When it comes to the best free Xbox Series X games, you’re a little spoiled for choice. The free-to-play market is expanding rapidly on console, with industry titans like Destiny 2 and Halo Infinite getting in on the action alongside the biggest battle royales and creation games that are out there right now.
While you’ll need to be wary of microtransactions in all free-to-play releases, we believe that all of the games in our list of the best Xbox Series X games will give you a fair amount of fun without requiring you to open up your wallet. So keep reading for our list of the best Xbox Series X games available right now – just be sure to check that you’ve got enough hard-drive space to download and install them all.
EA’s free-to-play shooter appeared to arrive overnight, but instantly challenged Fortnite’s grip on the battle royale genre. By the end of its first month, February 2019, Apex Legends had reached over 50 million players, and hasn’t looked back since. The squad-based shooter’s endearing characters, and defined skill classes are likely why it’s maintained a solid player base for the last two and a half years, and developer Respawn Entertainment – they of Titanfall and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order fame – has done a fine job supportings its runaway hit. Unlike Fortnite’s lore-driven challenges, there isn’t too much in the way of guided strategy here – in Apex Legends, what you see is what you get, and it’s all the better for it!
An accomplished, slick, and refined take on the Smash Brothers formula that’s brimming with energy and character. Speaking of character, Brawlhalla’s span all sorts of historical archetypes – from Vikings to Valkyries, medieval knights to Samurai warriors, and, of course, 1930s gangster because, well, why not? With that, expect chaotic bust-ups, high-flying aerial duels, and general bedlam on the battlefield in a game which, the longer you play, appears to stand alone despite paying constant deference to its inspiration. Another boon for Brawlhalla is its friendly free-to-play model – which offers players a limited selection of its character ensemble on free rotation, the rest of which can be bought with either in-game currency or real-world pennies.
Call of Duty Warzone
Call of Duty: Warzone drops 150 players into a map, lets them complete contracts, collect loot and, of course, shoot loads of holes in each other with the refined FPS prowess we’ve come to expect from the enduring shooter series. Regular content drops and dense battlefields with plenty of hidey-holes make cautious, stealth-driven strategy as feasible as all-guns-blazing warfare – all of which is complemented by intuitive UI and a smart, easily accessible inventory system, allowing you to focus on what matters most: exercising your hair-trigger finger again and again again.
Destiny 2 may have begun life as a regular old pay-to-play game, but its 2019 update, New Light, flipped the free-to-play switch for all to enjoy on a complimentary basis. New Light gives players a tailor-made variation of the full-fat experience that’s focused on the content prior to Shadowkeep – the major expansion which landed alongside New Light. With that, expect a host of weapons, modes, activities, and all the general space opera shoot ‘em up gubbins you’ve to expect from Bungie’s sci-fi shooter series. This is of course a best free Xbox Series X games list, but Destiny 2’s crossplay support lets players play across PS5, Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
Enlisted is a free-to-play squad-based first-person MMO shooter that’s set in World War 2 and pays meticulous attention to the era. Once a timed Xbox exclusive, beta testing phases have since followed on PC and PS5, with crossplay across all platforms penciled in at some point down the line. In multi-classed squads of between four and nine soldiers, expect typical war battles with machine guns, sniper rifles, mortars, anti-tank weaponry, and even flame throwers on deck; with fighter aircraft raining fire from the skies. All of this unfolds on real-world Eastern and Western Front battlegrounds of the time, and sees players take control of the British Army, the Red Army, the US Army, the Wehrmacht, and more, within campaigns including the Battle of Tunisia and the Battle of Berlin.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
The battle royale ‘em up that followed the incredible overnight success of PUBG Battlegrounds and, somehow, made it even bigger. You know the format by now – 100 unarmed players parachute into the same map, scramble for loot and weapons, and ultimately fight to the death. The twist from Epic Games’ constantly evolving juggernaut, however, lets players build things on the fly – using gathered resources to throw up shelters, brick walls, and sky-scraping stairways as a means of defense and/or to gain a better vantage point in battle. As the ever-shortening circle of death squeezes the battlefield in its closing stages, building upwards can become increasingly important, making shootouts in the final stretch especially exciting.
