The 8 Best Nintendo Switch Role-Playing Games

Experience a whole new world

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The Rundown
An open-world adventure that puts you in the shoes of one of the last known monster slayers.
This latest installment for the Nintendo Switch is the best game (not just in the RPG category) that's currently available on the console.
One of the best role-playing games of all time, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim finally comes to the Nintendo Switch
Whether you just have fond nostalgia or you’re looking forward to new favorite Pokemon, Sword/Shield is a great addition to the Pokemon game line.
A beautiful epic Japanese role-playing game with a cinematic presentation.
Beautifully designed and supported by excellent gameplay, Octopath Traveler is easily one of the best JRPG games on the Nintendo Switch.
It's great for kids and adults alike and has such an open-ended storyline that it's almost impossible to get bored.
Monster Hunter Rise is the latest addition to the series, bringing fun monster-killing combat and expansive maps to the Switch.

The best Nintendo Switch role-playing games will seamlessly transport you to another realm. When choosing your next investment, researching the storyline and graphic design will be the keys to picking the right option for you. You will be spending a lot of time immersing yourself into this world, so an aesthetically pleasing game is crucial to the success of your choice, even more so than the difficulty level. Picking a game that is too challenging should not be a fear as the more you play, the more you will adapt to the style. 

Get ready to travel to an alternate reality with Game Freak Pokemon: Sword/Shield at Walmart, learn all about farming with ConcernedApe Stardew Valley at Walmart, gain ultimate power with Blizzard Entertainment Diablo 3: Eternal Collection at Walmart, or jump into an acclaimed TV show with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt! If these seem exciting, there are even more options to choose from on this list!

If you want a game that focuses less on world-building, other top-rated best games might be better for you, however, if you're ready to take the plunge, then keep reading to see the best Nintendo Switch role-playing games! 

Best Overall: CD Projekt Red The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Witcher 3
What We Like
  • Over 150 hours of dynamic gameplay

  • Engaging open-world

  • Compelling storyline

What We Don't Like
  • Long load times

  • Graphics don’t compare to PC or bigger consoles

  • Occasional performance drops

You’ve probably heard all about The Witcher thanks to the recent Netflix series and if you’re craving more monster-slaying content at a pace you can control, it’s time to pick up the game. The Witcher 3 is an open-world adventure that puts you in the shoes of one of the last known monster slayers. As you explore the massive world, you can fight monsters for a bit of coin or take the contract to track down the child of prophecy and experience a whole storyline of action and adventure. There’s no lack of content in The Witcher 3, for the Switch edition you’ll get the main game plus both DLC packages, giving you over 150 hours worth of gameplay to keep you hooked. Which makes it a perfect addition to the Switch family—monster fighting on the go.

While the awe-inspiring graphics don’t port over completely, The Witcher 3 is still a game that will turn heads with its character and world designs. Players can expect vibrant gameplay with the dynamic weather systems and day/night cycles which affect how NPCs and the monsters behave. Define your destine, collect powerful weapons, and slay the biggest, badest monsters from the comfort of wherever you are.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: 31.5GB

Best Non-linear: Nintendo The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What We Like
  • Smooth controls

  • Excellent graphics

  • Tons of content

What We Don't Like
  • Light on narrative plot points

Over the last 30 years, Link has gone on dozens of adventures and captured the imaginations of gamers across generations. Whether you're a longtime fan or new to the Zelda universe, this latest installment for the Nintendo Switch is the best game (not just in the RPG category) that's currently available on the console. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is unparalleled in its variety of gameplay, its ways of rewarding exploration, and its beautiful open environments. And no RPG does a better job of showcasing the power of the Nintendo Switch platform.

True to the other Zelda game formats, there isn't a strict linear structure to Breath of the Wild. Your quest is to ultimately save the kingdom of Hyrule, but how and when you go about it is largely up to you. Go off the path to explore atmospheric natural environments, fight tenacious enemies with a variety of different weapons, and experiment with cooking to create revitalizing elixirs. The world of the game is yours to explore. And once you're in it, you may understand why so many fans bought the Switch just to play this game.

ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Up) | Install Size: 13.4GB

"The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful game, with amazing gameplay and so much to offer―but plot isn’t its strong suit." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best Fantasy: Bethesda The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Nintendo Switch)

What We Like
  • Huge, procedural world

  • Solid plot

  • Tons of content

What We Don't Like
  • Awkward controls

  • Graphics are outdated

Considered one of the best role-playing games of all time, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim finally comes to the Nintendo Switch, allowing for intense portable gameplay on the go. With over 200-plus Game of the Year Awards, Skyrim’s open-world adventure is one of the most immersive and brings to the Switch new features such as motion controls and items from the Legend of Zelda series.

