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The Switch is a great console to pick up RPGs on. Not only does it feature a sizable library of old and new titles alike while allowing the player to dive into the adventure at home and on the go. Taking vast worlds with you in your pocket is a unique strength of Nintendo’s newest console.
Thankfully, Nintendo and third-party developers alike have seen this potential and have made sure to fill the console’s library with unique RPG experiences. There are fantastic games for prospective players to choose from, but some have risen over time to be the best.
Big Picture Up Front
Which RPG is the definitive best to pick up largely depends on personal preference. Players looking for a co-op experience with deep combat will likely lean towards Monster Hunter Rise.
In contrast, players who want to experience a modern take on the JRPG should pick up Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition. However, many players will also want to pick up definitive RPGs such as Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, or The Witcher 3.
Of course, the titles that made this list are subject to my personal preference. I also tried to limit each series to only one entry while ensuring that each game on the list has something unique to offer the player. The choices also require a decent Metacritic score to ensure that every included game has enough mass appeal to likely satisfy most players.
Monster Hunter Rise
- Developer/Publisher: Capcom
- Genre: Action RPG
- Metacritic Score: 88
Monster Hunter Rise is the newest release in the iconic franchise. When it was released, it faced the challenge of living up to the massive success of Monster Hunter World, which had the advantage of launching on the more powerful Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
However, it was able to satisfy fans by merging many of the innovations of Monster Hunter World with the classic elements of older titles alongside new features like the dog companion Palamutes.
For those who don’t know, Monster Hunter games unsurprisingly see players venturing into open areas to hunt down colossal monsters that each have an array of moves and mechanics to learn and adapt. To take them down, players can choose from 14 different weapon types.
Each type caters to a different style of play through unique move sets and mechanics for players to master. There are lances with guns built into them, massive katanas, hammers that double as horns, and bowguns.
There is something for everyone, and after slaying monsters, players take pieces of them to create and upgrade unique armor and weapons to keep getting stronger to take down bigger monsters. Monster Hunter Rise also has an incredibly long endgame that can keep players engaged for hundreds of hours after they complete the story, and the upcoming expansion will likely only add to that.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Developer/Publisher: Intelligent Systems/Koei Tecmo
- Genre: Tactical RPG
- Metacritic Score: 89
The Fire Emblem series has long been a juggernaut of Nintendo’s stable of exclusives, and Three Houses are one of the most extensive and most successful entries it has ever seen. It puts players in the shoes of Byleth, a former mercenary and recent professor at an officer’s school in the middle of three warring kingdoms.
The player then aligns themselves with one of the three houses, determining which pool of students they will teach. By teaching their students, players build relationships with them and guide them towards fulfilling different roles on the battlefield.
Then, the player controls Byleth and their students for various battles that take the player through a sprawling campaign story. Every character can be made into several different classes and be fitted with multiple pieces of equipment such as weapons and armor.
This gives players a ton of decisions to make regarding how they structure their group and how they spend their time at the school, especially when playing on the permadeath mode that kills students off permanently. Having each house and various DLC characters available on the eShop makes the game very replayable as each playthrough can feature a different cast of characters to learn about.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition
- Developer/Publisher: Saber Interactive/CD Projekt Red
- Genre: Open-world RPG
- Metacritic: 85
It is a technical marvel that a modern RPG as vast and complex as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition can run on the Switch. The developers at Saber Interactive did a fantastic job porting the game over, even with the reported occasional frame rate dips and lower draw distance.
The Witcher 3 is one of the most highly regarded RPGs. Putting players in the shoes of the monster slayer Geralt of Rivia, players embark on a long journey to find their adoptive daughter Ciri across a dark fantasy world filled with political intrigue, magic, and frightening creatures.
The Witcher 3 forces players to adapt their playstyle to one fitting a witcher, including dodging attacks, casting simple magic called signs, only using a steel and silver sword, and brewing potions, oils, and bombs prepare for fights. While this approach to combat is not for all players, the game’s story is its fundamental standout feature.
The game’s world feels alive and intricately crafted, while the main questline and side quests alike introduce the player to layered, complex characters that fit on a spectrum of morality, making every decision a difficult one.
The Complete Edition also comes with both of the game’s massive expansions that introduce the player to more interesting characters and give them more mechanics and options for how to customize their Geralt of Rivia’s playstyle.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
- Developer/Publisher: Square Enix
- Genre: JRPG
- Metacritic Score: 91
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is a massive entry in the genre-defining series. Dragon Quest has historically excelled at giving players a colorful cast of characters that travel through a series of episodic adventures that build to defeating a more significant colossal threat. The eleventh entry in the series is no different.
The game has a sprawling story that takes players across the kingdom of Erdrea as the long-awaited hero called the Luminary with traditional turn-based JRPG combat.
The game’s definitive edition also comes with the option to switch between its beautiful stylized 3D graphics and more traditional 16-bit visuals that pay homage to the game’s lineage. It also features full support for English and Japanese audio, new stories to play through, the ability to visit previous worlds throughout the franchise, and even ride on monsters and use them to gain experience.
