Apple Arcade has something for everyone. Here's what to play first.
Shelby BrownEditor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Apple Arcade offers a ton of games to subscribers at just $5 a month. More titles and content updates are released each week for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. Since the service's launch in 2019, Apple Arcade has released hundreds of games across various genres. Sometimes, the library can seem overwhelming, so I'm here to help.
If you're interested in trying Apple Arcade, you can get a three-month free trial with the purchase of a new device, or one month for free if you're signing up for the first time. Open the App Store and tap the joystick icon at the bottom of the screen to launch the service.
Whether you're new to Apple Arcade and unsure where to start or you've cycled through your favorites and found yourself in a gaming rut, I've got you covered. Here are my favorite games from each category, which I will update as new games are released and weed out older favorites:
Why you'll love it: Sayonara Wild Hearts arrived on Apple Arcade at launch. The award-winning game combines music and motorcycle racing for a fast-paced, vivid adventure. Every race and battle in the game is vividly colored and set to fun pop electronica songs.
You might also enjoy: Alto's Adventure, Alto's Odyssey and Air Twister
Game: The Pathless Developer: Annapurna Interactive
Why you'll love it: The Pathless was one of the most anticipated Apple Arcade games and one of my all-time favorite releases. In the visually stunning game, you play as the last Hunter, a veiled young woman with archery skills tasked with traveling to a mysterious, cursed island inhabited by corrupt spirits. Alongside an eagle companion you must defeat the evil to bring back the light.
You might also enjoy: Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, Baldo and Beyond a Steel Sky
Why you'll love it: I used to play dozens of Mahjong games on Windows. The game is just as fun on Apple Arcade with colorful tiles, satisfying sound effects and a soothing soundtrack. The boards increase in difficulty the more you play, and there's also unlockable achievements for an extra challenge.
You might also enjoy: Solitaire, Backgammon and Chess
Why you'll love it: Solitaire Stories is probably the game I play most on Apple Arcade. It perfectly balances casual traditional gameplay with a lighthearted narrative. One of my favorite parts of Solitaire on Windows was changing the deck themes. In Solitaire Stories, winning hands unlock new decks, and new Stories are added often.
You might also enjoy: Spades, Solitaire and Hearts
Why you'll love it: In this surveillance mystery game, the squirrel population in Melmoth Forest is acting suspiciously and it's up to you, as a field researcher, to get to the bottom of it. Nuts feels like a lighthearted take on Campo Santo's Firewatch. Noodlecake balances the tension of the nights ticking by alongside the hilarity of potentially sinister squirrels.
You might also enjoy: Goat Simulator, Pocket Build and Hitchhiker
Game: Alba: A Wildlife Adventure Developer: Ustwo Games
Why you'll love it: The game centers on young Alba, who travels to a Mediterranean island to spend the summer with her grandparents and her friend Ines. She starts exploring and realizes that there's litter everywhere, putting local animals at risk. With the help of her bird-nerd grandfather and Ines, Alba starts a grassroots campaign to clean up the island. As you play, the more volunteers you gather, the more luck your movement will have, so you must try to convince the islanders to join the cause. This game is a fresh look at why it's important to take care of the environment, as well as a great way to explain this concept to kids.
You might also enjoy: Down in Bermuda, Jenny LeClue, The Get Out Kids
Game: Frogger and the Rumbling Ruins Developer: Konami
Why you'll love it: Frogger heads off on a quest to find the treasure of an ancient frog tribe. With the help of his friends, he'll navigate 100 levels of brain-teasing environmental puzzles. The game rewards a more strategic approach when completing levels and curiosity. The more you manipulate and explore the level, the more bonuses await.
You might also enjoy: Frogger in Toy Town, Possessions and Lego: Builder's Journey
Game: Warped Kart Racers Developer: Electric Square Ltd.
Why you'll love it: Warped Kart Racers is hilarious and addicting. Keep pitting your favorite TV show characters against each other lap after lap. If you've ever wondered how Family Guy's Peter Griffin and King of the Hill's Hank Hill would interact, this game will show you.
You might also enjoy: Sonic Racing, Gear.Club Stradale and Asphalt 8: Airborne
Why you'll love it: Fantasian was one of the biggest titles to hit Apple Arcade. After waking up in a world dominated by machines, Leo sets out on a quest to find his missing father with only one clue: A repeating vision of a young woman. When Leo arrives in En, a dusty frontier town, he meets Kina -- the woman from his dream. If that's not enough for you, the game comes from legendary RPG creator Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy fame.
You might also enjoy: Bleak Sword, Cat Quest 2 and Star Trek: Legends
Why you'll love it: Imagine Animal Crossing, but it's haunted. In the game, you're a Spirit Scout tasked with bringing peace to the adorably haunted island of Cozy Grove. Explore the island, collect resources and craft items to survive, tend your fire -- Flamey -- and try to help the sad forest ghosts. The more you help, the more the island heals -- the environment becomes colorized and flowers grow.
You might also enjoy: Wylde Flowers, Hidden Folks and Game Dev Story
Why you'll love it: Look, it's not the most authentic sports game, but the first time I played What the Golf, I was in stitches. The physics-based parody game is built for people who don't know anything about real golf. Each level gets more outlandish -- you'll go from putting a traditional white ball around a course of trees, to putting a tree around a series of explosives. Nothing is off limits and boredom is nearly impossible.
You might also enjoy: Cricket Through the Ages, Skate City and Nickelodeon Extreme Tennis.
Game: Mini Motorways Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
Why you'll love it: Mini Motorways is a minimalist take on strategic road construction. The game starts off pretty easy, but don't get too comfortable connecting buildings to roads. The longer you play, you'll need to incorporate bridges, ramps, traffic lights and more. Think strategically and plan ahead or a traffic jam will shut everything down.
You might also enjoy: Outlanders, Mini Metro and Kingdom Rush Frontier TD
Why you'll love it: If you're a bit intimidated by the sprawling crosswords in newspapers, you can start small in this game and build up to larger puzzles. Before you know it, you'll be ready to take on The New York Times' Sunday puzzle like a pro.
You might also enjoy: Jigsaw Puzzle, SpellTower and Word Laces.