Nintendo Switch has amassed a huge number of quality titles across almost every category since launching back in 2017, and the RPG genre is certainly no exception. Below you’ll find our picks for the console’s essential role-playing games, in no particular order. This selection will evolve as Switch’s library expands even further. This article highlights the top 29 best Nintendo Switch RPGs.
That’s a question we aim to answer in our definitive list. But before we get onto that, we should address the elephant in the room: how do you define an RPG, and is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild an RPG?
It may sound like a silly question, particularly if you’ve played many of them, but when you break it down it’s pretty complicated. Because, the reality is, that there are so many facets that determine whether a game is an RPG. So, to be clear, we consider an RPG to be, primarily, tied to three basic tenets: an explorable world, deep character progression, and a strong sense of narrative.
Debates will forever rage over stratified categories, granular sub-genres, side-genres, -likes, -lites, -like-lites, etc, when it comes to RPGs, but that’s all part of the fun, no? The titles below are a standout selection of games with more traditional RPG mechanics. So, without further ado, here is our list of the best Switch RPGs.
1. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive, sprawling RPG built by Monolith Soft, who developed the previous two entries and the Baten Kaitos games on the GameCube. The team also helped Nintendo design the world of Breath of the Wild, so there’s no doubting the pedigree. You’ll explore a massive open world made up of Titans – enormous living creatures that house entire civilizations on their bodies. Along the way, you’ll meet a wide variety of characters, solve a bunch of quests, and save the world. It’s Monolith Soft doing what it does best, albeit without shaking off the occasional flaws of the series.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Link’s latest adventure trades the gloomy dungeons for a beautiful, wide-open world full of enemies to battle, puzzles to solve, and surprises to uncover. If you can only afford one game on this list, make sure it’s Breath of the Wild.
Undertale is a brilliant and smartly designed game that understands well what makes a good RPG work; so much so that it can upend expectations and deliver something that’s almost a satire of the genre. You fall into the underworld and explore a humor-tinged world full of fun things to do. You’ll date a skeleton, dance with a robot, and cook delicious dishes with a woman who’s part-fish. Or, you can do none of those things – Undertale delights in letting you decide what to do.
4. Pokémon Sword And Shield
The latest Pokémon adventure didn’t reinvent the wheel so much as refine it. The result is one of the best Pokémon RPGs yet, though one that will be familiar to those that have played previous entries.
5. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
While Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition doesn’t make any major changes to the original game, it does combine practically every piece of exclusive content into one wholesome package. With the benefit of some improved visuals in both cutscenes and gameplay, it’s very difficult to recommend this JRPG classic on any other system than the Nintendo Switch thanks to how well it performs in both docked and handheld modes.
6. Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Marrying the gameplay of classic JRPGs with the visuals of the modern day, Battle Chasers: Nightwar has enough in its locker to please genre fans new and old.
Despite a title that suggests it came out of a name generator, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a satisfying slice of JRPG with visuals inspired by the likes of World of Warcraft, Divinity: Original Sin, and classic Diablo adventures. It forges a confident, colorful character of its own from formulaic ingredients.
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7. The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim
Arguably one of the finest RPGs to ever grace our planet, Skyrim is available on Nintendo Switch. It’s got an enormous open world to explore and you can build any character imaginable. If building your character from scratch is your primary goal when playing an RPG, you can’t do better than Skyrim.
8. Child of Light: Ultimate Edition
Child of Light is an absolutely gorgeous RPG developed in the same UbiArt Framework that gifted us Rayman Origins and Legends. You play as Aurora, who’s on a quest to save her ill father and former kingdom. It also features a co-op, with one player taking on the role of Igniculus, the shiny little ball of light.
9. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Prefer your RPGs to be full of tactics? Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the choice for you. It’s the latest entry in the long-running series that sees you train up your heroes, which you then send out into battles. Death is permanent, though, so do be careful.
10. Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII is the sort of game that speaks for itself, a touchstone of game design that played a large role in setting the standard of RPGs for years to come. You should give Final Fantasy VII a shot if you consider yourself to be a fan of RPGs, as this is an experience unlike any other in many ways.
11. South Park: The Fractured But Whole
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a direct sequel to The Stick of Truth, and once again places you in the shoes of the New Kid. You’ll fight alongside your favorite South Park characters in the superhero group Coon and Friends against the villainous Professor Chaos who is trying to eliminate them.
Don’t be fooled by the cartoon visuals, as this is not one for the kids. The humor – while hilarious – is offensive and adult.
12. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is so much more than just an RPG. You can develop your successful farm, make new friends, and even find love. Of course, you can also explore dank caverns and whack enemies with big weapons. It’s got it all.
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13. The World Ends with You: Final Remix
Over ten years on from the Nintendo DS original, The World Ends With You has lost none of the fun or style that made it such a cult classic. Although the controls leave something to be desired, the chaotic battle system, catchy soundtrack, and engaging storyline all combine to make this an unforgettable RPG that hits all the right points.
