Rogue Company (Xbox One)

Rogue Company (Xbox One)Rogue Company (Xbox One)
Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios / Developer: First Watch Games
Release Date: 20th Jul 2020 (USA) / 20th Jul 2020 (UK/EU)

Hi-Rez Studio’s free-to-play hero shooter arrived on consoles in 2020 and its colourful cast of characters and raucous energy give it a unique style that’s well worth checking out, even if its core concept and gameplay are pretty derivative.

This team-based blaster is a heady mix of parts borrowed from other games, you’ll recognise Overwatch, PUBG, Apex Legends (that ping system is well worth stealing tbf) and Counter-Strike easily here, but there’s enough variety in its maps, character skills and styles that we found ourselves pretty addicted to this one once we got to grips with it all.

With a decent selection of 4v4 objective-based game modes, 20 playable Rogues and a nice focus on teamwork, Rogue Company may be a little bit of a Frankenstein’s monster, but it’s still a blast to play and has a free-to-pay model that ensures you never have to spend a penny to have a good time.

ROBLOX (Xbox One)

ROBLOX (Xbox One)ROBLOX (Xbox One)
Publisher: ROBLOX / Developer: ROBLOX
Release Date: 27th Jan 2016 (USA)

If you’ve got young kids who like to game with their schoolfriends, you’ll most likely already know all about the crazy world of Roblox.

Developed by Roblox Corporation, this online game creation platform has been around in some form or another since 2006 and, put simply, it allows players to jump into lots of hub areas, meet up with their pals and then head off to play a seemingly endless array of user-created games.

If you’ve ever sat around in a room with people as they play this one you’ll know just how absolutely mad looking (and sounding) the games involved here can be, but there’s no doubting that – especially for younger players – there’s a ton of fun to be had here and lots of now well-known games, such as Adopt Me and Piggy, have been spawned from the mad cauldron of activity that is this crazy online world.

As far as spending money goes, this one is entirely free-to-play, although you may find your kids begging you to buy them the in-game currency – Robux – every waking hour of the day so they can customise their blocky little avatars. Roblox is its own thing and, especially for younger kids, a seemingly endless source of madcap multiplayer fun.

Smite (Xbox One)

Smite (Xbox One)Smite (Xbox One)
Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios / Developer: Hi-Rez Studios
Release Date: 19th Aug 2015 (USA) / 19th Aug 2015 (UK/EU)

Released on Xbox One back in 2015, Titan Forge Games’ fast-paced MOBA puts players in control of all-powerful gods and as they wade into team-based combat against other players.

With a refreshing third-person camera angle that really makes you feel as though you’re in the thick of the action compared to some other MOBAs, Smite eases players in gently and then provides them with plenty of entertaining modes to tool around that all boast a satisfying reliance on teamwork.

The list of available Gods to play as here has continued to swell since launch, at the latest count there are some 112 playable characters from 15 different pantheons, and this breadth of choice means there’s always someone new to try out, something fresh to work towards unlocking as you play through the core game modes. Everything you need to play is unlockable by simply spending time in the game and, unless you need to unlock characters in a rush, you’ve got hundreds of hours of fun to enjoy in Smite without ever spending a penny.

Space Jam: A New Legacy (Xbox Series X|S)

Space Jam: A New Legacy (Xbox Series X|S)Space Jam: A New Legacy (Xbox Series X|S)
Publisher: Digital Eclipse / Developer: Digital Eclipse
Release Date: 1st Jul 2021 (USA)

A free-to-play arcade game based on one the greatest movies ever made? Count us in!

Ok, so the new Space Jam movie was actually kind of rubbish but wait, listen, this colourful videogame tie-in is pretty decent for the asking price of absolutely nothing. A retro-styled, side-scrolling beat ‘em up from Digital Eclipse, it sees players take control of a host of characters from the movie as they beat down on bad guys in a search for the whereabouts of AL.G’s hideout.

Is this the best beat ‘em up we’ve ever played? No. Is it a breezy good time that’s well worth a punt if you’re in the mood for some traditional side-scrolling fisticuffs action? We say yes. It’s short, simple and does nothing new, but it also packs in some variety in its gameplay, is suitable for younger kids and supports co-op play.

Spellbreak (Xbox One)

Spellbreak (Xbox One)Spellbreak (Xbox One)
Publisher: Proletariat / Developer: Proletariat
Release Date: 3rd Sep 2020 (USA)

Another free-to-play, class-based third person shooter, Proletariat Inc’s Spellbreak released in September of 2020, bringing with it some super solid Battle Royale action that takes away your usual run-of-the-mill weapons and replaces them with powerful magic spells.

Spellbreak has a unique charm to it and its spell-based combat, standout graphical style and smartly rejigged take on the usual BR progression system all combine to give it just enough of a lift to make it well worth seeking out and trying in this most over-saturated of genres.

Matches here are fast and frantic, there are plenty of cool classes and abilities to try out and the fact you can mix up powers from any given class by grabbing and equipping magic gauntlets during battles gives the whole thing a nicely chaotic edge. With only cosmetics costing real-world cash and a core gameplay experience that feels deeply polished and well designed, Spellbreak is a free-to-play BR experience that may just surprise you.

