The hardware inside the iPad is continuously improving. It gives game developers ever-increasing scope to port their most successful PC titles to the platform effectively.
Today, the difference in graphics and playability between an iPad and a dedicated handheld gaming device – such as a Nintendo 3DS – is almost non-existent. Given the sales figures of the two (Apple has sold 340 million iPads, Nintendo has “only” sold 55 million 3DSs), iOS is often the first choice for developers who want to offer a mobile version of their game.
So what are the best PC games that you can now find on the iPad?
1. XCOM: Enemy Within ($2.99)
XCOM: Enemy Within is an expansion pack for XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The original was released on iOS in 2012, the expansion pack followed two years later. Enemy Unknown was a reboot (and revamp) of 1994’s PC classic, UFO: Enemy Unknown.
It’s a turn-based tactical game that requires you to fight against invading aliens. The expansion pack’s storyline is largely the same as the original, but it introduces a new resource (“meld”), modifiable operatives of existing classes, a new enemy faction, and 47 new maps.
2. Microsoft Solitaire Collection (free)
Microsoft’s Solitaire has been the defining PC-based Solitaire game for more than 25 years. It’s probably responsible for thousands of hours of lost productivity in offices around the world. Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg famously sacked an office worker for playing in 2006.
In October 2012, Microsoft revamped the old game and it became Microsoft Solitaire Collection – the version we see today. In addition to solitaire, it includes Spider, FreeCell, TriPeaks, and Pyramid. There are also daily challenges and unlockable Xbox Live achievements.
3. Football Manager Touch 2017 ($19.99)
If you’re a soccer fan, you’ll know about Football Manager – it’s one of the most successful video game franchises of all time.
You can take charge of any team from 130 soccer leagues around the globe, interact with almost any player in the world game, and micromanage your club right down to the pitch size and coaching routines.
The 2017 iPad release has brought an improved 3D match engine, in-game social media feeds, instant match simulation, and better backroom staff management.
For replayability, depth of content, and sheer immersion, it’s almost impossible to beat.
4. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($6.99)
A list of this nature wouldn’t be complete without an entry from the Grand Theft Auto series.
You can argue the toss about which release deserves to make this list, both San Andreas and Vice City will give you hours of fun – but I’ve opted for the former. The size of the map and the quality of the storyline are mind-blowing.
If you’re a real GTA addict, you can download Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy. It’ll give you GTA 3, San Andreas, and Vice City for $12.
5. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ($9.99)
It’s hard to believe, but the PC release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is approaching its 15th birthday. Nonetheless, it was – and still remains – the best Star Wars game ever released. The iPad port hit the App Store in 2013.
The game takes place 4,000 years before the dawn of the Galactic Empire; your goal is to save the Republic in a battle against the Sith. There are nine customizable characters, eight playable worlds, and an abundance of unique creatures and vehicles.
6. Don’t Starve ($4.99)
Science, magic, and survival – it’s a winning combination if you’re looking for a fun and easy-to-pick-up iPad game.
The premise of Don’t Starve is somewhat unusual; you play the part of a scientist who’s been trapped by a demon and transported to a shadowy world. To get home, you need to farm, create, and hunt in your new environment.
The PC game came out in 2013; the iPad port became available in mid-2015.
7. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition ($9.99)
Black Isle Studios released Baldur’s Gate II on Windows way back in 2000, but it took 14 years for an iPad port to become available.
The game is based on 1989’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition and takes place in the Forgotten Realms continent of Faerun. You battle against an assortment of elves, dwarves, goblins, and wrong’uns as you attempt to overcome evil and save the day. There are plenty of side missions to keep you entertained if you get bored with the main storyline.
If you played Baldur’s Gate I, you can import your character into the new game.
8. Faster Than Light ($9.99)
This space-faring game puts you in command of a ship fleeing from deadly rebels who want to commandeer your critical data.
As you move from system to system, you’ll have to deal with random encounters by managing your ship’s crew, weapons, and power. Though easy to grasp, the game is fiendishly difficult to beat even on the easiest setting.
Don’t let the basic graphics put you off; the PC version of this game has won countless awards, and the iPad release is just as good.
9. Bastion ($4.99)
Bastion debuted in 2010. If you’re questioning how good it is, consider this: since its release, it has picked up more than 100 industry awards, and has a rating of 10/10 on Steam and 9/10 on IGN.
In addition to the gameplay, the PC version received widespread acclaim for its storyline and artwork – thankfully, none of that has been lost in the iOS port.
You play the part of The Kid. Your mission is to escape the damaged city of Caelondia and find Bastion, a reportedly safe haven in troubled times. Along the way, you need to battle enemies, build structures, and collect materials.
10. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (free)
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a collectible card game. It relies on the characters and items from the Warcraft series.
Gameplay is turn-based; you use your deck of 30 cards to battle and defeat your opponent. Winning games will unlock more cards, earn you gold, and unlock various achievements.
You can take part in ranked play, but it’s fiercely competitive and requires a lot of skill. Paying real money for card packs is an option but not necessary to enjoy the game.
Blizzard Entertainment released the game on Windows and OS X in March 2014, with the iPad version following less than a month later.
What Are You Favorite PC Ports?
I’ve tried to give you a list of ten games that offers a bit of everything. If none of the games here appeal, don’t worry – there are thousands of games that have made the jump from PC to iPad. With a bit of searching in the App Store, you are certain to find something you like.
Which games do you think are the best ports between PC and iPad? I’d love to hear your recommendations.
As always, you can leave your tips and suggestions in the comments box below.