The 8 Best New Nintendo Switch Games of 2021

Games that will challenge, excite, and delight the whole family

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The Rundown
Best for Epic Battles:
Capcom Monster Hunter Rise at Amazon
Players explore the village of Kamura as they undertake a series of quests that result in gathering items or chasing monsters.
Best for a Gripping Story:
Claytechworks Bravely Default II at Amazon
Bravely Default II is a traditional turn-based role-playing game with some great modern twists.
Mashing up Mario's 3D and 2D adventures, it's a fantastically cheery affair that's both charming and quirky.
Unlike other Crash Bandicoot games, it's possible to control multiple different characters, each with their own set of moves.
Best for Competitive Puzzling:
SEGA Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 at Amazon
You'll still be matching up colored blobs or shapes, but there's a bit more purpose here.
Best for High-Octane Action:
Bethesda DOOM Eternal at Amazon
It's squarely aimed at an adult audience, but it's delightfully atmospheric and its levels are well-designed for exploration and combat.
This Breath of the Wild spinoff allows players to learn more about the characters and lore behind Legend of Zelda games.
Best for Family Fun:
Nintendo Pikmin 3 Deluxe at Amazon
Thanks to its cute nature, it's an ideal game to play alongside young ones to help them learn valuable puzzling principles.

The best new Nintendo Switch games are titles that were released in the last six months. They fit alongside the best Nintendo Switch games overall, which ensure a diverse and accessible range of titles that are will grip players of all ages and ability levels.

As always with the Nintendo Switch, much of its success comes from its flexibility, allowing you to play while on the move or by hooking it up to your TV. The Nintendo Switch Lite has gone some way to making the console more of a portable device but the games below will still look fantastic on a big screen. 

The Nintendo Switch is consistently diverse, and this selection of games reflect that with games that will challenge, excite, and delight the whole family. The console offers a familiar range of beloved Nintendo franchises such as Mario and Zelda, while also offering more mature fare such as Doom Eternal and Monster Hunter Rise. Combined, it's a rich tapestry of the best that gaming can offer.

Best for Epic Battles: Capcom Monster Hunter Rise (Nintendo Switch)

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

  • Challenging yet rewarding combat

  • Simple, accessible online play

What We Don't Like
  • Controls are difficult for beginners

The Monster Hunter series is well-known amongst players keen to embark on epic quests to take down huge and fearsome monsters. Monster Hunter Rise brings that magic to the Nintendo Switch while being the most accessible title for beginners yet. While that doesn't mean it's easy, it does make it immensely satisfying.

Players are able to explore the village of Kamura as they undertake a series of quests that usually result in gathering items or chasing down massive monsters. It's far from a complex storyline but the focus is on David vs. Goliath-style encounters and it's truly enjoyable fare. While some control issues mean that beginners will need to quickly hone their skills, the sheer sense of scale means you'll continue returning for more.

ESRB: T (Teen) — violence, alcohol references, blood | Install Size: 6.6GM

"Monster Hunter Rise is a great game for new players and veterans alike. With no loading screens to interrupt quests, hunting is more immersive than ever." — Sandra Stafford, Product Tester

Best for a Gripping Story: Claytechworks Bravely Default II

What We Like
  • Extensive gameplay

  • Looks beautiful

  • Unique battle mechanics

What We Don't Like
  • Difficulty spikes

The third game in the Bravely series, Bravely Default II is a traditional turn-based role-playing game (RPG) with some great modern twists. Notably, it has a combat system that rewards tactical moves far more so than most RPGs before it, with advantages to holding back and building up one's attacks. 

Players can also equip each character with different job classes, providing a personalized experience so you feel more in control of how you tackle each battle. A rich storyline ensures you're keen to see how events unfold, and the game looks beautiful every step of the way. At times, you may find yourself needing to grind out battles in a bid to withstand the hefty difficulty spikes that pop up, but it's a world you won't mind spending more time in.