Splitgate (Xbox Series X|S)

Splitgate (Xbox Series X|S)Splitgate (Xbox Series X|S)
Publisher: 1047 Games / Developer: 1047 Games
Release Date: 27th Jul 2021 (USA)

Splitgate seems to have arrived out of nowhere to take the shooter world by storm lately and, after having our first few games with this one very recently, we can absolutely see why.

1047 Games’ FPS combines satisfyingly old-school action and aesthetics - think Unreal Tournament and Quake – with some sweet portal gun shenanigans, resulting in an anarchic experience with an undercurrent of deep and satisfying strategy.

There’s 4v4 Domination, King of the Hill and Team Deathmatches to get to grips with on several maps here and, so far, we’ve been pretty blown away by just how much fun this game is. Splitgate just feels really satisfying to play on a basic level, traversal is slick, the guns feel great and the possibilities opened up by clever use of your portal gun make this one FPS you should get stuck into ASAP, it looks like it’s set to be a real winner – and it’s all completely free if you steer clear of cosmetics!

Star Trek Online (Xbox One)

Star Trek Online (Xbox One)Star Trek Online (Xbox One)
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment / Developer: Cryptic Studios
Release Date: 2016 (USA) / 2016 (UK/EU)

Cryptic Studios’ MMORPG set in the world of Star Trek arrived on consoles in 2016 and sees the Klingons, Romulans, Gorn, Borg and more all looking to take control of a galaxy in turmoil.

Star Trek Online is an enormous game with a huge story to dig into, well-designed quests that do a good job of recreating the feel of the classic tv show and action that takes place in both space and across various exotic alien planets.

While the on-the-ground combat here isn’t a particular highlight it is still serviceable and is buoyed by space exploration and ship combat that’s much more exciting. Fans of the show in particular will find themselves engrossed in the epic storyline and, unless you really want to drop real world money on a fancy ship, there’s tons endless Star Trek-flavoured fun to be had here for free by diving into the various story arcs available.

With a wealth of content accumulated over the past few years, multiple factions to try out, cleverly written quests that constantly reference the series’ long history and controls that have translated well to console controllers, Star Trek Online is well worth checking out for fans of the shows and newcomers to the Starfleet universe alike.

Super Animal Royale (Xbox One)

Super Animal Royale (Xbox One)Super Animal Royale (Xbox One)
Publisher: Modus Games
Release Date: 1st Jun 2021 (USA)

The Battle Royale genre can be a little bit of a snooze-fest in terms of titles that dare to strike out and try something new but Pixile Studios’ Super Animal Royale, well, this one’s all about being adventurous and inventive within the BR space.

This free-to-play title swaps the usual super-soldiers found in the genre for lots of cute little animals for players to get shooting with. However, although these cats, dogs, tigers and so on are absolutely adorable to look at, don’t be fooled, once locked and loaded with the game’s huge arsenal of weapons, they absolutely know how to create a bloodbath worthy of any Warzone or PUBG.

There are a ton of weapons to get to grips with in this game, from novelty stuff like banana grenades, to super-serious shotguns and a massively overpowered gatling gun. With a unique 2D angle on proceedings, quick and exciting twin-stick style combat against up to 64 players - either alone or in a squad - and a beautifully illustrated island of death to explore as you play, Super Animal Royale is a unique experience in the Battle Royale genre that’s well worth seeking out.

Super Bomberman R Online (Xbox One)

Super Bomberman R Online (Xbox One)Super Bomberman R Online (Xbox One)
Publisher: Konami Digital Co / Developer: Konami Digital Co
Release Date: 1st Sep 2020 (USA)

Konami’s Super Bomberman R Online brings 64-player mayhem to the classic franchise and, best of all, it's free-to-play.

All the classic gameplay elements of the Bomberman series are present and correct here with frenetic matches based around blowing your opponents to smithereens whilst upgrading your character via collectibles that are grabbed from the arena as you go.

Matches in Super Bomberman R Online are huge in comparison to older entries in the series, taking place across sixteen interconnected shifting grids, and players who are unfamiliar with the rules or need a refresher can jump into a tutorial to learn the ropes before fully diving into the explosive carnage.

The free-to-play action here does limit you to quickplay matches – or private if you get invited – unless you stump up for an optional Premium Pack and, although this limits you slightly when getting into games, diving in for a quick blast of multiplayer Bomberman madness here is still super easy and a ton of addictive fun.

Warframe (Xbox One)

Warframe (Xbox One)Warframe (Xbox One)
Publisher: Digital Extremes / Developer: Digital Extremes
Release Date: 2nd Sep 2014 (USA) / 2nd Sep 2014 (UK/EU)

Digital Extreme’s free-to-play looter shooter has been around since 2013 and has continued to grow and evolve spectacularly in the intervening years, resulting in a game that can stand shoulder to shoulder with any other entry in this pretty crowded genre.

This is a huge, feature-rich shooter, just as fun to play solo as it is co-op, that’s got a deeply satisfying core gameplay loop, tons of gear and loot to battle for, massive futuristic arenas to blast through and lots of skills and abilities to tweak and test out. Whether you want to engage in PvP or PvE content, there’s plenty to get to grips with here and you don’t need to spend a penny to enjoy it all.

With a recent Series X upgrade adding all manner of new fancy bells and whistles alongside super-smooth 4K/60FPS gameplay, Warframe has never looked or played better and is an absolute must-play for fans of the genre.