Multiplayer games are certainly at their best with the latest console releases. With the power of the Xbox Series X, we’re seeing online experiences that were never possible before. Killer graphics, smoother frame rates, and smooth loading screens make this the best time to jump into a game with your friends. The only question becomes: What game will you play?
Rather than being strapped for choices, you’ll find that there are way too many options for multiplayer experiences on the Series X. Rather than waste your time and money on a lackluster or half-baked title, check out this list of the best multiplayer games that you and your friends should jump into.
Halo multiplayer is back and better than ever. In a brilliant and exciting move, 343 and Microsoft decided to make Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer mode stand-alone and free-to-play for anyone with an Xbox or PC. This alone keeps the community full of players to make sure you can always get a match easily, but we’d guess that wouldn’t be a problem even if the game wasn’t free because it’s so good that it would be worth paying for. The game takes things back to the arena-style shooter of the original trilogy (more on those below) but modernizes it with tons of great features, new equipment, weapons, and maps that all just feel like classic Halo. This is one of the most polished and addictive multiplayer games out there, bar none, and is a welcome return to form for this classic FPS franchise.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
There’s no other game more associated with Xbox than the Halo franchise. This series launched with the original Xbox and played a large part in making it the success it is today. The series of influential FPS titles are essential playing for any fans of shooters, and the Halo: Master Chief Collection is far and away the best way to experience the series, either for the first time or for the 10th. Including every mainline game from the first up until Halo 4, including the spinoff games like ODST and Reach, plus giving them all the benefit of new hardware and robust online play, this could easily be the only game you need on your Xbox Series X for online fun. All the wrinkles from launch have been ironed out, so now’s the best time to link back up with good old Master Chief.
Alongside the Halo franchise, Gears of War is an iconic series most associated with the Xbox. Though the series did stumble a bit after it changed hands from the original developers, Gears 5 was a major return to form. It was originally released back in 2019 for the Xbox One but has been given a major enhancement on the Series X. While the campaign saw a nice bump in resolution and slight frame rate improvement, the multiplayer side of things is where the passion shows. Now running at a buttery-smooth 120 frames per second, the cover-based shooter has never felt more responsive and satisfying. Throw in the addictive game modes in ranked and classic playlists, plus the co-operative Horde and Escape modes, and you’ve got a game you and your friends can easily sink hundreds of hours into.
Call of Duty: Vanguard/ Warzone
What list of multiplayer games would be complete without the latest in the biggest multiplayer shooter franchise of the past decade? If you’re a fan of FPS games, odds are you’ve played at least one Call of Duty game in the past, but there’s no denying how well the franchise has aged. Call of Duty: Vanguard is the latest installment from the war shooter and has all the bells and whistles you come to expect. There are a ton of competitive game modes to try out, with classics like Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, and Domination all making a return. The light RPG and progression systems of leveling up weapons, unlocking new attachments and perks, and rising through the ranks are as compelling as ever. Then there’s the new iteration of the Zombies mode, which can easily consume dozens of hours if you want to go deep into it.
Call of Duty: Warzone is technically not part of Vanguard and is instead a stand-alone download, but it’s essentially the series’ ongoing battle royale mode. You can pick it up for free and essentially add this massive new mode to your COD experience. Battle royales have become the most popular form of multiplayer gaming in the last few years, so it wasn’t a big surprise when Activision released their own spin on the genre. What was surprising was just how well they pulled it off. If you want the rock-solid gunplay of the COD series mixed with the fast and frenetic chaos of a massive battle royale, Warzone is the way to go.
Back 4 Blood
Fans of the Left 4 Dead games, rejoice. The studio that brought us the seminal co-op zombie shooter has returned with a brand new game that looks to be the spiritual sequel to the incredibly addicting zombie titles. Back 4 Blood is everything you’d want from an evolved Left 4 Dead title, plus a handful of new mechanics to spice things up round after round. You and three pals will team up to shoot and smash your way through hoards of undead with various weapons, but also have to pay attention to the new card system. You will bring in cards to buff yourself, but other cards will also make things more difficult in a variety of ways, so you never know what’s around the next corner.
Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate
There’s no genre of game more ubiquitous with multiplayer than fighting games. And if you’re looking for the best playing fighter on the Series X, there’s no better choice than Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate. This updated version of the game is packed with content. You get the base game, which has a celebrated story mode that is actually fantastic, plus both Kombat packs and the Aftermath expansion with even more story content. All told, you’re jumping into a game with a roster of 37 total characters, including some awesome cameo characters. Plus, on your Series X, you can enjoy all the blood and gore at 4K dynamic resolution, 120 fps goodness, and cross play support.
For a free-to-play shooter, Splitgate has taken off in a way few other games could ever hope to. While it is technically still in beta, it is open for any and everyone to play. Don’t let that turn you off, though, because this space-bending shooter feels fully complete. The concept is simple: Add portals to a Halo-style FPS. Every player can create portals on designated walls in this arena-style shooter, leading to some of the most tactical and frenetic FPS action on the market. It’s still a little light on content, but for a free game that’s still being worked on, you could find far worse FPS games than this.
Racing games often get sidelined a bit when it comes to multiplayer games, especially next to behemoth-sized FPS titles, but Dirt 5 is a perfect mix of simulation and accessibility. It doesn’t quite go as extreme as the pure arcade experiences, like a Burnout game might, and the single-player mode is a bit bland, but it shines as a multiplayer experience, unlike past games in the series. One of the most notable features is that Dirt 5 allows for split-screen multiplayer. What was once the only way to play with your friends and has largely vanished in favor of pure online multiplayer, Dirt 5 brings back the option for two people to actually sit down and have a race together on the same console. Throw in the option to run at 120 fps and nearly instant loading times on the Series X, and this racer is pure adrenaline.
The NBA 2k series is basically the basketball equivalent of the Call of Duty series. It may not evolve a ton from year to year, but you can’t deny how solid they’ve nailed the presentation and feel of their respective genres. NBA 2K22 is the latest and most complete entry to date and is the first to feature a WNBA player on one of the six possible covers. This game takes the series a bit further into the simulation aspect of the sport, making it a little more difficult, but all the more satisfying to master. There was some controversy regarding how much of the in game currency you need to make a decent player, but if you enjoy the core gameplay, this is still the best basketball game on the market.
Everyone knows Fortnite. It’s been the most popular battle royale game ever since it hit the scene and has only continued to expand and surprise players. For a free-to-play game, there’s no other title that can match how much new stuff Fortnite throws at you. From crossover events, challenges, and seasonal game types, it’s easy to see why this is the multiplayer game for an entire generation of gamers. So long as you can get to grips with the building mechanics or are willing to learn, it’s hard to deny that this isn’t one of the most fun times you can have online regardless if you win or lose a match.
Bungie put Xbox, and console FPS games in general, on the map with their Halo series way back in 2001. Now that they’ve moved on, their focus is squarely on their innovative, shared-world looter shooter Destiny 2. Mixing light MMORPG elements with tight gunplay, evolving narratives, and robust PvP modes, Destiny 2 has become a massively addicting game among hardcore gamers. Being a shared-world experience, you can team up to play all the normal story missions, plus other content to grind for new weapons and gear like strikes, or even take on the most difficult content in the game’s raids. Whether you want to team up or take on other Guardians, this FPS is a massive package you can jump into for free.
One of the newer battle royale games on the market, Apex Legends came out of nowhere, almost literally, and immediately established itself as one of the heavy hitters for online games. Aside from also being free, which is always a huge bonus, Apex Legends carved out its own space in the genre by focusing on squads of three distinct characters working together with tight, tactical gunplay. Each character feels like they come from a hero shooter like Overwatch, but the game feel is something of a mix between the fluid movement of Titanfall 2 and the snappy responsiveness of a Call of Duty game, which all makes perfect sense considering the developers.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves didn’t have the best launch — it was one of the first major titles Microsoft added to its Game Pass service, but at the time was dinged for a lack of content. People liked the concept of leading a crew of your friends on quests in the high seas, but there just wasn’t enough variety to keep players coming back. That was three years ago. Rare has been able to right the ship with tons of updates and content drops that continue to this day. Between the random events, other players interfering, and chaos of trying to manage your ship with your crew, Sea of Thieves becomes a game you’ll walk away from with dozens of stories to tell. Add in an extremely successful Steam release and seamless crossplay, and this pirate adventure is a joy for all ages.
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