The 9 Best Xbox One Kids’ Games of 2021

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The best Xbox One games for kids are fun, engaging, and relatively easy to learn. They're titles that demonstrate the high quality nature of Xbox One games while being geared toward a younger audience so that players of all ages can enjoy the Xbox One series of consoles. Even with the newer-generation Xbox Series X and Series S systems recently launched, these titles demonstrate that there's still plenty of fun to be had on the Xbox One (and One X or One S) consoles. 

No child is alike, so while parents and caregivers can best judge what's appropriate for their child's needs, most kids should be able to handle many of these games without supervision. Some may occasionally call for adult guidance depending on the child's maturity and skill level but they're generally all titles that your child can get to grips with solo.

Some feature familiar faces that your child may already love such as Marvel superheroes, while other titles such as Minecraft offer genuine educational value. There's a chance for kids to experience more traditionally "grown-up" genres like the multiplayer shooter genre, albeit in a cuter and more kid-friendly format such as Plants vs. Zombies. 

With an Xbox One game for just about every kid's interest, many of these titles will also keep adults hooked for a long time, too. Here's a look at the best Xbox One kids' games.

The Rundown
The Xbox One version supports massive worlds and impressive distances so the experience will feel nearly endless.
Best 2D Platformer:
Ubisoft Rayman Legends at Amazon
Everything feels smooth and satisfying, with the controls taking moments to learn yet proving as enjoyable for adults as they are for kids.
Simply put, it's a highly enjoyable and wholesome time that both young and old should adore.
The LEGO Marvel Collection is a particular delight because it's actually a two-disc set that contains three games.
LEGO Jurassic World is full of charming humor that's great for the whole family while still keeping close to its source material.
Success is all about how you communicate and coordinate with your teammates, making each level chaotic and challenging.
Rocket League takes the general structure of soccer and throws RC driving into the mix, resulting in a high-octane team sport.
Not since Sonic Spinball has there been a game that combined platforming and pinball quite so well.
It's a colorful and cartoony way for young gamers to try out the genre without the level of violence you see from other shooters.

Best Overall: Microsoft Minecraft Master Collection

What We Like
  • Encourages a ton of creativity

  • Split-screen and online multiplayer options

  • Seemingly endless amount of things to do

What We Don't Like
  •  Too open-ended for some

More of a phenomenon than just a game, Minecraft is an important piece of culture, but it's also a great experience for your children. It allows them to create mostly whatever they want from Minecraft's building blocks with only their imagination holding them back.

The Xbox One version supports massive worlds and impressive distances so the experience will feel nearly endless—kind of like an infinite Lego set but with the ability to play with up to four players in either local split-screen or via cross-platform online multiplayer. 

The Master Collection includes a vast amount of extra content including skins, textures, and themes from the Starter Pack and Creators Pack DLCs, plus 1,000 Minecoins to buy more add-ons of your choice from the Marketplace. 

Even without those extras, Minecraft's core experience is a delight. The more traditional part of the game comes from Survival Mode as you explore the map, harvest resources, and build structures to survive the baddies that appear at night. Alternatively, there's Creative Mode where your child can let their imagination run wild as they build and play to their heart's content. It's so useful for teaching problem-solving skills and innovation that an Educational Edition of the game exists for use in classrooms.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 1.12GB

“My six-year-old son has become obsessed not only with playing Minecraft and experimenting within but also reading about the ecosystem in books and gaining ideas for his next session.”Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Microsoft Minecraft

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best 2D Platformer: Ubisoft Rayman Legends

What We Like
  • Smooth and enjoyable platforming

  • Drop-in four-player co-op

  • Beautiful art and appealing musical score

What We Don't Like
  • Not much of a plot

  • Can get chaotic with four players on screen

Offering youngsters a classic taste of 2D platforming, Rayman Legends is a tried and tested format that's a lot of fun. Players leap and glide through expertly designed levels within six imaginative worlds as they take down baddies and bosses all while saving the cute, blue Teensies.

It's oddly familiar for anyone who's played a 2D platformer in the past, but it's also quite delightful thanks to some gorgeous artwork and a pleasant soundtrack that makes Rayman Legends feel a little classier than just any old 2D platformer.

Crucially, everything feels smooth and satisfying with the controls taking moments to learn yet proving as enjoyable for adults as they are for kids. Understandably, the game starts out much easier than it ends so it's likely you'll have to use the co-op mode to help out your youngster, but it never feels cheap or punishing. Instead, the experience feels fresh, engaging, arguably more straightforward than a lot of open-ended 3D platformers currently out there. 