For experienced JRPG players, the game also features the challenging Draconian Quest setting that offers a checklist of options to make their playthrough more challenging. These include options like not allowing the player to shop, townsfolk not giving the player hints, or the entire party being killed if the Luminary falls in battle.
- Developer/Publisher: Four Quarters/Devolver Digital
- Genre: Roguelite RPG
- Metacritic Score: 84
Loop Hero exploded onto the market in 2021, surprising critics and players alike with its satisfying roguelite structure and unexpectedly complex mechanics. The game is set in a fantasy world that a Lich has thrown into a seemingly inescapable time loop.
To fight against it, the player is given an ever-growing deck of cards that are used to prepare different classes of heroes with gear and skills that they use to try and defeat the Lich once and for all. Across runs, the player can also upgrade the survivor’s camp to increase their options and abilities for subsequent runs through the time loop.
The game has been praised for satisfying the rogue-lite fans and being quirky and forgiving enough to entice players that don’t typically enjoy the game.
Loop Hero is a unique game that blends strategy, charm, and a fascinating world with impressive efficiency to make a fun game without being bogged down by annoyances. The game’s structure also makes the Switch a fantastic platform for the game, as it lends itself very well to picking the game up and playing it whenever you have some free time or for longer sessions.
Dark Souls: Remastered
- Developer/Publisher: FromSoftware, QLOC/Bandai Namco
- Genre: Action RPG
- Metacritic Score: 83
Dark Souls is one of the most influential modern RPGs. The game’s original release in 2011 captivated players with its fair but punishing stamina-based combat, interwoven world design, and lack of hand-holding mechanics. And, Switch players can now get in on the fun with remastered graphics.
However, Dark Souls is infamous for being incredibly difficult. This is primarily because of its steep learning curve that forces players to organically learn the ins and outs of its mechanics and pace of its combat. Dark Souls forces players to be patient, only attacking when they know it is safe and keeping an eye on their resources at all times.
It requires learning the tells and attack patterns of the enemies faced repeatedly throughout a playthrough and lets players discover the world and its features in their own time and way.
This can all be very difficult when first approaching the game, but players who take the time to do so are rewarded with a unique experience. Rather than walking from objective marker to objective marker, players go wherever seems interesting to them.
Different classes can be chosen at the beginning of a playthrough, but how a character is built throughout the playthrough is entirely freeform, letting players use any combination of equipment and spells that they want.
The combat of Dark Souls is punishing, but defeating one of its massive bosses also feels extremely rewarding when all is said and done as you had to truly work for it and improve as a player to do so. Dark Souls isn’t an RPG for everyone, but it is a unique experience that is at least worth trying.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Developer/Publisher: Nintendo
- Genre: Open-world RPG
- Metacritic Score: 97
The most popular RPG on the Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is the most significant entry in the iconic series thus far and focuses on giving players an intricate toolset to use to interact with the world. The tools themselves may seem simple, but when combined, they create magical moments of player expression that few other games can claim.
Using an ax to chop down a tree only to send it flying across the map while Link rides on top of it is an exhilarating moment that is brought about by the player asking, “I wonder if that will work?” Most of the time, in Breath of the Wild, at least, the answer is yes.
Breath of the Wild also features a vast open-world that encourages players to explore and discover its unique landmarks and points of interest while having every single surface across the map fully climbable.
The game is one of the most open RPGs ever made and is so open that players can just walk to the final boss immediately after completing the tutorial area if they wish to do so. Of course, most players will first want to adventure across the world to find better gear, earn more hearts, and learn better recipes to give them stat boosts for challenging fights.
STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic
- Developer/Publisher: Aspyr/Lucasarts
- Genre: Party-based RPG
- Metacritic Score: 83
Knights of the Old Republic is often regarded as having one of the best narratives in video games and all of the titanic Star Wars franchise. Initially developed by legendary RPG studio BioWare, the game sees players traveling across the Star Wars universe with a group of deeply written characters that they grow close with over time.
Of course, it also wouldn’t be a Star Wars game if players weren’t able also to make several decisions that influence their relationship with the Force, allowing them to unlock unique abilities and modify their character’s appearance based on whether they follow the light or dark side of the Force.
Aspyr’s remake itself has also received a lot of praise for modernizing the game’s controls and how well the port runs on the Switch. The port comes in at an impressively low price while also being hailed as the definitive way to experience the classic RPG.
This allows new players and fans to come to the traditional title without its more aged-feeling elements getting in the form of experiencing the game’s dynamic reactive narrative.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Developer/Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks
- Genre: Open-world RPG
- Metacritic Score: 84
The Elder Scrolls series is one of the biggest names in all western RPGs. Fans of the series have fallen in love with its open design philosophy that allows players to spend hundreds of hours in its world without even completing the main questline, its detailed setting, and the sheer variety of character builds that are possible.
