News: 8 Free Must-Have Games to Play with Friends on Your Phone

8 Free Must-Have Games to Play with Friends on Your Phone

Even for those of us who enjoy spending time alone at home, at a certain point, it just gets boring. We all need social interaction, but with stay-at-home orders, that can be hard to come by. If you're feeling the itch to hang out with friends and have a good time, you should know there are plenty of free multiplayer games for iPhone and Android that will let you do just that — remotely.

We've highlighted eight of our favorite mobile titles that you can download and play for free with your friends. There are definitely other great multiplayer games out there, but many we find are either paid, geared towards random matchups, or too complicated for quick plays. That said, if you and your friends' favorite free game isn't listed here, let us know! The more the merrier right now.

App 1: Words with Friends 2

Words with Friends might just about define the mobile multiplayer genre, and for good reason. The Scrabble-inspired Zynga title has been enjoyed by iPhone and Android users and their friends for years now, and the momentum still hasn't slowed. Words with Friends 2 is currently #1 for board games on the App Store, but even the original game holds a solid 17th place for word games.

For the uninitiated, the gameplay is simple. You're given a random set of letters and are tasked with using them to build words on the game board. Unaccepted words aren't playable at all, so there are plenty of chances to find the best play. You win points based on the size and complexity of the words you make, with extra points given for using premium spaces on the board. Big plays usually involve multiple words using parallel moves and hooks off of other words. It's a simple concept that gets competitive fast, so be prepared to lean back on your best vocabulary.

  • Install Words with Friends 2: Android (free) | iOS (free)

If you want to improve your Words with Friends gameplay, check out our articles on using Word Radars to score big, dealing with all vowels, taking advantage of the tiles bag, and maximize your powerups.

App 2: Draw Something Classic

Draw Something is another App Store classic, a game you've likely played if you've been in the iOS or Android gaming scene for long enough. The game is essentially Pictionary — you receive a task to draw something simple (a cat, a football, a heart, etc.). Then, you send it over to your friend to guess what you drew. The twist? They get to watch a real-time video of your drawing progress. The faster they guess the subject, the more points they receive.

Your mileage may vary depending on your skills and the skills of your friends. If you or your friends are artists, that's going to create a different gameplay dynamic than if you or your friends can't draw to save your lives. Either way, it's a fun title that has stuck around over the years because of its quick fun, and it's a great choice if you want some light competition with your friends across the world.

  • Install Draw Something Classic: Android (free) | iOS (free)

App 3: Ruzzle

If Words With Friends is a little too casual for your tastes, why not try something a little more fast-paced? Ruzzle is here to do just that. The game is a Boggle-inspired word search, where you simply identify words, big and small, and earn points for doing so. However, you're on a strict time limit, as is your opponent, pushing you to find words as fast as you can.

It's a hair-raising, blood-pumping experience, especially if you're playing against a true rival. If you and a friend take their Ruzzle too seriously, each game feels like a fight to the death. If you're looking for a more relaxing title, Ruzzle might not be it. But it certainly isn't lacking in entertainment, excitement, and, when you win, sweet, sweet victory.

App 4: Trivia Crack

Trivia Crack, with hints of Trivial Pursuit, is a classic multiplayer trivia game with a fun presentation. Spin the trivia wheel to see which category you'll need to answer. Hopefully, it's a topic you're familiar with! If not, do your best to guess, and pray your friend on the other end doesn't have a clue, either. It's surprisingly addicting and a great way to show off your trivia skills.

Like Words With Friends, Trivia Crack is so successful the company made a sequel, Trivia Crack 2. That said, the recent reviews aren't too favorable, at least compared to the original. To be fair, there are some unhappy reviewers of the original Trivia Crack, as well, mostly because of the abundance of ads. When you're looking for a completely-free app experience, however, ads are to be expected.

App 5: Evil Apples

Evil Apples has a different name depending on which device you have ("Evil Apples vs. Humanity" on iOS, vs. "Evil Apples: You Against Humanity!" on Android). Both names, however, dangerously tow the legal line to let you know what type of game it is exactly. Evil Apples is, essentially, Apples to Apples plus Cards Against Humanity.

For those unfamiliar, a card is drawn featuring a statement with a missing word or phrase. It's up to you to supply the crudest, funniest, or most relevant word or phrase card from your hand to split the sides of everyone in your group. But it's not a democracy; in each round, one group member is tasked with judging the responses, and the one they think is best wins.

There's even an incentive to keep playing the game longer than one time-killing session. Evil Apples has over 8,000 cards for you to unlock, meaning if you want to have the edge over your friends, you'll want to play a lot to get more cards. Either way, it's a ton of fun to play with any cards at all, and, if you have a creative mind, you can likely win with whatever you've got.

App 6: UNO!

Yes, Uno is available for iPhone and Android (sadly, it doesn't come with the "Attack" peripheral). If you're craving some simple yet intense card game action with your friends, just download the app for free.

Just like the real Uno card game, "UNO!" lets you compete with friends to ditch your whole hand of cards before someone else can. There's even an Uno button on-screen to use when you're down to your last card, letting everyone know you're a threat. Just know that you need to walk through the tutorial before jumping into a multiplayer game, so you'll have to kill a few minutes before the action can get started.

App 7: Bunch Group Video Chat & Games

Bunch Group Video Chat & Games seems like it shouldn't be as great as it is, considering it's a free app and has a horrible name. The service allows you to video chat with groups of friends, like you can on FaceTime, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc., with the added benefit of playing games together at the same time. Forget Zoom or Google Hangouts — all you need is Bunch!

The service offers its own games for users to play, like the "Flappy Bird" ripoff "FlappyLives," but also partners with app developers to provide AAA titles for play, like 'Mario Kart Tour." Regardless of your choice, you'll see and hear friends as you compete in game after game. The best part? There's no need to pay for anything. The app is totally free, requiring exactly zero in-app purchases to advance. You'll need to make an account, but if you're on iPhone, you can always use the new "Sign In With Apple" for the most secure sign-in method.

  • Bunch Group Video Chat & Games: Android (free) | iOS (free)

App 8: Mario Kart Tour

It might not be as casual as the titles we list above, but we'd be remiss not to mention Mario Kart Tour, the first smartphone-based Mario Kart. Chances are, you've played a game in the franchise, just on a Switch, Wii, GameCube, or N64. Now, the game is available on your iPhone or Android device, so you can play against your friends no matter how many (or few) Nintendo consoles you own.

Unlike traditional Nintendo Mario Kart, however, there's a bit of work involved before you can start playing with your friends. You'll need to unlock one "Cup" in-game first, but that really means playing four races on your own. After that, multiplayer opens up, and you can challenge your other friends to remote Mario Kart madness.

  • Install Mario Kart Tour: Android (free) | iOS (free)
Images by Nelson Aguilar/Gadget Hacks, Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

Personally, I'll never stop recommending a full console version of Mario Kart. But if Switches and Nintendo Online accounts are hard to come by, the free app version is something anyone can download, and it's a great way to get your Mario Kart fix. Just don't let those blue shells get to you.

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Cover image, screenshots, and GIFs by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks (unless otherwise noted)

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