Turn your smartphone into the ultimate gaming machine, for no cash at all, with our pick of the best free Android games you can play in 2017.
From brain-busting puzzle and adventure games to fast-paced action and racing titles, these are our favourite free Android games on the Google Play store right now. Not only are they free to download for your Android phone, but you shouldn't have to pay out for annoying in-app purchases to play and enjoy them.
If you have an Android phone, you can also enjoy a massive selection of free games courtesy of Amazon. The Amazon Underground service has all kinds of great titles covering every genre you can think of, with no strings attached. Check out our round-up of the best Amazon Underground games for a small selection of our favourites.
Best free Android games: Art of Conquest
Art of Conquest is the latest MMORTS (which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Real Time Strategy game - quite a mouthful) to hit our Android devices. You take control of one of six kingdoms in a fantasy realm and your mission is simple, yet complex: expand your borders by taking on (and taking down) your neighbours.
You can expect massive real-time battles featuring hundreds of units, which require skill and careful planning to win. In other words, lots of gameplay, and all for free.
Check out our in-depth Art of Conquest guide for all you need to know.
Best free Android games: War of Crown
So, once there was this God of Destruction, right. Not a nice fella. In fact, he wanted to plunge the world into darkness, for reasons only known to the God of Destruction. Thankfully he was eventually (after a bit of a bloody conflict) put in his place by Arwyn the Hero king, who sacrificed himself in the process.
Unfortunately, with Arwyn gone, things got pretty rowdy and the royal crown was lost. At this point, a powerful and greedy force known only as the Empire took advantage and swept across the land, claiming vast regions for its own greedy needs.
Gamevil's epic and complex strategy title is free to download from the Google Play store and we recommend doing so. This anime-style tactical battle game follows in the footsteps of the brilliant Fire Emblem Heroes and other turn-based mobile RPGs, allowing you to gather a team of virtuous fighters to take back control of the land. It's deep and complex and really sucks you in, to keep you playing until the wee hours.
Have a gander at our in-depth War of Crown guide to see more on this gripping mobile strategy title.
Best free Android games: Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble
If you don't know anything about Yo-Kai Watch, head over to our full explainer. In a nutshell however, this is another one of those nuts Japanese franchises which involves doing battle with and harvesting a massive collection of strange beasties - similar to Pokemon (see below for more on Pokemon Go, one of the biggest Android games of recent years).
Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble doesn't see you roaming the real world looking for creatures to catch, however. Rather it's an addictive puzzle game, with hundreds of levels to battle through. The colourful graphics, challenging gameplay and surprising depth make for a great free Android game that's well worth downloading.
Check out our Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble guide for more info.
Best free Android games: Pokemon Go
It's no surprise to learn that Pokemon Go was the most popular mobile game of 2016, both on iOS and on Android. This addictive title is a great translation of this classic game to the humble smartphone, giving us an actual reason to explore our real-life surroundings. Just make sure you don't stumble in front of any cement trucks as you chase down that elusive Pikachu.
Head over to our Pokemon Go hub for our strategy guides, tips and tricks and other in-depth game features.
A Pokemon Go rival has just emerged in 2017, offering another AR-based monster collecting experience. Check out our Monster Buster coverage for all you need to know.
Best free Android games: Cut the Rope series
Cut the Rope is the perfect example of an addictive puzzle game that kids and grown-ups can both get stuck into and lose themselves for five minutes or five hours. Fronted by the uber-cute Om Nom, the Cut the Rope games have you guiding delicious candies into the mouth of the cuddly mascot by...cutting ropes. Obviously. The near-perfect difficulty curve builds to some seriously challenging levels, while later entries in the Cut the Rope series have you meeting up with Om Noms throughout time.
Best free Android games: Vector
A slick free-running parkour game reminiscent of Mirror's Edge, which sees you flipping, dodging and generally chucking yourself across rooftops to escape evil government soldier types. Bags of style help to elevate this fast-paced action title above other free-runners, with strong replayability to keep you coming back for more.
The good news is, the original game proved so popular that Vector 2 was later released on the Google Play Store. It's once again free to download and play, so go grab it now. Check out our Vector 2 review and guide for our top tips on how to get started.
Best free Android games: New Star Soccer
Oh, god. If any Android game in this list is likely to get you sacked from your job, it's New Star Soccer. You'll be locking yourself in a toilet cubicle for hours on end to guide your superstar footballer to success, managing his training regime and relationships as well as getting involved in matches with set pieces and attempts on goal. Never played it? Do yourself a favour and keep away. It's like they made crack free or something.
