Nearing the end of the Xbox One‘s life cycle, one thing is clear: Although there are some excellent single-player Xbox One games, the console is defined by its multiplayer titles. Games like Halo 5 and Sea of Thieves cement Xbox One as the place to play with friends. Including the two previously mentioned games, here are the best multiplayer games currently available on Xbox One.
For this list, we looked for multiplayer games that are best experienced on Xbox One. That includes Xbox One exclusives, of course, but also games that are enhanced for Xbox One X. Most of the best multiplayer Xbox One games are available on , too. If you want a few more options, make sure to check out our guide on the best multiplayer games on PC.
Gears 5 is the best Gears of War game in a while, fully taking advantage of Xbox One and Xbox One X to deliver beautiful visuals and multiple open-world sections in the campaign. Given the last few Gears of War games, it’s tempting to jump right in to the multiplayer modes, ignoring the story entirely. Gears 5 has a campaign worth experiencing, though. It supports co-op with up to three other players, no matter if they’re online or sitting next to you.
That’s not to detract from Gears 5′s excellent multiplayer, just to supplement it. The standard multiplayer game modes are present, from an Arcade quickplay playlist to ranked team deathmatch. Gears 5 stands out with its Horde and Escape modes. Horde has been around since Gears of War 2, and it’s just as good in Gears 5. Survive 50 waves of enemies with up to four friends, and victory is yours. Escape mode is new to the series. It’s a three-player cooperative mode where your squad must escape a Locust hive before a Venom Bomb explodes. Escape is a lot different than Horde, with scarce resources and an overwhelming number of foes. Half the battle is knowing when it’s correct to shoot and when it’s correct to run.
Read our Gears 5 review
Even with the impending launch of Xbox Series X, it’ll be many more months before Halo Infinite finally arrives. In the meantime, Halo 5 is the most modern, polished Halo game available. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best — The Master Chief Collection could have easily taken this spot — but if you’re a newcomer to the series, Halo 5 is the best place to start. The campaign is decent — not on the level of Halo 3, but passable — and it supports co-op for up to four players. As any Halo fan knows, though, multiplayer is where it’s at.
Halo 5′s multiplayer offers everything a Halo multiplayer mode should. It’s fast and surgical, though never above some off-the-wall game modes. This balance allows anyone to get in on the action, no matter if you want to climb the competitive ladder or just shoot some stuff for a while. The 343 studio swaps in new multiplayer game modes constantly, too. The standard competitive and casual Slayer and Swat modes are present, but you’ll also see Super Fiesta and Grifball, among others, from time to time.
Read our Halo 5: Guardians review
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is a loose multiplayer experience. There are quests, and those quests are tied to player progression, but it’s between map markers where Sea of Thieves shines. It doesn’t matter if you’re piloting a ship on roaring waters, where each crew member has a role to play, or scouting a small island for buried treasure: Sea of Thieves is a canvas for memorable gameplay moments with your friends.
The cooperative experience is second to none, but that doesn’t mean the high seas are safe. Part of the Sea of Thieves experience is going toe-to-toe with other pirate fleets, trying to shoot a cannon through their sails while keeping your ship on track. Sea of Thieves sits somewhere in between Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It offers enough action to keep players engaged without any sort of strict structure.
Read our Sea of Thieves review
Cuphead’s opening theme starts with “Cuphead and his pal, Mugman,” and there’s a reason for that. Cuphead has a single-player mode, but its co-op mode stands out. It’s not a free pass — bosses have twice as much health in co-op mode, so expect the same level of challenge — but having a player two can make getting through run-and-gun levels a lot easier. Players can revive each other in co-op mode, meaning a poorly timed parry isn’t an immediate game over. This is one for the couch, though; Cuphead currently doesn’t support online play.
Read our Cuphead review
Red Dead Online
Red Dead Online is the multiplayer portion of Red Dead Redemption II, which currently tops our list of the best games on Xbox Game Pass. That’s why we’re including it. If you prefer a more modern take, Grand Theft Auto Online is just as interesting. Like GTA Online, Red Dead Online is just Red Dead Redemption II with friends. Instead of playing as Arthur Morgan, you can create your own character, tackling quests and bounties in the Wild West with your own customized group of outlaws.
It’s not just a loose, tacked-on multiplayer mode. Red Dead Online has a story of its own. Set a year before Red Dead Redemption II, you play as a silent protagonist recently broken out of prison by a group of bandits. If you prefer a more open approach, Red Dead Online has a slew of activities outside of the main story, from taking on bounties with a posse to going toe-to-toe with other players in the Showdown Series.
