Best Nintendo Switch games in 2024: What to play

Nintendo Switch
(Image credit: Future)

The best Nintendo Switch games come in a range of genres, from the big first-party releases such as Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey to the smaller indie releases that still pack a punch like Hollow Knight and The Gardens Between. But with almost 5,000 games to choose from on the Nintendo eShop, how do you know what to play ? What is worth your time and what isn’t? Well, we can’t really answer the latter, but we can give you a few games to consider. We’ve compiled  a list of the best Nintendo Switch games we have been playing right now. 

Laptop Mag recently reviewed some of the latest Nintendo Switch games like Triangle Strategy and Neon White as well as the latest hardware such as the Nintendo Switch OLED.

This is only a select few of the best Nintendo Switch games out there and, don’t worry, this list is not going to be just the latest and biggest Switch games. This is simply what we would consider the best right now due to what we have been playing lately. Metroid Prime Remastered is officially out today! See our recent Fire Emblem Engage review, and find out why it didn't make this list. If your out and about and your Switch is about to die, consider picking up a Nintendo Switch charger.

If you're into pen and paper games, check out our best virtual tabletop software page. (And our DND tips if you need help). You can also read about my romantic journey in Stray Gods.

While we wait for those to release (and more), here are some of the best Nintendo Switch games you can play today. 

What are the best Nintendo Switch games?

Why you can trust Laptop Mag Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

2021 was an amazing year for the Nintendo Switch with many big releases for Nintendo’s best-selling home console. We saw the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, which was a remastered version of the Wii U game, with the addition of Bowser’s Fury. Given that the Wii U didn’t even make a quarter of the sales the Nintendo Switch netted, the release has given many players a look into one of the best games available.

(Image credit: Future)

We also saw the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which saw Nintendo release a bundle of three highly sought-after games on the Nintendo Switch: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and my personal favorite, Super Mario Galaxy. This collection was strangely taken off sale on March 31 as a timed release, but it has never really been explained why. 

In 2022, Nintendo released some contenders for Game of the Year, including Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Kirby and the Forgotten Kingdom. Both of these games have gotten almost perfect scores across their reviews. Meanwhile, in 2023 we're now playing Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and loving it.

So, let's get on with our list of what we think are the best Nintendo Switch games you can play right now. Keep in mind that this list is not ranked from best to worst. 

The best Nintendo Switch games you can play today

1. Stray Gods

I love Stray Gods. I can't say it enough. I think about it more than I should, and I am listening to all four of the soundtracks more often than any human should. It is the first musical role-playing game.

Stray Gods best nintendo switch games

(Image credit: Summerfall Studios)

Musical numbers, romance, gods, and murder are all on the menu for the Stray Gods buffet. Every choice you make during a musical number changes the flow of the song and the potential outcome of the narrative. You can either play a charismatic, inquisitive, or punk-rock Grace as you navigate your way through the Greek pantheon.

I obviously have a biased recommendation in terms of the romance option (view photo above), but all four choices are perfectly valid. What I loved most about the narrative and romance of Stray Gods is how emotional and heartfelt the dialogue was. It helped that it was delivered by a stunning cast, from Laura Bailey and Ashley Johnson to Troy Baker and Janina Gavankar. It's easily one of the best Nintendo Switch games out there.

See our full piece on Stray Gods.

2. Octopath Traveler 2

Octopath Traveler 2 is everything I wanted the original to be and more. No more disconnected stories strewn about by a loose connection to an absurdly difficult optional boss. No more hoping that everything is going to come together at the very end to send off your 100-hour journey in a blaze of glory. No more “is that really it?”

Octopath Traveler 2 best nintendo switch games

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Our eight travelers argue, laugh, cry, and live life together on the road, each making their way toward new and old goals. It’s through the completion of these stories that we begin to see a pattern forming, something stirring within the shadows. This is a full circle journey that'll leave your jaw slacked and your heart in cardiac arrest. 

I fell in love with each character, and it was sad to say goodbye, but I had to so I can tell you that Octopath Traveler 2 fulfills all your needs among the best Nintendo Switch games. This is a new era of RPG.

See our full Octopath Traveler 2 review.

3. Live A Live

I’ve had a killer urge to play JRPGs lately — I just finished Octopath Traveler and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. When Live A Live launched, I was anticipating another grind-till-I-die situation. However, I was shocked to discover Live A Live’s short game length. I clocked out at 26 hours, which is paltry compared to the 90+ hours I spent in each aforementioned game. I quickly discovered that Live A Live is not a traditional JRPG.

Best Nintendo Switch games

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Live A Live is an experimental adventure game where you get to take the role of seven unique characters all experiencing challenges across time and space. Each tribulation-filled journey is a short story, seemingly disconnected from one another. When you start asking questions, you’ll get no answers, until the narrative is full and ready to come together in an epic culmination.

This is like nothing I’ve ever played before, especially a JRPG. I cannot recommend this game enough; it’s most certainly one of the best Nintendo Switch games to date. I highly recommend going in dark without any expectations — the shock and awe will absolutely knock you off your feet.

See our full Live A Live review.

4. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet

Without at times game-breaking bugs, we could have easily given Pokémon Scarlet and Violet a 4.5-star rating. While not all of my favorite elements from Arceus have made the transition, the freedom inspired by the core gameplay gives the formula a Breath of the Wild-esque breath of fresh air.

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet best nintendo switch games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The story beats are all the more relatable to the point it will deliver an emotional gut punch, the increasing difficulty and variety of challenge throughout the game makes it addictive, and the true free-roaming gives you a sense of adventure unlike any Pokémon game in the past.

See our full Pokémon Scarlet & Violet review.

5. Monster Hunter Rise

Praised as being ”one of the best multiplayer games out there” in our review, Monster Hunter Rise is a game I would describe as similar to Marmite; you either love it or you hate it. There is no in between. I am in the former camp. Monster Hunter is one of my favorite game series. It’s a game that can really bring people together in a way that I have yet to experience in any other IP. There’s no better feeling than taking down the biggest and baddest monster with the help of three friends. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Rise is the most accessible Monster Hunter game on the Switch, easily allowing new players to get in on the action without sacrificing the features and mechanics hardcore fans know and love. It’s a series that is known for its difficulty, but Rise helps to make it a lot more welcoming and less overwhelming than its predecessors, taking a lot of inspiration from Monster Hunter World.

With the new addition of the game mode “The Rampage,” Rise has a lot to offer in terms of content. With endless amounts of materials and items to collect, and the ability to craft weapons and armor out of whatever monster you decided to hunt, it’s easy to see why this Japanese RPG series has such a huge fan base. 

See our full Monster Hunter Rise review

6. Animal Crossing New Horizons

Since its release in March 2020, Animal Crossing New Horizons took the Nintendo Switch world by storm and went on to become the console’s second top-selling game with over 37.6 million copies sold — just behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Offering players a fun, casual gaming experience, New Horizons focuses its gameplay around socializing. It provides the opportunity to forge meaningful friendships with those who inhabit the Island you live on as well as visit the Islands of real-life players, whether they are friends or not.  

(Image credit: Nintendo)

New Horizons created such a unique online presence with millions  of players connecting online via various websites to trade certain items and share tulip prices on each other's Islands. This game played a big part in gamers’ COVID experiences, including my own, as it gave us a way to connect when we couldn’t at that point in time. 

Decorate your home, craft various items, catch fish and bugs, design your own clothes, create your dream garden, and compose music! Honestly, Animal Crossing New Horizons is an absolute gem of a game and a joy to play, often passing many wonderful hours doing all the things above without even realizing any time has passed at all. 

See our full Animal Crossing New Horizons review.

7. Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Released in January of 2022, Pokémon Legends: Arceus offers players a new Pokémon experience. It ditches an original linear world for a completely open world that players can explore at their own leisure. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Arceus offers many differences over the original Pokémon games, such as the ability to catch a Pokémon without needing to battle it first (with the exception of certain aggressive Pokémon), and simply catching a Pokémon once does not complete the Pokédex, as players have to complete specific objectives in order to collect the relevant information. 

Offering a more RPG-like experience with the addition of many side quests and the removal of gyms, Arceus opts for a more relaxed adventure. The player continues their journey at their pace and is not stunted behind boss battles that they need to grind in one particular area to pass. Arceus is not easy by any means, but it at least gives players a whole area to explore and level up their Pokémon where they choose.