In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, players can do virtually anything and become anyone. The game is filled with tons of interactive characters that players can have conversations with, leading to friends, foes, and even wars. Skyrim’s main story focuses on a dragon set to destroy the world, but players can take plenty of detours with side missions and subplots to gain new abilities, level up their character, and postpone any obligation to save the world.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: 14.3GB

"There are a variety of stories for you to get involved in, many of which you can solve in whatever manner you please, whether that’s by being diplomatic or murdering everyone you see." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best for All Ages: Game Freak Pokemon: Sword/Shield (Nintendo Switch)

Pokemon Soord
What We Like
  • New features

  • Easy to learn

  • Planned DLC

What We Don't Like
  • Lack of Team Rocket type villains

It’s time to pick your newest starter and prepare to hunt a slew of new Pokemon in the Galar region. The latest game from the multi-generational hit launched November 2019 and while the plot is similar to previous Pokemon games, it definitely has its share of exciting new features and great new characters (including a Champion that you may actually feel bad about beating). Players have the option to pick Sword or Shield, to determine which legendary they’ll pursue as well as a few other changes.

Between different Pokemon variations and two different gym leaders, it’s tempting to want to buy both to experience every asset of the game. Along with the new addition of Dynamaxing Pokemon—essentially making a chosen Pokemon bigger with my dynamic attacks—this series of the Pokemon game has something different from any iteration before it: Downloadable Content. Coming this spring and summer, two new additional storylines and locations will be available for purchase.

Whether you just have fond nostalgia or you’re looking forward to new favorite Pokemon, Sword/Shield is a great addition to the Pokemon game line. Players have the opportunity to camp and cook with their Pokemon so they can grow closer bonds to get stronger Pokemon. Plus, the addition of the wild area and max raid battles makes for exciting new battles and a chance to play with friends or those online. All in all, there’s a lot of new, engaging content that will keep the kids busy and the nostalgic adults happy.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Install Size: 10.3GB

Best JRPG: Monolith Soft Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Nintendo Switch)

Xenoblade Chronicles 2
What We Like
  • Massive, beautiful environments

  • Deep combat

  • Smart Balancing

What We Don't Like
  • Terrible plot

  • Poor voice-acting

  • Requires a wiki to get acclimated to the game's systems

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a beautiful epic Japanese role-playing game with a cinematic presentation. Its cut-scenes feel larger than life (often like watching a well-written anime movie) and include an optional original Japanese voiceover dub, giving the players the game’s original authentic form.

Players control one main character out of a party of three in an open-world environment in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The action role-playing game includes a streamlined real-time action-based combat system that requires quick decision making for utilizing each character’s abilities such as magic, healing, and blunt force attacks. Players have to keep a close eye on their companions, waiting for cool down periods and opportunities to attack.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 includes a soundtrack with performances by the Bratislava Symphony Choir, giving it a more epic and emotional feel with each choreographed action scene and quest.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Install Size: 14GB

Best Throwback: Acquire Octopath Traveler (Nintendo Switch)

What We Like
  • Amazing presentation

  • Innovative combat

  • Engaging challenges

What We Don't Like
  • Story is a mile wide and an inch deep

Beautifully designed and supported by excellent gameplay, Octopath Traveler is easily one of the best JRPG games on the Nintendo Switch. At the start of the game, you are asked to pick from one of eight main characters, each outfitted with their own special abilities and backstory. Your choice will set you on a unique journey with its own plot, conflicts, and decisions to make through the lens of your character.

It’s a nonlinear approach to be certain, but it adds up to a game that never tells you what to do or how to do it — and it's almost endlessly replayable. Combining elements of adventure, strategic problem-solving, and combat, Octopath Traveler has something for everyone.

Design-wise, the game has an unusual aesthetic that combines a nostalgic 16-bit style with modern game graphics. Fans of vintage JRPGs in particular will love the throwback feel.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Install Size: 2.9GB

Best Casual: Fangamer Stardew Valley (Nintendo Switch)

Stardew Valley
What We Like
  • Regularly receives free content updates

  • Incredibly satisfying

  • Deceptively deep and engaging strategies

What We Don't Like
  • Casual aesthetic won't appeal to everyone

  • No real endgame once you figure out the systems

While life on an actual farm might not be for everyone, the idea of picking up and moving to the country can be an appealing fantasy. In Stardew Valley, you can do just that. This title fits perfectly into the category of wholesome, laid-back games that everybody needs in their collection. It's great for kids and adults alike and has such an open-ended storyline that it's almost impossible to get bored.

