The 12 Best Games On Facebook

You joined Facebook, which just proves Zuckerberg’s plan is working. Whatever it is.

First, it was people tagging you.

Then poking you. (Or maybe it was vice versa. Whatevs.)

Soon after, your feed got the ‘Villes virus with people needing stuff. Rather than run away, you’re following your curiosity into the gaming wilds of Facebook. To quote a title that’s not on the ginormous social network, it’s dangerous to go alone. Take these games with you.

Update 26/12/12: You might have noticed that the names of the games showing up in your Facebook newsfeed have changed. Sure, some are the same titles with a 2 tacked on, but others look more clever or intriguing than the ones that have come before. Want to see the latest in what’s actually worth playing on the big blue social network? Read on.

Angry Birds Star Wars

Yes, yes… you’re all aghast. “How could they?!” But, as we’ve said elsewhere Angry Birds Star Wars is actually a smart infusion of gameplay ideas from the beloved film property and Rovio’s inescapable game series. The Facebook version adds leaderboards so you can compete with friends and a weekly challenge designed to keep you coming back. This is an Angry Birds game that deserves your respect. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

A Good Match for: Power-up lovers. ABSW doles out a bunch of cool Skywalker-themed items, like a Blaster Droid that fires laser bolts as you fly through the air. Gear like that and the Thermal Detonator — which acts as a sticky grenade on the pigs’ shaky architecture — make it feel like you’ve got a Rebel Alliance arsenal at your fingertips.

Not for Those Who Want: Angry Birds to go away. This latest release is just further evidence that there’s no corner of the world Rovio’s fat flyers won’t seep into. Start building that bunker.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Marvel: Avengers Alliance

Avengers Alliance is a turn-based role-playing game featuring the entire Marvel Comics Universe. You’re an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., tasked with assembling the mightiest team of super humans the world has ever seen. Collect iconic super heroes as if they were stickers and deploy them on missions to take down the forces of evil. Research new weapons to aid in old school RPG battles with an easy-to-grasp rock-paper-scissors combat mechanic. Revel in the control a man or woman in a black business suit has over the most powerful beings in the universe.

A Good Match for: Comic book fans. There’s not much in the way of comic book-related games on Facebook at the moment, and none of them are quite this good. Next to the classic four-player arcade game, this is probably the best Avengers video game going.

Not for Those Who Want: Action. This is an old school turn-based RPG. Cyclops, Iron Man, and Captain America stand on one side of the screen, taking turns with the enemy issuing simple battle commands. They gain experience. They level up. It’s a more thoughtful way of beating the heck out of the bad guys.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Bubble Witch Saga

Bubble Witch Saga marries the colourful bubble-popping action of Bust-a-Move with a skee ball-like scoring system and creates a truly engrossing gaming experience. There are more than 150 levels to unlock and conquer, your progress tracked on a colourful map filled with all of your friends.

A Good Match for: Puzzle fans that aren’t afraid to try, try again. Bubble Witch Saga starts off easy but gets challenging real quick. As new obstacles are added to the game’s playfields you’ll spend less and less time progressing and more and more getting incredibly close to beating a level and then failing miserably. The moment when you finally take down a tough level is glorious, but you’ve got to work for it.

Not for Those Who Want: Immediate reward. They will love the first 10 levels or so but might crumble once the going gets tough.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Empires & Allies

This Zynga game finally realised a proper purpose for the virtual real estate you build on Facebook: to make that aeroplanes rain death on your frenemies. Invading your friends’ towns starts a turn-based conflict that happens on land, sea or air. Who needs crops?

A Good Match for: Advance Wars fans. Who knows when Nintendo’s going to update its classic strategy franchise? E&A‘s a good substitute — complete with storyline and boss fights — that you can play with dedicated hardware.

Not for Those Who Want: A solo experience. You still need friends to wage war against. So get ready to piss some acquaintance off and get to fighting it out.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Farmville 2

Farmville. It’s the game that seemed to exemplify everything that was annoying about social games on Facebook: a transparent scheme that limited how much progress you could make to ensure you’d be coming back for more, unless you bugged friends or paid cash to speed things up. The sequel to Zynga’s big hit deepens the complexity — crops can be crafted to feed animals, lumber goes into new buildings — so that it feels more interconnected. The hated energy mechanic is gone, too, which means you keep tweaking your virtual farm as much as you want.

A Good Match for: People pressed for time. You can click around your virtual livestock and crops for as little as ten minutes and set up a series of advancing moves that pay off big time when you check in later.