The Xbox One version doesn't push the limits of what the console can achieve graphically but its quirky and lively art style means that doesn't really matter. You do at least gain from Xbox One-exclusive skins for your playable heroes as a bonus, plus there are regularly updated online challenges that give you something new to do.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 4.3GB

“This game is fairly forgiving: The controls are smooth, jumps are generally easy to land, and a glide feature can save you when you accidentally jump too late.”Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Rayman Legends

Best 3D Platformer: Playtonic Games Yooka-Laylee

What We Like
  • Throwback to 90s 3D platforming

  • Vibrant and fun style

  • Multiplayer mini games available

What We Don't Like
  • Can get difficult for younger or more inexperienced players

  • Not much innovation

If your youth was full of memories of the Nintendo 64's catalogue of hits such as Banjo-Kazooie (later ported to the Xbox 360), you're probably keen to introduce your children to a similar experience. That's where Yooka-Laylee comes in.

Developed by several of the makers of Banjo-Kazooie and other games from that era, it was created thanks to record-breaking Kickstarter funding, ensuring it soon became a faithful but modernized spiritual successor for a new generation of players. 

The game follows Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the bat on a quirky adventure through an evil bee's corporate headquarters as they attempt to recover a magical book's "Pagies." You can choose how to use these Pagies to open new worlds or to expand the existing ones available to you. You can also upgrade abilities or unlock fun goodies. 

It's easy to spot the callbacks from a main character duo with complementary abilities to tons of collectible items scattered around to give you something else to do. There's goofy dialogue packed with good-natured humor that your kids will love. Simply put, it's a highly enjoyable and wholesome time that both young and old should adore.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 5.27GB

“It’s straight-up 3D platforming as it was 20 years ago, although it’s a little more forgiving than most of those games were.”Thomas Hindmarch, Product Tester

Yooka-Laylee

 Lifewire

Best Superhero Game: Traveller's Tales Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Marvel
What We Like
  • Low-stakes fun for all ages

  • Plenty of different characters and content

  • Humorous story and animations

What We Don't Like
  • Some confusing puzzles

  • Occasional glitches

Any LEGO game is a dream to play for young and old looking for something not too taxing, but the LEGO Marvel Collection is a particular delight because it's actually a two-disc set that contains three games. These include LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel Avengers, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 along with all the downloadable content (DLC) for each game. Combined, that means a huge amount of content for you and your offspring to play through together or go solo instead. 

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the best-selling LEGO video game of all time and has 27 main story and side missions to complete, while LEGO Marvel Avengers features over 200 playable characters. These include pretty much every Marvel hero you've ever loved with over 800 unique "buddy" moves to progress through boss battles and puzzle sections.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 gives you the ability to manipulate time, features 17 different locations from the Marvel film franchises, and offers a four-player competitive battle mode. Seamless drop-in/drop-out multiplayer will suit kids with limited attention spans, while a wealth of slapstick humor will entertain everyone. Don't be surprised if you end up sneaking a go when the kids aren't looking. There's a lot of charm here.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 22.61GB

“The characters are all well-animated and full of individual personality.”Thomas Hindmarch, Product Tester

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

 Lifewire

Best Film Adaptation: WB Games LEGO Jurassic World

Jurassic World
What We Like
  • Kid-friendly re-creation of the

    movies

  • Puzzle-based co-op gameplay

  • Fun dinosaur creator

What We Don't Like
  • Tricky puzzles at times

  • Can get repetitive

In a similar vein to the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes collection, LEGO Jurassic World is full of charming humor that's great for the whole family while still keeping close to its source material, the Jurassic Park and World movies. It's very entertaining, especially for kids who love all things dinosaurs.

Much of the movies' excitement translates over, but it's toned down to be a little more age-appropriate for young children compared to some of the movies' most famous scenes.

In typical LEGO game fashion, players can work together to solve the various puzzles and obstacles in their way, using their character's unique equipment and skills. Once you clear a mission, you can return at a later point with different characters to discover new secrets, adding to the urge to come back for more. Even more charmingly, you can create your own dinosaur and explore each level as a fearsome creature if you want.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 14.63GB

“Persistence and experimentation count for a lot more here than fast reflexes.”Thomas Hindmarch, Product Tester

LEGO Jurassic World

Lifewire 

Best Family Game: Team 17 Overcooked! 2 (Xbox One)

What We Like
  • Fun but frantic multiplayer

  • Free seasonal DLCs

  • Charming and cartoony style

What We Don't Like
  • Can get overwhelming for any age

  • Solo play is a bit dull

For families who love sitting down together for multiplayer fun, Overcooked! 2 is not one to miss. As a team of two to four chefs, you chop, cook, and assemble ingredients to complete the orders shown on the screen, earning points for speed and accuracy within the time limit.

