The best Nintendo Switch games to play in 2021

The Nintendo Switch has an expansive library of must-play games, but these are some of our favorites.

The Nintendo Switch has a disgusting amount of high-quality first- and third-party games. However, even in a sea of diamonds, some shine brighter than others.

Breath of the Wild is the reason why you see so many gliders in games that succeeded it. This impact alone is enough to warrant its inclusion on this list.

Below, we've rounded up some of the best Nintendo Switch games that you can play.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Could you imagine living through the pandemic without New Horizons?

What better way to escape from your real-life responsibilities than to dive deep into a virtual world that gives you an entirely new set of responsibilities albeit in a much cuter way.

Animal Crossing; New Horizons offers gamers a chance to disappear into a different and much more adorable reality. New Horizons was launched back in March 2020, just right about when the lockdowns started taking place. Since then, the social simulation game has completely taken the world by storm.

If you've ever wondered why the Nintendo Switch keeps on selling like crazy, New Horizons is a huge reason for that.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

You might not think that Breath of the Wild is the best Legend of Zelda game, but it set the entire franchise on a new trajectory going forward.

Many consider The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as the best Zelda game of all time. Not us, necessarily, but a lot of fans will back this claim up, and for a good reason - the open-world Zelda game defied the series' standard formula and set a new bar for installments going forward.

Given the amount of freedom that the game afforded players with several memorable puzzles and boss battles, as well as an art style that's as gorgeous and fluid as its combat system, we wouldn't be surprised if some people ended up buying a Switch just for BoTW only to never touch Nintendo's portable console again.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The Deluxe version made what was already a great game into one of the best made.

Nintendo first released Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U earlier in the 2010s. It was already one of the best games for the last-gen console back then. On the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo didn't have to do too much to make it better outside of adding much more content and that's exactly what they did.

The Deluxe version doesn't change a lot about Mario Kart 8, but all the added content like more playable characters, tracks, and features. The result is a definitive version of arguably the most entertaining multiplayer game on the Nintendo Switch console.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

It will be interesting to see how the next Fire Emblem game will try and follow up on the masterpiece that was Three Houses.

A Fire Emblem game was always going to be a shoo-in for lists like these. Koie Tecmo's longtime JRPG series always delivers. However, for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the studio went above and beyond. Three Houses is easily the most expansive Fire Emblem game to date, taking the series' addictive strategic gameplay loop while throwing in a deep single-player campaign where players choose from one of three houses that have a significant impact on the story.

The stakes have never been higher than in Three Houses and with a free-roaming hub world, the only downside to Three Houses is that it can be a lot to take in for a series newbie.

Super Mario Odyssey

Odyssey isn't Mario's first 3D outing. However, it is his best yet.

Odyssey is a word used to describe "a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience". It's also a fitting title for the Italian plumber's largest 3D adventure to date. Super Mario Odyssey sets players loose on a beautifully designed sandbox world that's just a constant joy to explore. It doesn't matter if you're in control of a T-Rex or warming into some wall to find yourself inside a 2D world, Super Mario Odyssey lives up to the name - and then some.

Astral Chain

Astral Chain feels like PlatinumGames just proving that there's no other studio out there that does these games quite like them.

Bayonetta 3 might be the most anticipated action game on the Nintendo Switch, but the best one that you can play right now is Astral Chain. The 2019 title takes Platinum Games' signature combat style and gives you a playable character that has a smorgasbord of companions that can work together to help you string together some of the craziest combos imaginable.

Add in a colorful sci-fi world, clever environmental puzzles, and detective missions that will get you thinking, and Astral Chain is one of the most vibrant games available on the Nintendo Switch.

Monster Hunter Rise

Rise took every mistake that World made and fixed them without alienating fans.

The Monster Hunter series is known for its difficulty. These are games that take pride in making life difficult for gamers. However, with a multi-platform release in Monster Hunter World, Capcom realized that the series could tone down its barrier of entry a bit without making it too easy for hardcore fans. Although World suffered from its accessibility, it appears that Capcom perfected this formula in Monster Hunter Rise.

It doesn't matter if you're new to the Monster Hunter series or if you're a hardened G rank hunter, Rise is one of the best games to play on the Nintendo Switch.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Who else is glad that we're getting a sequel to this wonderful game?

Ubisoft's monolingual noseless horde of rabbit-like creatures has earned itself quite the following after first appearing in Rayman: Raving Rabbids. Yet, despite how cute these beings are, you wouldn't think that their popularity was enough to warrant a crossover with one of Nintendo's most popular mascots in Mario in a strategy-RPG game. But, that's exactly what happens in Mario + Rabbits: Kingdom Battle.

Don't let the cute looks of this XCOM-like title fool you. There's a layer of strategy that involves some careful planning in Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. The game is a mish-mash of styles that are rarely seen and probably never will be again. At least, not to this kind of success.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Nintendo remains unrivaled when it comes to crossover fighting games.

Was this ever any surprise? Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn't just one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch. It's one of the best fighting games, period. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might have been a Nintendo-exclusive affair, but it's a title that's well worth the price of admission on its own. The crossover fighting game recently saw its completion when Mr. Sakurai finally announced its 82nd combatant in Sora, but we doubt that fans are ever going to let it die in the next few years unless a new installment is released.

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Say what you will about how much easier Sword and Shield is to play, but it is a decision that will only benefit the series in the coming years.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield were two of the most highly anticipated games the year that they launched and did not disappoint. Sword and Shield was the first core Pokemon titles to release on the hybrid platform and both gave players an entirely new world to explore in the UK-based region, Galar. The best part was that Sword and Shield made Pokemon a much more accessible game, which is perfect for newer fans of the series.

Make no mistake. Sword and Shield isn't the best Pokemon game. It might not even be the best Pokemon game on the Switch for long with Pokemon Legends: Arceus set to release in 2022. But, if you're looking for your Pokemon fix on the Nintendo Switch, this is the best there currently is.

Diablo III: Eternal Collection

Blizzard deserves a lot of credit for righting the proverbial ship with Diablo III.

Blizzard's famous action RPG franchise, Diablo, might have made a name for itself on the PC, but this doesn't mean that it can't succeed on other platforms. The best example of this is Diablo III: Eternal Collection, which surprisingly feels as if it was made specifically for the Nintendo Switch. With a redesigned UI and tailor-made controls, playing Diablo III on the Nintendo Switch is a dream come true for those who'd like to clear through thousands of nightmarish hordes on the go or while lying on their couch.

Diablo II: Resurrected is also available on the Nintendo Switch if you're up for a nostalgia trip. However, if you weren't a fan of Diablo before Diablo III, Diablo II: Resurrected might feel a bit too hardcore and old-school for you.


The only thing missing from Hades is that it left gamers craving for more.

Supergiant Games' latest title, Hades, is a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of roguelikes. It's punishing and challenging, but also satisfying and addictive. It also feels fresh and unique, with a different take on Greek mythology that will have you smiling and laughing as often as it will have you pulling your hair out in frustration. Every time you play Hades is different, which makes it one of the few games in the world that will remain infinitely enjoyable for months if not years to come.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.
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