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The best multiplayer Xbox One games keep you connected and having a blast with friends and family even if you're stuck in your homes. You can plop down on your couch for some split-screen fun, or use an Xbox Live Gold subscription to jump into online action with players half the world away.
Whether you like to duke it out in head-to-head, competitive gameplay or work together in a co-op environment, there's a little something for everyone. Microsoft's console features a particularly rich selection of shooters, including beloved franchises exclusive to Xbox. But you'll find enjoyable options across all other genres, too, from sports to racing to combinations of the above. There are also games for all ages and skill levels that are perfect for enjoying as a family.
Fun, casual style and gameplay
Free battle royale
Building mechanics take some learning
No notable plot
If you play multiplayer shooting games, you're probably well aware of Fortnite. While the game's "Save the World" co-op campaign is still available for purchase, it's the free Battle Royale mode that has drawn millions of players across platforms and essentially made Fortnite a global phenomenon. Embracing a wacky, cartoony style, the third-person shooter dumps you and 99 other players (as individuals or small teams) onto an island with a gradually shrinking map until a single person or team is left standing.
Battle royale gameplay isn't new, but what Fortnite added to the mix was its on-the-fly resource-gathering and construction mechanic. Mastering the ability to build defensive structures in the middle of a firefight is a key skill with a bit of a learning curve, especially compared to how easy to pick up the game is in general.
Each game session is short, about 20 minutes, and on its own can start to feel repetitive. Fortunately, Epic Games has kept things fresh through frequent, imaginative content updates. The water-themed Chapter 2 – Season 3 update, for example, flooded much of the map and introduced new water travel elements. Ever-present among the free content are optional microtransactions, such as subscribing to a seasonal Battle Pass to unlock unique cosmetic rewards and customizations. But even without paying a cent, players get plenty to experience. New battle modes often run for limited times, and non-competitive Party Royale and Creative modes have been added. There have even been virtual concerts and full-length movie viewings held within the game.
"What’s better—not only is the Battle Royale mode free, but cross-platform gameplay is also supported, so you can pick up and play with friends anywhere, anytime." — Emily Isaacs, Product Tester
Lots of emotion-driven plot points
Some plot elements fall flat
"A Way Out" combines the driving narrative of a prisonbreak movie with the interactivity of a cooperative video game. This multiplayer Xbox One game must be played with another player (either online or through split-screen) and provides an atmospheric cinematic experience that truly feels like you're in a film. The best part is that you only need one copy of the game to play through with another person.
"A Way Out" is shot in a third-person perspective and follows the story of two prisoners with intertwining fates who are both set on escaping jail. Like a good movie, the action-adventure elements (like adrenaline-pumping car chases where one player drives and the other shoots) are intercut with slower and more emotion-driven plot points that heighten the game’s stakes, story, and atmosphere.
Every now and then—between the chaos of breaking out, getting in fistfights, and knocking out guards—you’ll come across more cinematic scenes where your characters play a board game or shoot hoops together. All together, these elements combine to create an experiential and atmospheric journey that captivates in both its collaborative gameplay efforts and emotional storytelling.
Charming retro graphics
Exciting and creative boss battles
Cool moves and collectibles
Can be a little too challenging
"Cuphead" is a modernized take on the classic run-and-gun 2D platformers of the past, the kind you'd play with your friends in an arcade, like "Contra" or "Gunstar Heroes." This charming and challenging indie game features offline Co-op multiplayer so you and a friend can complete the entire game together just like old times.
"Cuphead" is designed in the style of retro 1930s cartoons (think Popeye or very vintage Disney) and consists mostly of exciting and creative boss battles where you can fight everything from telekinetic carrots to boxing frogs. Test your skills by performing synchronous bullet-dodging parries and slides while shooting energy bullets from your fingertips. Collect coins along the way to purchase charm upgrades to your health and firepower, a feature that gives the game an RPG element that forms to any type of play style.
Overall, "Cuphead" is a challenging and fun game where the lives are infinite but the stakes are high.
Fun teamwork-based game
Goofy and funny
Can be occasionally challenging
Time is ticking in "Overcooked! 2," where you and your friends are chefs working overtime to satisfy hungry hordes of diners in the world's most absurd restaurants. You can win by working together — and cooking up some delicious din-din to save the world. This kid-friendly teamwork-based game is a perfect choice if you have a few friends over (or online) and want to play something that is exciting, goofy, and made for laughs.