The catch is you’re always in some wacky kitchen, dealing with anything from conveyor belts to mine carts to magic portals. Part of your kitchen might even float away halfway through and be replaced by some new culinary craziness. Success is all about how you communicate and coordinate with your teammates, making each level chaotic, challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but always a blast to figure out.

If you’ve played the original Overcooked!, the sequel’s most notable gameplay addition is the ability to throw ingredients and other non-breakable items. Besides that, it mostly adds more twists on a similar core experience—and since it’s difficult for most fans to get enough, Overcooked! 2 is well worth picking up. There are also periodic updates that add free seasonal-themed content (in addition to paid DLC offerings) that keep you coming back to the kitchen.

The game can be played as a single player, but swapping between two chefs on your own isn’t quite as satisfying. Online co-op and head-to-head modes are available if you and your squad want to jump in with random players or friends in other parts of the world.

ESRB: Everyone | Install Size: 3GB

“The game has plenty it can teach about teamwork and communication, so it has potential to be a bonding tool for all ages.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Overcooked 2!

Anton Galang / Lifewire

Best Sports Game: WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition

WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition
What We Like
  • Innovative mixture of soccer and

    driving

  • Challenging but satisfying team gameplay

  • Free cross-platform multiplayer

    modes

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve for newbies and younger players

Rocket League takes the general structure of soccer and throws RC driving into the mix, resulting in a high-octane team sport that's like nothing you've played before. You zoom around arenas in flashy cars trying to knock an oversized ball into your opponent's goal, but there's more to it than that. Your vehicles can fire off speed boosts that send them racing up walls, along the ceiling, or even flying through the air leading to some spectacle goals or tackles.

The downside is that learning these advanced techniques takes a lot of practice, which means beginners may be a little intimidated by more experienced players. It's best for older children, and you'll need to put some time into honing your skills to master the more impressive moves. It's also important to use teamwork skills, as high levels of strategy and communication are essential if you want to reliably score or defend. 

Rocket League is now free to play with plenty of different multiplayer modes to choose from so you don't have to master it to enjoy it. You can easily find friends to play alongside or against thanks to cross-platform support, and if you don't mind paying for some extras, the collector's edition offers multiple previously released bundles, including new cars and car parts to customize your vehicles with.

ESRB: Everyone | Install Size: 15.13GB

Best Pinball: Team 17 Yoku's Island Express

What We Like
  • Inventive world and art style

  • Neat pinball-based platforming

  • Immersive open-world environment

What We Don't Like
  • Needs faster travel options

  • Not much replay value

There's no shortage of games that call themselves "unique," but with Yoku's Island Express, it feels like an understatement. Billed as an open-world pinball platformer, it sounds like a bizarre mishmash of random elements that could never work. Somehow it does, with spectacular effect.

You control Yoku, a dung beetle who can roll up into a ball and move around a 2D environment just like it's an organic pinball machine. Reaching new locations by launching off flippers and bouncing off bumpers is fun in a way you'd never think possible. Not since Sonic Spinball has there been a game that combined platforming and pinball quite so well.

There are surprises at every turn on the strange island of Mokumana, with a sprawling open-world map that slowly unfolds in Metroidvania style. There's always something new to do with much of the narrative playing out in a non-linear way with a series of side quests and enticing hidden paths distracting you from the main plot.

Your kids will love the quirkiness and the strange characters they come across, and you'll love the sheer sense of originality shining through much of this game. Just keep an eye out for some dark moments that may unsettle the youngest of children.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 1.20GB

“The rich, hand-painted visual style conveys all the beauty, mystery, and quirky personality of the environment.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Yoku's Island Express

Anton Galang / Lifewire

Best Shooter: Electronic Arts Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville

What We Like
  • Child-friendly class-based shooter

  • Plenty of multiplayer modes

  • Goofy dialogue and presentation

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly basic shooter

  • PvE campaign is pretty weak

A family-friendly third-person shooter isn't a common sub genre, but since branching out from its tower-defense origins on the PC, Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville has established itself as the best family-friendly third-person shooter out there.