8. Hades

I couldn’t do a list like this and not have one of my favorite Indie games on here, could I? Hades is a rogue-like dungeon crawler that mixes gameplay elements from Supergiant’s critically acclaimed titles. It takes the fast-paced elements of Bastion, the storytelling elements of Pyre and the rich depth and atmosphere of Transistor. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Hades delivers fast hack-n-slash type gameplay set in a stunning god-like world featuring many gods from Greek mythology and you will be playing the role of Zagreus, the rebel son of the god of the Underworld himself, Hades. This one puts the emphasis on letting the player choose their play-style by offering a range of weapons to use.

Rogue-likes can be off-putting to some, but Hades really does set itself apart from the crowd. You will see yourself dying a lot, yes. But your deaths are made a part of the game’s story — after all, someone living in the Underworld cannot die. 

9. New Pokémon Snap

A complete remake of the 1999 game of the same name on the Nintendo 64, New Pokémon Snap sees players taking pictures of their favorite companions. No, it’s not as weird as it sounds. For nostalgic reasons, I adored it, as did many others. But take that out of the equation and it’s still a relaxing adventure that is a ton of fun. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

There’s over 200 Pokémon to snap photos of in their own habitats, allowing the player to see them as more like animals as opposed to the fighting tools they’re used for in the mainline games. In New Pokémon Snap, instead of the trusty Pokédex, we have the newly named Photodex - your own little scrapbook of the photos you have taken. 

Each and every one of your photos are evaluated by Professor Mirror, who will score them a star rating. The better the photo, the higher the stars. Share those high-rated photos with the world by uploading them, after adding filters, stickers and effects, of course. It’s a relatively short adventure, but it is one that absolutely needs to be had. 

See our full New Pokémon Snap review

10. Mario Strikers: Battle League

Mario Strikers: Battle League review Best Nintendo Switch games

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Mario Strikers: Battle League is a fun entry into the Mario sports lineup, but it may not justify the $60 it costs to pick it up. There's not a lot to Mario Strikers: Battle League's progression besides a handful of Battle Cups and earning coins to purchase gear, which can hurt the game’s longevity. Despite that, the game is a lot of fun, and the multiplayer experience is great.

As long as the price tag doesn’t concern you, and you’re more than happy waiting for free updates, Mario Strikers: Battle League could be worth it for you. The game is now available exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

- Keith Mitchell

See our full Mario Strikes: Battery League review.

11. Neon White

Neon White Best Nintendo Switch games

Neon White is a creative blend of puzzles, speedrunning and fast-paced FPS action, topped off by an intriguing yet predictable anime-style story. (Image credit: Angel Matrix)

There are few things I hate less in games: card-based battle systems and speed running. Not because there is anything wrong with them, but more so due to the fact I immediately get nervous about them. Am I using the right deck build? Is this the right route to take to attain the fastest time? How many times do I have to do this before I get this right? All of these questions ultimately come down to a single resolution: I’m not good enough and I don’t have the patience to get better. 

So, when Neon White fell onto my lap(top), a game that mixes a card-based system with time-based levels, I understandably got fairly squeamish. Even before pressing start, I thought to myself “oh heck, this is gonna be a struggle to get through.” It’s not just me — both of these genres are a hard nut to crack across a broad gaming audience. Yet, Neon White pulls you in with its bizarre mix of puzzle-based first-person shooter gameplay and story-driven narrative — akin to the likes of Persona 5. An FPS with an anime-styled concept about what happens to the wrongdoers after death, you say? I’m on board now. 

Annapurna Interactive’s Neon White, developed by Angel Matrix, is a crazy FPS speedrunning platformer that is nothing like you’ve played.

- Darragh Murphy

See our full Neon White review.

How to choose the best Nintendo Switch games for you

What is considered to be the best Nintendo Switch games comes down to a matter of opinion, and all depends on your preference. Do you prefer platformers? Try Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Is open-world exploration more your thing? Go with Xenoblade Chronicles. Or do you prefer in-depth stories? Try Octopath Traveler or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Do you have an affinity for multiplayer games? Try Fortnite. Prefer shooters with a lot of loot? DING DING DING! Borderlands is your winner. Want a more relaxed farming experience? Stardew Valley is your guy. Want party racing? Mario Kart 8 Deluxe it is. There are games out there for everyone; you just have to find them.