ESRB: T (Teen) — mild blood, mild suggestive themes, use of alcohol, violence | Install Size: 14.6GB

Best Remake: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

What We Like
  • Clever use of Mario franchise

  • Colorful, vibrant graphics

  • Bowser's Fury is a cool new twist

What We Don't Like
  • Awkward camera angles at times

If you've explored every inch of Super Mario Odyssey, then Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is a fine place to move onto. It's a port of the Wii U game of the same name but with the addition of plenty of new content. Mashing up Mario's 3D and 2D adventures, it's a fantastically cheery affair that's both charming and quirky thanks to Mario being able to don special suits and gain related powers such as switching to cat form.

Besides the main game, there's also Bowser's Fury, a completely new 3D Mario mini-campaign that has Mario explore a more open-world land than ever before, hinting that this could be the future for the beloved plumber. Whichever part of the game you play, you'll adore its beguiling nature.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Install Size: 2.9GB

"It’s a fun hybrid that brings in the best of both 2D and 3D Mario games, and Nintendo puts it to great use in exploring lots of creative and sometimes downright goofy ideas." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best for Old-School Platforming: Activision Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

What We Like
  • Ideal for short bursts

  • Different characters to control

What We Don't Like
  • Can be tough

Originally a PlayStation mascot, Crash Bandicoot has gone from strength to strength over the years with Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time marking the franchise's first new entry on the Nintendo Switch. It plays out like an Endless Runner game but with a structure that means there's a purpose to your explorations. Unlike other Crash Bandicoot games, it's possible to control multiple different characters, each with their own set of moves and playstyle, ensuring each stage feels suitably different.

Besides running through each level, you also need to collect gems and smash crates. It's the kind of gameplay that anyone can pick up, though bear in mind that the Crash Bandicoot games are generally unforgiving. Pinpoint accurate leaps are everything here but the challenge makes a welcome change.

ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10+) | Install Size: 9.4GB

Best for Competitive Puzzling: SEGA Puyo Puyo Tetris 2

What We Like
  • Story mode

  • Great online options

What We Don't Like
  • Can get repetitive

Combining Puyo Puyo puzzling and Tetris is a match made in heaven for Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 as well as its predecessor. On the one hand, it allows players to enjoy traditional Tetris or Puyo Puyo, but it goes much further than that with the addition of character-based skills and a storyline to follow, too.

You'll still be matching up colored blobs or shapes, but there's a bit more purpose here. Even better, extensive online modes mean you can play together with friends and enjoy competitive-based league action too. It's the kind of game that can be as rich or as simple as you want it to be, meaning it's ideal for the whole family.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Install Size: 2.1GB

Best for High-Octane Action: Bethesda DOOM Eternal (Nintendo Switch)

What We Like
  • Immersive single-player campaign

  • Satisfying combat

What We Don't Like
  • Slight performance issues

DOOM Eternal demonstrates that the Nintendo Switch can do mature gaming as well as cuddlier franchises. A sequel to Doom, it reinforces the change of direction that the Doom franchise has taken in recent years, offering a comprehensive single-player campaign that continues to provide a memorably gory experience. 

It's squarely aimed at an adult audience, being incredibly violent, but it's delightfully atmospheric and its levels are well-designed for exploration and combat. Besides the campaign mode, a multiplayer mode allows you to play as either human or demon, offering a nice twist on the usual format.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Install Size: 17.5GB

Best Action RPG: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

What We Like
  • Ties into Zelda games

  • Diverse, playable characters

  • Pick up and play fun

What We Don't Like
  • Can get repetitive

  • Not a traditional Legend of Zelda game

A revamped version of the Wii U's Hyrule Warriors, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is a highly entertaining combination of the long-running Dynasty Warriors franchise and the Legend of Zelda universe. It's a spin-off to the Switch's acclaimed Breath of the Wild, allowing players to learn more about its characters and the lore behind the Legend of Zelda games series.

It's a far cry from Breath of the Wild in terms of gameplay, with players capturing outposts and completing objectives by button-mashing their way through hordes of enemies, but it's a lot of fun nonetheless. Occasionally repetitive, tougher boss battles ensure you'll need to think on your feet from time to time and use different strategies and skills to succeed.

