The best tower defense games on Android

If you're into strategy and out-thinking an invading enemy, then these are the games that you should be playing.

tower defense apps android
Credit: Derek Walter
Think your way to victory

Tower defense games have undergone a renaissance with the rise of mobile gaming. A genre that was once the domain of PC-gaming geeks is now a true staple among smartphones and tablets.

In fact, if you search for “tower defense” in the Play Store you might be overwhelmed with the number of choices. Along with the gems there are some real stinkers that are only built to suck you dry with in-app purchases. So to aide your quest to find a great tower defense game, I suffered through long gaming sessions to pinpoint those worthy of a spot on your home screen.

These games are a mix of classic tower defense gaming and others that tweak the concept a bit. Whatever your fancy, you should find a game here you like whether you’re a hardcore tower defense veteran or someone looking for a new style of play.

rymdkapsel
Rymdkapsel

The developers describe this as a, “meditative strategy game,” and they’re not lying. It’s slow, deliberative, but at the same time I couldn’t stop playing it. 

Your goal is to manage a Tron-like space station by allocating resources and defenending it from attack. You control minions, which are white rectangular prisms that go around doing various tasks, like building the defenses or transferring the sludge from the garden into the kitchen.

Success requires Tetris skills to fit in the different pieces you need for making food and building defense stations. Gameplay is slow, but making you think and strategize is the aim of the game.

Rymdkapsel ($4)

plants vs zombies 2
Plants vs. Zombies 2

The sequel to the original game that was first developed for PC fits right in on a mobile device. The gameplay is similar to the first edition, but there are a lot more add-ons that make it worth playing through, even if you feel like you’ve already conquered the Plants vs. Zombies world. 

For the uninitated, you must use an arsenal of fauna to fend off the undead. Unlike other games where you set up your defenses and sit back, Plants vs. Zombies 2 relies on furiously replenishing your garden army. The sequel also throws in some fun backgrounds, taking you to Ancient Egypt and the Dark Ages. The interlude sequences are rather annoying, and of course EA throws in plenty of in-app upgrade choices. But as someone who conquered the first game and never tried the new one, I can strongly recommend it and believe there’s a lot to bring you back.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 (free)

bloons td 5
Bloons TD 5

This is an ideal tower defense game for newcomers to the genre. Yes, it’s targeted at kids with all the wacky monkeys and lack of bloodshed, but it’s still pretty fun. I also liked how Bloons TD 5 lets you speed up the pace of play. Some of the other titles make you wait a long time for those enemies to march through. 

As indicated, yes it’s pretty kid-friendly so there’s no reason you couldn’t allow a child to play it. Just make sure you lock down those in-app purchases, as there’s plenty. Though the game does have more than just adding in your towers, as when you level them up you can customize the firepower and targeting sensibilities. I was long skeptical as this seemed like the type of tower defnese game just designed to suck you dry with in-app purchases, but I find Bloons TD 5 to be rather fun.

Bloons TD 5 ($2.99)

kingdom rush frontiers
Kingdom Rush: Frontiers

This is my favorite in the Kingdom Rush trilogy. I find the most recent entry, Kingdom Rush: Origins, relies too much on in-app upgrades to make it into the deeper levels. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers hits the sweet spot, iterating just the right amount on the original while bringing in more zany characters and cool defense strategies.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, you must build towers of archers, soldiers, wizards, or cannonball launchers. 

Kingdom Rush: Frontiers ($1.99)

jelly defense
Jelly Defense

Sometimes you need to step away from all the zombies and paramilitary troops and play a game that features adorable creatures. Jelly Defense does this, giving you a pretty standard tower defense game with a lot of cuteness thrown in.

The game is really fun, especially if you don’t mind a game that looks like it’s designed for kids. Speaking of your little munchkin, Jelly Defense is an excellent way to introduce a child into tower defense games, as it has zany characters and really funky music. Fortunately you can turn it off if the music gets annoying.

Jelly Defense ($2.99)

castle td
Castle Defense

If you’ve played a lot of tower defense games, especially Kingdom Rush, you’ll find the controls and general gameplay of Castle Defense to be familiar. You can drag in soldiers and touch on a preselected spot to mount your defenses. Sending in reinforcements requires manna, which refills slowly or you can spend some of the hard earned crystals, the game’s main currency.

The in-app pestering isn’t too bad, though there are plenty of chances to get more crystals by watching advertisements. Also, you can thankfully speed up the action, which can feel especially slow in the earliest stages. While I wouldn’t call this game a must-have, it’s a good addition if you’re looking for a new challenge and want something that doesn’t have a cartoonish feel.

Castle Defense (free)

fieldrunners 2
Fieldrunners 2

Admittedly the primary appeal of Fieldrunners 2 is nostalgia. Fieldrunners was one of the first tower defense games I ever played on my first fist smartphone - the iPhone 3G. Android was a baby robot back then, but now our green buddy hosts excellent games like this.

Fieldrunners 2 is still hard to stop playing once you get going. You have to litter a battle field with various machine guns, rockets, and other weapons to stop the sprinting soldiers. It gets pretty hard when you get into deeper levels, though of course there are always in-app purchases to bail you out. For the most part though you can play on without those, relying on your skill in setting up a good maze or being strategic about your weapon placement.

Fieldrunners 2 (free)

epic defense
Epic Defense - The Elements

If you want a few drops of Diablo or Dungeons & Dragons with your tower defense game, then go with Epic Defense. As an example, the towers have different strengths and capabilities depending upon the combination of gems that you load them up with. Some of the game elements are rather small, so I recommend playing this on a tablet or larger-screen phone like a Galaxy Note 4 or LG G4.

For a free game it does a good job of not obsessing about in-app purchases, but they’re certainly there if you want to buy a better game. If you like this title, the developer also offers Epic Defense - Origins in the Play Store.

Epic Defense - The Elements (free)

defense zone 2 hd
Defense Zone 2 HD

Maybe you’re looking for something like Call of Duty but wrapped inside of a tower defense game. Then you’ll like Defense Zone 2 HD, which brings this element along with some excellent graphics. The explosions are particularly impressive.

The battlefields are quite large, so expect to use the pinch-to-zoom feature often in order to focus on a particular section. Given the theme of the game your towers are military weapons, with some excellent missiles, lasers, and high-powered guns. Also, if you’re looking for a solid game with no in-app purchases then you’ve found it. Just pay once for Defense Zone 2 HD and then enjoy the mayhem.

Defense Zone 2 HD ($2.99)

zombie defense
Zombie Defense

No gaming genre is complete without zombies coming to eat your brains. Zombie Defense takes this concept and plays enough with the classic tower defense model to make for an excellent game.

Instead of building immobile towers, you control humans who are battling a swarm of undead. You can move them around during the invasion, but only to predetermined spots. So it’s not a first-person shooter—you still have to strategize about your defenses and the types of soldiers that you recruit for this final battle.

It’s free-to-play without an abundance of in-app purchases. A few are rather useful, as it’s one of the harder games in this roundup.

Zombie Defense (free)