Read our Red Dead Redemption II review
Short of Fortnite, Apex Legends might be the most popular battle royal game right now — it’s certainly one of the best. As Titanfall 2 showed, Respawn has a knack for fast-paced, fluid multiplayer, and Apex Legends puts that on full display. Gameplay-wise, Apex Legends doesn’t change the formula much. It introduced respawns to the battle royale format — something Activision expanded upon in Call of Duty: Warzone — but outside of that, it’s all about looting and shooting.
Respawn got those two bits right. Loot is doled out generously, and with the new crafting system, you can create any gear you’re missing. As for shooting, it comes down to feel. A concoction of graphics, sound design, and animation come together to create guns that feel weighty yet responsive. Plus, there’s a roster of unique Legends, each bringing their own flair and abilities to the Apex Games.
Read our Apex Legends review
Divinity: Original Sin II
Divinity: Original Sin II is an old-fashioned, isometric RPG, and it’s great. If you’re looking for deep lore, tactical combat, and nearly endless story opportunities, Divinity: Original Sin II is for you. If you want a lot of action and don’t care much for digging through dialogue trees, there are better options on this list. Divinity: Original Sin II isn’t a game for everyone. For the players who enjoy this style of game, though, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s an excellent single-player experience, but to get the most out of Divinity: Original Sin II, it’s best to take three friends along for the journey.
You player as a Sourcerer, someone who can cultivate Source to cast spells. Rivellon, where all of the Divinity games take place, is under attack by the Voidwoken, attracted to the power of Source. To fend off the invasion, The Divine Order starts persecuting Sourcerers, outfitting magic users with a collar that mutes their Source powers. Your journey begins on a ship stuffed to the brim with Source-muted characters on their way to Fort Joy, where the Divine Order purges Sourcerers of their Source. All of this happens in the first 45 minutes of the game, and there’s another 50 or so hours dedicated to just the main quest. Divinity: Original Sin II is a journey, and if you’re at all interested in RPGs, it’s a journey you and your friends should take.
As one of the bestselling games of all time, Minecraft needs little introduction. It’s the voxel-based building game, where what you can create is only limited by your imagination. It’s great with friends, too. Minecraft supports crossplay between Windows 10, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, VR, iOS, and Android, so you can pair up with your friends no matter what platform they’re on. It’s also on Game Pass, so if you’re a subscriber, you can download Minecraft for free.
Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition
It’s easy to forget that Killer Instinct released alongside the Xbox One in 2013. The game has been going strong for the past seven years. It has a decent roster of characters, but Killer Instinct is still a far cry from Tekken 7 on that front. Killer Instinct stands out with feel. Actions are responsive, with very little in the way of wind-up frames. Once you master a character’s moveset, Killer Instinct achieves a flow state that even the best fighting games struggle to rival. Plus, it runs at 60 frames per second or higher, even on the base Xbox One.
As a first-party title, Killer Instinct comes with the usual Xbox treatment, too. It supports Play Anywhere, so you can jump between PC and Xbox One, as well as challenge players on different platforms. Definitive Edition is available on Game Pass, too. Over the free version, it includes the full roster of characters, including Rash from Battletoads and Artbitor from Halo, as well as the first two Killer Instinct games, scaled for Xbox One.
Borderlands 3 amplifies every aspect of the games that proceeded it. Combat is more bombastic, the quests are more varied, and there are more guns than any other Borderlands game. If haven’t taken to the previous games, Borderlands 3 won’t change your mind. If you have, Borderlands 3 turns the dial up to 11. Rare guns and over-the-top combat only takes you so far, though. Borderlands 3 is a thoroughly enjoyable experience in single-player mode, but the loop of looting and shooting can get stale fast depending on your tolerance. Like a lot of other games on this list, Borderlands 3 shines in multiplayer.
Wiping the sweat from your brow after an intense combat encounter or tracking down a rare, legendary weapon is much more enjoyable with a group of Vault Hunters. Borderlands 3 adds some significant changes to the co-op mode over previous games, too. Most notably, the game features instanced loot, where each player has access to their own loot scaled for their level. If you want the classic Borderlands experience, with players fighting for whatever is on the ground, that’s available, too.
Read our Borderlands 3 hands-on review
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- The best games on Xbox Game Pass for 2021