So, you’ve just dropped a ton of money on a brand new Xbox Series X | S. Good for you, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the benefits to resolution and framerate. With games like Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to flex the console’s muscles, so to speak.
However, you’ve probably spent the majority, if not all of your spending money on the console itself, and those games cost about £50 on average. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best free Xbox Series X | S games that won’t break your bank to play. You’ll still need an Xbox Live Gold membership, mind you, but those tend to be cheap enough anyway, especially if you shop around.
Developer: Epic Games Publisher: Epic Games Series X | S Enhanced: Yes
As far as free games go, Fortnite is the undisputed ruler. The free-to-play battle royale game, which initially started life as a mediocre zombie survival shooter, has become such an influential piece of media that it ended up being featured in Avengers: Endgame, while its also crossed over with DC, Star Wars, John Wick and more besides.
The game itself sees 100 players dropping into an island that seems to change every other month, with the last player, duo or squad left standing declared the winner. With plenty of limited-time modes, a constant deluge of content and a guarantee that you’ll quickly find games, Fortnite is an enticing prospect.
2. Call of Duty: Warzone
Developer: Infinity Ward Publisher: Activision Series X | S Enhanced: Not officially, but it’ll do 120fps
There’s a very real possibility that when you bought your new Xbox, you picked up Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War along with it, so consider this one an addendum to that one. Warzone is a battle royale mode originally tied to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that was also released as a free-to-play standalone.
Like most battle royale games, over a hundred players are thrown into a massive map to determine who is the best at shooting everyone else or hiding in a corner until everyone else dies and you win by default. Progression made in Warzone will also carry over to season pass progression in your main Call of Duty game, so that’s something to consider if you get tired of regular multiplayer.
3. Rocket League
Developer: Psyonix Publisher: Psyonix, Epic Series X | S Enhanced: No, but it’s coming
Rocket League is proof of the old adage that less is more sometimes. While there’s plenty of free games that’ll try and dazzle you with complex mechanics, thousands of hours of content and more besides, Rocket League is the result of a simple but compelling premise executed perfectly, and the fact it’s gone free-to-play is just the icing on the cake.
Taking the concept of car football (or soccer, I guess) to its most extreme, players compete across a range of modes and arenas that can accommodate all kinds of players. Those looking for a more casual experience will love Rumble, which adds power-ups that change the game completely, while the ranked competitive modes will keep players occupied who are looking to climb the ladder. Just be mindful of the toxicity.
4. Rogue Company
Developer: First Watch Games Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios Series X | S Enhanced: Yes
As far as free-to-play tactical shooters go, there wasn’t any to speak of on the Xbox for a long time. There’s Rainbow Six: Siege if you don’t mind paying a premium for both the game and all the DLC characters, but for players whose budget better resembles a shoe-string, Rogue Company is a decent alternative.
Rogue Company is a 4v4 tactical third person shooter that sees players attacking and defending key objectives. Players pick from a gallery of Rogues, each with their own weapon loadouts and abilities which can be customised mid-match depending on the needs of the round. In fairness, the characters in Rogue Company can be purchased with in-game and real world currency, similar to Siege, but it’s still a bit cheaper, and worth checking out.
Developer: Hi-Rez Studios Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios Series X | S Enhanced: No
If MOBAs like League of Legends are more your speed, consider SMITE, which offers a decently sized player base thanks to the implementation of cross-platform play, along with over 100 characters to learn. If you’re diving in for free, you’ll only have access to a rotating cast of characters, but the pack to unlock all current and future characters is cheap enough if you like the overall gameplay.
While there are a bunch of different modes available in SMITE, the core premise across all of them sees you levelling up your character and abilities by killing enemy players and their AI minions, attacking camps strewn across the map and taking out enemy objectives. You’ll buy items back at your spawn to build your loadout, with games ranging from 10 minute stomps to drawn out, hour long affairs.
Developer: Roblox Publisher: Roblox Series X | S Enhanced: No
One for the weans this, or for someone who doesn’t mind logging onto the game for a month to nab 1000 gamerscore, Roblox is one of the biggest games out at the moment not named Fortnite or Minecraft, and kids just seem to love it. If you’ve bought an Xbox Series X | S to stick in the living room, this should keep the little ones entertained.
Ostensibly a platform for people to share the games that they’ve made, users who load into Roblox on the Xbox can find some interesting multiplayer games that they won’t find anywhere else. Just make sure that you supervise your kids as they play Roblox, as it feels like it’s quite easy for a kid to run rampant on your credit card with the microtransactions.
7. Apex Legends
Developer: Respawn Entertainment Publisher: EA Series X | S Enhanced: No, but it’s coming
For a while there, it felt like Apex Legends would be the one to dethrone Fortnite, but that doesn’t seem to have come to pass. That’s not to say Apex Legends isn’t still going strong, with a cross-play update that ensures lobbies are always filled and quickly, but it’s hard to avoid the sense that Apex Legends could have done even better.
Like Rogue Company before it, players choose from a selection of characters, each with their own set of abilities, and jump into one of a number of maps and compete to survive. It’s your standard battle royale, except you have the ability to slide on your ass down a hill at like 100mph. You have no idea how much that alone can improve a game.
Developer: Digital Extremes Publisher: Digital Extremes Series X | S Enhanced: Not yet, but it’s live on PS5
Speaking of games where you can slide around at turbo speeds, here’s Warframe, a game where you play as futuristic space ninjas called Tenno that have movement abilities which put most full price games to shame. Seriously, the age of free-to-play shooters equating to terrible gameplay is long over, and a lot of that stigma being washed off can be attributed to Warframe.
Players choose from a variety of different Warframes, each with their own stats, along with various other weapons and abilities, and complete missions, explore open world environments and so much more. There’s even multiplayer, if that’s your bag. Constantly supported with more free content updates too, Warframe is just going to keep getting bigger and better.
Developer: Phoenix Labs Publisher: Epic Series X | S Enhanced: No, but it’s coming
If you enjoy the idea of Monster Hunter World, but find it too complicated or you just don’t like the idea of throwing a bunch of money at one of Capcom’s flagship franchises, Dauntless might just be for you. It borrows liberally from its older cousin, sure, but Dauntless also streamlines the overall process, making for a more accessible experience for all players.
Instead of monsters, you spend your time in Dauntless hunt Behemoths, but the core premise remains exactly the same: you kill the big creature and wear its skin as a new piece of armour or fashion it into a nice weapon. Doing so will improve your offensive and defensive output, allowing you to take on more difficult hunts for higher level loot rewards.
Developer: Blue Mammoth Publisher: Ubisoft Series X | S Enhanced: No
It wouldn’t be a list without some kind of fighting game nod and when it comes to the free games available on the Xbox, Brawlhalla is a good shout. At first glance, the game comes across as nothing more than a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate clone, and while there are broad similarities, Brawlhalla approaches things differently.
Instead of lots of different move-sets, each character in Brawlhalla has their own stats and two weapons. The weapons have their own, universal moves, so what works on one character will work elsewhere. Sticking with one character will also unlock varied loadouts which offer stat changes that’ll let you cater your character how you see fit. There’s some depth on offer here, in between the guest appearances of Walking Dead and WWE characters.
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