you’ll find that, thanks to the power of its own Nintendo studios, many of the games on this list are first-party and Switch exclusive. These games will largely show off the hardware in a more deliberate way than some other games, and typically highlight unique aspects of the hardware you won’t find on the likes of PS4 or Xbox One (or even the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, for that matter).
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Want to know what the best Nintendo Switch games you can play right now are? Got a hankering to see which are the best Switch games to download? Don’t you worry, we’ve got you sorted. Though Nintendo’s plucky little hybrid handheld/home console got a lot of criticism back when it launched for not having too many games available to play, the console has more than made up for it in the years since release. Whether you’re after an indie hit or a triple-A blockbuster, this surprisingly punchy little machine has you covered.
So, whether you’re after for something to play as the world opens back up and you’re eager to kill time on your commute again, or if you want to download something to enjoy on your big TV at home, we’ve got you covered.
Read on for the best Nintendo Switch games you can play in 2021.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It would almost be a tragedy to not include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on this list. The game is one of the highest-selling Nintendo Switch games on the market, and it’s easily become a fan-favorite game in the Zelda series. Nintendo knew exactly what it was doing when the company combined the open-world concept with one of its oldest series. Between intricate puzzles, the ability to stop time, and stunning boss battles, this is one of those games you just can’t miss. On top of that, the story really lets you play how you want to play, a feature that’s not in many games anymore.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
When it comes to epic storytelling on the Switch, it’s hard to beat Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It’s another Nintendo franchise that focuses on top-down battle strategies, relying on the player’s wit and tactical abilities to secure the win. The story, which revolves around three states that exist beside each other, is surprisingly complex. The vast amount of characters are all well-developed, giving players plenty of side stories and other quests to explore in the downtime. In fact, the game is probably the longest game on this list — even without the DLC, you need to play four different story paths to fit the story together. If you’re ready to go on a fully immersed, fantasy journey, then look no further.
When it comes to dungeon-crawling, roguelike games, Hades takes the cake for the Switch. The goal of the game is lofty — you have to escape the Underworld with a literal god of the dead at your heels. Supergiant Games delivered on that goal, and thus Hades came about. Every run is going to be different, and you can test out various styles of play in every playthrough. It’s an addicting, satisfying game that will give you just as much enjoyment as full-price Switch games at a fraction of the cost.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
As the number one cozy game for the Switch, it would’ve been wrong to leave out Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game’s surprisingly simple in the same way Minecraft is — your goal is to build a community on an island with the help of various friendly animals. The animals (or villagers as they’re generally called) are lovable, and you’ll find organic conversations happening as you walk around your space. With hundreds of items to build, find, and customize, you can make your island into anything you’d like. There’s also bug collecting, fishing, diving, and even terraforming. The sky’s the limit when it comes to how creative you can be in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The best part? It’s still getting regular, free content updates, and plans to do so until 2023.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
While there are plenty of great fighting games available on the Switch, like Mortal Kombat 11 or My Hero: One’s Justice 2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best of them all. The Smash Bros. games have been popular for years, and there’s even a thriving competitive scene for the games past. However, Ultimate brought every Smash game together with smooth controls that play like a knife through butter. Nintendo also brought back every single character that’s made an appearance on any Smash title, giving Ultimate the biggest roster of all the Smash games.
A Short Hike
Cozy games are coming in strong on the Nintendo Switch, and A Short Hike is another addition to the genre. Ironically enough, this cozy game also takes place on an island. This heartwarming, wholesome experience lets you explore various places on the island and make friends along the way. There’s also a variety of activities you can do, including swimming. Not only is the game’s art style stunning, the soundtrack is just as great.
Are you ready for some hack-and-slash, heart-pounding, blood-warming action on the go? Get ready for Astral Chain. While there are plenty of hack-and-slash games to choose from, Astral Chain is one of the highlights of the genre with it’s great story and unique gameplay elements. For example, at times, you’ll be asked to solve a puzzle, while other parts of the game ask you to solve a crime. PlatinumGames made a solid hit with Astral Chain, and it’s not talked about enough.
Super Mario Odyssey
While Nintendo’s Super Mario Odyssey doesn’t get much attention anymore, it’s easily one of the best games on the Switch. The 3D platformer was one of the premier games when the Switch launched, and after playing as a t-rex, it’s easy to see why. Journey with Mario’s sentient hat, Cappy, as the two of you work to rescue Peach from Bowser’s hands yet again. Yes, the storyline might be the same as every Mario game, but the maps will blow you away. Between the neon lights and stellar soundtrack in Dunk City to the sweet delights in Luncheon Kingdom, all eight maps will give you something to remember.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition makes its home on the Nintendo Switch. The game from Monolith Soft has come out on several Nintendo devices, but none of them perform as well as the game does on the hybrid system. The action RPG features real-time strategy while you conquer enemies, and with fun characters, you’ll never be bored while you’re playing. In fact, most of the fun of the game lies in the characters themselves. If you enjoy the game, there’s also a second installment to the Xenoblade Chronicles series on the Switch that’s almost as good as the original.
The House in Fata Morgana: Dreams of the Revenants Edition
Developer Novectacle recently released The House of Fata Morgana: Dreams of the Revenants Edition on the Nintendo Switch. Despite the game getting some of the best critic reviews of all time on the platform, it’s still under the radar for a lot of players. The game consists of three visual novels and various shorter stories that deal with the darker side of humanity. The game is rated Mature for a reason, so keep that in mind before picking it up. However, don’t let that deter you – it’s hauntingly beautiful, and it’s perfect for rainy nights.
We’ll update the list of best Nintendo Switch titles as new games release.