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 you and your friends should jump into.
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 fps, 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.
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: Black Ops – Cold War 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 Cold War, 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.
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 2K21 is the latest and most complete entry to date with the addition of a new hub called “The City.” This hub area brings the social experience of the 2K series to new levels by presenting players with new challenges, events, quests, and easy ways for players to get a friendly game going. You can even visit shops to fully deck out your custom character in branded clothing. Best of all is the toned-down nature of the pay-to-win model that plagued the series in the past.
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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