Unboxing a shiny new gaming console at Christmas time is a lot less fun if you don’t have any games to play.
I remember eagerly unboxing my Atari back in the day to find the Combat cartridge waiting for me in the box, and I’d easily rate it as one of the best Atari games ever. There was also the excellent Alex Kidd, which came preloaded on the SEGA Master System. And it’s great to see Sony reviving the tradition of providing a preloaded game to play with Astro’s Playroom on the PlayStation 5 – a game that’s getting very strong reviews too.
If you’ve recently unboxed a new Apple TV 4K, and you also happen to own a compatible controller (read this article for details), then you may plan for it to double as a gaming console – a function it handles very well.
And if so, you’re going to need some games.
Think of the 11 games over the page as your starter pack – games you can download for your Apple TV gaming console for no extra cost which will provide you with an insane amount of playable content. So much so, that I guarantee there’s enough over the page to keep you going through 2021 and beyond if you so choose.
Keep in mind however, these are free-to-play games, so there’s the usual currencies and in-app-purchases you can choose to make. I’ve selected games in which the monetisation does not get in the way of the gameplay, and if you choose not to spend a cent, that’s entirely up to you – the 11 games over the page will still be just as awesome.
The games over the page can also be played on the older Apple TV HD, but will run much smoother and in some cases, such as with Shadowgun Legends, will look a lot prettier on the newer model – the Apple TV 4K.
If you do decide to go on the hunt for more games for your Apple TV beyond this starting 11, the best place to look is The Best Apple TV Games Of 2020. In this article you’ll not only get a roundup of 2020, but also handy links to the previous roundups of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Then of course there’s Apple Arcade, Apple’s gaming subscription service, which I can’t say enough good things about.
Alright. Free games? Hit the Continue button below. I’ve put them in alphabetical order so as to dispense with hierarchy.
The Afterpulse (Digital Legends Entertainment)
If you like your online multiplayer shooters viewed from a third-person, over the shoulder perspective, then The Afterpulse is a great example of the genre.
After going dormant for a while, The Afterpulse’s presence on Apple TV was resurrected by the developer in May 2019, with a free update bringing a couple of new maps and plenty of other goodies.
If you want to learn a lot more about The Afterpulse, I’d suggest checking out superfan Siniscope’s YouTube channel, and also his website, where you’ll find a tonne of in-depth articles about the game.
Asphalt 8: Airborne (Gameloft)
While Asphalt 9 has sadly not come to Apple TV (maybe it will with Apple TV’s next hardware update rumoured for 2021), Asphalt 8 is still being updated regularly for the platform, with new cars and events coming in so many free updates it’s hard to keep up.
Fans of over the top arcade racing will find themselves very much at home with Asphalt 8.
Beach Buggy Racing (Vector Unit)
While you wait for Beach Buggy Racing 2 to come to Apple TV – which we’ve just been informed via Twitter by Vector Unit may not make it to ATV – the original will keep you very busy.
This is the best example of the kart racing genre on Apple TV. Beach Buggy Racing is actually a great example of the genre compared to any platform.
Tracks are imaginatively designed, as are the many collectible karts which are also upgradeable.
Dan The Man (Halfbrick)
Dan The Man actually featured as The Apple TV Gaming Blog’s very first review, and it still stands up as an excellent run-and-run action-platforming game four years later.
Rayman Adventures (Ubisoft)
If you prefer your 2D platform games minus the guns, Rayman Adventures is for you.
This excellent addition to Ubisoft’s iconic series has seen many updates over the years on Apple TV, and new players will find themselves happily buried in content.
Rayman Adventures handles beautifully with your MFi controller, and looks amazing on your big flatscreen via an Apple TV.
Real Racing 3 (Firemonkeys)
Real Racing 3 refuses to go quietly into the night, which for Apple TV gamers is a good thing. In video gaming years – at nearly seven years old – RR3 would easily be considered elderly.
But the content keeps coming, with new cars and events regularly dispersed by Firemonkeys, with Formula 1 racing finally joining the party in 2019.
Shadowgun Legends (Madfinger Games)
The Apple TV Gaming Blog’s Best Apple TV Game Of 2018 absolutely shines on an Apple TV 4K. Smooth as butter and neon-pretty, Madfinger Games’ Destiny clone should be the first thing you download if FPS is your flavour of gaming.
If you’re not into online multiplayer, then the single player campaign is still a must play.
Smash Club (Four Fats – previously Mooff Games)
Looking for a side-scrolling brawler? Four Fats has you covered with Smash Club.
Read ATVG’s review to get up to speed. Then download and enjoy.
Super Cat Tales 2 (Neutronized)
While the original Super Cat Tales was a premium paid outing, the sequel went free-to-play but lost none of the quality.
2D platforming with bright cartoon candy colours and soft rounded corners.
Toon Shooters 2: The Freelancers (Four Fats – previously Mooff Games)
Another one from Four Fats, this time a side-scrolling shooter with upgradeable ships, weapons and characters.
Speaking of characters, once you get to know the playable avatars that appear in the games of Four Fats, you’ll notice the studio has something of an extended universe all of its own going on, which is a lot of fun. If you want to know more about the developer, check out this 10 minute video.
Trials Frontier (RedLynx/Ubisoft)
Lastly, but only because it drew the alphabetical straw, Trials Frontier is the eleventh must-play game on this list.
Seriously, just grab them all.
The Trials series is known for its exacting physics-based gameplay, and Frontier easily holds up its end of the bargain.
If you’re new to The Apple TV Gaming Blog (ATVG), or just new to Apple TV gaming in general, or both, then the best place to get acquainted is our Best Apple TV Games of 2020 article. You’ll find a great collection of games to play, and a bunch of useful links to our previous site content. Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride.