ach5

The 9 Best Nintendo Switch Role-Playing Games 2021

ach5

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The RundownBest Overall:CD Projekt Red The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition at Walmart"An open-world adventure that puts you in the shoes of one of the last known monster slayers."Best Non-linear:Nintendo The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at Amazon"This latest installment for the Nintendo Switch is the best game (not just in the RPG category) that's currently available on the console."Best Fantasy:Bethesda The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at Walmart"One of the best role-playing games of all time, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim finally comes to the Nintendo Switch, allowing for intense portable gameplay on the go."Best for All Ages:Game Freak Pokemon: Sword/Shield at Amazon"Whether you just have fond nostalgia or you're looking forward to new favorite Pokemon, Sword/Shield is a great addition to the Pokemon game line."Best JRPG:Monolith Soft Xenoblade Chronicles 2 at Walmart"A beautiful epic Japanese role-playing game with a cinematic presentation."Best Throwback:Acquire Octopath Traveler at Amazon"Beautifully designed and supported by excellent gameplay, Octopath Traveler is easily one of the best JRPG games on the Nintendo Switch."Best Casual:ConcernedApe Stardew Valley at Walmart"It's great for kids and adults alike and has such an open-ended storyline that it's almost impossible to get bored."Best Action RPG:Blizzard Entertainment Diablo 3: Eternal Collection at Amazon"If you're looking to raise some hell and gain ultimate power, look no further than Diablo 3."Best for Newbies:Capcom Monster Hunter Rise at Amazon"Monster Hunter Rise is the latest addition to the series, bringing fun monster-killing combat and expansive maps to the Switch."

The best Nintendo Switch role-playing games will seamlessly transport you to another realm. When choosing your next investment, researching the storyline and graphic design will be the keys to picking the right option for you. You will be spending a lot of time immersing yourself into this world, so an aesthetically pleasing game is crucial to the success of your choice, even more so than the difficulty level. Picking a game that is too challenging should not be a fear as the more you play, the more you will adapt to the style. 

Get ready to travel to an alternate reality with Game Freak Pokemon: Sword/Shield at Walmart, learn all about farming with ConcernedApe Stardew Valley at Walmart, gain ultimate power with Blizzard Entertainment Diablo 3: Eternal Collection at Walmart, or jump into an acclaimed TV show with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt! If these seem exciting, there are even more options to choose from on this list!

If you want a game that focuses less on world-building, other top-rated best games might be better for you, however, if you're ready to take the plunge, then keep reading to see the best Nintendo Switch role-playing games! 

Best Overall:CD Projekt Red The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition

Buy on WalmartWhat We Like

Over 150 hours of dynamic gameplay

Engaging open-world

Compelling storyline

What We Don't Like

Long load times

Graphics don't compare to PC or bigger consoles

Occasional performance drops

You've probably heard all about The Witcher thanks to the recent Netflix series and if you're craving more monster-slaying content at a pace you can control, it's time to pick up the game. The Witcher 3 is an open-world adventure that puts you in the shoes of one of the last known monster slayers. As you explore the massive world, you can fight monsters for a bit of coin or take the contract to track down the child of prophecy and experience a whole storyline of action and adventure. There's no lack of content in The Witcher 3, for the Switch edition you'll get the main game plus both DLC packages, giving you over 150 hours worth of gameplay to keep you hooked. Which makes it a perfect addition to the Switch family—monster fighting on the go.

While the awe-inspiring graphics don't port over completely, The Witcher 3 is still a game that will turn heads with its character and world designs. Players can expect vibrant gameplay with the dynamic weather systems and day/night cycles which affect how NPCs and the monsters behave. Define your destine, collect powerful weapons, and slay the biggest, badest monsters from the comfort of wherever you are.

Best Non-linear:Nintendo The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

4.4 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartWhat We Like

Smooth controls

Excellent graphics

Tons of content

What We Don't Like

Light on narrative plot points

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

Over the last 30 years, Link has gone on dozens of adventures and captured the imaginations of gamers across generations. Whether you're a longtime fan or new to the Zelda universe, this latest installment for the Nintendo Switch is the best game (not just in the RPG category) that's currently available on the console. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is unparalleled in its variety of gameplay, its ways of rewarding exploration, and its beautiful open environments. And no RPG does a better job of showcasing the power of the Nintendo Switch platform.

