be sure to check out our list of the best mobile strategy games.


Xenowar

Xenowar is a brilliant distillation of XCOM's sharp tactical challenges, though it sacrifices some scale and endgame satisfaction in favor of presenting a series of intense, crisp battles. In particular, GEO mode is a clever compromise between a full-fledged, life-consuming, planet-saving, and alien-scavenging XCOM campaign and a single strategic arc that a dedicated player can complete in just a few sessions. It takes a lot of presence of mind to create games like this that understand what's great and repeat it without becoming derivative or redundant in the process. Oh, and it's open-source to boot.


Strike Team Hydra

Hydra's best point is the creativity and breadth of its customization options, both in terms of team composition and difficulty level. The plot and theme are boilerplate, but in terms of mechanics, stats, and abilities, the game is brimming with possibilities. Psionics and physics add unusual flair and effects to classes, and enemies are weird bio-machine hybrids. None of this would matter if the game's buffet of options were paired with anything other than an equally rich campaign. Here, Strike Team Hydra delivers again, increasing scenarios, objectives, and enemy types just as generously as it dole out strategic tools. It strikes a great balance between question and answer; risk and reward; problem and solution.

frozen synapse

Along with the top-down isometric perspective, Frozen Synapse brought another incredible change to the standard tactical shooting formula. Each side takes turns planning its actions in secret, mapping the stages of its units and firing. Then the game resolves everyone's programmed actions, creating a "simultaneous" turn that is nonetheless meticulously choreographed. A good idea, perfectly rendered, is enough to make a good game. Frozen Synapse fulfills this crystalline ideal.


Templar Battleforce

Space Marines versus Xenomorphs, loosely derived from Alien's Horrors of Ur. Templar Battleforce owes thematic debts to Warhammer and others, but its fast pace and generous respect system are wonderful tools for experimentation and strategy. There's some light characterization and world-building, sure, but instead of the story, there's respect for Templar Battleforce's varied storylines and equally creative teams that allow for divergent thinking. For a man with a hammer, everything is a nail, but for a commander with infinitely variable squads, the threat of mutation can be faced with an equally varied battle force.


Aliens vs Humans

We'll start with a pre-Enemy Within option on mobile. Aliens versus Humans is an old game. So old that if you buy it for iOS, you'll get a warning that it slows down your device because the developer didn't update the game to Apple standards. This warning is often meaningless and misleading and you should go ahead and ignore it in this case.

Aliens versus Humans is actually a clone of the very first XCOM game from 1994. It includes base management, research, crafting, and of course tactical combat against alien enemies. The graphics are retro and nothing exciting, but the gameplay is solid, the combat is tough, and there's plenty of content for a few bucks. You can bring a huge team into battle, allowing more options for dealing with threats than games that end with a team of four. It also lets you play the game of attrition to earn wins. So while Aliens versus Humans is over three years old at this point, it's worth considering if you're looking for XCOM-like action.


Alien Star Menace

The first of the few free options in this article is a little game called Alien Star Menace. Aliens have attacked the Paladin spaceship and it's up to you to save the day. Alien Star Menace is lightweight and looks pretty basic at first glance, but it actually packs a good tactical punch. You choose a five-person squad from a variety of special units with different advantages and disadvantages and take them on missions at different levels of the Paladin.

Mission objectives are things like "Kill Everything" and "Reach the Stairs" and the game rewards smart decisions like making good use of choke points and ranged attackers. The missions are very fast and perfect for small game sessions on your phone, which is often a big plus for gamers these days. Alien Star Menace is also free and without IAP. There are ads, which can be annoying, but the frequency is very low.


World of Warriors: Quest

World of Warriors: Quest is a turn-based light tactical game where you play as a team of warriors of all ages – Roman centurions, Viking berserkers and stealthy ninjas for example. Characters fulfill your standard RPG roles. The Roman, Brutus, is a tank and taunts enemies with his attacks to keep their attention. Gunnar the Viking Warrior is a good balance of damage and survivability. The ninja's name is Kuro and he's the glass cannon - high area of ​​effect damage but very low HP. These are the starting characters, but you encounter more as the game progresses.

You choose three warriors to undertake a number of quests that will take you across the Wildlands on a mission to find out what the local villains are up to. Each quest has multiple waves of combat and it can be difficult to keep your team straight and alive so you don't succumb to attrition. Each warrior has special attacks to use and there are also consumables ֫ which recover health, allow big attacks or provide extra movement speed.

World of Warriors: Quest isn't a particularly deep game, but good for those interested in light squad-based tactics. You also can't beat the price – this one is free with no IAPs or ads.

the last wizard

The Last Warlock is a turn-based tactical game with an almost unique approach to just about everything. You play as a warlock capable of summoning deadly creatures, casting magic spells, and crafting weapons, armor, and other equipment. You embark on a series of quests to find and defeat enemy warlocks, all vying to uncover the secrets of the last famous warlock. To defeat these rivals, you must first defeat their monsters, traps and puzzles before eliminating them.

It offers extraordinary freedom. You can go straight for your enemy or explore a bit and take the road less travelled. This provides great replay value as you can play the same quest multiple times and use a different strategy. Your squad in this game are the creatures you have summoned and you can end up with a crew as you gain power and a quest goes on. The single-player campaign is quite extensive and will provide many hours of gameplay for a premium price. There's also an asynchronous online option for those looking for multiplayer action.

Star Chindy

Star Chindy mixes elements of FTL and XCOM. You warp the galaxy in your ship, the Star Chindy, on a hunt to confront and eliminate a big, bad alien race that nearly wiped out the earth. You will maintain and upgrade your ship, as well as the others you take along the way, and decide where to go and what risks are worth taking on your travels.

You'll take a squad on various outdoor missions and engage the enemy in turn-based tactical warfare. The missions are a good challenge and get better and better as you train your team. The space combat, however, is less interesting. It takes place in real time, rather than turn-based, and your weapons automatically fire at enemy ships within range. Your job is to frantically maneuver your ships to avoid enemy fire. Luckily, the fun of combat within the team more than makes up for that, and despite this odd dichotomy, Star Chindy is definitely worth a shot for XCOM fans.

Other suggestions

  • Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion
  • Shieldwall Chronicles
  • Skulls of the shogun
  • Highborn
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