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Gamepad Greats: Amazing games to play with a controller

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Playing games on a touchscreen holds a unique tactile appeal, but for certain more traditional genres there’s simply no substitute for a solid set of physical controls.

Thankfully, iOS makes it easy to hook up a Bluetooth controller to your iPhone or iPad, so you really can enjoy the best of both worlds. But which iOS games are the best showcase for this controller support? Check out these five for starters:

Call of Duty Mobile [Free]

This mobile version of the console smash continues to be an online hit, with its unique mixture of fast-paced multiplayer gunplay and an expansive Battle Royale mode. Suffice to say, the sheer complexity involved in Call of Duty Mobile’s first person shooter controls (move, aim, shoot, use items, reload and more) necessitates a lot of automation with touchscreen controls. You really need to hook up a controller for the authentic CoD experience. You’ll still die repeatedly to 12-year-old kids with ungodly reaction times, but at least you’ll have a fighting chance.

GRID Autosport [$9.99/£9.99]

GRID Autosport is one of two console racers to make this list. To be clear, we’re not talking about a mobile-adapted take on a console game, like Call of Duty Mobile listed above, but rather a straight port of a glossy console game. To that end, CoD Mobile is a technically stunning, content rich (100 cars and circuits) racing game that doesn’t so much require as deserve a physical set of controls. You really do need those analog inputs for steering, accelerating, and braking in particular.

Wreckfest [$9.99/£8.49]

While Wreckfest is another big console racing game port, it’s a very different game to GRID Autosport. Rather than the latter’s pristine track racing, this is a rambunctious physics and fun-driven alternative, with the racing field made up of stock cars and lawn mowers and old bangers – all racing over a combination of surface types, with debris flying all over the place. With such chaotic bumper-to-bumper racing, however, it’s equally beneficial to have access to the precision of a physical controller.

Dead Cells [$8.99/£8.99]

Dead Cells is another impeccable console port, this time taking the form of an action-platformer with roguelike elements like randomised level design and permanent death. It’s the sheer fluidity, speed, and tactical scope of the game’s combat that makes a physical controller all but essential. Its unique combination of nimble melee and ranged attacks demands a solid set of buttons to pull off reliably. This is a remarkably creative, free-flowing game, and you really shouldn’t be leaving it up to your iPhone’s touchscreen to guide you through it.

Hyper Light Drifter [$4.99/£4.99]

Hyper Light Drifter is yet another console port that should really be played with console inputs. It’s a top-down action RPG in the classic Zelda mould, but with a far tougher, more intense combat system that requires a high degree of manual dexterity to pull off successfully. Yep, it’s time to break out that Bluetooth controller again. It’s more than worth the effort to do so, with Hyper Light Drifter’s neon-soaked post-apocalyptic science-fantasy world one of the most memorable in recent gaming.