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The Best RPGs for Nintendo Switch | Digital Trends


The Nintendo Switch has been on the market for several years now, so it should come as no surprise that it has amassed a wealth of great role-playing games. Many of them are ports of titles previously released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but others are exclusive to Nintendo’s hybrid system.

Whether you’re looking for a turn-based classic or something new with a massive open world, the portable console has it all. Here are the best role-playing games on Nintendo Switch.

Further reading

Skyrim

It’s available on just about every other console in existence, so why not the Switch? The graphics took a bit of a hit during the porting process, but the rest of the game remains intact. Players will step into the role of the Dragonborn as they trek across the snowy landscape of Skyrim and attempt to save the world. Along the way, they can join various guilds, craft a home, get married, and do pretty much whatever their heart desires.

Arguably one of the best role-playing games of all time — let alone on the Switch — Skyrim is loaded with more than 100 hours of content. Having the ability to play it on the go is a blast and is a great way to experience the latest installment in the Elder Scrolls saga.

Diablo III

Diablo 3 players in combat.

Previously released on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, Diablo III finally made the jump to a Nintendo console. The demanding game runs surprisingly well on the underpowered Switch, even when things get heated with four players on the screen.

Multiplayer remains a staple in Diablo III, and you’ll be able to play in both local and online co-op matches. It’s possible to use a single Jon-Con when playing in co-op, but we’d highly recommend a Pro controller if you have it available — trying to pull off precise attacks with a tiny controller isn’t the ideal way to experience the greatness of Diablo III.

Xenoblade Chronicles (1 & 2)

Xenoblade player running through ruins.

Now that Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is available on the Switch, it has become the ideal way to play through the entire series. Join Shulk and crew as they discover the origins of their world and unravel one of the greatest narratives available on the handheld console. It’s best to play the original before diving into the sequel; otherwise, you’ll be missing out on key information needed to fully enjoy the game.

Divinity II: Original Sin

Divinity 2 player in combat.

There’s a noticeable drop in graphical quality with this port, but beyond that, you’ll still have access to hundreds of hours of classic RPG goodness. Players build their character from one of five races and 12 classes before heading out on their adventure.

Divinity II: Original Sin gives you total freedom when it comes to exploration. You’ll be able to venture wherever you want and attack any NPCs that get on your nerves. The turn-based combat is reminiscent of classic RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate, and it’s one of the few options Switch owners have for gameplay of this style.

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3 on Nintendo Switch.

Another great port, The Witcher III is among the best role-playing games ever made. Its new home on the Switch isn’t without a few framerate hiccups, but Nintendo owners have already jumped at the chance to join in on Geralt’s latest adventure.

Embark on a journey fraught with political strife and visceral combat, as Geralt is tasked with locating the Child of Prophecy, someone who holds the ability to change the fate of the world. It may not be the prettiest way to experience the epic journey, but it still manages to be one of the best role-playing games on the Nintendo Switch.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Dragon Quest player on a horse.

So long as you can get past the lackluster soundtrack, JRPGs don’t get much better than this. The story follows an unnamed protagonist who discovers they are something known as the Luminary — the reincarnation of an ancient hero who saved the world in ages past. Now, it’s up to you to do the same.

While the main storyline will take just over 60 hours to complete, Dragon Quest XI gives players a massive world to explore that is full of grand adventures all its own. The Switch version also includes a bunch of expanded content not seen in the original and is a great entry point for those new to the series.

Pokémon Sword & Shield

Pikachu on a grass field in Pokémon Sword & Shield.

We don’t often realize it, but Pokémon games are also part of the JRPG genre. They’re a bit more mainstream than others in the category and are incredibly accessible to gamers of all ages, making them a JRPG outlier. Sword & Shield continues this legacy, while also adding loads of new content such as the open-world Wild Area.

With one expansion under its belt and another slated to launch by the end of the year, Sword & Shield prove that Pokémon games can thrive on a home console. The story might be a tad on the short side, but excellent multiplayer and end-game content will keep you coming back well into 2021.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Link fighting an enemy in Breath of the Wild.

It’s much more action-oriented than some on this list, but Breath of the Wild‘s RPG influences can’t be ignored. Unlockable abilities, upgradable skills, and a variety of weapons and armor await Link on his latest adventure to stop the evil Calamity Ganon.

Explore Hyrule like never before, as you set out into a massive open world. The main story is non-linear, meaning you can choose to tackle each boss in whichever order you see fit. Every corner of the world is just begging to be explored, too, with hilarious characters, enjoyable side quests, and hidden secrets scattered across the landscape.

