How to get Open NAT on Xbox One & Xbox Series X|S with port forwarding

Xbox One X
Xbox One X (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

Network Address Translation (NAT) plays a considerable role in connecting multiplayer games and deciding how incoming traffic is handled. For gamers, NAT determines who you can play with, establishing barriers between players if closed.

NAT was a hot topic throughout the Xbox 360 era, and it still plays a sizeable role for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. Even for the best Xbox games out there, struggling with strict NAT may deliver an inferior experience. However, with the help of port forwarding, it's easy to improve your NAT type.

Why you need Open NAT on Xbox

Halo 3

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

When connected to the Xbox network and playing online games, you may have seen terms thrown around indicating the leniency of NAT types. This somewhat represents your compatibility with other players, with stricter NAT types often experiencing issues with multiplayer connectivity.

A good way of showing how NAT influences connectivity is through a handy grid courtesy of Xbox Support. This shows the compatibility between NAT types and why aiming for Open NAT makes for the best overall experience.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 OpenModerateStrict
ModerateRow 1 - Cell 3
StrictRow 2 - Cell 2 Row 2 - Cell 3

On a surface level, users with Open NAT will usually see the best experience with Xbox multiplayer. While getting your NAT open is ultimately the end goal for the best connectivity, this has proven to be difficult for many users. One of the common solutions is port forwarding, or helping route gaming traffic directly to your console. We first recommend checking out our UPnP guide for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S and returning to these steps if you're still struggling with NAT.

Understanding port forwarding

Call Of Duty Black Ops Cold War Screenshot

Source: Activision (Image credit: Source: Activision)

Ports are essentially digital channels for your router, used for sorting incoming and outgoing internet traffic. Port forwarding makes your console more accessible over the internet, allowing for traffic to be routed directly to your device. Using user-created rules to forward specific ports, connectivity can be drastically improved. More importantly, port forwarding can be configured on a per-service or per-game basis, tailoring your network setup for the best connectivity with certain experiences.

In short, port forwarding can frequently solve many issues related to low-latency games and chats on Xbox.

How to port forward your Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

To get the most from your Xbox console, we recommend forwarding specific ports recommended by Microsoft. These ports are used by Xbox consoles and ensure all incoming Xbox network traffic makes it directly to your console. The below steps provide an outline of port forwarding, although exact steps can vary between router models and manufacturers.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Xbox console.
  2. Select the Network tab.
  3. Select the Advanced settings tile.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Note the IP address of your console. This will be required later in the port forwarding process.
  2. Note the MAC address of your console. This may also be required for later steps.
  3. Navigate to your router login page. For more details on logging into your router, search online for guides related to your specific model.
  4. Log into your router using the required credentials.
  5. Manually assign an IP address to your Xbox console using the previously fetched IP and MAC addresses. This action once again varies between models, so search for specifics on your router.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Open the Settings app on your Xbox console.
  2. Select the Network tab.
  3. Select the Test network connection tile.
  4. Follow the on-screen steps to ensure your Xbox console connects to your network.
  5. Navigate to the port forwarding tools on your router. This action once again varies between models, so search for specifics on your router.
  6. Open the following ports, making sure to utilize the correct protocol:
    • UDP: 88, 500, 3544, 4500
    • TCP & UDP: 3074
  7. Open the Settings app on your Xbox console.
  8. Select the Network tab.
  9. Select the Test NAT type tile. You should now have Open NAT on your Xbox console.

Following these steps, you should now have obtained Open NAT on your Xbox console. If issues occur, ensure your provided IP and MAC address match that of your console, and that the correct ports and protocols have been used.

While port forwarding is a common remedy for Xbox NAT issues, it's far from the only solution out there. Our breakdown of UPnP and its benefits for Xbox gaming provides another potential fix, and only scratches the surface of complex Xbox networking. You can also improve your Xbox NAT with DMZ, although it should be thoroughly researched, given the security implications associated with the method.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.