Gacha games are more popular than ever, with massive franchises “popping” in each corner – Disney, Looney Tunes, Star Wars, Marvel – everyone wants a piece of the gacha pie!


Today we’re not going to look at the.. commercial copycats though (just those that are indeed good), but the genre-defining hero collectors, that are definitely worth your time investment.

Most – if not all – gacha games incorporate many AFK mechanics, so most people prefer to play a few of them at the same time, by using mobile emulators on PC. After all, how can you resist and play just one? 😁

BrownDust

Release Date: April, 2017 (Korea) | March, 2018 (Japan) | August, 2018 (SEA) | March 7, 2019 (EU)
Developer: GAMFS Inc.
Publisher: NeoWiz
Android Rating: 4.5 (85K+)
Android Downloads: 1,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

BrownDust hasn’t been out for long, but it has managed to build a quite loyal playerbase, since it offers a unique strategy aspect to the tried & true “hero collector” gameplay, by putting way more emphasis into team lineups and synergies, as well as being able to bring out 9 heroes (or even more in other modes) on your team, making it such more meaningful than its competitors.

The story mode is huge, and there’s literally hundreds of stages worth farming, and a lot of them that will require you to invest more in your strategy, team formation & rune build in order to be successful. I honestly haven’t witnessed a greater balance in AFK / active play in a gacha game, and there are plenty of modes to complement each playstyle, as well as a wealth of free “Energy” to let you even game for hours on end daily.

What’s more, there’s a strong emphasis in PvP, and it’s done right! There’s many distinct PvP modes, with their own rules, requirements and rewards, so be prepared to invest in many different heroes and get deeper in their mechanics! There’s no “useless heroes” in BrownDust, fodder units are clearly marked so, and there’s hiddent (or obvious) potential in all the heroes in the game.


And that’s important, since getting these 5-stars is going to be very, very hard, so you will either way have to work & invest on your “lesser” units too. I definitely suggest checking it out, since it can fit the busiest or “loosest” lifestyle, and there’s really so much great things going in the game, as well as frequent updates and a wealth of events of course.

Epic Seven

Release Date: November 8, 2018 (Worldwide)
Developer: SUPERCREATIVE Corp.
Publisher: Smilegate Megaport
Android Rating: 4.3 (154K+)
Android Downloads: 1,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

Epic Seven has taken the world by storm, and it’s only natural since it offers an irresistible gameplay experience for gacha-fans! Amazing graphics, meaningful heroes & mechanics, tons of events & crossovers, as well as an actual storyline – not the Google translated ones that you just “Skip”.

The battle is turn-based – therefore quite strategic – and each move you take can award you with a victory, or a loss. There’s a wealth of different synergies & builds you can achieve with your team, and progression never feels stale. Your team is limited to 4 heroes, but summons are limited as well. So you do have to make hard choices, but not every 20 minutes!

One of the awesome “passive” features of Epic Seven, is how many things you can upgrade as you play, and boost your whole team. From unique buildings that will award you with currencies and gear, to achievement collections that will make you stronger and stronger!

For AFK lovers, Epic Seven is not the best choice, since pretty much all of its gameplay is active, and there’s no “repeat” functions at all. That doesn’t mean it needs a huge time sink though, and there’s too much going on with the game to ignore it. If you’re the type of person that prefers to focus on a single game, there’s a high probability you’ll fall in love with it!

Summoner’s War

Release Date: June 12, 2014 (Worldwide)
Developer: Com2uS
Publisher: Com2uS
Android Rating: 4.3 (2M+)
Android Downloads: 50,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape


Summoner’s War is the most downloaded gacha game with 50,000,000+ downloads, and probably one of the first hero collector games too! So if you are looking for the highest population & competition, then definitely you want to take a look at SW.

Since it’s older, it also follows an “older gameplay”, which means a lot more waiting around, limited energy, and all these “great” mobile game mechanics, that hopefully don’t plague new games with their silly nature. Of course the developers have tried to alleviate that pain, and you can definitely get a 2-hour gaming session with all the extra energy dailies & events award you with.

Progress is slow in Summoner’s War (you might need more than a year to reach “endgame”), and along with its limited actions and veteran playerbase, you will have a hard time to compete the top players – if that’s what you’re after – especially without spending any money (and it’s one of the “expensive” gacha games).

I’m sad the negatives took so much space, but there’s not many more of them, so the rest of the deal is quite good! It’s also a great side-game you can play, since it doesn’t consume so many resources, and you won’t be able to progress that fast.