Check out our full Zelda: Breath of the Wild review.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses player fighting a group of enemies.

Part RPG, part strategy game, the latest entry in the Fire Emblem series was a bona fide hit upon its release. Players will spend their time teaching students at Garreg Mach Monastery before leading them in turn-based battles out in the field. Be careful, though — characters who die in battle are lost for the remainder of the game. This feature can be turned off on the lower difficulties, but it certainly adds a bit of tension to each encounter.

Three Houses looks beautiful in handheld mode, but where it really shines is on the big screen. This game features some of the largest battles ever seen in the series, and watching them play out on a massive HD TV is a feast for the eyes. RPG fans who have yet to dip their toes in the Fire Emblem waters won’t want to miss out on Three Houses, as it’s the perfect introduction to the popular franchise.

Dark Souls: Remastered

Dark Souls player fighting a boss.

Prepare to throw your controller in frustration, as Dark Souls retains its soul-crushing difficulty on the family-friendly console. Players will get the chance to experience both the main game and the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, bringing with it new locations, enemies, and a unique Arena Mode for PvP. With hundreds of weapons, armor, and crafting combinations, you’ll have plenty of ways to customize your character before charging off to an untimely death.

As with most Switch ports, graphical fidelity was sacrificed in the name of portability. Rest assured that this is the true Dark Souls experience, and new players will find a lot to love in this brutal title.

Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler fight scene.

One of the most innovative RPGs in years, Octopath Traveler follows eight different adventurers — each with their own storyline, skills, and gameplay style. Its winding narrative and incredible visuals might be the main selling points, but its tense, turn-based combat system is what will keep you coming back for more.

Whether you’re stepping into the shoes of a Merchant, hunting down enemies as the Warrior, or slinking through the shadows as a Thief, there’s a surprisingly deep tale hiding below Octopath Traveler‘s iconic art style. If you’re looking for a new game to sink hundreds of hours in, look no further than this masterpiece from Square Enix.

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley player walking through town.

As the best farming sim of all-time (sorry, Harvest Moon), it should come as no surprise that Stardew Valley is among the best RPGs on Switch. As you build your crumbling farm back into a bustling agricultural mecca, you’ll upgrade a variety of skills, unlock powerful new gear, befriend the locals, and even have the chance to enjoy a bit of cooperative farming with a friend.

Stardew Valley has amassed a wealth of content over the years and playing the game today is radically different than it was at launch. And despite all the new additions and quality-of-life adjustments, the game somehow managed to retain the small-town charm that’s made it one of the most popular games of our time.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl promo image showing trainers relaxing with their Pokémon in Amity Square.

While they aren’t perfect reimaginings of the old classics, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are still two of the best Pokémon games available on Switch. Fans of the originals will be happy to see a variety of enhancements — aside from a graphics overhaul, you’ll also benefit from auto-saving, EXP share, and more — that make it easy to dive into the action.

Turn-based battles, gorgeous new graphics, and the usual Pokémon charm add up to an old-school RPG with a modern flair that’s perfect for series newcomers or longtime trainers. If Sword & Shield wasn’t quite your cup of tea, be sure to check out this revitalized classic for a burst of nostalgia.

Dragon’s Dogma

Dragon's Dogma player fighting an enemy.

Even though it boasts a massive open-world to explore, Dragons Dogma runs surprisingly well on Nintendo Switch. You won’t be alone on your journey, either, as the game uses a unique Pawn system — giving you the ability to build up a powerful party before heading out to fight some truly monstrous enemies.

Whether you’re climbing on the back of a griffin or cutting down hordes of smaller foes, Dragon’s Dogma is a fast-paced RPG with tense, real-time action. You’ll be able to collect dozens of weapons, gear, and Pawns throughout your journey, and there’s no doubt it’s one of the largest RPGs on Switch.

Monster Hunter Rise

A hunter fighting a big dragon.

Nominated for the Best Role Playing category at The Game Awards 2021, Monster Hunter Rise is the best the series has to offer on Switch. And with a slick new wirebug mechanic — making it easy to traverse its open-world environment — Rise has enough new tricks to intrigue long-time hunters while also making its daunting gameplay loop more accessible to newcomers.

Hunting, gathering, and crafting are still at the heart of Rise, but there are also bizarre new Rampage missions that play out a bit like a Tower Defense mini-game. They’re a fun diversion from the action, but the majority of your time will be spent roaming around in search of massive prey — hopefully with a few friends by your side.

To get the most from your Switch, check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch Games for 2021.

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