The best upcoming competitive mobile game releases in 2021

Some high-profile developers have ambitious projects in the works.

Image via Riot Games

Mobile fans have received countless successful new games in 2020—and things likely won’t be different next year.

Many more games will be released or revealed, but in the meantime, some high-profile developers also have announced exciting upcoming titles.

Here are the best upcoming mobile games to keep an eye on heading into 2021.

League of Legends: Wild Rift

Image via Riot Games

The most-awaited competitive mobile game of 2021 is undoubtedly League of Legends: Wild Rift. The game’s first announcement didn’t make many waves a year ago because it came alongside other pieces of news celebrating Riot Games’ 10-year anniversary.

Recently, Wild Rift has been highly discussed by many League fans. And now, its beta phase has taken the next step by becoming available in many more regions around the world.

The mobile MOBA isn’t a mere adaptation of League on the lucrative platform but rather a full-fledged game made to feel like a standalone title. Riot reduced the Rift’s size and increased the pace of the game to suit the mobile platform. The team also remodeled all of the skins and designed mobile-exclusive items, building a meta distinct from the PC game. The same champions can be found in the mobile version and it already has over 40.

Wild Rift quickly became the most-downloaded app in all of the regions that received beta access within only three days after its beta release in October. It reached over 1.4 million downloads on Android and iOS combined at that time, according to Tap Tap. Since then, the number of downloads has surpassed 10 million on Google Play alone, according to the store page.

Still, Wild Rift is only in beta and has yet to open in North America. That gives the devs some time to improve the game and add highly requested features, such as a spectator mode and a queue by position. Several esports organizations have already signed Wild Rift teams, though, with high hopes for its competitive potential thanks to Riot’s credibility established from League.

Pokémon Unite

Screengrab via Pokémon

Pokémon Unite was one of the most-controversial mobile reveals of 2020. On June 24, Nintendo made an unexpected reveal with the first edition of a MOBA game for the Pokémon license, developed in collaboration with Chinese juggernaut Tencent. It’s also set to be released on Nintendo Switch.

Unite’s reveal has even become the most-disliked video in Nintendo’s history, partly because fans expected an exciting reveal and got served with an unexpected mobile announcement instead. The upcoming multiplayer online battle arena looks a lot like League with Pokémon instead of champions and it’ll be free-to-play.

Nintendo has yet to provide a release date, but many fans expect to know more in 2021—or maybe an alpha reveal. It’s expected to be developed quickly since Tencent is involved. The company usually works swiftly on its other games, such as Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile.

News on the game recently resurfaced due to leaks allegedly revealing the start of a closed beta in China in October. For better or worse, this game is the subject of much curiosity heading into 2021.

Apex Legends

Image via Electronic Arts

Initially announced in October 2019, Respawn Entertainment’s battle royale Apex Legends is set to release on mobile in 2021 after being delayed, according to EA Games’ CEO Andrew Wilson. The game introduced cross-play on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 in October and will join the Nintendo Switch platform next year as well.

Apex will be one of the last high-profile battle royale games to be released on mobile after Fortnite and PUBG. It’s one of the most exciting upcoming games of 2021 since a competitive community was previously built around its PC version.

Many Titanfall universe fans are curious to see how the battle royale will adapt to the platform, which could be a challenge for such a fast-paced game. In any case, this will likely be a turning point for the title due to it becoming available to a broader audience.

Dawn Awakening

Image via Tencent

The mobile industry juggernaut Tencent’s next zombie survival game, set to release in 2021, is subject to high expectations and curiosity. Dawn Awakening is being developed by Tencent-owned studio Lightspeed & Quantum studios, which also created PUBG Mobile.

The survival game in the open world will involve gameplay mechanics like scavenging for supplies, building a home, and obviously killing a ton of zombies, according to its teaser. Tencent often adds competitive potential to its game, so that could be the case for this one too.

Dawn Awakening entered closed beta in China in September and December, which could hint at a global release in 2021. It already surpassed one million pre-registrations, but it’s unclear when the beta will open in other regions around the world.

Hopes to see a Diablo Immortal release in 2021 rekindled

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo Immortal, the reveal that stirred much controversy during its reveal at BlizzCon 2018, has resurfaced with the unexpected opening of its first early access period in December. The popular hack and slash license, which dates back to 1997, is getting its first mobile game in the form of a spin-off while the fans are patiently waiting for more news about Diablo IV.

It’s still unclear if Diablo Immortal will be released next year or even released at all, but hopes were rekindled with the reveal of its alpha phase. Numerous gaming journalists have been able to test it out and published their opinions on the build, which look generally promising. They praised its gameplay adaptation to the mobile platform, its narrative design, and polish.

Despite those positive reviews, there’s still a long way to go before getting a release window. The general public will have to wait longer to get their hands on the game since only Australia can pre-register to get access for now. It’s also unclear when other regions will be able to register.

Other games are highly anticipated by mobile gamers heading into 2021, but some didn’t get updates on their state of development for a while, so it’s unclear when or if they’ll be released on mobile.

This includes the mobile version of the zombie-themed battle royale H1Z1, announced back in 2018 but with no sign of evolution since. Hopes to see the game finished are getting even dimmer since the developer revealed its upcoming game, Back 4 Blood, and will likely put all its efforts into improving that title before its official release.

Clash Royale and Clash of Clans developer Supercell may also have projects in the works that could be revealed next year.