Not for Those Who Want: Rewards for playing the first Farmville. You won’t reap any benefits from all that time you sank into the preceding game in this series. An odd misstep for a game that relies so heavily on a network sensibility.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

The Grinns Tale

The biggest surprise about Nexon’s social game is how it manages to capture the quirky feel of SNES-era RPGs in the unlikeliest of places, Facebook. The art design is adorably idiosyncratic, the music rousing and poignant and, most importantly, the adventure builds to pleasant crescendos.

A Good Match for: Team builders. Players will have to venture inside an eldritch tower to battle evil creatures and maintain a virtual village that they will cull supplies and allies from. You build houses to get new settlers, who then man the pubs and shops that make armour and food. Townsfolk can also be made to pitch in certain tasks to speed them up. When all the pieces of the experience are humming along, it really feels like you’re in control of a mighty, monster-fighting machine full of tiny, weird-looking people.

Not for Those Who Want: . Collaboration. While villagers will get their names from your Facebook friends — who can give you gifts — there’s no really significant way for those other human beings to influence your progress in the game.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Legends: Rise of a Hero

Legends: Rise of a Hero is what is being referred to as a “midcore” game, one that combines the action mechanics of a “hardcore” game with the more leisurely aspects of casual games. When players aren’t busy cultivating their home base, populating it with shops to craft items and buildings to generate gold coins, they’re out in the wilderness alone or grouped with AI-controlled companions, battling creatures and completing quests.

A Good Match for: Casual players looking for a little more action. While more hardcore gamers might not appreciate the slower pace of Legends, it’s the perfect game to acquaint the farmers and city-builders of Facebook with the other side of gaming.

Not for Those Who Want: To sit back and watch their game happen.

Play on Facebook.

PixelJunk Monsters Online

Q-Games crafted an incredibly sticky, punishingly difficult single-player game for the PS3 a few years back. PixelJunk Monsters Online takes the same game and migrates it to the Web, where you’re not only defending territory but expanding it as well.

A Good Match for: Alpha males and females. The social overlay for PMO turns friends into rivals and encourages you to grab at their grasslands. It’s finally your chance to be a video game boss. Make everyone proud, ok?

Not for Those Who Want: To be isolationists. All the action happens on a shared world map, which means someone will come gunning for you. Be ready.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Robot Rising

Robot Rising doesn’t look or play like any other game on Facebook. While other developers dabble with a blend of hardcore and social gameplay on the platform, Stomp Games stays true to its name, stomping in and laying down a full-fledged robot-powered action role-playing game with stunning graphics, explosive sound and a little base management thrown in to keep the more casual players from getting lost in a sea of exploding machine bits. There is no begging friends here — just gifting, should the mood hit you.

A Good Match for: Action RPG fans looking for a quick fix. With a never-ending supply of randomly-generated missions, fans of games like Torchlight and Diablo looking for something little, mechanical and different will be in click-to-kill heaven.

Not for Those Who Want: A relaxing city management sim. While building your base is a part of the process, Robot Rising‘s core experience is about exploring dungeons and blowing the hell out of anything that moves.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Robot Unicorn Attack: Evolution

The first Robot Unicorn was a Facebook classic, and the sequel ups the ante in just about every way. Now there are more animals, more power-ups, and… well, still just the one song. But who would want to change that? Best of all, it’s the rare Facebook game that’s cool enough that you won’t mind if it tells your friends you’re playing it.

A Good Match for: Erasure fans, panda fans, unicorn fans, people who like colours.

Not for Those Who Want: A game without Erasure, pandas, unicorns and colours.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

Words with Friends

Part of what helped Facebook become a gaming powerhouse was networked word games like Words with Friends. WWF stands out because of its robust client and speedy refresh, making it so that you can hammer out rounds as quickly as you want.

A Good Match for: On-the-go types. The grid’s slightly different than other such games, but the main draw for Words with Friends is its cross-platform functionality. iOS and Android apps access the same game that lives on the web, meaning that you’ll be able to nail that triple word score on your way back from the gym.

Not for Those Who Want: To know what they will score. There’s a certain suspense that WWF generates by virtue of not letting you know what your word is worth until after you play it.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

You Don’t Know Jack

It’s the irreverent trivia game that in some ways defined the 90s, reincarnated in a sharp, current, updated way that takes full advantage of the friend connections Facebook has to offer. It actually uses asynchronous gameplay effectively, to let you compete against your friends (and strangers) as if in real time.

A Good Match For: Anyone who likes silliness, who could use a bit more PG-13 humour in their day, or who wants to prove to their family how much smarter they are in six minutes or less.

Not for Those Who Want: Straightlaced, cooperative trivia. You Don’t Know Jack will try to mislead you with puns. Don’t let it. Other players can use boosts to augment their scores. Beat them anyway.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Play on Facebook.

This list will be updated if and when we discover better games. We will only ever list 12 games, at the most.

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