Designed for up to four players, "Overcooked! 2" has everyone performing a specific kitchen task, cooking up food as fast as possible to satiate the appetites of various menaces. Players will handpick ingredients, put them on counters (or throw them) for other players to chop up, then cook and combine them on dishes to serve to the restaurant at a ridiculous pace. This cooperative cooking simulator relies on speed and communication, and enjoyment can be found in both the follies of flying fish and the completion of a successful (virtual) sushi roll.
"Kids will love the bubbly presentation, though the more demanding recipes and levels could get frustrating. For adults, it happens to be a great way to test the strength of your relationships and communication." — Anton Galang, Product Tester
Six still-great games in one
Countless multiplayer options
Player base not quite as large
Newer shooter games available
It's hard to talk about Xbox games without mentioning the series that helped launch the console and shaped multiplayer first-person shooters as we know them today. Whether you're looking to relive Halo nostalgia or discover the games for the first time, the Master Chief Collection is the definitive way to do it. It includes fully remastered anniversary versions of the original Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequel Halo 2, along with Halo 3 and Halo 4 that were launched on Xbox 360. It also now comes with Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, adding up to an excellent six-game value.
The entire campaign of each game can be played solo or co-op with friends, either in split-screen mode or online. When you're done blasting Covenant foes together, it's time to start blasting each other in one of the many diverse multiplayer modes from any of the games, loaded with customizations to try and achievements to unlock. The collection has come a long way since the technical issues that tainted it initial launch, and today, jumping into an online match is a smooth and satisfying experience. It's a taste of gaming history served on a great-looking, modern platter.
"Looking back at its role in my gaming development, I appreciate the Halo games even more now. It's nice to enjoy the early titles again, without them being held back by older technology." — Anton Galang, Product Tester
Exciting blend of driving and soccer
Requires and rewards teamwork
Expansive customization options
Takes time to develop skills
AI not always the greatest
Using turbo-powered cars to knock a giant ball around a soccer field may not be a "real" sport, but you and your friends will be having too much real fun to care. As silly as the physics-based driving–soccer mashup concept sounds, it's an addicting challenge to develop the skills to succeed. You need to master your vehicle, for one, zooming forward and backward and up and down walls, even boosting with precision through the air to smack the ball down to the goal.
But then there's the teamwork aspect that your squad can't be competitive without. Whether you're in teams of 2 or 3 or 4 cars, whether you're playing traditional "soccar" or a more out-of-the-box game mode, you'll need to work together to set up shots and counter the opposing team's strategies. This is most true when you're up against fellow humans rather than AI.
Rocket League supports split-screen or online multiplayer across gaming platforms, making it easy to find players and hop onto an enjoyable match of your preference. Content updates also add on new seasons, extra features, and experimental game modes to try out. Playing through different modes can earn you new cars, along with cool parts and styles that add up to literally billions of custom combinations. These items are often sold in downloadable content (DLC) packs (some of which come with your purchased game bundle), and new goodies are released regularly.
"We still haven't gotten all that good, but my wife and I are happy to spend hours launching our cars around the field to try to get that pesky ball into the goal." — Anton Galang, Product Tester
Gorgeous, 4K-capable graphics
Dynamic seasons and weather
Always plenty to do
Some events can get repetitive
Limited core changes from Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 4 gives you the freedom to cruise in fast cars around an open world heavily inspired by historic Britain, and it's a beautiful thing. If you want to crank the eye candy up to an even higher gear, the game supports 4K HDR gameplay on the Xbox One X. But Forza Horizon 4's biggest addition to the acclaimed racing series is more than cosmetic. You'll experience dynamic seasons that change the feel of the game every real-world week. As you can imagine, rain, snow, and frozen lakes make a major impact in how you navigate the terrain.
Also helping make the world feel alive is the fact that you're sharing it with other online drivers. You'll see other players driving all around you, even when you're tackling your own single-player tasks. But the multiplayer fun comes in when you take on these other drivers (or work alongside with them) in an endless array of races, challenges, and other activities. Drifting, drag racing, stunt driving—you can do it all, and it all contributes to your progression.