GrandChase

Release Date: January 30, 2018 (Korea) | July 3, 2018 (Philippines) | July 24, 2018 (Japan) | October 23, 2018 (Taiwan) | November 27, 2018 (Worldwide)
Developer: KOG Studios
Publisher: Kakao Games
Android Rating: 4.7 (120K+)
Android Downloads: 1,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

GrandChase: Dimensional Chaser, is the mobile adaptation of the famous 2D side-scroller MMORPG with the same name! Of course, there’s more elements that remind of other gacha games than MMOs, but there’s still many things that make GrandChase unique.

There are great heroes, a deep story, a wealth of game modes and an extremely fair Free 2 Play business model. Of course money will help you progress faster, but a bit more grind is enough to let you keep up the pace – and keep in mind that you are not limited by an energy system here.

The combat is real-time, engaging and fun, and you will definitely have to devise some strong strategies if you want to do good in PvP, and especially if you want to progress further in the main story & battle modes of the game. Strategy makes for almost half of your success, which is refreshing since most mobile RPGs focus on gear progression, and time / money-locked content.

There’s many familiar systems to “gacha veterans” in GrandChase, but also a wealth of new mechanics, so make sure to read through our beginner’s guide, in order to make sense of everything fast & painless.

Azur Lane

Release Date: May 25, 2017 (China) | September 13, 2017 (Japan) | March 27, 2018 (Korea) | August 23, 2018 (EU & NA)
Developer: Shanghai Manjuu, Xiamen Yongshi
Publisher: Shangai Yostar (Japan, EU & NA), XD Global (Korea), Bilibili (China)
Android Rating: 4.4 (37K+)
Android Downloads: 1,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

Azur Lane undoubtedly owns two important titles among gacha games – being the least-P2W hero collector globally, while also being the best waifu collector! It looks like China follows the western business model successfully, in contrast with their Japanese & Korean counterparts which are well known for extreme amounts of pay-to-win in their games.

In Azur Lane, there’s a unique “Shoot’em-Up” style combat, which fits the genre perfectly, since the bigger part of your strategy lies in your team composition, and the choices you make before the battle. Of course controlling the battle manually will give you an edge over auto, but the ship types you choose to bring in the front & back line, as well as your submarines (!) – and of course your ships’ weapon types – will play a big part in the battle’s outcome.

The list with positives goes on with Azur Lane, since it’s one of the few hero collectors, where you can actually enjoy collecting all these heroes! Each team consists of 6 ships & 3 submarines, while most stages will require you to bring 2 teams with you. There’s also a lot more passive activities your girls can partake in, so it’s really hard to have any of them not doing anything.

There’s not a huge variety in battle modes, but progression is hard and rewarding, and there’s just too many different things to day every day (just the daily quests are a bit of a “chore” actually, you’ll need at least 40 minutes to clear all of them), and there’s many cool features like having your own home for your girls, which you can decorate with limited event furniture – oh and events are frequent, and awesome!


Fate: Grand Order

Release Date: July 30, 2015 (Japan) | June 25, 2017 (NA)
Developer: Delightworks
Publisher: Aniplex
Android Rating: 4.4 (32K+)
Android Downloads: 1,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

Fate: Grand Order, is probably the gacha game that has the most loyal playerbase ever! It makes sense, since the story is quite deep and engaging, there is no form of AFK gameplay, and it takes a lot of though (and grind) to progress through the game.

Sadly (and for no reason at all), it’s the only game in this list, that is not officially available in Europe. Not all hope is lost though, since you can install QooApp either on your Android phone or PC mobile emulator, and you’ll be able to play FGO, as well as a wealth of other Asia or NA exclusives.

Fate has a unique combat system, where each round you have to select cards, which represent your heroes’ skills, and use them in the most effective order based on the situation, and the choices you received (you can’t always execute the same moves or combos).

It’s hard to put in words why so many people go crazy about FGO, so I really suggest setting aside a couple of hours, and giving it a try to see for yourself. 😁

Destiny Child

Release Date: October 27 (Korea) | November 24, 2017 (Japan) | December 5, 2018 (Worldwide)
Developer: Shift Up
Publisher: LINE Games
Android Rating: 4.7 (92K+)
Android Downloads: 1,000,000+
Orientation: Portrait

Destiny Child is easily the greatest waifu collector, at least for those that prefer a bit more.. “adult” waifus, than kid-friendly. I can easily say it has the coolest & most fun story I’ve experienced in a gacha game, and it makes me wonder why it’s so rare for such stories to be so human and “realistic”, and they are always just a “fairytale” copy-paste.


