Surely, you dropped all that cash on a Note20 Ultra for productivity purposes, especially with the excellent S Pen handy to scribble important notes and navigate through the blazingly fast OS with ease. But let’s be real: You also want to use that massive screen and bleeding-edge internal hardware to play video games.
Emerging streaming subscription services, like Microsoft’s xCloud, Amazon’s Luna and Google’s Stadia, are all making console-quality Android gaming over the network a breeze. However, we can’t forget about the more standard downloadable mobile experience, which is still viable and, in terms of visuals and design, continuing to push the boundaries of what is doable on a phone.
Some, but not all, of the games listed below are equipped to take advantage of the Note20 Ultra’s 120Hz refresh rate, which is truly a sight to behold. The ones that can’t partake in the high FPS goodness instead utilize the extra 12GB of RAM and beefy processor to run at the highest graphics settings. A fair tradeoff, I think.
Either way, playing mobile games on the Note20 Ultra is quite possibly the best way to experience the latest and most hardware-taxing Android titles. Presented here are five notable downloads that should, at the very least, help justify that steep $1300 Ultra price tag.
1. Dead Trigger 2 (MADFINGER Games, 2013)
Okay, so we’re starting with the oldest game on this list, but it’s for good reason: Dead Trigger 2, like quite a few games on the Play Store, supports 120 FPS gameplay. Without a doubt, one of the Note20 Ultra’s selling points is its 120Hz display, and experiencing even an ancient (by industry standards) mobile title with that kind of speed and fluidity remains rather impressive.
On the basic premise front, Dead Trigger 2 won’t exactly win any awards for originality; we’re talking basic zombie apocalypse stuff here, folks. And while the graphics are clean and functional, they’re definitely showing their age, even with how fast they perform. But with auto-firing that’s well-suited for touchscreen gameplay and undeniably slick controls, the free download is worth a spin just to see that glorious framerate in action on the Ultra’s hardware.
2. Genshin Impact (miHoYo, 2020)
It seems like this free-to-play underdog gem, which has been widely compared to Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild, is one of 2020’s biggest industry surprises. While you can play it on just about anything, from PS4 to Windows to iOS, it’s difficult to think of a device that showcases Genshin Impact’s beautiful cell-shaded visuals like the Note20 Ultra with its pixel-dense 2X Infinity-O AMOLED.
I cranked the graphics settings up to all the highest markers, including pushing the visuals to 60 FPS, by which point the game considered itself ‘overclocked’. It’s not the 120 FPS I would have preferred, like you get with certain optimized titles like Dead Trigger 2.
But despite the nagging framerate limitation, everything ran flawlessly. Genshin Impact, with its gorgeous anime-inspired world, insane draw distances and striking character models, is truly a sight to behold on the Ultra, even without utilizing the phone’s 120Hz capabilities.
Now if only we could get proper controller support…
3. Beach Buggy Racing 2 (Vector Unit, 2018)
I’ve been a big fan of Vector Unit’s games going all the way back to Hydro Thunder Hurricane on the Xbox 360. After resurrecting Hydro Thunder in 2010, they went on to create a whole bunch of fun, accessible mobile titles (Riptide GP, Shine Runner) which eventually made their way to PC and consoles.
One of those games was a little gem called Beach Buggy Racing, a kart racer that channeled the best of its obvious inspirations and took it a step further by making it all work brilliantly on smartphones. The sequel, which released a few years ago, improves on that solid formula and still works surprisingly well with touchscreen controls.
The bright, colorful visuals and lively race tracks—complete with rampaging dragons and yetis—present beautifully on the Note20 Ultra’s AMOLED display. Even running on the highest detail setting, Beach Buggy Racing 2 performs blazingly fast on Samsung’s hardware, and makes for a nice cartoony showcase. Mario Kart fans will have a lot to love here.
Add the jangly guitar-based soundtrack blasting through the Note20 Ultra’s Dolby Atmos-capable speakers and you’ve got a nice little demonstration for what the phone can do. While it’s unclear what specific FPS Beach Buggy Racing 2 runs at, it’s certainly quick enough to appreciate. Vector Unit’s equally great Riptide Renegade, on the other hand, does indeed run at a confirmed 120 FPS via the Ultra’s 120Hz adaptive screen.
4. Raziel: Dungeon Arena (Indrasoft, 2020)
Diablo-esque dungeon crawlers are a dime a dozen these days, especially on mobile platforms, but when they’re done well, I can’t help but take notice. Outfitted with some absolutely stunning cinematics and moody in-game visuals that look incredible on the Note20 Ultra’s 6.9 inch display, Raziel: Dungeon Arena is one to keep in heavy rotation on your new phone.
Sure, it’s arguably generic and somewhat derivative, possibly of other pop culture fantasy properties like Game of Thrones. But copycat or not, it’s downright gorgeous on the Note20 Ultra. Samsung’s hardware runs the game on its Ultimate setting without so much as a hitch, showing off expertly animated swaying grass, savage demons and dimly lit forests and docks.
I couldn’t find any specific mention of exact framerates in the options menu, but in my experience, it did feel like Raziel was running (at the very least) at 60 FPS, maybe more. The developers have kept that particular setting pretty vague, so it’s hard to know for sure. Regardless, this is one smooth-operating ARPG.
Also, the sound design in this game is incredible. There’s a message during boot-up that says Raziel was created with headphones in mind, but even just playing thorough the Ultra’s Dolby Atmos and on-board speakers was noteworthy. Lots of distant bell tolls, howls and the like to keep you up at night.
5. Sky: Children of the Light (Thatgamecompany, 2020)
If you’re even the slightest bit into artistic video games, it’s likely you’re at least peripherally aware of Thatgamecompany’s stellar track record: Flower, Flow and probably their best-known title, Journey. The latter might be the closest inspiration for their most recent release, quasi-social cryptic cloud adventure Sky: Children of the Light, which looks downright phenomenal on Samsung’s Note20 Ultra.
Sky has several graphics settings to choose from, including a High Performance option that runs at a buttery smooth 60 FPS and a High Definition mode that dips FPS to a more humble 30, but in turn sharpens everything up quite nicely. On the Ultra, it’s difficult to choose between the two, because truthfully, both modes look amazing.
Seeing Sky run at 120 FPS would have been ideal, especially since the Ultra is more than capable, and maybe we’ll get lucky someday and Thatgamecompany will patch the setting in. Until that point, though, the game will still perform beautifully on Samsung’s hardware, regardless of chosen graphics settings, and is more than worth your time (and eyeballs).
Disclaimer: Samsung provided review product for coverage purposes.