The introduction of official game controller support for iOS devices a couple of years ago was a radical change for Apple. As good as games can be with touch controls, controller support adds a whole new level of playability. Android, of course, has had game controller support for years now.
For this list, we’re going to be focusing here on the games that really go to the next level with a controller, or would frankly be tough to play without one. So don’t expect your favourite puzzle games or point-and-click adventures to make the cut. Before you start, you should probably connect your game controller to your iOS or Android device too.
The first mobile game with controller support we’re featuring is Minecraft. How can you be expected to build the voxel world of your dreams without the right tools, or survive in the wilderness against zombies with the precision-striking offered only by a game controller?
We don’t want to blame bad tools for workmanship, but a game controller is really an essential tool to get the most out of Minecraft (iOS, Android). The game really needs no introduction – on the one hand it’s a massive sandbox where you can let your creativity run wild and create interesting worlds. On the other it’s a surprisingly tough survival game.
Minecraft really is what you make of it, which is why it’s one of the most popular games in the world.
2. Death Road to Canada
Death Road to Canada (iOS, Android) is a great little indie game, letting you and a friend create your own characters, then embark on a journey across zombie-infested Canada. It’s a bit like the Oregon Trail, with random events and big decisions to make, but a lot more direct combat as you make stops to collect resources and do quests.
The game is permadeath, so every little mistake counts and you’ll want to make sure you’re giving yourself all the advantages you can – you don’t want to mis-swipe with a zombie at your throat, so a controller is a must.
Controllers also let you play with up to three other people, so you’ll really get the most out of this gem that way.
3. Divinity: Original Sin 2 (iPad only)
We’re still scratching our heads at how Larian managed to squeeze their spectacular, sprawling RPG into a format that plays nice on the iPad (no iPhone version sadly – that’d really be pushing things).
Divinity: Original Sin 2 sees you controlling a party of heroes, traversing a rich fantasy realm in their pursuit to become the new “Divine” – a deity who it’s believed will save the world from being consumed by the Void. Really though, it’s about the crazy stories and side-quests you find along the way. Head off into the wild or into a tavern, and you’re bound to segue into some kind of adventure.
Given that it uses turn-based combat, it’s quite comfortable using touch controls, but for exploration, dialogue and inventory management (which there’s tons of), you’ll really want that controller.
4. GRID Autosport
GRID Autosport (iOS, Android) is a known entity thanks to its widespread availability on home consoles. If you want a console-quality racing experience on your iOS device with a game controller, GRID is as good as it gets. The game sets a high bar for touch controls, but it’s playing with either the Xbox One or PS4 controller that really helps GRID win the race.
Offering more than 100 cars and 100 circuits, the one-time purchase at $9.99, including DLC packs, is worth it many times over. Players can choose from super-easy to ultra-realistic difficulties depending on skill level. The only non-controller function is the lack of L3/R3 support. Support extends from the newest iPhones back to the original iPhone SE and the 5th generation iPad all the way forward.
5. Call of Duty: Mobile
Arguably the best first-person shooter in the App Store, Call of Duty (iOS, Android) is exceptional with controller support. This massively popular multiplayer hit includes a number of game modes, including battle royale, 5v5 team deathmatch, sniper versus sniper and so much more.
Xbox, PS4 and MFi controllers are instantly mapped so that you can jump directly into gameplay. Call of Duty players who use the console will immediately recognize maps from Black Ops and Modern Warfare adding to the playability. The game is free to download, but unsurprisingly, there are numerous in-app purchases including new outfits, gear, weapons, accessories, etc.
6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
The Grand Theft Auto series needs no introduction, as it’s likely you have previously played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (iOS, Android). One of Rockstar’s biggest ever games has been consistently updated over the years. The remastered version at $6.99 includes high-resolution graphics, built specifically for mobile, and support for game controllers.
Everything you know about the game and genre is contained within, including the main storyline and dozens of side missions to complete. If you really want a game that allows you to play for hours on end just to rack up money to buy new clothes and weapons, this is the game for you.
7. Dead Cells
When you die in the game, you start back at the very beginning. The appeal of this game style with its outstanding graphics has elevated Dead Cells right into dozens of ‘best of’ lists.
The $8.99 price is a one-time purchase, with no extras or in-app purchases to help you progress throughout the game. The 2D action is so much fun to play, and even with the frustration of starting from scratch, there is just something about Dead Calls that keeps players coming back again and again.
8. NBA 2K20
Another console quality game that has garnered positive controller reviews on the App Store is NBA 2K20 (iOS, Android). Available for $9.99, this is the best basketball game on the App Store and possibly the best sports game overall. Numerous aspects of the popular console game carry over to mobile, including “Run the Streets” mode, Blacktop and playing as some of the all-time great NBA teams.
If you are looking for a sports game that will keep you occupied for hours on end, this is the game for you. That it includes support for physical controllers is just icing on the cake.
9. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
This iconic game will take you back to the glory days of the original PlayStation back in 1997. The direct port of the console classic of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (iOS, Android) will let you jump, dash and run, thanks to outstanding controller support.
Everything you know and love about the classic game is here as you fight through Dracula’s castle fighting off new and challenging enemies along the way. The controllers are focused, easy to learn and help make Symphony of the Night excel on the iPhone and iPad. This RPG classic is arguably its best version ever, and you can play as both Richter or Maria right from the very beginning of the game.
10. Space Marshals 2
Top-down shooters are available across the App Store, but few hold a candle to the fun and enjoyment Space Marshals 2 (iOS, Android) offers. A self-proclaimed tactical top-down shooter, you are tasked with using the environment to take cover and choose your shots carefully. Find weapons all over each map to help you stealthily work your way through each level. Alternatively, you can load up on some of the 70 available weapons and try a more guns blazing approach. Can you make it all the way to the end? There’s only one way to find out.
The unique graphic style is incredibly fun to watch and play again and again. With more than 20 missions available for $4.99, you can add 10 more with a new mission pack for $2.99. No matter how you choose to play, Space Marshals 2 is a fantastic experience and a must download for any top down shooter fan.
Games like the ones mentioned in the above list are some of the best iOS and Android games with controller support, though there are thousands more. And don’t forget that you can also stream Xbox games to iOS and Android. The biggest problem isn’t how they play, it’s how you will find time to play them all.