Ten of the best sports games on Xbox

Kes Eylers-Stephenson - February 25th 2019

Here is the great thing about digital sports. Without running, diving, jumping, hopping, riding, or throwing (controllers exempt), you can participate in the competitiveness of an activity governed by rules and be crowned a winner. If you are like us, you love winning — but hate losing. That is exactly what lies at the heart of a great sports game, it rewards you with the feeling of elation of a game well won, but leaves you distraught at being outplayed. It could be in a well-realised facsimile of a real-life sport, or an all-new digital contest only playable through the magic of video games. With the rules qualified, let's have a look at ten of the best sports games on Xbox.

Rocket League

Do you need us to tell you why Rocket League is an unbelievably good game? You are a broom-broom car. You use your highly customisable four-wheeled wagon to kick a football into some goals, while another team tries to score against you. There is a booster rocket on your dinosaur-dressed vehicle so you can go very fast and fly. You can play 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4. The result is a sporting arena bristling with the wild energy of three cars jetting through the air to hit a football, one player on each side trying to smartly cover defensive space, and one poor soul screaming at his two teammates who have just had a mid-air collision. Rocket League is so simple to understand and play — it's football with cars — yet so devilish to master that it gets very competitive, very quickly. Wait, do you hear that? Those are the souls of 10.6 million controller souls lost in Rocket League related incidents. That sacrifice makes it not only one of the best sports games on Xbox, but decidedly the best videogame sports to have ever existed.
Free
Rocket League®

PLAY ROCKET LEAGUE FOR FREE!

Download and compete in the high-octane hybrid of arcade-style soccer and vehicular mayhem! Unlock items in Rocket Pass, climb the Competitive Ranks, compete in Competitive Tournaments, complete Challenges, enjoy cross-platform progression and more! The field is waiting. Take your shot!

PGA TOUR 2K21

For the golf lovers out there, you are pretty much limited to just one game if you’re looking for a more-recent authentic golf experience. PGA Tour 2K21 is not the best golf game we’ve had, but it’s certainly up there. The swing mechanic the game uses is fantastic, offering more control over shots and wiggle room if things go awry. The Golf Club 2019 was much less forgiving and punishing — the swing mechanic was way too hard to get to grips with, but PGA Tour 2K21 has done away with all of that, making it easy just to pick up and shoot a quick round. The 15 licensed courses and the player models all look great, nothing outstanding but good enough, and the animations are smooth. However, one area that lets down PGA Tour 2K21 is the lack of atmosphere. It’s a bit soulless, which is down to some pretty lacklustre sound design and boring commentators lacking in personality and often repeat the same lines repeatedly. If the atmosphere just had a little more oomph, or if the developers could have somehow racked up the tension more on the final day of competition, it really would add another dimension to the game. Putting the negatives to one side, PGA Tour 2K21 is a competent golf sim that is by far the best golf game that we’ve had in years — it’s fun, rewarding, and a good laugh with pals. Just don’t expect it to be the hole-in-one experience you’re probably looking for.
PGA TOUR 2K21

Play against the pros. Play with your crew. In PGA TOUR 2K21, you can play by the rules or create your own featuring a new PGA TOUR Career Mode, licensed courses and more!

NBA 2K22

This is a basketball-sim operating at its highest level. The detail is just staggering — from the sweat on the brow of Steph Curry as he swishes another three, to the mid-match courtside report. 2K’s flagship sports title is playing better than ever this year, too. The biggest tweaks came to defending, particularly when beating down weak-ass shot attempts from fools. With improvements to steals, shot contests, but also better stamina management — digital basketball definitely feels much more satisfying. These changes really help in MyPlayer career mode where — being more reactive and realistic in defensive phases — things are more difficult than ever because you can't just breeze past players. Although it has been bulked out with a city to explore, the longevity will really come from those on-court changes. Of course, the MyTeam Mode is as popular as ever. However, it feels important to note that while some of the technical issues have been ironed out since launch, microtransactions have not been tempered. In fact, it is getting quite obscene, with an opportunity to spend found everywhere. If you focus on the court and the huge roster of modes to invest in, you will be just fine — but if you struggle or are annoyed by the microtransactions, leave 2K22 courtside.
NBA 2K22 for Xbox Series X|S