Halo Infinite isn’t just one of the best Halo games of all-time, it’s also free-to-play! Well, its multiplayer is. 343 Industries released Halo Infinite’s multiplayer across PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X in late 2021, and we’re having a damned good time with it. The FPS is back to its best, returning to the arena-shooter roots that helped propel Halo 3 to legendary status back in the Xbox 360 years. While Xbox Game Studios is still trying to iron out some of the creases in progression and content rotation, the core experience is undoubtedly excellent.
Given how prolific Rare has been as a studio in recent years, it seems a shame that Microsoft seemingly had them working in the shadows for years after the latter’s studio takeover in 2002. Rare has since wowed with Sea of Thieves and, a wee bit before then, the reboot of Killer Instinct for Xbox One in 2013. It’s playable for free (courtesy of a start pack slant) on Xbox Series X via backwards compatibility, and is one you should absolutely check out – even if you’ve only a vague passing interest in the beat ‘em up genre. The full game itself, Killer Instinct’s ‘Definitive Edition’, will set you back somewhere in the region of $40/£30, but its free-to-play iteration gives you access to all game modes with one single fighter. Buying additional fighters will cost you real money – but Killer Instinct’s full version is also available via Game Pass.
The battle royale that started it all is now free-to-play. PUBG: Battlegrounds took the world by storm when it launched in 2017, inspiring the likes of Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Warzone. The version of the game that exists today is finely-tuned, content-rich, and a whole lot of fun. PUBG is slower and more tactical than the games that followed it – it can be punishing, particularly if you don’t have a solid squad around you. But don’t let that intimidate you, because PUBG is a truly excellent game that is deserving of your time and attention.
Roblox is a family-friendly combination of GTA Online, Fortnite, and Minecraft that favors creation. Like, really favors creation. Its players tend to belong to younger generations, but that doesn’t stop its most creative minds from contributing upwards of 20 million different projects to the platform on an annual basis – with MMO pet game Adopt Me!, episodic horror game Piggy, and RPG school-themed venture Royale High among its most popular servers. Fold in themed events, such as community-wide Easter egg hunts, and virtual Secret Santas, and Roblox has more than earned its place among the best free Xbox Series X games out there today.
Splitgate is carrying the flag for old school shooters. Even with Halo Infinite doing its best to re-capture its arena shooter roots, Splitgate feels like a more mechanically faithful interpretation of the Halo 3 era. Which is weird, given that it also incorporates a portal system, bringing a new degree of dimensionality to its tightly designed spaces. Splitgate is a lot of fun and only getting better now that it’s leaving its ‘early access’ period for its first full season of play.
The Warframe which exists today is not the same game that launched in 2013. That’s thanks to the countless updates developer Digital Extremes has shoveled into the willing hands of the sci-fi shooter’s hardcore fan-base, who, similar to communities such as EVE: Online, travel the world to meet and socialize with their fellow Tenno. With an engaging story mode, PvE quests, competitive deathmatches, and breakneck multiplayer, there’s plenty to keep free-to-play patrons going here – to the point where, with so much going on, it’s quite amazing that Warframe can still be enjoyed in full without spending a penny. Also: filling the shoes of a space ninja will never, ever get boring.
World of Tanks
World of Tanks has been rolling around the trenches for more than 10 years – which is testament to its seemingly perpetual customization options and enduring crossover content. The Ronseal of video games, World of Tanks is, indeed, a world of tanks – an online multiplayer game where players fill the cockpits of realistic-looking 20th-century war machines and battle it out on the war-torn battlefields you’ll have read about in history class. It’s not all serious, though. Official World of Tanks crossovers over the years have included G.I. Joe, Hot Wheels, and even WWE. Weird, but fun.
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