The time of year for new gadgets is upon us and if you were lucky enough to get a brand new iPad – be that iPad Air or iPad mini, iPad Pro, or just iPad – then we've found the very best games going to play this Christmas.
As you can imagine, the iPad's large screen makes it ideal for playing games and Apple has really lent into these capabilities by constantly improving the A-series processors, RAM, storage, and displays. There's a reason why Apple iPad dominate our best tablets buying guide.
The end result: the best tablet for gaming is the iPad and it isn't that close.
We've tried to steer clear of the many AAA titles on iPadOS to find a few more niche offerings from across the spectrum. Some are free, others are paid; some are available through Apple Arcade.
So, sit back, relax, and find some of the best ways to get through those slow Christmas hours while ignoring the family.
1. Alto's Odyssey
We start with one of the best mobile games ever: Alto's Odyssey, which won the Apple Design Award in 2018 amongst many accolades. It's a simple yet beautiful game that follows – who else – Alto as you sandboard across the many stunning levels.
That's the thing about this game: everything is exceptionally well-designed and thought-out; no element is there at random and it makes for a really cohesive and exciting gaming experience. And, of course, on the iPad's screen, the visuals look even better.
An excellent way to spend the dark and cold evenings.
Download Alto's Odyssey (opens in new tab)
It's very unlikely that you will have played a game like Blek. The basic goal is simple: draw a line that collects the coloured circles while avoiding the black holes.
There are no specific moves to master, no combos, just endless creativity. You basically have to try it and when you do you'll be hooked. Blek uses the whole iPad screen really well, too, making this an ideal companion for your large-screen device.
Download Blek (opens in new tab)
3. Fallout Shelter
You might have heard of this one...
Bethesda have really delivered with this mobile interpretation of the Fallout series, winning a bunch of awards for their troubles.
The idea is simple: you must build a state-of-the-art underground Vault, from Vault-Tec, to keep Dwellers happy to protect them from the Wasteland. Sounds easy? It isn't, as you shall see in this amazingly fun game.
An excellent companion to the Fallout series on console and an even better way to spend a few happy hours.
Download Fallout Shelter (opens in new tab)
4. Hidden Folks
Hidden Folks is probably the most charming game on this list. The gameplay is pretty simple – find folks who are hidden – but its the aesthetic that takes it to the next level.
All of the 32 hand-drawn areas are beautiful and there are over 300 targets to find, accented by over 2,000 mouth-originated sound effects. Nothing we can say here does the game justice so just go and try it.
Don't just take it from us, either. As Tim Cook said (opens in new tab): "I'm sure my niece will spend many hours in this game!"
Download Hidden Folks (opens in new tab)
5. Lara Croft Go
While Lara Croft Go doesn't quite reach the heights of its console siblings, it certainly gets close: the turn-based puzzle-adventure game is really fun and looks great on an iPad's big screen.
There are over 115 puzzles in total, spread across myriad well-designed levels and seven chapters, which helps the game feel full of life.
We really enjoyed playing Lara Croft Go and it's fun to see the legendary video game character translate so well to the touchscreen.
Download Lara Croft Go (opens in new tab)
6. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
Do we even need to introduce this one?
Sid Meier's Civilization is an epic series, with millions of players around the world, and the iPad is ideal for playing the turn-based game in a large, mobile format.
Civilization VI takes everything that made V so good and expands on it, adding new enemies, locations, and so much more. We can't recommend the iPad version enough.
Download Sid Meier's Civilization VI (opens in new tab)
The cult hit that is GeoGuessr has finally arrived on iPad, making use of the large screen to help you spot tiny clues and identify where you are after being plonked onto a random place on Google Maps.
We've spent a lot of lockdown exploring the world on GeoGuessr's thousands of user-generated maps. The game is charming, constantly changing, and free.
We'd be remiss to discuss GeoGuessr without plugging GeoWizard (opens in new tab), one of the best YouTube channels. If you want a taste of what you're getting, go and watch his videos.
Download GeoGuessr (opens in new tab)
8. What Remains of Edith Finch
If you're in the mood for something a little bit spooky then What Remains of Edith Finch is the perfect game.
Set in the haunted, cavernous Finch choice, you play as Edith, on a mission to explore her family history and discover why she is the last one alive. The gameplay is varied, the visuals are stunning, and the iPad makes the game shine.
The perfect game for a cosy evening by the fire, as long as you don't scare easily.
Download What Remains of Edith Finch (opens in new tab)
9. Asphalt 9: Legends
Who doesn't love a racing game?
Asphalt 9: Legends is one of the best racing games to grace the iPad and the 9th edition is exceedingly good, featuring loads of 60 hyper-realistic cars, over 80 unique tracks, and a great multiplayer option.
You can use your iPad as the steering wheel, too, which just makes everything that much more fun. A fantastic way to spend a few hours or even days.
Download Asphalt 9: Legends (opens in new tab)
10. FAR: Lone Sails
Last but not least is FAR: Lone Sails, which sees players moving across a dried-up seabed in a custom vehicle that must be cared for and maintained during the game. You'll encounter numerous obstacles and hazards, all of which must be overcome.
Unlike many other doomsday games, there are no zombies: just you and the machine against the so-called big nothing. The goal is to make it as far as possible, not endless fighting.
We love FAR: Lone Sails and think you will too. The iPad really makes this one pop.
Download FAR: Lone Sails (opens in new tab)