A WORLD OF BASKETBALL
NBA 2K22 puts the entire basketball universe in your hands. PLAY NOW in real NBA and WNBA environments against authentic teams and players. Build your own dream team in MyTEAM with today’s stars and yesterday’s legends. Live out your own pro journey in MyCAREER and experience your personal rise to the NBA. Flex your management skills as a powerful Executive in MyGM and MyLEAGUE. Anyone, anywhere can hoop in NBA 2K22.

FIFA 22/Football Manager 22

In our first-ever “one or the other” entry, we have FIFA 22 and Football Manager 22. In both cases, most know exactly what they are getting. FIFA 22 is a football sim that brings an unrivalled on the pitch realism (sorry, not sorry, eFootball 22). This year, not much has changed in Career, FIFA Ultimate Team, Pro Clubs, or Player Career beyond aesthetic changes. However, a slower pace of the game, the realistic look of the animations, insane value for money, and a very sticky gameplay loop have really helped make this one of the best entries in years. Since launch, the microtransaction popup rate has become more noticeable in Ultimate Team, so keep an eye out for that. However, this is perfect for a bit of football fun on the pitch that looks better than ever on Xbox Series X.
FIFA 22 Xbox Series X|S

Powered by Football™, EA SPORTS™ FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X|S moves the game forward with the groundbreaking next-gen HyperMotion technology that elevates every moment on the pitch.


Meanwhile, Football Manager 2022 doesn’t care about your petty graphics or how much you understand. No, this is raw numbers and menus. It is as nerdy as Red Bull Leipzig’s scouting department, as deep as Chelsea’s squad, and as layered as a Pep Guardiola tactical plan. You take on the role as a manager at any club on the footballing pyramid and begin the process of shaping it in your own image. Getting signings can be a hassle, putting together a plan of attack on the pitch can take all night, and reorganising your staff and training rota in the club is a truly backbreaking affair. But, you had better believe that this is footballing brilliance for footballing purists. Get in, son.
Football Manager 2022 Xbox Edition

Navigate your way to the top of the soccer world in Football Manager 2022 Xbox Edition, a bespoke version of Football Manager adapted for streamlined console play on the biggest stage.
FM22 Xbox fine-tunes your management experience, allowing you to focus on the managerial essentials – transfers, tactics and matchdays.
Game Description
• More than 120 of the world’s biggest soccer leagues are a button click away – choose the perfect club for you and guide them to the top. As architect of your club’s destiny, it’s time to earn it on the field and provide moments to remember for your fans.
• Let your backroom team power your recruitment as you sign global superstars and identify the wonderkids that you can build your team around for a generation.
• Take inspiration from the most popular playing styles and formations from the soccer world, customizing an approach that’s designed to deliver success season after season.
• Savor the matchday action in glorious native or upscaled 4K*, timing your big tactical calls to perfection as you secure all-important victories.
• Earn bragging rights over your friends in Versus mode, go head-to-head in a newly-improved Fantasy Draft battle or show who can deliver throughout a season in Online Career mode.
Tailored to work across the Xbox ecosystem, FM22 Xbox maximizes the responsiveness of the Xbox Controller and harnesses the power of Play Anywhere technology, allowing you to transfer your progress between your console and Windows 10 PC using the same Xbox Live profile. If you’re playing on Xbox Series X|S, you’ll also benefit from stunning 4K visuals*.
New for this season
Controller advancements
Improved controller integration makes competing for soccer’s biggest prizes or battling against your friends easier than ever. Benefit from changes to a number of key game areas with the new ability to multi-select rows of information.
Powered by data
Improve your team’s results with the new Data Hub, which brings together all of your team's performance analysis in one place. Powered by metrics that real clubs use, it’ll be easier for you to address issues and take performances to new levels.
Enhanced Match Authenticity
See your stars demonstrate their flair and skills with a remodeled animation engine that delivers our most striking match action yet. An improved pressing system is just one of several AI overhauls that make matchdays simply unmissable.
More responsive media
Keep your superstars happy and motivated on the field with instant feedback on your media interactions. News Effects deliver clearer information on how your decisions impact the morale of your players.
There are also a lot more features, big and small, ready for you to discover throughout the game.
*Series X users will be able to experience native 4K, while on Series S it’s upscaled 4K.

