As smartphone technology improves game developers are looking to find ways to integrate games with the real world through augmented reality. This has led to some very interesting and creative gameplay that either gives players the convenience of using their surroundings to play games or to get them outside and make the world their sandbox.
There have been a number of augmented reality games introduced for the Android that provide hours of enjoyment and gamify getting out and getting some exercise. A number of these games are free and all of them make the real world just a little more interesting.
For fans of CSI and Law & Order this AR video game A&E Crime Scene: AR enables the player to become a virtual gumshoe by turning their room into a crime scene. The game projects clues and evidence into the room for the player to find and connect the dots of this murder mystery.
Most interesting is the game’s ability to project fingerprints, DNA samples, and other clues that the player can scan with their phone using mock fingerprint analysis, UV lights and so on.
This is a fascinating AR experience that allows the player to project a battlefield onto a flat surface. The player is tasked with defending their castle from waves of enemies by launching catapults, shooting arrows, placing towers, and so on.
It plays like a tower defense game with amazing graphics and solid controls. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is that it’s not a very long game and has little replayability. Still, it serves as an exciting free sample of what gaming can be like in the near future as more developers get involved in AR gaming.
Army of Robot is a fun game that has the player defend themselves from waves of robots seeking to destroy them. Players use the phone as if they were commanding their own robot to fire at the enemies and dodge attacks.
It doesn’t rank higher because the software is a little finicky with areas. Players have reported issues with certain surfaces and the game needs areas that are well lit which isn’t always possible when out and about, still it’s a fun game and when it works and can make waiting at the doctor’s office a little more interesting, plus it’s free.
Taking inspiration from the classic game Pocket Tanks this game AR Smash Tanks takes the concept of little tanks shooting at each other and puts it in the real world. Players can fight each other or the computer by using a flat surface to project towers, tanks, trees, and even planes that drop off supplies and additional tanks.
It’s a simple strategy game as the player tries to destroy the opponent’s tanks before losing theirs. The best part is you can customize the weapons and elements of gameplay making it highly replayable.
This neat game has you charged by a king to eliminate the terrible dragon threat plaguing his kingdom by destroying the dragon’s eggs that are hidden inside various castles. To do this you are armed with a massive slingshot that allows you to hurl various projectiles at the castles to tear them down.
Sort of like Angry Birds, with a POV perspective, players must walk around the castle carefully aiming their slingshot to strategically destroy the castle and the eggs. It’s a lot of fun and being able to change your view of the castle feels very immersive.
This is probably the simplest game on the list, but definitely deserves it’s spot as number five for how immersive and well written it is. Basically Zombies, Run! is a free audio immersive adventure where the story of a zombie apocalypse plays out with each step you take. Written by Naomi Alderman, the player is charged with survival in the undead nightmare by leaving home to gather supplies or perform tasks while being chased by zombies grunting and groaning behind you.
It’s very well made, with great voice actors that make it an eerily immersive experience that’ll definitely get users in great shape and it’s free.
Based on the incredibly popular TV series The Walking Dead, the free AR game The Walking Dead: Our World is a great example of how to incorporate RPG elements into AR games. Players are tasked with taking out zombies alongside iconic characters from the TV series. Missions involve traveling to real-world locations that are overrun by zombies and successfully eradicating the undead yields various rewards to level up and improve weapons.
The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is that the graphics are a little rough which breaks some of the immersion. It also seems to be more obsessed with giving players the novelty of fighting alongside popular characters rather than focusing on killing zombies. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun and a great game.
What list of popular AR games wouldn’t include this juggernaut that brought AR gaming to the mainstream? Pokémon GO exploded onto the scene a few years ago and wowed the world with its ability to get kids outside and its unfortunate knack to get people in trouble for trespassing.
The free game has gone through some much-needed updates, such as introducing more Pokémon, giving players the ability to switch teams, and the ability to fight each other. But at its core, it’s the same old wonderful game that has players wandering the world looking for Pokémon to add to their collection.
This little known indie game is starting to cause waves in the AR gaming world and for good reason. Father.io is a first-person AR shooter that has players using their phones to attack and ambush each other in the real world.
The game boasts 16 versus 16 matches and has four classes that have special abilities like EMPs, claymores, and ammo crates that can be dropped or deployed in specific areas via GPS. The reason this game isn't number one is that it's easily the most expensive game on the list. The game itself is free, but it requires the purchase of an Interceptor Device that attaches to the phone and shoots a laser to register shots at enemies, it costs $39 on the website.
By far the best AR game on the list that's free to boot, Ingress tells the story of two factions battling for control over mysterious Exotic Matter that one side believes will evolve mankind and the other believes can grant the power to enslave the mind. It’s well written and the plot is adapting and changing all the time as the developer remains continually invested in the game’s development.
Players are tasked with visiting various real-world locations to find this mysterious substance and gather it using their phone. Players can also link portals together to create territories that provide advantages for the faction in control and can communicate with other players to create successful strategies to maintain control or conduct takeovers. It’s incredibly fun and players will find themselves drawn to go outside and establish their factions dominance.