The best Dolby Atmos Xbox Series X games: hear the difference

Best Dolby Atmos Xbox Series X games - Xbox Series X top half on a yellow background
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The best Dolby Atmos Xbox Series X games are capable of transforming your gaming experience due to the wonders of spatial audio. Dolby's technology has been leading the charge for the past few years, so it's by far one of the best ways to make the most of your gaming experience.

Luckily for Xbox owners, it’s been available on the platform since 2019. While not every game offers native Dolby Atmos support, those that do offer exceptional sound quality and provide a truly immersive experience to boot.

Dolby describes its Atmos tech as "the most significant development in cinema audio since surround-sound", and while that might be subject to some fierce debate between audiophiles, there’s no doubt that Atmos at least provides a convincing surround-sound solution to more people than ever before as it works on any pair of headphones.

Dolby Atmos Xbox Series X games

As gamers will testify, surround sound can be extremely beneficial whether you’re playing competitively or simply want to be fully engrossed in a game's fantastical world. Dolby Atmos attempts to facilitate this by making the sound feel like it’s coming from all around, as well as above, and the effect can often be amazing. 

These Dolby Atmos Xbox Series X games show what the spatial audio format can do. If you're looking for a list of the best Xbox Series X games generally, we've got you covered in our linked guide. Otherwise, here's the best Xbox experiences currently going.

Call of Duty: Warzone

Carver Butcher sitting on a chair surrounded by money and gold guns. Holding weapon in his right hand, gold bar in his left

(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Warzone has terrific sound design. There is an astonishing amount of detail crammed into the game’s audio, whether you’re reloading a magazine into one of Warzone’s many weapons or holding your breath as you line up that long-range sniper shot, every action sounds incredibly realistic.

Dolby Atmos provides an extra layer of fidelity to what is an already sumptuous sounding game, though. With players regularly dropping in from the skies and scurrying around on the floors below when you’re holed up in a building, Dolby Atmos can really help you determine the exact location of your enemy… before it’s too late. In a game where margins can often be razor thin, you’ll need every competitive advantage you can get.

Read our full Call of Duty: Warzone review

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

(Image credit: Microsoft Game Studios)

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps key art

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

A truly magical Xbox Series S/X game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps has exceptional visuals and a heart wrenching story – but it doesn’t skimp on sound quality, either. Even though the game takes place entirely on a fixed 2D plane, Dolby Atmos does a wonderful job at separating subtle sounds to help immerse you in the labyrinth-like levels that are teeming with hostile creatures. 

The game’s evocative orchestral soundtrack also benefits from the added clarity Dolby Atmos provides, with each stringed instrument really driving home the powerful crescendos during some of Ori’s more perilous moments. This isn't an experience you'll want to miss.

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4

(Image credit: Microsoft Studios)

Racing at top speed through the British countryside is a spectacular sight in Forza Horizon 4 – but with Dolby Atmos support, driving sounds marvellous. You really get a sense of what it feels like to commandeer some of the game’s ludicrously expensive supercars: the engines create a cacophony of sound as you drive through a tunnel or careen wildly under a festival archway as the rain beats down.

Thanks to the game’s multiple camera angles, you can opt to shut yourself off from the cheering crowds in the cockpit view and enjoy Forza Horizon 4’s excellent, toe-tapping radio stations, or really listen close when using the bonnet camera as your car tyres rip up the asphalt. It’s a car enthusiast’s dream.

Read our full Forza Horizon 4 review

Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2 - Leon and Claire in the rain

(Image credit: Capcom)

Dolby Atmos makes the presence of Resident Evil 2’s marauding Mr. X all the more terrifying, along with the hordes of zombies you encounter. The heartstopping sound of Mr. X’s heavy footsteps approaching will be all too familiar to those who have played Capcom’s excellent remake, but with Dolby Atmos turned on, the threat can feel excruciatingly real as he quickly closes in. 

There is a plus side to scaring yourself silly, though. Dolby’s spatial audio can help you pinpoint exactly where Mr. X is lurking before he unceremoniously barges through the nearest door to rip your throat out. It doesn’t make his presence any less unnerving, of course, but any advantage we can get to escape that towering freak, the better.

Read our full Resident Evil 2 review

Gears 5

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(Image credit: Microsoft)

Gears 5 is an excellent all-around showcase for Dolby Atmos’ spatial audio. You’ll explore expansive open areas like a frozen wasteland and battle it out in claustrophobic underground corridors, so there are plenty of environments and locales that have their own distinctive soundscapes.

Whether you're chainsawing through a sinewy locust or hear the bloodcurdling scream of a “juvie” before an imminent attack, Gears 5 delivers convincing spatial audio that’s well worth the Dolby Atmos license fee. It can also serve as a subtle competitive advantage in the game’s multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to detect when an enemy is hunkered down behind a barricade  about to be skewered from behind.

Read our full Gears 5 review

Dolby Atmos

(Image credit: Dolby)

How to get the most out of Dolby Atmos

Despite what you may have heard, Dolby Atmos works on any headphone, but you do need to purchase a license if you wish to use it, which costs $15 / £10.99 / AU$19. Some TVs like the LG OLED CX also support the Atmos via the TV’s inbuilt speaker; however, if you really want to get the most out of Dolby’s spatial audio, we advise choosing a quality pair of over-ear headphones or a Dolby Atmos surround sound setup if you really want to go all in.

Most people will likely opt for headphones due to the practicality and lower cost, and if you do go that route, we strongly recommend choosing a pair of open-back headphones as opposed to closed. Open-back headphones tend to provide a far superior soundstage than closed-backed pairs, which really helps bring spatial audio to life. You want the sound to feel as though it’s all around you, and not contained within your head, so to speak.

The Xbox Series X Dolby Atmos app also lets you choose between a variety of equalizer settings – and you can even create your own, too. This is a great tool for customizing the sound to your liking, particularly if you crave more bass or want to crank up the treble to help hear footsteps better. Once you’ve got your settings locked in, your games will never sound better.

Best Dolby Atmos equalizer setting

While picking the best Dolby Atmos equalizer purely comes down to personal preference, we have noticed one interesting quirk. The 'Movie' preset provides a significant sound boost over the other options, and focuses on creating a virtualized surround sound that's excellent for single-player titles. The 'Movie' EQ is also a winner if you're using a pair of headphones with high impedance, which require more power to drive at higher volumes.

While we found that using 'Movie' and 'Detailed' provided a rich, cinematic surround experience that trumped the other equalizers in terms of volume, if competitive games are all you play we'd opt for the 'Game' equalizer with performance turned on, as this equalizer prioritizes positional accuracy. It's also a more natural sound, which some may prefer overall. 

Adam Vjestica

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.