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The Xbox One has been around for more than eight years, and during that time it has amassed a sizeable collection of free-to-play games across several different genres. If you can’t afford (or just don’t want to) spend cash on a game or you’re just not sure if you’re going to like the latest hit, free-to-play games on Xbox One are a great option. And if you’re holding out to buy an Xbox Series X, having all that extra cash is a big help. We’ve rounded up the best free Xbox One games so you can have a great time without breaking or even touching the bank. Don’t even think about a bank, in fact–unless you start buying microtransactions in any of these games, of course.
It’s fitting that Apex Legends–a spin-off of the criminally underappreciated Titanfall and Titanfall 2–would also happen to be one of the best free-to-play games on Xbox One. Set in the same universe as the Titanfall games but with a hero-based battle royale spin, Apex Legends draws just as much inspiration from Call of Duty and Overwatch as it does from Titanfall. With an emphasis on the different playable characters’ unique roles, team composition is an important part of success, and both the maps’ verticality and plethora of gear you can pick up add an element of strategy not seen in some other online shooters.
See our Apex Legends review.
Halo Infinite (multiplayer)
Microsoft went to a different release model with Halo Infinite than past games, opting to make the campaign a premium experience while offering the multiplayer for free across Xbox consoles, PC, and the cloud. This change has led to a few rough edges–the progression system needs some work–but Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is also the best competitive mode in the series since Halo: Reach. Fantastic map design, a good mix of old and new weapons, and a focus on the simple “shoot the other team” gameplay that made the original games work is key to its success. Oh, and you can put cat ears on your Spartan, if you want.
See our Halo Infinite multiplayer review.
Could there possibly be a list of the best free-to-play games without Fortnite? The most popular video game on the planet–and one that has remained on top for several years–Fortnite’s success story is odd in that it began its life without having its signature battle royale mode at all. Since that pivot, however, it’s grown into a juggernaut, complete with in-game concerts, crossovers, with just about every major franchise you can think of, and a bizarre in-universe lore that has made way for massive changes to the battle royale map. With cross-play support, you can play it with friends on just about any system, too.
Free now after previously costing 20 bucks for years, Rocket League seems like it was conceived by a seven-year-old who wasn’t paying attention during class. Essentially a big game of soccer but with rocket-powered cars in place of the players, the hectic sport sees vehicles zipping across the pitch and through the air as they attempt to knock the giant ball into their opponents’ goal while defending their own. While a simple enough premise in theory, Rocket League is very difficult to master, with the best players maintaining expert control as they knock a ball into the net.
The battle royale game that kicked off a massive trend across the industry–though it wasn’t the first game in the genre–PUBG: Battlegrounds (formerly PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its competitors. There’s no building structures and there aren’t character classes. Instead, it takes a slightly more realistic approach to the concept, dropping you on a gritty island as you scavenge for weapons, ammunition, armor, and medical gear. Stealth and escape are often the best tactics in PUBG: Battlegrounds, as it only takes a few shots to send you to an early grave.
See our full PUBG: Battlegrounds review.
Sure, Destiny has certainly improved a lot over the years, but there was a point when a free-to-play game was pretty much eating Bungie’s lunch. Warframe combines multiplayer action, third-person combat, and extensive character customization together, and the game will also be getting a cross-play feature in 2022. This way, all your friends can squad up and take on its tough cooperative challenges–all for free–even if one person is on an Xbox One while another is playing on a Nintendo Switch.
See our full Warframe review.
“Halo meets Portal” might sound like an idea that someone only thought of for a few seconds before tossing it in the trash, but somehow, Splitgate takes that crossover concept and turns it into one of the most compelling multiplayer shooters around today–free or otherwise. By giving you the ability to create portals on the map and shoot through them, the basic gameplay loop of shooting, finding cover, and shooting again has been flipped on its head. Nowhere is safe, because an enemy 50 yards away is also, potentially, right next to you. The strategies you use in just about every other shooter won’t work in Splitgate, and that’s what makes it so successful.
Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis
Phantasy Star has been one of the most compelling RPG series for decades, beginning as a Final Fantasy competitor that instantly differentiated itself with sci-fi elements. With the updated MMO Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis, it continues to impress through gorgeous environments and flashy combat. For action fans who may not usually be interested in the skill-bar-based combat of some other online role-playing games, New Genesis is a great alternative, and with six different classes available, you can find one to fit your own play style.
Monster Hunter, but free? Not exactly, but that’s basically the elevator pitch for Dauntless. Just like in Capcom’s series, you’ll be teaming up with other players as you venture out into the unknown and take down mon… er, “Behemoths,” though the game’s style take it in a more science-fiction direction than Monster Hunter ever has. Because of cross-play support, you can play it on Xbox One with friends across PlayStation, PC, and even Nintendo Switch, and special modes like Escalation will challenge your boss-killing ability in a marathon of combat.
See our full Dauntless review.
Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty first entered the battle royale scene with Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, but it was perfected in the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone. Expanding the universe of several of the series’ games, including Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War, Warzone manages to seamlessly fit the twitchy Call of Duty shooting into a battle royale while also offering plenty of reasons for players to keep coming back. One of the biggest is the new Pacific map, which features a radically different layout and color scheme than its European predecessor.
See our full Call of Duty: Warzone review.
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