Each character has a relevant ability such as Link relying on his sword and bow, while Zelda uses Sheikh Slate runes to fight back. Familiar RPG mechanics ensure you'll feel a sense of progress each step of the way as you level up and collect resources. It'll keep you coming back for more.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Install Size: 10.9GB

Best for Family Fun: Nintendo Pikmin 3 Deluxe

What We Like
  • Ideal family game

  • Compelling puzzles

  • Multiplayer modes

What We Don't Like
  • Quite short

Part real-time strategy game, part puzzler, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is another revamp of a Wii U game and the ideal way to discover such a forgotten gem. It has you controlling a horde of Pikmin—plant-like creatures—as you solve puzzles and use their abilities to accomplish various tasks without failing. Each Pikmin type has different strengths and weaknesses so it's important to approach obstacles accordingly. Older gamers may appreciate its vague similarities to Lemmings.

Thanks to its cute nature, it's an ideal game to play alongside younger members of the family and help them learn valuable puzzling principles. A single-player campaign exists alongside competitive multiplayer modes. There's truly something for everyone here.

ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10+) | Install Size: 6.5GB

Final Verdict

Monster Hunter Rise (view at Amazon) is an epic David vs. Goliath style adventure pitting you against huge and highly dangerous monsters in a bid to, well, fight even more massive monsters. It's highly satisfying being able to take on such threats and it's a far more beginner-friendly installment than we've seen before.

Alternatively, if you're looking for a rich storyline to pursue then Bravely Default II (view at Amazon) is that game. It's a particularly satisfying turn-based RPG if you're an old hand at the genre with hours upon hours of lands to explore.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jennifer Allen has written about technology and gaming since 2010. She specializes in iOS and Apple technology, as well as wearable technology and smart home devices. She's been a regular tech columnist for Paste Magazine, written for Wareable, TechRadar, Mashable, and PC World, as well as more diverse outlets including Playboy and ​Eurogamer.

Sandra Stafford has been writing for Lifewire since 2019, and a casual gamer for much longer. She enjoys a variety of PC and Nintendo Switch games.

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who's been covering video games and tech since 2006. He's previously been published by TechRadar, Stuff, Polygon, and Macworld.

FAQs

What games are appropriate for your kids?

The best way to ascertain this is to check the game's rating. Each game has its own rating set by either the ESRB, PEGI, or Australian Game Rating system, depending on the country you live in. It's important to check any accompanying information that may explain why it's been given the rating it has. Check the game's cover for the rating or look online so you can be certain the title is appropriate for its audience. 

Are digital copies or physical copies better?

Both digital and physical copies have advantages and disadvantages. Typically, a physical copy costs less in-store compared to digital versions, and you can often find them on sale. However, a digital copy means you don't have to worry about carrying a game cartridge with you which makes it far more portable. Bear in mind that you can swap physical copies with friends as well as resell them, unlike digital copies. 

Are newer Nintendo Switch games better than older ones?

Not necessarily. The Nintendo Switch has an extensive catalog of games so there's something from every era of the console. For instance, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is still considered the most beautiful looking Nintendo Switch game despite being one of console's launch titles.

Which Nintendo Switch Game is Best for You?

Genre

What kind of game are you looking for? Knowing what genre you like will help decide this. If you don't like first-person shooters, for instance, it doesn't matter how well designed it is—you won't enjoy it. Our list contains a little bit of everything to ensure it's inclusive to all interests, but it's important to consider what games you may have liked in the past before picking one out.

Length

If you lead a busy life, then a 100-hour JRPG may not appeal to you, no matter how good it is. After all, most players like to know they can reach the end of the game. Similarly, if a game requires hundreds of hours to master, it won't appeal to those that just want a quick fix. Good value comes from a game you enjoy every second of rather than one that feels like a chore simply because your life is too busy for it.

Narrative

Not all gamers need a rich storyline. Some players prefer a game that's all about action or completing a puzzle rather than worrying about paying attention to a detailed tale. If you prefer all action and no storyline then something like an addictive puzzle game or a first-person shooter may be more appealing than a complex RPG.

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