Best free Android games: Asphalt series
If you like arcade racers, the free-to-play Asphalt series is basically an instant download. Don't expect realistic physics; you can happily slam into barriers and steer like a mentalist and your car won't flip over and die. Later installments introduced the ability to smash the hell out of rival racers, a la Burnout. Great fun.
A shout out also goes to Need For Speed: No Limits, which we recently reviewed and enjoyed a lot.
Best free Android games: Clash of Kings
This free-to-play PvP strategy war game has some huge backing, with 800 global servers allowing tens of millions of players to beat the living crap out of one another with their virtual armies. When you're not conquering other factions you can gather resources and build up your base, inventing bigger and better weapons for clobbering your rivals.
Check out our Clash of Kings starter's guide for info on how to play the game.
Best free Android games: Smash Hit
This ball-bouncing smash-up has you throwing metallic orbs at glass obstacles as you race through a gloomy, atmospheric and seemingly endless corridor. At first it seems all too easy, but the difficulty ramps up later and you'll need a careful aim to pick up those essential power-ups.
Best free Android games: Frozen Free Fall Icy Shot
You can always count on Disney to pump out addictive mobile games, and Frozen Free Fall Icy Shot is another winner. Blast snowballs at a bunch of coloured ice blocks to smash as many of them as possible or complete other mission objectives. Nice and simple, right? Well, this game can be absolutely fiendish in its later stages, and you'll definitely get value for money. Especially as this app is completely free to download and play.
Read next: The best Disney games you can play right now
Best free Android games: Hearthstone
If you're more into card games than throwing balls about, Hearthstone is a great free-to-play title that can be enjoyed solo or online against other Android folk. Collect a powerful deck of spells and creatures and unleash them at just the right moment to defeat your opponent. Great presentation adds to a solid strategic game.
Best free Android games: Dead Trigger series
It's by no means perfect, but the Dead Trigger series is a well-polished FPS that pits you against legions of the undead and some pretty sizeable foes. The controls are somehow not crap, making Dead Trigger about as frustration-free as you could hope for a mobile first-person shooter. Plenty of tense moments and some seriously meaty weapons make it well worth a download.
Best free Android games: Underworld Football Manager
Offering a unique twist on the tried-and-tested footy manager sim, Underworld Football Manager is a fun and deep simulator that sees you bullying rivals and using underhand tactics to climb the leagues. Of course, you'll also have to prevent the competition from doing the exact same to you. Only the most ruthless and organised of underworld managers will make it to the top.
Best free Android games: Candy Crush Saga
Do I really need to say anything about Candy Crush Saga? Surely everyone and their mum and their mum's mum has played this colourful match-'em puzzle game? Still addictive, unless you're absolutely sick of the sight of it by now.
Best free Android games: Marble Blast series
Another game that has you firing balls about the place, but this time it's to match orbs of the same colour and rack up a high score. Simple-but-challenging gameplay makes this a free-to-download series well worth checking out.
Best free Android games: Plague Inc
The Lite version of Plague Inc is free to play and as compelling as it is harrowing. You play the part of a virus and your objective is to wipe out the human race before we can develop a cure. Nice.
Best free Android games: Plants Vs Zombies series
One of the best tower defence games of all time, Plants Vs Zombies hands you an arsenal of vegetation, from pea-spitters to coconut bouncers, and tasks you with strategically planting them to keep an army of ex-humans at bay. The fun, cartoony graphics hide a very tense and challenging game that's now free to download and play on your Android devices.
Best free Android games: Angry Birds series
Yeah, Angry Birds has now reached Kanye West levels of exposure, and like Mr West is just as divisive. But the original Angry Birds was still one of the best free games of its time, with simple gameplay that completely captured that 'one more try' spirit of truly great mobile titles.
Best free Android games: Puzzle Quest series
I've lost count of how many Puzzle Quest games have hit Android phones over the years, but I've probably played more of these buggers than I've had hot dinners. The addictive combination of symbol matching and tactical combat never gets old, with fresh game mechanics in every title adding a twist to the action.
Best free Android games: Crossy Road
This modern-yet-still-beautifully-retro update of Frogger sees you dodging cars, trains and all manner of deadly obstacles to get as far as you possibly can before snuffing it. The endless gameplay means you'll be desperately trying to beat your mates' high scores for some time to come. Plus there's a Disney version where you can play as everyone's favourite animated characters.
Best free Android games: Pacman 256
One of the most recent games on this list is Pacman 256, perfect for anyone who fancies a quick dip in the pool of retro gaming nostalgia. It sticks closely to the same formula that make both the original Pacman and Crossy Road so addictive, with bigger mazes than ever before.
Did I miss your favourite free Android games? Why not call me names and let us all know why your game is so great in the comments below?