November is winding down and the dust is settling from Black Friday insanity, so it's time to look back on the month and all of the great new apps and games that have been released. This go-around we have some excellent strategy games, as well as a few action titles to keep you on your toes. On the app side, we've got some apps perfect for music fans, and some new social apps to try out.
It's been a really good month for iOS apps and games. Dive into our top ten list of the latest App Store releases, and be sure to drop a comment with the best new stuff to grace your home screen.
XCOM: Enemy Within
XCOM: Enemy Within expands on the classic strategy game with cool stuff like cybernetics and genetic enhancements. Engage in tense turn-based battles with aliens, upgrade your headquarters, and cross your fingers that your experienced troops make it through the next mission alive. This series has stood the test of time, and definitely merits the premium pricetag.
The classic tower defense game is back, and is elfier than ever. Kingdom Rush: Origins goes back in the fantasy story's timeline to when everything started, but to be honest, players are really into this for the finely tuned strategy gameplay, and goofy cartoon graphics style. Defend against waves of monsters, gather up their gold, and level up your defensive structures to take on bigger threats. Let too many through the gauntlet, and it's game over.
Most of the towers will be familiar, though the old artillery tower has been replaced with a druid. There are new heroes to control, including an assortment of premium ones, though heroes now have their own signature spells to unleash. The gem system is still in place for consumable power-ups, and heroic and iron challenge versions of every level give you some real tricky stages to chew on. Strategy fans will get sucked right back into Kingdom Rush: Origins. Be sure to check out the predecessor, Frontiers, if you haven't already.
The wonderful Dumb Ways to Die series is back with a batch of athletically-themed mini-games. Riding dolphins, diving, landmine curling, javelin catch, and many more obviously dangerous sports await as reflex-driven minigames. The game structure is a bit more involved now, with a Candy Crush-style location path that you can work through. There's also a new freemium currency to collect new characters, though a single in-app purchase can do away with all of that.
Crossy Road is a simple and addictive one-touch game that tackles the ageless question "Why did the chicken cross the croad?" Tap the screen to move the plucky avian across busy roads, hazardous train tracks, logs floating down rivers, and other hazards. You may need to swipe left and right occasionally to grab coins and otherwise make it through the gauntlet alive. Over time you unlock new characters to do your crossing, and all are equally adorable with their own blocky renderings. The fast replay value and highly competitive leaderboards make for a truly addictive game.
Vainglory is a beautiful new multiplayer strategy game with tons of colorful characters to try out. It follows the classic MOBA formula whereby you go head-to-head in a 3-on-3 battle, plowing through enemy heroes, hapless minions, and tough turrets down a lane in order to blow up your opponent's headquarters. Try out the heroes on the free rotation, and save up some coins from your victories to permanently unlock your favorite characters. Though Vainglory is a very pretty game, it's more than a tech demo for Apple's Metal API. There's a distinct steampunk style, lots of humor, and highly polished gameplay. Read our Vainglory review for the deep dive.
Facebook has released another new messaging app this week so you can stay in touch with friends, family, and other groups you may be a part of. Photos and links can be shared along with usual text updates to the group, and groups can be dropped onto your home screen for easy access. You can still talk to groups through Facebook Messenger, but the dedicated groups app can help you communicate without getting sucked into your usual timeline content. Here's hoping some better group administration options get added soon.
Keezy Drummer is a super-simple drum machine app that lets you layer, loop, and edit sounds with minimal fuss. 12 different sounds and 9 layers can be stacked on top of one another, and tempo can be gradually tweaked as needed. The beats keep playing in the background so you can use it easily in conjunction with other music apps if you want to get particularly creative. Musicians on the move will find a ton of utility in this simple little app.
Stringer is an imaginative new take on music playback. It primarily allows more control over the shuffle experience. When you get started, your whole library will be shuffled and presented as a string, at which point tracks can be added, moved around, or removed. Strings are saved for future reference, and you can go back through previous tracks without exiting your shuffle. Basic music player features are all there, including background playback, lock screen artwork, and Control Center playback control. Heavy-duty music listeners will want to give Stringer a try.
Straw is a super simple polling app so you can quickly and easily get opinions from friends on various social networks. Include a picture and text with your poll, then post it to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or SMS. These polls can help with incredibly mundane or actually important decisions, but either way, it's quick, dirty, and effective.
Groupon Getaways brings the famed discount service to the travel industry. Find hotels and flights with massive discounts for limited time, and book them right from the app. Search for target destinations, or find a deal nearby. You can search by theme too, if you've got a rough idea of what you want to do for your next trip.