Fight Night Champion

The undisputed heavyweight champion of the boxing sim genre is without a doubt Fight Night Champion, mainly because nobody has made another worthy boxing game since. It’s been over ten years since FNC launched, and surprisingly, it still holds up today. Offering a unique punching mechanic with its “Full-Spectrum Punch Control” that allows players to throw punches with the flick of an analogue stick and some awesome facial animations that really highlight the brutal power of a haymaker landing, FNC is just so much fun to play. Visually, the FNC looks pretty darn good for a game that launched in 2011, with boxers that look a lot like their real-life counterparts and fluid animations. The careful balance of trying to KO an opponent while conserving energy, all while trying not to catch a face full of fist yourself, never gets old, especially when you’re playing with a pal or a sibling. Sure, the story mode is a bit tired and cliche at this point, but it still lands in places — the prison fights are an excellent change of pace. However, you’re not really there for the story. It’s all about either making your own character and working your way to the belt or controlling your favourite boxers from various eras and finally trying to settle the argument of who would win out a match between Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson? We all know it’s Ali — don’t even bother trying to debate it in the comments…
FIGHT NIGHT CHAMPION

Fight Night Champion combines the sweet science of boxing with the cinematic experience of a Hollywood blockbuster movie.

MLB: The Show 21

For the first time ever on a list of the best Xbox Sports games, long-time PlayStation exclusive baseball-sim MLB: The Show 21 can qualify. Added to Xbox Game Pass day one, PlayStation Studio developer San Diego is totally in love with America's pastime. On the diamond, years of digital baseball excellence have been refined to a clean strike. Now, it is almost hitting uncanny valley territory to the point where triple and quadruple takes might be needed if watching someone play. Small additions to the series, like stadium builders and more continuous updates, have kept the game as fresh as possible. Despite the high bar of quality, we have had reports on sister site TrueTrophies that there can be some niggling issues with player management during bases loaded and — as is, unfortunately, becoming a shared theme in this list — some really pervasive pushes towards microtransactions. Don't let that spoil what is no doubt one of the best sports titles on the market, though. A clever bunt for this year then, but a home run hit is nigh!
MLB® The Show™ 21 Xbox™ Series X|S Standard Edition

Own your rivals. Own the show. Welcome to MLB® The Show 21™.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2

The fact that the 1999 and 2000 pair of all-time great action sports titles game back for a second go as part of the Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 + 2 collection was unbelievable. The fact that the duo were superbly remastered for 2020 almost defies any gaming logic, because not only are these oldies as good as we remember, they are even better! They deserve so much respect that I'm going to reserve my use of terms such as sick, wild, and gnarly because a bit of courteous formality is required. There is a perfect combination of skating ingredients at play: a deep control scheme, smart park layouts, arcadey score systems and collectables, and satisfying combo play held together with a blissfully cohesive art style. Factor in a soundtrack for the ages that might not have all the original songs, but has 30 new ones to blast your eardrums... excuse me, we need to mop up our drool; the majesty of these games is making us excrete. This remake is honestly best-in-class, still requiring the player to hit a high skill level to play with the big scores at the top of the chart while retaining all the magic and majesty and chaos of the originals. We love this game, and couldn't be happier to slot it into our favourite sports games list!
Tony Hawk's™ Pro Skater™ 1 + 2

Plays via backward compatability on Xbox Series X|S.