Stardew Valley begins when your character inherits a farm from his grandfather, leaving behind a tiresome corporate job and setting off to restore the property and make it his home. From that point on, you must build a new life from scratch, learning how to run the farm and live off what your character can cultivate. Every decision has the potential for long-term impacts on the prosperity of the farm, your character's personal relationships, and the community he has become a part of. Don't be fooled: this isn't a basic farm simulator.

The world of Stardew Valley is vast and complex, with the potential for hours upon hours of casual gameplay. Explore your environment, meet new people, and of course, keep things running on the farm — you can build your wealth and even start a family in the virtual valley. Plus, the 16-bit graphics have a nostalgic charm that will captivate fans of classic games like Harvest Moon.

ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Up) | Install Size: 880MB

Best for Newbies: Capcom Monster Hunter Rise (Nintendo Switch)

Capcom Monster Hunter Rise
What We Like
  • Complex, multi-level open maps

  • Simple, accessible online play

  • New transportation options

  • Challenging yet rewarding combat

  • Customizable controls

What We Don't Like
  • Requires Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for the best experience

  • Controls are difficult for beginners

Monster Hunter Rise is a challenging game with a simple premise. Hunters train to defend a village from the constant threat of wild monsters. While Rise is more accessible than previous installments, its complexity is still difficult for beginners. That same complexity is what makes Monster Hunter such a rewarding game to master.

Monster Hunter Rise is the most immersive hunting experience yet. The large maps have multiple interconnected layers, like caves that burrow through canyons. There are no loading screens between areas, so players are free to ride their Palamutes after fleeing monsters or wiredash over the terrain instead. The graphics are detailed and smooth, even in handheld mode. With well-integrated online play, this game is just as fun on the couch or on the go.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Install Size: 6.6GB

"Large monsters are every shape and size, with bright plumage and tattered leathery scales and everything in between."Sandra Stafford, Product Tester

Final Verdict

Our long-standing favorite for the best RPG for the Nintendo Switch continues to be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (view at Walmart). A title that has racked up a litany of accolades and is available on virtually every platform imaginable has somehow managed to squeeze itself onto the Nintendo Switch with very few compromises.

About Our Trusted Experts

Alex Williams has been writing professionally for the past five years. He covers a range of tech topics and has reviewed everything from video games to wearable technologies.  His work has appeared on TechRadar, WebProNews, Investvine, and others. He also has experience with front-end web development and UX design. 

FAQs

Do these games work with the Nintendo Switch Lite?
The vast majority of games work with no issue on the Nintendo Switch Lite. There are a handful of titles that you can't play on Nintendo Switch Lite with the main distinction being whether the game supports handheld mode or not. You can check the back of the game box to confirm whether it's compatible with the Nintendo Switch Lite.

How do I know if this game is appropriate for my kids?
Each game has its own game rating that has been set by either the ESRB, PEGI or Australian Game Rating System, depending on the country you live in. Each system has different ratings for different intended audiences ranging from E for Everyone to Adults Only. It's possible to check the cover of the game for the rating or to look online so that you can be certain the title is appropriate for the age of the person you're buying it for.

Is it best to buy a digital copy of the game or a physical copy?
This mostly depends on personal taste. Typically, physical copies of games are cheaper as you can find many older games on sale at various stores, however, sometimes Nintendo has sales on its digital eStore so you can buy such titles for less. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference. Digital copies mean you don't have to worry about carrying a game cartridge with you but they also mean you can't swap games with friends or choose to resell them once you've finished playing them. Physical copies can be resold if you wish but they don't have the convenience of always being available on your console without needing to remember to take the cartridge with you.

What to Look for in the best Nintendo Switch RPGs

Genre

The main thing you need to consider when you're shopping for any game is what kind of experiences you enjoy most. It doesn't matter how well designed a game is if it's the sort of thing you're never going to play, so if you love first-person shooters, it's possible that flight sims just aren't for you. We've picked some of the best of every genre and tried to be as inclusive as possible, with an emphasis on the things Nintendo historically does best: platformers, multiplayer, and games for younger players.

Length

Sure, a 100-hour JRPG might seem like a great value proposition for your $60, but if you're a busy professional you might actually get more fun out of a short linear shooter (and more satisfaction when you're actually able to finish it). There are also a growing number of games-as-a-service that offer a continually evolving suite of systems and gameplay that you can dip into whenever you like, often for one flat fee; while a lot of these have yet to make their way to a Nintendo platform, more and more of them are popping up as developers realize what a long tail the Switch has.

Narrative

If you're the sort of gamer that loves a rich story and a fully developed, immersive world, you may take as much (or more) satisfaction from an adventure game or visual novel as from the latest Activision FPS. On the other hand, if you get your story kicks from books, films, and/or TV, maybe an addictive little puzzle game or a MOBA is the best gaming investment for you.

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