True to the other Zelda game formats, there isn't a strict linear structure to Breath of the Wild. Your quest is to ultimately save the kingdom of Hyrule, but how and when you go about it is largely up to you. Go off the path to explore atmospheric natural environments, fight tenacious enemies with a variety of different weapons, and experiment with cooking to create revitalizing elixirs. The world of the game is yours to explore. And once you're in it, you may understand why so many fans bought the Switch just to play this game.

Best Fantasy:Bethesda The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

3.8 Buy on WalmartWhat We Like

Huge, procedural world

Solid plot

Tons of content

What We Don't Like

Awkward controls

Graphics are outdated

Considered one of the best role-playing games of all time, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim finally comes to the Nintendo Switch, allowing for intense portable gameplay on the go. With over 200-plus Game of the Year Awards, Skyrim's open-world adventure is one of the most immersive and brings to the Switch new features such as motion controls and items from the Legend of Zelda series.

In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, players can do virtually anything and become anyone. The game is filled with tons of interactive characters that players can have conversations with, leading to friends, foes and even wars. Skyrim's main story focuses on a dragon set to destroy the world, but players can take plenty of detours with side missions and subplots to gain new abilities, level up their character and postpone any obligation to save the world.

Best for All Ages:Game Freak Pokemon: Sword/Shield

Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on WalmartWhat We Like

New features

Easy to learn

Planned DLC

What We Don't Like

Lack of Team Rocket type villains

It's time to pick your newest starter and prepare to hunt a slew of new Pokemon in the Galar region. The latest game from the multi-generational hit launched November 2019 and while the plot is similar to previous Pokemon games, it definitely has its share of exciting new features and great new characters (including a Champion that you may actually feel bad about beating). Players have the option to pick Sword or Shield, to determine which legendary they'll pursue as well as a few other changes. Between different Pokemon variations and two different gym leaders, it's tempting to want to buy both to experience every asset of the game. Along with the new addition of Dynamaxing Pokemon—essentially making a chosen Pokemon bigger with my dynamic attacks—this series of the Pokemon game has something different from any iteration before it: Downloadable Content. Coming this spring and summer, two new additional storylines and locations will be available for purchase.

Whether you just have fond nostalgia or you're looking forward to new favorite Pokemon, Sword/Shield is a great addition to the Pokemon game line. Players have the opportunity to camp and cook with their Pokemon so they can grow closer bonds to get stronger Pokemon. Plus, the addition of the wild area and max raid battles makes for exciting new battles and a chance to play with friends or those online. All in all, there's a lot of new, engaging content that will keep the kids busy and the nostalgic adults happy.

Best JRPG:Monolith Soft Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Buy on WalmartWhat We Like

Massive, beautiful environments

Deep combat

Smart Balancing

What We Don't Like

Terrible plot

Poor voice-acting

Requires a wiki to get acclimated to the game's systems

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a beautiful epic Japanese role-playing game with a cinematic presentation. Its cut-scenes feel larger than life (often like watching a well-written anime movie) and include an optional original Japanese voiceover dub, giving the players the game's original authentic form.

Players control one main character out of a party of three in an open world environment in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The action role-playing game includes a streamlined real-time action-based combat system that requires quick decision making for utilizing each character's abilities such as magic, healing and blunt force attacks. Players have to keep a close eye on their companions, waiting for cool down periods and opportunities to attack. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 includes a soundtrack with performances by the Bratislava Symphony Choir, giving it a more epic and emotional feel with each choreographed action scene and quest.

Best Throwback:Acquire Octopath Traveler

Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyWhat We Like

Amazing presentation

Innovative combat

Engaging challenges

What We Don't Like

Story is a mile wide and an inch deep

Beautifully designed and supported by excellent gameplay, Octopath Traveler is easily one of the best JRPG games on the Nintendo Switch. At the start of the game, you are asked to pick from one of eight main characters, each outfitted with their own special abilities and backstory. Your choice will set you on a unique journey with its own plot, conflicts, and decisions to make through the lens of your character. It's a nonlinear approach to be certain, but it adds up to a game that never tells you what to do or how to do it — and it's almost endlessly replayable. Combining elements of adventure, strategic problem-solving, and combat, Octopath Traveler has something for everyone.