Drop back in with the most iconic skateboarding games ever made. Play Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater™ & Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater™ 2 in one epic collection, rebuilt from the ground up in incredible HD. All the pro skaters, levels and tricks are back and fully-remastered, plus more.


F1 2021

Let's just get a flying start off the grid by noting just how consistent Codemaster's F1 series is. Though the Hamilton and Verstappen rivalry that dominated the real-world sport of 2021 bordered on the manufactured spectacle, Codemasters has kept its tidy racer on the podium without the need for a safety car. Serious or casual; manual or automatic; apex or wide — F1 2021 will have you trying to recover your clenched behind from the back of your throat regardless. Online racing has been cleaned up a little bit and an additional story career is played with a driver of your making simply Haas to draw you in. On current-gen, the game looks crisper than ever. There is not enough good to be said here — this is the best motorsport game on the market for the premier headline grabber in the world of competitive track racing. If you are looking for something more offroad, look at Dirt 2.0, or two-wheeled look at MotoGP 2022, but F1 is the one to get for most racing fans.

Knockout City

This one... well, Knockout City is what you dreamed dodgeball would be. It takes arcade fun, arena shooter competitivity, and Mario Kart power-ups, throws in a bit of dodgeball and then has the cheek to execute everything perfectly. Two teams face off in a unique arena, collecting a random assortment of super-powered dodgeballs, and if you hit another rival they lose a life. The team with the most knockouts wins. Getting good will take time. You will need to know your high lob, from your charged shot, from your curved shot, from your teammates. We aren't joking, you can literally throw your teammates. We well know that the aesthetic here is has that Fortnite sheen, but the game underneath is — without a doubt — an elite sports game. Once you get a hang of those controls, you will realise that the game is really tightly put together, allowing for fair and well-measured competition. Off you go now, knock yourself out!
Free
Knockout City™

Duke it out in Knockout City™, where team-based multiplayer Crews settle the score in free-to-play dodgebrawl action. Throw, catch, pass, dodge, and tackle your way to dodgeball dominance!


Steep/Rider’s Republic

We loved both so much, we have plumped for a tie draw! Steep is an open-world snowsports game that blew us over. The powder is everywhere in an alpine playground. Snowboard, ski, or glide suit your way around the mountain completing various races, score challenges, and more. What is especially impressive is just how cohesive all those sports and landscapes are when you are playing. The sensation of carving some snow or zipping by a cliff face reaches a zen-state, before ripping your heart out of your chest with a sudden turn or obstacle. The chilly environment isn't for the sweet summer children, but this is a totally unique sports game.
STEEP

Ride the massive open world of the Alps, where the powder is always fresh and the run never ends. Defy and master the mountain alone or with friends on skis, wingsuits, snowboards and paragliders. Record and share your best stunts.


Ubisoft's spiritual sequel, Riders Republic, took it a step further. The bigger open-world consists of several different US national parks, all crammed together into one biking, skiing, Jetwing, and snowboarding heaven. There is so much to love, from the humongous amount of activities to the hunger the game has for you to explore. Sometimes the game treads on its own toes with a clunky "narrative" and a thoughtless empty world, but the fundamentals - like Steep - are just so, so solid. That feeling of nailing a stunt or finding a downhill flow on a bike is just unparalleled. Perhaps its crowning achievement is once again — and maybe this is just my hippy upbringing talking — the oneness that you find with the environment. The way a forest cradles a spiralling dirt track as you rumble down it, or a treeline abruptly gives way to a fresh sheet of sunlit snow — these are special gaming moments that give you a little push to want to try out these sport in real life. Ubisoft has produced a special pair of sports games, so give them a bit of love.
Riders Republic™

Jump into the Riders Republic™ massive multiplayer playground! Bike, ski, snowboard, or wingsuit across an open world sports paradise. Race in mass start events, develop your rider’s career, or kick back with friends and free roam the parks.

What a list of games! Of course, these are only a selection of some of our favourites in the sports genre and it doesn't even scratch hockey or American football! Let us know your favourites in the comments, and we are sure to see you there.