14. Octopath Traveler
3D meets 2D in Octopath Traveler, which is simultaneously inspired by the classics and rather progressive in its gameplay. You recruit a team of very different characters, each of which has its personality and fighting style and explore an intriguing world full of adventure.
Best Nintendo Switch RPGs
15. Lost Sphear
There’s little in Lost Sphear that you haven’t seen before in JRPGs, but that doesn’t mean it’s a title to be dismissed out of hand. If you can look past the clichés, it presents an engaging world, deep battle system, and plenty of replayability which will likely delight many an RPG fan.
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16. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
If you like the sound of a combination of an angsty, drama-ridden JRPG story and an open world that stands up next to Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the game for you. It’s a terrific adventure with a combat system that feels ripped right of an MMORPG.
17. Valkyria Chronicles 4
Valkyria Chronicles 4 takes place at the same time as the events of the original game, focusing on the Federation’s Squad E. You’ll control Commander Claude Wallace as he and his childhood friends strive to win their freedom against a frightening war.
It is an intriguing blend of turn-based strategy RPG, and third-person shooter, with a watercolor-inspired visual design unlike anything else we’ve seen. This entry introduces bigger maps, a new unit, and new defensive and offensive options.
18. Diablo III
The latest (and greatest) action RPG finds a comfortable home on Nintendo Switch, which lends itself well to a quick Nephalem Rift or two while you’re on the bus to work.
19. Dragon Quest XI
The latest entry in the long-running JRPG series may have come to Switch late, but it arrived in a definitive edition that allowed you to play the entire game in classic, SNES-era visuals.
20. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a great example of what developers should aspire to do with remastering old games; this is the best-designed and most enjoyable version of this RPG classic currently on the market, and it can all be played on the go, too.
You can swap this for any entry of Final Fantasy that’s currently available on Nintendo Switch, as they’re all great. We think XII is the best of the ports though, at least, and holds up well today thanks to its intriguing combat system.
21. Golf Story
If you miss the good old days when you couldn’t play handheld games in the dark due to the lack of a backlight, Golf Story will make you happy. Not because it’s a dark game. Because it’s a bit like Mario Golf.
22. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & The Secret Fairy
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy takes everything good about Gust’s 2019 Atelier adventure featuring Ryza and further refines it, getting off to a refreshingly quick start after the glacially-paced opening hours of its immediate predecessor. Ultimately, Ryza 2 delivers the best entry in the long-running franchise to date.
23. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is an experience unlike any other on the Switch, expertly blending standard RPG tropes with a heartwarming story, innovative art style, and an immersive soundtrack composed by some of the best in the business.
We don’t think there will come a day where Ni No Kuni doesn’t blow you away with its visuals. That’s a testament to the ability of Studio Ghibli, the beloved animation studio that helped create this wonderful adventure.
24. Divinity: Original Sin 2
From its opening moments upon a prison ship bound for Fort Joy to non-stop adventures that take you across the high seas to the Reaper’s Coast, Nameless Isle, and beyond, Divinity: Original Sin 2 simply dazzles. If you’re into your classic RPGs, like Baldur’s Gate and PlaneScape Torment, you will love this. Original Sin 2 was so good that developer Larion was selected to helm Baldur’s Gate 3. That’s quite the achievement.
25. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Arguably the finest RPG in the past decade, The Witcher III found a comfortable home on Switch. It might not be the best-looking version, but it is the most portable. It also supports cross-saves with the PC version, so there’s that.
26. Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition
In Pillars of Eternity, you’ll meet a cast of unforgettable traveling companions, fight your way through labyrinthine dungeons, explore deserted Dwarven fortresses, and become Lord of your very own stronghold, and undertake quests as varied as they are beautifully written and acted. Obsidian has created a heartfelt tribute to the classic ‘Infinity Engine RPGs of old; one that takes the best of those games, delicately updates them, and – in the process – becomes something of a classic itself. For RPG fans, this is a must-buy.
27. The Alliance Alive HD Remastered
Nearly two years on from its initial release, The Alliance Alive HD Remastered proves to be a perfectly competent port of an already fantastic handheld game. A well-written story, a smartly interwoven and complex system of gameplay mechanics, and a distinctive visual style make this a no-brainer for anybody looking for a consistently high-quality RPG experience on their Switch.
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28. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
Trails of Cold Steel III is another excellent addition to a franchise that gains so much of what makes it absorbing from the huge amount of background detail and world-building that’s been achieved in earlier entries in the series.
29. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Simply put, there’s almost nothing one can reasonably complain about with Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. It’s an already-excellent JRPG that has been improved in nearly every conceivable way, short of a complete reimagining. On top of the fantastic story, enjoyable combat, and incredible world design, Monolith Soft has included an entirely new epilogue story arc while improving upon and polishing up nearly everything in the base game, from progression systems to visuals to UI design.
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