What is NAT?
If you are a gamer, the term NAT type might be something you have come across before - probably not for fun reasons either. In order to change your NAT type, while not essential, it is useful to have a beginners understanding of NAT. NAT will only affect peer-to-peer gaming, so if the game you are playing uses dedicated servers, NAT shouldn’t be the problem for your connectivity issues.
The term NAT stands for Network Address Translation. This is essentially the process your router uses to connect devices to the Internet. It is a necessary process because of IP addresses, specifically IPv4 addresses.
Every device within a local network is assigned a unique IP address. They are combinations of 4 groups of up to 3 numbers.
There are approximately 4.3 billion different IP address combinations but even that isn’t enough to ensure every device has its own unique address. To combat this, your internet provider will take the IPv4 addresses from all the separate devices in your household and will use one IP address for all of them. This is where the confusion arises in your router as from the outside, all connected devices will be seen to be using the same IP address.
This is where NAT comes to the router’s rescue. NAT is used to keep a log of every request made to the router from each individual device. Once that request has reached the web and it responds to your router, NAT will then ensure it’s sent back to the correct device.
What is useful to note is that there can be problems with your connection if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is strict with internet traffic, or if there are limitations on specific types of content being sent/received.
Your Xbox will usually use UPnP in order to process an open NAT type.
UPnP or Universal Plug ‘n’ Play essentially allows your Xbox to port forward automatically. This is great as it allows your console to communicate effectively with your router so that you can play Xbox Live on an Open NAT type without having to configure it yourself.
However, we know for a fact that the implementation of UPnP on the Xbox One is flawed and therefore might not always give you the NAT type that you need in order to connect with others online.
For information regarding your router, refer to your ISP’s help guide.
The Different types of NAT
NAT types are a way of categorising NAT. There are 3 types and each dictates how good an online experience you will have. You can often see which NAT type you have in the pre-game lobby of an online match, however if that is not an option you can find out by opening the network settings on your console. We go into that in more detail below.
Below is a table where you will find the compatibility issues with differing NAT types and it may explain why you are having problems connecting with other players.
OPEN NAT: This is the optimal type available. With an Open NAT you should have no problems connecting to other players, as well as being able to chat and party up with players with no problem. You are also able to host multiplayer games with people of any NAT type.
MODERATE NAT: While acceptable under most circumstances, it is by no means an ideal NAT type. With a moderate NAT type you may find that your connection to games is slower, game lag may increase and in most circumstances you will not be host.
STRICT NAT: This is the worst NAT type available. You will only be able to connect with players who have an open NAT, and even then you might have problems with chat and game connection. Game lag will be worse and you will often find yourself being disconnected during gameplay.
Checking your NAT type on Xbox One
It’s fairly easy to check your NAT type on your Xbox One. Some games such as Call of Duty and FIFA will show you what NAT type you have in the pre-game lobby. If the information is unavailable it can easily be found in network settings. Simply navigate to Home > Settings > Network Settings and your NAT type can be seen under ‘Current Network Status’.
Changing your NAT type on Xbox One
Unfortunately there isn’t one fix for all NAT type issues, and you may have to log into your ISP hub manager in order to fix your current issue. Bare in mind that your Xbox One can be very temperamental, so even if you are able to change your NAT type to open, there is no guarantee that it will stay open forever.
Here is one solution which you can try using solely your Xbox One console.
As we mentioned before, your console uses UPnP to port forward. The problem is the UPnP reservations your Xbox creates with the router expire after a period of inactivity, as other devices request that ports to be opened and held for them.
This is all done for compatibility and security reasons, which is great. Why? When a device requires access to the router again, it renegotiates the leases and the reservations are once again acquired.
The problem is your Xbox One requires a full reboot in order for this to happen. If you have the ‘Instant On’ option enabled for your console, this will bypass any sort of reset your Xbox does when powering on. So, what should you do?
Turn off ‘Instant On’ and enable ‘Energy Saver’
By disabling ‘Instant On’ and enabling ‘Energy Saver’ your console will reboot every time you power on, and will therefore renew its UPnP leases. Unfortunately this also means dealing with much longer start up times.
Hard Reset Method
To hard reset your Xbox One, press and hold the power button.
Once rebooted, go back to network settings and re-test your multiplayer connection.
Hopefully your UPnP leases have been renewed and your NAT type now says ‘Open’ or at least ‘Moderate’.
If you have tried the above methods to no avail, re-test your multiplayer connection in network settings and once it finishes, hold LT + RT + LB + RB to access an ‘Advanced’ screen. Once here, your Xbox will attempt to renew its UPnP leases. Bare in mind that this process can take several minutes to complete, so be patient and hopefully your Xbox will cooperate.
Manually assign a static IP address
If after trying these solutions you are still dealing with a Strict NAT type, you may have to manually assign your Xbox a static IP address and use your ISP hub manager to show your router where to find your console.
First you will want to take note of your Xbox’s IP address, which can be found in Settings > Network Settings > Advanced Settings.
Once you have noted your consoles IP address you will need to log into your hub manager.
There are of course many different managers for all the different routers available, so for help regarding your hub manager, refer to your ISP’s website or alternatively use portforward.com. This website has a very large list of ISP’s and has a guide for opening ports with the respective hub managers.