The best Xbox multiplayer games honor a 19-year-old legacy. Back when the Xbox debuted, online gaming was generally reserved for PCs, and often required cumbersome IP-swapping or resource-heavy third-party programs. In 2002, Xbox Live changed that forever by introducing simple multiplayer options in the console space.
Today, the Xbox (either Xbox One, the Xbox Series X, or the Xbox Series S — take your pick, the library is nearly identical) is still one of the very best places to indulge in multiplayer fun. Whether you want to play with strangers online or with friends and family on your couch, there’s a game to suit every taste and genre preference.
We've put together 10 of our very favorite Xbox multiplayer games; you’re almost sure to find something you like in this list. If not, though, simply visit the Xbox Games Catalog, and activate a filter for either Online Multiplayer or Local Multiplayer.
Call of Duty: Warzone
It’s probably not shocking that a Call of Duty game wound up on an Xbox multiplayer list. After all, Call of Duty was one of the series that helped spark the growth of competitive first-person shooters on consoles. Still, Call of Duty: Warzone is a deep, challenging FPS — and it’s completely free, too. You and up to 149 players compete in a huge battle royale, outfitting your soldier with all sorts of weapons, perks and cosmetic items. Winning matches earns you currency, which you can use to further refine your character. When you want a lot of action and not much else, Call of Duty: Warzone fits the bill.
Cuphead is an enormously difficult game, but grabbing a co-op partner can make the whole experience much more manageable. In this retro platformer, you and a partner take control of Cuphead and Mugman, two animated heroes who have to fight off a series of colorful, challenging foes, culminating in a battle with the devil himself. Cuphead looks like a classic Disney cartoon, complete with fluid animation and a slightly muted color palette. It’s also a pretty punishing experience, which is where having a second player can really come in handy. Just be aware that your second player has to be local; there’s no online play.
Dark Souls: Remastered
For the most part, Dark Souls: Remastered is a single-player game. But it has just enough multiplayer capabilities to keep things interesting — and you can optimize a character for either co-op or player-versus-player combat, if you prefer. Dark Souls is an ultra-difficult action/RPG that casts you as an undead warrior, slowly losing their humanity as they face off against the eldritch horrors in the dying fantasy realm of Lodran. The twist is that you can briefly reclaim your humanity, which lets you summon a co-op partner for boss fights — and which lets other players invade your world, attempting to claim your humanity for themselves.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Turn-based RPGs don’t often offer co-op play, which makes Divinity: Original Sin 2 something special. This long, involved game lets you create your own character and journey through the fantasy realm of Rivellon, fighting off a variety of foes both mundane and magical. What’s interesting is that up to three other players can do exactly the same thing, making Divinity: Original Sin 2 arguably the next-best thing to playing through a tabletop RPG with your friends. Granted, the game is long — at least 50 hours — so you’re all in for a long haul. But it beats sitting around and arguing over who should run the next D&D game.
Forza Horizon 4
No list of the best Xbox multiplayer games would be complete without a racing game, and Forza Horizon 4 is arguably one of the Xbox One’s flagship titles. This expansive racing game takes place across a good chunk of the United Kingdom, from Edinburgh to Ambleside. You can compete in races, build up your stash of cars, customize your avatar’s clothing and accessories or simply drive from place to place, taking in the huge open world. If you play online, each server supports up to 72 players. There’s no local multiplayer, though, so if you want to play with your friends, they’ll need their own copies of the game.
Gears of War is one of the most recognizable multiplayer shooters on Xbox, and Gears 5 is where you’ll find most of the player base these days. Gears 5 has ongoing Operations, which let players compete in various multiplayer scenarios and maps. There are plenty of challenges to undertake, from cooperative Horde modes to competitive Team Deathmatch modes. You can even play the story campaign cooperatively, either locally or online. At its core, Gears 5 is a fairly simple third-person shooter, but it’s also a refined third-person shooter with a lot of potential strategies to employ. Give it a try, if you haven’t.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
“Halo” is nearly synonymous with “Xbox multiplayer,” and you can play every Halo game on modern Xbox consoles. Halo 5 has a bigger competitive multiplayer scene, but Halo: The Master Chief Collection is where you’ll want to go for cooperative multiplayer. That’s because The Master Chief Collection gathers the first six games in the Halo series, complete with cooperative campaign gameplay, either online or locally. Halo veterans know that campaign co-op is one of the most memorable aspects of the series, combining challenging combat, impressive set pieces and a surprisingly decent ongoing story. It’s also a great way to get ready for Halo Infinite later this year.
Multiplayer games don’t have to be all about combat. Minecraft isn’t. At this point, you’ve almost certainly heard of Minecraft, the creative sandbox that’s the digital equivalent of playing with an instruction-less Lego set. You explore a randomly generated environment (rendered in a signature blocky, pixelated art style), collecting resources as you go. You can then use these resources to craft whatever you desire, from enchanted swords to towering castles. You can play with up to four players locally, or up to 10 players online. You can also save your favorite randomly generated worlds and share them with friends.
Sea of Thieves
When you’ve had your fill of competitive shooters, you can always try being a pirate instead. In Sea of Thieves, you and up to three partners take command of your very own pirate ship. From there, you prowl the high seas for treasure to hoard, adventures to discover and enemies to fight — both computer-controlled monsters and other players. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock cosmetic items, but the only way to build your skills is to play the game and learn its ins and outs. Sea of Thieves strikes a beautiful balance between directed and emergent gameplay, encouraging players to pursue their own goals, and cooperate with whoever’s available.
Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017)
Star Wars: Battlefront II (the 2017 version; not the one from 2005) isn’t the most inventive game on this list, but it does accomplish exactly what it sets out to do. You take control of a soldier in the Star Wars universe, participating in battles from the prequels, the original trilogy and the Disney sequels. You can fight on foot, in ground vehicles or in starships, traversing huge levels and completing optional objectives as you go. You can also play as recognizable heroes and villains, such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett. It’s pure fanservice — but it’s well-executed pure fanservice.