We all did plenty of peeking and popping and bringing our Live Photos to life when the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus were first released, but there’s one thing we couldn’t do: Play a bunch of truly worthwhile, 3D Touch-enhanced games. They just weren’t there from the start, and every couple weeks we’d browse around, hoping for fun new reasons to press into the screen.
It took a little bit of time, but finally we can affirm that there’s a hearty handful of great iPhone 6s games that support 3D Touch. And better yet, some of them really are nicely improved by the addition of pressure-sensitive controls. Eager to see how 3D Touch can enhance iPhone gaming? Grab these 10 early examples to find out.
Even before implementing 3D Touch support, Impossible Road ($2) was impossible to ignore: This endless roller tasks you with keeping a ball on a twisting route, and it’s a taut and addictive challenge. I’ve played loads of it since the game released in 2013, and even so, I find it even more nuanced and enjoyable now that it has pressure-sensitive steering.
Staying on the track can be intensely difficult, and the ability to turn the ball a little harder with a stronger press makes you feel a little more in control, plus it makes course correcting when you do eventually fall off—and try to get back on a further part of the road before the game ends—seem a bit easier, too.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Gameloft’s freemium racer remains an essential iOS pick for on-the-go thrills, and the 3D Touch implementation in Asphalt 8: Airborne (free) actually changes up the feel of the intense arcade action in an interesting way. Drifting around turns is a crucial mechanic in the game, as it helps you take curves smoother and builds up your boost meter—and with 3D Touch steering enabled, pressing harder when holding left or right tosses your car right into a drift.
That makes it easier to enter and maintain an epic drift, since a slightly harder push on the screen does the trick, and that’s only to your benefit. While I’ve typically played Asphalt 8 with tilt steering, 3D Touch may now be the best option of the bunch.
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade
Even if you don’t have an inkling of interest in (or knowledge of) the franchise, and even if you find on-rails shooters repetitive (which this can be), Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade (free) is worth a look if only to try out its inventive 3D Touch controls. It’s a prime example of what’s possible when a game is designed from the ground up to support the tech.
Here, your giant mech is automatically guided through waves of enemies, leaving you to do all of the shooting—and that’s where 3D Touch shines. Hold lightly and you’ll start peppering foes with machine gun fire. Press a little harder and you’ll zoom in. And really jam your thumb onto the screen and you’ll switch to a missile instead. It’s smart and responsive, plus the game looks awesome on the iPhone 6s.
Into the Dead
Look, there are no good options when your helicopter crashes in a field while trying to escape the zombie uprising, so what do you do? Run. And don’t stop. And especially don’t run into any of those undead, flesh-eating fiends along the way. With 3D Touch, that task feels a little more manageable in Into the Dead (free), even though—spoiler alert—every game ends the same way.
It’s a simple tweak: When shifting left or right in this shadowy, first-person runner, pressing harder in either direction makes for a stronger move left or right. When you’re about to run into a pack of zombies, that extra little bit of movement can go a long way, and the difference is noticeable here. Into the Dead is great without 3D Touch, but even better with that perk.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
Isn’t it amazing that we can now play several massive Grand Theft Auto games on our iPhones and iPads? Sure, they’re years old at this point, but the fun of roaming a mayhem-enabling city never grows tiresome. Liberty City Stories ($7) is the most recent of the bunch to make the iOS leap, returning you to the famed Grand Theft Auto III locale for a fresh criminal campaign.
Rockstar’s latest has a few 3D Touch tweaks that aren’t dramatic, but do become comfortable enhancements once you dig into the open-world quest. For example, when on foot, you can push into the screen to start running—and steering a car or motorcycle is a bit easier when you can press harder to take tighter turns.
Lost in Harmony
Lost in Harmony ($4) is a fascinating new iOS original from the co-creator of the great Valiant Hearts, and it finds your hero skateboarding towards the screen through dream worlds, with all your actions timed to the music. And the girl clutching onto your back is struggling with an illness back in the real world. It’s part runner, part rhythmic tapper, and definitely a unique mixture of game elements.
The 3D Touch component is relatively straightforward: In addition to holding either side of the screen to steer your board around obstacles, you can press harder to jump. It takes a little practice and can be tricky at first, but the mechanic starts to come naturally before too long.
When the iPhone 6s hit stores, AG Drive ($4) was pretty much the only noteworthy game that supported 3D Touch controls from day one. At least the anti-gravity racer made a pretty interesting case for them, although it takes a bit of time to get used to the difference.
In AG Drive, the pressure sensitivity afforded by 3D Touch is used to subtly increase or decrease the level of acceleration or brake usage when whipping down the spiraling tracks. Wouldn’t you always want to drive as fast as possible? Sure, most of the time: But one big smash against a wall can sink your entire race in this tricky game, and learning to adjust your speed gradually can be the difference between first and last.
Badland 2 ($5) is an awesome sequel to an already-awesome game, and it’s made just a hair better with the addition of 3D Touch controls. As in the original, you’ll guide one or many fuzzy floating creatures through a gauntlet of horrible obstacles, attempting to keep them alive as you make your way to the exit in each atmospheric, intensely gorgeous stage.
What 3D Touch adds is just a small bit of extra subtlety to the floating controls, meaning you can slightly increase or decrease the strength of your finger press to change your trajectory rather than fully tap each time. It’s not a huge distinction, but 3D Touch delivers a nice tweak. And the original Badland has been updated with 3D Touch controls too.
We liked it a little more when it was called Race the Sun, but despite the clear similarities to another game, Breakneck (free) remains an entertaining and attractive free experience. You’ll guide a speedy ship into a new daily world with obstacles and shifting hazards, and do your best to blast as far as possible before you crash—or the aliens vaporize you. And the 3D Touch controls add some fluidity to the ship’s movements.
Lightly touch either side of the screen and your ship slowly strafes, but apply pressure and the difference becomes noticeable: It’s crucial for maneuvering through tunnels, but also coming up close alongside structures to fill your energy meter. It’s a true enhancement that makes this game best enjoyed on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
For my money, Blek ($4) is one of the most essential games available on the App Store: It’s a brainy puzzler that simply wouldn’t work on any other kind of device other than one with a touch screen. You’re tasked with clearing colored dots from a grid without touching the black ones, and you’ll do so by drawing a little line—which then continues following the speed and arc of your finger animation to try and reach the rest of the dots.
With 3D Touch, you can make your line thin or thick depending on how much pressure you apply, which… well, to be honest, doesn’t seem to significantly affect the way you play the game. It’s a small tweak that essentially acknowledges 3D Touch without trying to mess with an already near-perfect game design. And that’s fine: It’s a wonderful game either way.