Online play also brings a steady stream of new challenges and rewards, including a live cooperative event every hour. The huge lineup of branded cars available to collect and upgrade—around 700 in the summer of 2020—is always growing, thanks to content updates and DLCs. One family-friendly add-on is the Lego-themed expansion, where everything from the cars and map itself are built out of Lego bricks.
"I like that you can hop offline seamlessly anytime you want, but you won't affect other drivers with collisions unless you choose to race together, so there's not much downside to staying online and connected." — Anton Galang, Product Tester
Excellent combat mechanics
Brutal finishing moves
Lots of single- and multiplayer modes
Gore may be excessive for some
The Mortal Kombat franchise has been allowing players to serve each other a bloody brand of beatdowns for a long time now, but Mortal Kombat 11 does it better than ever. The fighting mechanics have been streamlined to be fluid, precise, and exciting from match to match, with new Fatal Blows and Krushing Blows that can turn the tides at any moment. Detailed tutorials cover all the basics, so players picking up a Mortal Kombat game for the first time can still hold their own, while veterans are rewarded for mastering the nuances of the system. All this, of course, is topped off by the over-the-top gory animations and brutally entertaining finishing moves that fans expect from the series. Whether you're fighting for fun or in ranked, competitive matches, it's a satisfying multiplayer experience.
In terms of single-player offerings, MK11's story mode is action-packed but short, while tower modes present ongoing challenges for tons of rewards. You can also unlock rewards in the Krypt using currency earned throughout the game, though the Krypt's goodies are found within randomized loot boxes that can be tedious to grind for. The rewards include customization items for your fighters—a diverse cast of iconic favorites mixed in with newcomers. Each character is deeply customizable in both appearance and special moves that you can put to use in multiplayer matchups.
For light-hearted, last-person-standing fun with friends (and online opponents), there's a reason why Fortnite has become so popular. Its blend of building and third-person shooting makes for exciting individual sessions, with frequent updates that keep you coming back for more. New content and game modes also keep the multiplayer action fresh in Forza Horizon 4 for racing game fans, as well as in Rocket League for those who want to play some extreme soccer with their cars.
Our top picks for the best Xbox One multiplayer titles undergo rigorous testing from our panel of experts. Beyond just logging a significant number of hours with each title, each of our experts will be paying close attention to things like update frequency, how the developers pay attention to community feedback, microtransactions, and of course, gameplay. Multiplayer games, unlike their solo counterparts, often rely on a core loop of activities that players perform multiple times. Whether that is just as fun the 30th time around is something our testers will be paying particular attention to.
Emily Isaacs is a Lifewire writer and reviewer who is passionate about gaming, gadgets, and technology. She has tested Fortnite and other video games extensively for Lifewire, along with TVs, accessories, and a variety of consumer electronics.
Anton Galang has been writing and editing about tech and education for more than a decade. His product testing and review work for Lifewire have led him to add a number of quality titles into his gaming rotation, especially multiplayer and co-op games for Xbox One.
Eric Watson has more than five years of experience as a tech and gaming writer. He's previously been published on PC Gamer, Polygon, Tabletop Gaming Magazine, and others. He tested NBA 2K19 and enjoyed its smooth controls, great motion capture graphics, and audio commentary.
Kelsey Simon has been a gamer all her life, she even built her own gaming PC and owns several consoles. She liked PUBG for its addictive gameplay loop that forces players together into a battle royale as the map shrinks around them.
Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Lifewire. With over seven years experience in the tech industry, he's reviewed everything from PC parts and games, to phones and laptops. He's been a gamer for as long as he can remember, owns several consoles, and has built a gaming PC. He enjoyed Far Cry 5 for the immersive environment and fun gunplay.
Competitive Element - A good Xbox One multiplayer game should have a competitive element which either pits players against each other or has them cooperate for a common goal. PUBG is a good example of forcing players to do battle, while Overcooked 2 allows players to work together in order to finish an order.
Gameplay - The best games have a gameplay loop that's addictive without being too onerous. PUBG pushes the map together, forcing players to fight in tighter quarters and gives the game an element of urgency. Far Cry 5 has tons of missions to complete and weapons to collect.
Graphics- Graphics can vary a lot among games, indie games might stick to 2D or pixel art, while newer games have the latest and greatest 3D graphics. A game that doesn't do so well graphically is PUBG which tends to find it difficult to run on higher settings.