With most games, playing with headphones feels like a prerequisite. You’ll be able to soak in the atmosphere better, immerse yourself to a greater extent, and appreciate the soundtrack a lot more. There are tons of headphones available for all kinds of consoles, including arguably one of the best: the Xbox Series X|S.
While not every game needs headphones to be enjoyed, there are some that really should be played with them. From adventures across tropical islands in search of precious animals to blood-pumping, action-packed extravaganzas across the searing hot planet of Mars, these games really should be played with headphones.
8 Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is one of the best indies out there. It sets you on a wholesome adventure to help save animals all while exploring a truly gorgeous Mediterranean island. There’s plenty to see and do in this chirpy, chipper, chilled out game, and you’ll definitely want to do it all with headphones in.
The sounds of cicadas chirping in the trees or a bird calling out in the distance can simply not be appreciated as much without headphones. To truly immerse yourself in this fantastic experience you should don a comfy pair of headphones and sit back. Alba: A Wildlife Adventure can also be completed in a session or two, so it’s worth immersing yourself for that short but sweet period of time.
7 The Artful Escape
The Artful Escape, one of the best games of 2021, is a game all about music. Well, it’s about exploring yourself, coming to terms with doing things for yourself and not others, and jamming out with trippy aliens voiced by Mark Strong. But yes, a big part of it is about music.
You’ll glide across planets in style as you rock out on your guitar. You’ll beat bosses in timed mini-games that require precision, and even have moments where you can free style your own tunes. Of course, all of this is made infinitely better through the use of headphones. With The Artful Escape, there’s no denying that this is a game built for headphone users.
6 Aliens: Fireteam Elite
The beep of your M314 Motion Tracker echoes down a darkened corridor as your finger twitches on the trigger. You stand as silently as possible, sweat dripping down your brow, as the ping of your motion tracker reverberates alongside the low hum of the space station. Somewhere, at the bottom of that corridor is a terrifying Xenomorph that wants nothing more than to rip your head off.
You peer into the darkness, expecting to see a slithering tail slide across the ground. But there’s nothing. The motion tracker fades into silence, and you let out a sigh of relief. You hear the thud of your boots as they trudge down the corridor into the darkness. Your shoulders ease up, your finger falls away from the trigger. Everything is okay. That is until the beeping starts again, and a sharp hiss comes from behind you. If you don’t think that would be better with headphones in then, frankly, you haven’t truly had the Aliens: Fireteam Elite experience.
5 Cyberpunk 2077
The murky streets of Night City are a genuine treat to explore. Wandering by stalls selling enticing looking food, gangs joking around a row of bikes, friends taking selfies while chatting, or drunks stumbling around is an unparalleled immersive experience. Of course, as with all immersive experiences, the best way to engage with it is to sit a foot away from the TV and have massive headphones on your head.
Wearing headphones will certainly give you a larger appreciation of Night City and Cyberpunk 2077 as a whole. You’ll catch quick dialogue exchanges you may have missed before, hear the hum of one of the game's many stylish cars as you drive dangerously down a street, and even feel the punch of a bullet bursting from your gun in a more explosive fashion. By far the best way to play Cyberpunk 2077 is with headphones on an Xbox Series X.
4 Doom Eternal
People likely don’t see Doom Eternal as a game that requires headphones, and for a lot of people, that may be true. The game still offers a gut-wrenchingly brutal experience regardless of whether or not Mick Gordon’s incredible soundtrack blasts directly into your ears or not.
However, if you are to experience the rip-roaring action of Doom Eternal to its fullest extent, then you should absolutely be playing with headphones on. To hear the crunch of bones as you tear a demon’s head clean off, or the punch of the Super Shotgun as you unload it into a Cacodemon roar through your ears is the visceral way it was surely intended to be experienced.
3 Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Not unlike Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is all about exploration. You’ll venture across gorgeous lands in a Breath of the Wild like fashion, discovering new towns to explore and secrets to uncover. It offers a genuinely enthralling sense of adventure that can’t be found in many other games.
While of course Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is near perfect without headphones in, your experience will absolutely be heightened while wearing them. The game’s soothing soundtrack will become all-encompassing, and its more nuanced sound effects that help make its fantastical world feel more alive will become far more prominent. This is absolutely a game that you should wear headphones for.
2 Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
When the developer tells you to play with headphones, then you should probably listen. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a game built almost entirely around sound. The voices that play in Senua’s head and build the themes of anxiety, depression, and mental health are infinitely more effective with your headphones in.
Ninja Theory has stated that playing with headphones is the best way to experience the narrative-focused experience, and it's hard to argue. If you want the ultimate Hellblade experience, then you really should play with headphones. Of course, if it gets too frightening, then pop those bad boys out and carry on playing. But if you want to truly understand Senua’s mental state throughout the game, then you should have headphones in.
1 No Man's Sky
No Man’s Sky is a game all about procedural generation. Every planet, species, fauna, flora, and so on and so forth is entirely unique to you. So, you wouldn’t think that with all of that incredibly impressive procedural generation going on that the sound design would play a big role. However, No Man’s Sky exploration works so well because of its incredible soundscape and soundtrack.
You’ll hear the strange sounds of an alien species with ears for arms, the wind rustling through towering trees with eyeballs for leaves, and the energetic sci-fi soundtrack that crescendos whenever you discover something incredible – so basically all the time. With headphones in, all of this is elevated to a whole other degree and makes the immersive nature of No Man’s Sky’s exploration that much better.
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