Back to the game, Destiny Child is not the deepest hero collector strategy-wise, nor the one that offers the greatest variety of battle modes. It is however extremely generous (while microtransactions silly expensive), and gameplay is just plain fun! There’s also a lot of crossovers and events going on all the time, so it’s hard to get bored, there’s always a reason (or a new waifu) to come back for!

The combat system is quite simplistic and unique, while at the same time a blast to control! Gameplay is fast, and you are dissing out orders even faster, which results in a not-so-balanced, but still challenging battle.

Last but not least, it’s worth noting that Destiny Child has the most impressive graphics I’ve personally seen in a gacha game, the 3D models are truly alive and extremely crisp. So there’s one more reason it’s an.. eye candy! 😵

Final Fantasy Brave EXVIUS

Release Date: October 22, 2015 (Japan) | June 30, 2016 (Worldwide)
Developer: Alim
Publisher: Square Enix
Android Rating: 4.6 (788K+)
Android Downloads: 5,000,000+
Orientation: Portrait

Final Fantasy couldn’t stay out of the gacha fever, so Square Enix released Brave Exvius while hero collectors started gaining more popularity. If you are an FF fan, install it right away! There’s really no more you should know about it, other than that you’ll be collecting ALL of Final Fantasy’s heroes through many games and timelines, making for the most massive hero collection you can imagine.

Exvius is a special game, since apart from “classic gacha mechanics”, there’s also a lot of JRPG features, like actually walking in towns, talking with NPCs, physically entering item shops, side quests etc. This makes for a quite refreshing gameplay experience, paired with a ton of lore and storylines.

The combat system is a bit “too-JRPG”, making it slow and repetitive, but hopefully there’s a few mechanics to let you breeze through the easier battles without having to micromanage. You can use items, spells, plain attacks or even defend during fights, so expect a lot more strategy that what you’re used to in other hero collectors!


All in all, Exvius is a gem, and it’s true that it’s a “love it or hate it” game. I do suggest that you try it out, and have a few spare hours to get deeper into it, it’s going to be worth it! On the other hand, if the FF franchise doesn’t mean much to you, maybe it’s better to look at other options in this list.

Raid: Shadow Legends

Release Date: February 26, 2019 (Worldwide)
Developer: Plarium Games
Publisher: Plarium Games
Android Rating: 4.6 (256K+)
Android Downloads: 5,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

Raid: Shadow Legends has made a very strong start, reaching almost 5,000,000 downloads in the first few months of its release (well, they did invest in marketing). It’s a huge breath of fresh air, in a sea of anime gacha games, and anime “haters” will definitely find their new home in its realistic & medieval graphics & environments.

You will encounter many familiar mechanics in the game, but all of them have their own special “character”, and fit with the game perfectly. There are many different races heroes belong at – from orcs to dark elves – so you’re bound to discover your favorite, and make a team you are proud of!

Theres’ a lot of events going on at any time, so you definitely won’t run out of things to do, and there’s always more milestones to reach! It’s also nice to have a “fast clear” option for stages you’ve cleared before, since you can rush dailies & mindless grind, and focus on progressing through the game.

Marvel Future Fight

Release Date: April 30, 2015 (Worldwide)
Developer: Netmarble Games
Publisher: Netmarble Games
Android Rating: 4.6 (2.7M+)
Android Downloads: 50,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

Marvel Future Fight is one of the 4 Marvel gacha games (along with Contest of Champions, Battle Lines & Strike Force), and for sure the best! It’s easily the most content-rich gacha game you will find, as there’s literally a ton of different battle / story / event modes to take part in, and a wealth of energy to do so!

The combat is pure Action RPG style, with each team consisting of 3 superheroes, which you use one by one in the fights. Each hero has many skills in his / her disposal, and there’s a lot of enemies to kill in each stage, making the experience pure fun!

As you can imagine, there’s a huge amount of heroes to collect, and good news is you won’t have to spend any money to get them, since there’s too many ways to farm for different heroes – you just need time.

If you combine all these factors with the game’s massive population, then you’re in for a great mobile gaming experience, that’s been going strong for years.


