You don't need to spend big money to play top-notch video games anymore. Free games have long been available on PC, but nowadays you can find a wealth of free games on modern gaming consoles—and the Xbox One is no exception.
We aren't just talking basic games, either. We mean AAA-quality games with lots of depth and replayability. And even if you've moved on to the Xbox Series X|S, you can still play most of these games!
If you're looking for new games to play but your wallet is feeling a bit light, here are the best free Xbox One games you definitely need to check out if you haven't already.
15. Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct is a reboot of the gruesome fighting game series, and it's actually really good. It's smooth, it looks great, it has an excellent soundtrack, and the mechanics are deeper than you'd expect.
Why is it last on our list? Because you only get one free character. Everything else starts unlocked—including all stages, all game modes, and online multiplayer—but you need to buy more characters.
We recommend getting Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition if you like this. It unlocks every single character in the game, and it's also Xbox Play Anywhere so you can play on Windows 10 for no extra cost.
14. Fallout Shelter
Fallout Shelter is an excellent game to have in your library, if only because it's a relaxing game that doesn't require too much commitment. Pop in and pop out as you please.
Taking place in the Fallout universe and wrapped up in its lore, Fallout Shelter is a simulation game where you build out a new Vault for survivors. Maintain their happiness while keeping your Vault safe and making sure it operates with enough resources.
Again, it isn't the deepest game—it started off as a mobile game that was ported over to gaming consoles like the Xbox One. As long as you don't expect too much from it, Fallout Shelter is quite fun.
13. Minion Masters
Minion Masters is a lesser-known multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) where you build up an army of Minions and fight in head-to-head duels or team-versus-team skirmishes.
The real draw of Minion Masters over other MOBA games is that it's an extreme distillation of the genre, with short games packed with constant action. Whereas League of Legends or Dota 2 can take up to 60+ minutes per game, Minion Masters is over in the blink of an eye.
And that's partly why it's so addictive. Reap the spoils of victory and unlock new Minion Masters, craft new spells, and more!
Overwatch is one of the most popular online multiplayer games in the world, but what if you don't want to pay $30 to play? Paladins offers a very similar gameplay experience, making it the closest you'll ever get to an Overwatch alternative for free.
Paladins is an online multiplayer hero shooter that blends sci-fi and fantasy as it pits two teams against each other in a race to capture a payload and push it into the opposing team's base. The game has tons of depth, which makes it a solid choice for time investment.
Most MOBA games aren't playable on gaming consoles because they require complex inputs, but Smite makes it work thanks to its third-person shooter perspective (rather than a top-down RTS-style).
In Smite, players choose gods and play in a team-versus-team war, with the first team to destroy the opposing team's Phoenixes and Titan being declared the winner. Along the way, your god can gain XP, level up, upgrade abilities, and purchase equipment.
Smite has quite a learning curve, and the player base is savage (Smite has been around since 2014). But if you can grit your teeth and commit to learning all the mechanics, you'll find it quite fun.
Do you like Super Smash Bros but wish you could play on Xbox One? Well, you can't play the actual game, but Brawlhalla is very similar to Super Smash Bros without the Nintendo characters—or the cost.
Brawlhalla is a fighting game with platform-fighting mechanics, where players don't have health and only die when they fall off the platform or get knocked off screen. But it's not a direct clone of Super Smash Bros, with enough uniqueness to make it stand on its own.
Brawlhalla supports online multiplayer, so you can have tons of fun playing against other fighters even when you're alone.
9. War Thunder
War Thunder is one of those free Xbox One games with a giant player base but never gets talked about. But make no mistake: War Thunder is very good and definitely worth playing, especially if you like vehicular combat games with mechanical depth.
It's the only game right now that combines air, land, and sea into one large battlefield—and games consist of 32 players split between two teams, although some events may go up to 64 players. There are also different game modes: Simulator, Realistic, and Arcade.
While War Thunder is a bit old now—open beta came out in 2012 while official release was in 2016—the game still peaks at over 35,000 concurrent players every day.