Design-wise, the game has an unusual aesthetic that combines a nostalgic 16-bit style with modern game graphics. Fans of vintage JRPGs in particular will love the throwback feel.

Best Casual:ConcernedApe Stardew Valley

Buy on WalmartWhat We Like

Regularly receives free content updates

Incredibly satisfying

Deceptively deep and engaging strategies

What We Don't Like

Casual aesthetic won't appeal to everyone

No real endgame once you figure out the systems

While life on an actual farm might not be for everyone, the idea of picking up and moving to the country can be an appealing fantasy. In Stardew Valley, you can do just that. This title fits perfectly into the category of wholesome, laid-back games that everybody needs in their collection. It's great for kids and adults alike and has such an open-ended storyline that it's almost impossible to get bored.

Stardew Valley begins when your character inherits a farm from his grandfather, leaving behind a tiresome corporate job and setting off to restore the property and make it his home. From that point on, you must build a new life from scratch, learning how to run the farm and live off what your character can cultivate. Every decision has the potential for long-term impacts on the prosperity of the farm, your character's personal relationships, and the community he has become a part of. Don't be fooled: this isn't a basic farm simulator. The world of Stardew Valley is vast and complex, with the potential for hours upon hours of casual gameplay. Explore your environment, meet new people, and of course, keep things running on the farm — you can build your wealth and even start a family in the virtual valley. Plus, the 16-bit graphics have a nostalgic charm that will captivate fans of classic games like Harvest Moon.

Best Action RPG:Blizzard Entertainment Diablo 3: Eternal Collection

4Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on Gamestop.comWhat We Like

Tons of content and seasonal updates

Couch co-op

Offline mode

What We Don't Like

Occasional performance issues

Long load times

Playing with a single joy-con can be clumsy

If you're looking to raise some hell and gain ultimate power, look no further than Diablo 3. The popular RPG from Blizzard makes its way to the Switch in a full collection and does not disappoint. Bringing the same great graphics and engaging gameplay, this is a perfect way for fans to play their favorite game on the go. Plus, there's an offline mode to keep you in the game no matter where you are.

For those unfamiliar with the Diablo franchise, the Diablo 3 Eternal Collection is a solid entry point. Pick your favorite class—crusader, barbarian, witch doctor, demon hunter, monk, wizard, or necromancer—and set forth on a mission to lay waste to legions of evil throughout five distinct acts. Or, just explore the open-world setting in adventure mode. You'll have hours of action and content both online and offline to keep you playing and leveling up.

Going from PC controls to the switch is a bit of a change that can take some getting used to, but once you do it's an easy adjustment. And this version comes with exclusive Nintendo Switch downloads so you can face some of your Nintendo villains—like Ganondorf! Diablo 3 Eternal Collection is a must for those who have a thirst for action and want to challenge themselves. In her review, Kelsey called out the addictive, streamlined loot system and frenetic hack and slash action.

Diablo III: Eternal Collection Review

"Diablo III continues the beloved gameplay of the series with a new story, abilities, and characters."—Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best for Newbies:Capcom Monster Hunter Rise

4.6 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on Gamestop.comWhat We Like

Complex, multi-level open maps

Simple, accessible online play

New transportation options

Challenging yet rewarding combat

Customizable controls

What We Don't Like

Requires Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for the best experience

Controls are difficult for beginners

Monster Hunter Rise Review

Monster Hunter Rise is a challenging game with a simple premise. Hunters train to defend a village from the constant threat of wild monsters. While Rise is more accessible than previous installments, its complexity is still difficult for beginners. That same complexity is what makes Monster Hunter such a rewarding game to master.

Monster Hunter Rise is the most immersive hunting experience yet. The large maps have multiple interconnected layers, like caves that burrow through canyons. There are no loading screens between areas, so players are free to ride their Palamutes after fleeing monsters or wiredash over the terrain instead. The graphics are detailed and smooth, even in handheld mode. With well-integrated online play, this game is just as fun on the couch or on the go.

"Large monsters are every shape and size, with bright plumage and tattered leathery scales and everything in between."—Sandra Stafford, Product Tester