Lyn: The Lightbringer

Release Date: March 13, 2019 (Worldwide)
Developer: NEXON
Publisher: NEXON
Android Rating: 4.2 (44K+)
Android Downloads: 500,000+
Orientation: Landscape

Lyn: The Lightbringer can freely boast about its unique aesthetics & character design! It’s always great to see mobile games following their own art direction, and not just re-using assets, but Lyn has taken this to a whole other level, offering something truly one of a kind!

So is it just flash? No! I can personally attest that it’s probably my favorite and most-played game on this list, so that’s gotta count for something! The game is quite new, so there’s not a ton of different battle modes, or a huge story. But it’s grindy nature will let you progress with as much free time as you have – it’s almost impossible to “finish” all your energy, PvP tickets etc. even if you play the whole day!

What’s even better, is that you are able to grind evolution materials through the main battle modes, so your heroes’ progression might be “grind-locked”, but at least it’s not “daily-locked”, so you can push your team to the limits if that’s your playstyle.

There’s quite a lot going on with your battle strategies too, since there’s too many powerful combos you can create, and even your heroes’ position on the battlefield will have a crucial role in the battle result. I gotta say though that the game’s dailies are far too grindy – you might need more than 60 minutes for a “fast clear”, so it is a bit of a chore, but quite rewarding as well.

Monster Super League

Release Date: September 4, 2016 (Worldwide)
Developer: SMARTSTUDY
Publisher: Four Thirty Three
Android Rating: 4.6 (360K+)
Android Downloads: 5,000,000+
Orientation: Landscape

Monster Super League is hands-down the best “Pokemon-like” game I could ever want from a mobile game! Even though it’s a hero collector, and not a monster-catching JRPG, all the monsters (heroes) are clearly inspired from Pokemon, and you will find many similar mechanics (each monster has 3 evolution stages, you can actually catch them in battles, element affinities etc.)

What’s more, I’d say MSL is a perfect blend of “old & new” mobile games, blending tried & true mechanics (like meaningful & challenging progression) with new age functionalities & extras (like bulk actions & generous resource allocation). It’s too similar with Summoners War, but without the frustrating parts!

There’s a lot of strategy going into fights, with many synergies you can achieve, as well as quite varied builds you can follow for your monsters. There’s also more than enough quite challenging modes, so if you are serious about the game, you will get rewarded!

Last but not least, there’s always meaningful events going on, with exotic (unique) monsters showing up, and more than enough time to take part in them. The F2P model is also quite fair, since you are able to accumulate Gems easily, and use them as you see fit.

AFK Arena

Release Date: April 9, 2019 (China) | June 21, 2019 (Worldwide)
Developer: Lilith Games
Publisher: Lilith Games
Android Rating: 4.7 (1.1M+)
Android Downloads: 5,000,000+
Orientation: Portrait

AFK Arena holds the title of the best full idle RPG at the moment! You know the kind – you literally have zero input during battles, and most of the gameplay revolves around gearing up your team, which is going to take a long, long time, especially if you aim to be free 2 play.

I’m sure you’ve already encountered AFK Arena’s advertisements somewhere, since they’re everywhere! So it might be a good time to try the game as well, and see for yourself what’s all the buzz about!

There’s a lot of activities to take part in the game, and it’s far more “active” & rewarding than Idle Heroes for example, but it’s still one of these games that you’re better off checking for a few minutes during the day, trying your chance at clearing a few higher stages, and gathering the loot your heroes have been grinding while you were away.

The art style and the heroes contribute by a big part to the game’s success, since they are quite unique and polished, and the same goes for the music(!)

Babalon, Mother of Abominations
16-hours / day in front of the screen entrepreneur, of which 6+ are spent on gaming. MMOs, CCGs, RPGs and many more, Steam-addict & achievement-w***e. Currently wasting life on BDO & ESO.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Honorable mention to Kings Raid. Its unique in that you can just buy the heroes you want directly rather than having to roll for them and the grind comes from upgrading loot. Its probably the most popular after FGO, Summoners War and Epic Seven or at least it was as it used to be recommended on Reddit all the time as being more F2P Friendly.

    • Thanks for mentioning King’s Raid Devin!

      It’s actually part of the original “top 23 gacha games” list, but it didn’t make it in the first cut.

      There’s just too many amazing gacha games out there, that I struggled to pick just a few of them. However I will be adding 10 more games to the list, since they are truly worth it (like King’s Raid), even if the list ends up being 10,000 words haha!

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