Nintendo has always been the home of RPGs, and with the Nintendo Switch, the company has reminded us why. Less than five years from launch, the E-shop is full of RPGs, with classic 2D indie experiences to massive Triple-A sequels. Here, we’ve made a list of 10 RPG titles for the Nintendo Switch that you can’t afford to pass up.
We’re trying to be as diverse as possible for this list, with only a few spots up for grabs. So don’t be shocked if some well-loved but frequently ported games don’t make it this time around.
One of the definitive indie RPGs of the last decade, fans and newcomers flocked to Undertale on its release to Nintendo Switch. The cult-classic turned chart-topper takes what you think you know about role-playing games and tosses it aside. If you want to get by in Undertale, you need to think outside the box, move around inside the box, and sometimes leave the box well alone.
Once you’ve played Undertale and played it again, you don’t have to stop there. Toby Fox’s sophomore title Deltarune Chapter 1&2 is currently free to download. This semi-sequel takes the unique mechanics of Undertale and only improves on the formula, with Fox’s sense of humour also making a welcome return.
Monster Hunter Stories 2
This one is a follow-up to the much-loved Monster Hunter spin-off, with all the creatures and tactical nuance to challenge even the biggest monster catch-them-all RPGs on Nintendo Switch. The series’ in-game worlds are lush and welcoming like never before, and the monster design is articulate and varied enough to make each as visually striking as the next.
Seen by some as cutesy compared to the more visceral main-series games, Monster Hunter Stories 2 could be better described as charming. The human characters have heart, and some of the monsters have humanity. That is until you’re in battle, then it’s back to the classic beasts taking chunks out of each other to balance things out again.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
The first mainline Pokemon game on a home console, Pokemon Sword and Shield, has continued the skyrocketing trajectory of the series. Though infamous even before release for not including the full roster of 898 Pokémon, what you will find here is the most vivid in-game world the series has offered yet.
Pokemon Sword and Shield are also a hit with the competitive scene. It’s never been as easy to train your Pokémon to their max potential and take them online in 1v1 or doubles battles. With new held items and moves and the new Dynamax and Gigantamax abilities, the competitive Pokémon meta is as strong as it has ever been.
Another solo developed icon, Stardew Valley, is a chart mainstay on the E-shop, and it’s not hard to figure out why. This half-simulation half-RPG has depth and heart in equal measure. With an inviting world of charming characters, well-placed secrets and varied gameplay, you’ll never want to leave once you’ve settled into the Valley.
Better still, Stardew Valley has seen yearly updates from developer ConcernedApe providing hours of extra content. While we might not see anything new for a while, with the developer hard at work on his long-awaited follow-up, an active community of players makes this game feel consistently fresh.
DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
The definitive JRPG returns to its home kingdom in Square Enix’s much-hyped port. This game is epic in scale and addictive in combat. If you’re looking for a game world to get lost in, DRAGON QUEST XI is a good pick and one that can now help you escape on a train or in a bus stop just as well as it can on your sofa.
With the option to adventure in 2D, 3D, or a combination of the two, DRAGON QUEST XI is the ultimate experience for anyone who loves the RPG in its purest rock-paper-scissors form.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
This game is one of the best, if not the best, tactical RPGs on the Nintendo Switch. Here you’ll find hours of content, multiple playable characters, and an overarching storyline that rivals some of the most ambitious you’ll find in on the Switch. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a rousing return to form for the series that has always struggled to explode in the West, with this title finally making the exception.
The world of Fire Emblem: Three Houses is rich with lore and a must for anyone who enjoys story-driven gameplay. The tactical side is as strong as ever in the Fire Emblem series, with a challenging but fair difficulty curve, and the gameplay is diverse enough to keep you playing through all three storylines.
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
Finally arriving on Switch, the critically-acclaimed and combat-mechanics free Disco Elysium automatically lands a space on this list. Far away from the fantastical worlds of many RPGs, this game plots in you an urban post-war environment as an amnesiac detective. This game’s arc is so well written that a TV series is in the works to expand the gritty narrative. With 32 individual skills to increase and help the detective solve the murder at the heart of the story, you’ll have to think carefully about how you proceed.
Like Undertale’s nod to the SNES era of RPGs, Disco Elysium is a must for anyone who played a PC RPG in the years before the dominance of massively multiplayer games. Still, it’s no nostalgia trip, and while there’s a clear homage in style, the game only ever builds on its various influences.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Here is another epic game, but this time with more direct player involvement in the smash-hit Action-RPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2. So, if you’re looking for an immense open world, here it is. Yet, it never feels empty. This games massive scale only lends to the endearing narrative and feeling of adventure throughout the hours of gameplay, missing from the linear titles in the Xenoblade series.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 proved so popular that the original saw a port to Switch to offer players the opportunity to play the whole saga on one console. With both games’ success and Shulk proving popular in Smash Bros Ultimate, it’d be no surprise to see more Xenoblade titles on the horizon.
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling
While Paper Mario’s most recent adventure saw a tepid response, this Thousand-Year Door inspired RPG has everything fans of the series are longing to find. It takes the quirky RPG battle system from the classic Paper Mario titles and applies it to a world of cut-out creepy-crawlies.
Still, in no way does Bug Fables feel like a rip-off. Instead, with its own world of light-hearted characters and goofy gameplay, it merely pays homage to its inspirations. Still well worth a play for fans of Mario’s 2D excursions or anyone looking for a twist on the classic RPG format.
That’s our list of 10 must-play Nintendo Switch RPGs currently available on the E-shop. Of course, with over 1000 titles to choose from belonging to the genre, we’re going to be missing a few fan favourites. Still, with everything from urban noir, monster-ridden canyons, and farms full of pumpkins, you can’t go far wrong with these.