Looking for an epic action RPG similar to Monster Hunter where you go around hunting huge enemies and navigating intense boss battles, but don't want to pay for Monster Hunter? Then Dauntless is the game for you. It's quite similar in many ways, but completely free.
The action-heavy combat is deep, combo-oriented, and has lots of room for mechanical skill to shine through. There are several different weapon types and gear that can be upgraded to your tastes.
And while there are microtransactions in Dauntless, none of it's necessary. You can truly play for free without ever spending a dime.
7. Rogue Company
Rogue Company is a tactical third-person hero shooter by the same company behind the aforementioned Paladins. But whereas Paladins is high-octane fantasy action, Rogue Company has a smaller team size and focuses on more strategic game modes.
The main game mode consists of a 4v4 skirmish with one team as the attacker and the other team is the defender, with the attackers trying to hack an objective and the defenders trying to eliminate all enemies. There are also team deathmatch and bomb-planting game modes.
Rogue Company is surprisingly polished and fun, and unlike most hero shooters, the multiplayer is round-based. The money you earn by completing tasks in one round can be spent to upgrade weapons and perks in the next round.
I probably don't need to tell you about Fortnite since the game is a worldwide phenomenon. It wasn't the first battle royale game, but it popularized the genre—and it remains the most popular battle royale game to this day.
What's unique about Fortnite is that it isn't just about scavenging for items and shooting enemies dead. A lot of the gameplay revolves around building structures and destroying enemy structures, which adds an interesting tactical element to survival.
If you haven't played Fortnite yet, you should definitely give it a try. It's free so there's no risk, and you should see for yourself why this game consistently tops the charts with active players.
5. Apex Legends
Apex Legends comes from the team behind Titanfall, and actually takes place in the same sci-fi universe. The main game mode involves battle royale gameplay with 60 players (either in teams of 3 or teams of 2), and is one of the best games of its kind.
If you don't like the cartoony look and feel of Fortnite but still want to experience top-tier battle royale action, then Apex Legends is the game you ought to try. It's full of attitude, style, and character that sets it apart from other battle royale games.
Spellbreak is the last battle royale we're featuring, and for me, it sits right up there next to Fortnite and Apex Legends as one of the best battle royale experiences. As the newest of the three games, it puts a unique spin on the genre that feels fresh.
If you're looking for a fantasy battle royale where you play as a battlemage instead of a gun-toting soldier, then Spellbreak is one you have to check out. Your spell sets change based on what you can scavenge, and spells can combine for new effects.
Don't like battle royale? Spellbreak recently released a new game mode called Dominion that involves two teams of five fighting over control points. Fun and action-packed spellcasting skirmishes!
3. Path of Exile
Path of Exile is best played on PC because its user interface and user experience doesn't translate well to gaming consoles. But if you're looking for a hack-and-slash action RPG with Diablo DNA and insanely deep skill trees, then Path of Exile can't be beat.
One of the reasons why Path of Exile has grown such a loyal fan base since its release in 2013 is how well the developers—Grinding Gear Games—communicate with players and incorporate feedback. If you want to support solid devs, this is one such game.
I've lost track of how many hours I've sank into Warframe—at least several hundred, if not over a thousand. I've personally spent some cash, but you can play without ever paying a single cent.
Warframe is a third-person action loot shooter in the same vein as Destiny 2. Between large open world areas and instanced procedurally-generated missions, combined with sleek movement and an engaging story, Warframe is downright addictive.
The PVE portion of the game is where you'll invest most of your time, as there are tons of Warframes to unlock and level up as you play. Just be ready to get sucked in for good!
1. Rocket League
Rocket League was a paid game up until 2021 when Psyonix decided to go completely free-to-play. And not because the game was dying—it was still peaking at 200,000 concurrent players when F2P came. Now? It peaks at over 1 million concurrent players.
And that many players can't be wrong. Rocket League is an incredible game that has something for everyone. Competitive is great if you like chasing skill, but there are also fun game modes like Dropshot, Spike Rush, Hoops, Gridiron, and more.
Matches are only 5 minutes long, making Rocket League the perfect game for pick-up-and-play moments—but it's so addictive that you'll tell yourself "one more game" a billion times.