It's a colorful and cartoony way for young gamers to try out the genre without the level of violence you see from other shooters. The controls and mechanics are simple enough for players of almost any skill level to master, although it's useful for your child to already know a bit about teamwork.

The game's playable classes offer plenty of diversity on both the Plant and Zombie side with some focusing on damage, while others provide support or defenses, ensuring there's something for every taste here. A choice of three unique and upgradeable abilities for each class help provide further distinction and means you can play the way that works best for your style.

That's not forgetting the extensive multiplayer modes available. While the single player campaign is a little too straightforward to be very gripping, there are tons of multiplayer modes including 4 vs. 4 death matches and 8 vs. 8 turf wars. Base defense modes call back to the series' roots, which is fun too. A series of daily or weekly challenges in a bid to earn currency that can be used for special costumes or emotes further entice you into coming back for more.

ESRB: Everyone 10+ | Install Size: 30.28GB

“The relative simplicity of the gameplay makes it a nice entry point into the class-based shooter genre.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville

Anton Galang / Lifewire

Final Verdict

Minecraft (view at Amazon) is the ultimate game for kids right now thanks to its wide breadth of creativity and genuinely good-natured fun. However, for something more traditional, Rayman Legends (view at Amazon) is a great way of bringing the whole family together for some co-operative fun. 

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and testers take into account multiple objective and subjective factors to evaluate the quality of Xbox One kids' games. We evaluate each game based on how simple it is to pick up and play, how age appropriate it is for children, the quality of its graphics, and the overall enjoyment of playing each title. We balance the subjective elements of personal likes and dislikes, with an overall view of the genre as a whole, and look at what value each game is in terms of length and payoff. We also compare each game to other rivals within the field to make a final evaluation.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jennifer Allen has been writing about technology and gaming since 2010. She specializes in iOS and Apple technology, as well as wearable technology and smart home devices. She's been a regular tech columnist for Paste Magazine, written for Wareable, TechRadar, Mashable, and PC World, as well as more diverse outlets including Playboy and ​Eurogamer.

Anton Galang has been working as a writer and editor in the fields of tech and education since 2007. He has reviewed several Xbox One kids’ games for Lifewire and has spent countless hours on others with his family just for fun.

Andrew Hayward is a Lifewire writer and product tester with a background in journalism. He has covered video games and technology since 2006, contributing to publications like TechRadar, Polygon, and Macworld.

Kelsey Simon is a writer and librarian who reviews video games and books for local blogs. She has tested many excellent family-friendly games for Lifewire, including a number of titles for the Xbox One.

Thomas Hindmarch has worked in video game journalism for almost 20 years. He was a founding editor for Hardcore Gamer and has contributed to numerous gaming publications, including reviews of several kids’ games for Lifewire.

FAQs

Are Xbox One kids’ games appropriate for any age?
Video games are assigned a rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) as an indicator of their content. An E (Everyone) rating means the game should be suitable for most kids, with E10+ (Everyone 10+) rating given for some mild violence or suggestive themes. Games with T (Teen) ratings should generally be reserved for kids 13 and up. In all cases, caretakers should use their own judgment based on the individual child’s maturity level.

What parental controls are available on the Xbox One?
Parents can monitor and adjust parental control settings for any Xbox console by adding children to a Microsoft family group account. That provides activity reports and controls for limits on screen time and online spending. There is also an Xbox Family Settings mobile app for quick access to settings and notifications.

How much violence is in Xbox One kids’ games?
While shooters, fighting games, and action games for teens and adults on Xbox One may depict more realistic violence and blood, the games on this list avoid any type of graphic content. There may be degrees of action, thrills, combat, and conflict, but it would be presented in a way that’s cartoony or with elements of fantasy.

Rayman Legends

What to Look For in an Xbox One Kids' Game

Activity Level

Some games are more active than others. A few will even work up as much of a sweat as playing a game of tag outside. To help your child get adequate exercise, look for a game that keeps him or her moving, such as Dance Dance Revolution.

Educational Level

Video games don’t have to be purely recreational. Some can supplement math and science subjects that your child is learning in school or even delve into an entirely new topic that he or she might not have explored otherwise.

Overcooked! 2

Anton Galang / Lifewire

Creativity Level

Sometimes, educational games teach a child to think in a new way or solve puzzles with abstract thinking. Plenty of games, such as Minecraft, offer a more creative spin than those with more traditional approaches such as times tables and science experiments.

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