Skyrim, initially released in 2011, is the most recent release in the series but has managed to keep players occupied. The Switch version of Skyrim even includes all three of the game’s expansions that add new areas, mechanics, and character options to the already gigantic base game.
Skyrim allows players to be any character they want in the province. With skills for archery, melee weapons, sneaking, five schools of magic, and three crafting skills, players have a bevy of options to make each of their playthroughs play differently.
Players will also find that the world of Skyrim is an intricate one with adventures and exciting stories hidden around every corner that can vary from helping diabolic deities to assisting a bard in capturing the heart of a fair maiden.
Unfortunately, the Switch port of Skyrim does not have access to its massive library of fan-made mods. Still, it does come with platform-exclusive content that allows players to dress up like Link himself and fully support Nintendo Amiibos.
Disco Elysium – The Final Cut
- Developer/Publisher: ZA/UM
- Genre: RPG
- Metacritic Score: 85
Disco Elysium – The Final Cut sees players take control of an amnesiac detective attempting to solve a mysterious murder. Set in a sprawling city as it struggles to recover from a war it fought decades prior, Disco Elysium is all about giving the player unprecedented freedom that it can react to.
Disco Elysium has received a lot of justifiable praise since its release. Much of it has been focused on how narratively intelligent it is alongside how open it manages to be when it comes to player choice.
Rather than allowing players to make their character, Disco Elysium restricts players to controlling its alcoholic loser detective, Harrier “Harry” Du Bois. However, players can still customize the character’s style, stats, and approaches to problems. Every situation and objective throughout the game has a plethora of possible solutions.
If players want to shoot their way through the game, they can, or they can rob and steal, or bribe and intimidate. Disco Elysium has been celebrated for its ability to allow players to play without feeling the restrictions and barriers inherently present in video games as a medium.
The restriction of playing as Harry also allows the game’s narrative to present players with terrific voice acting and a character with a real presence and involvement in its setting.
Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition
- Developer/Publisher: Larian Studios/Bandai Namco
- Genre: CRPG
- Metacritic Score: 93
Divinity: Original Sin II has frequently been hailed as not only one of the best CRPGs but one of the greatest RPGs of all time. The game does an excellent job of emulating both the combat and open nature of the traditional tabletop RPGs that inspired it, set in an original and emotional fantasy world.
Players can select from a list of pre-made characters with complete backstories and motivations that have unique interactions throughout the story or make their own from various races and classes.
Original Sin II‘s narrative is also highly reactive to players’ choices, from the main quest to the smallest of sidequests. The game also supports co-op and allows players to diverge and go to entirely different areas of the map from one another if they choose to.
The game’s turn-based combat is also very intricate, with various spells and abilities that interact with one another and the environment in a variety of ways that players have to learn and account for during fights. It all comes together to make an incredible experience that nears on being the ultimate RPG experience.
- Developer/Publisher: Toby Fox/8-4
- Genre: Turn-based RPG
- Metacritic Score: 93
Undertale is an indie-darling developed by just one person who took care of its programming, writing, and musical composition. While the game’s graphical design may be an acquired taste, it makes up for it with its heartfelt narrative that shakes up the mechanics of a traditional turn-based RPG to become something wholly unique.
The game follows a small child who falls into the fantastical realm of the Underground that sits just beneath the surface of the Earth. While there, they travel across the land and meet a colorful cast of characters.
What sets Undertale apart, however, are its combat mechanics. While in a fight, players can go the traditional route of defeating the enemies through combat or attempt a pacifist run that sees them befriending the enemies instead. How much players do of either option through their playthrough informs the narrative significantly.
The game even tracks what was done previously on subsequent playthroughs so that NPCs can comment on the player’s history. The peaceful option adds an absorbing layer to the game that makes it rewarding to play through multiple times while also bringing a level of empathy to its characters and world that is rarely found in gaming.
As you can imagine, the list of amazing on the is almost endless. However, we have to end the article somewhere. That doesn’t mean that we can’t shine a spotlight on the best of the rest. So here are our honorable mentions for the best :
- – Pillars of
- – Super
Question: Is the Switch Version of Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic the New Remake?
Answer: No, the Switch version of Knights of the Old Republic is a remastered port of the original game. Aspyr has announced that it is working on a complete remake of the title, but what platforms will be available when released has yet to be announced.
Question: Is Dark Souls: Remastered Easier than the Original?
Answer: No, it is a faithful remaster that maintains the original Dark Souls’ original design and difficulty.
Question: Is Fire Emblem: Three Houses suitable for newcomers to the series?
Answer: Yes, Three Houses is a fantastic place to start enjoying the Fire Emblem series. Its combat mechanics may be overwhelming for some new players, but it slowly introduces its systems so that new players have time to adjust and get used to them as they are submitted.
RPGs are one of the most popular genres of video games in the industry. The genre offers engaging stories filled with beautiful characters, challenging combat, and various mechanics and experiences to satisfy a wide array of players. Luckily, the Switch should not leave any RPG fans wanting, as it has a massive library of classic and new titles, from the indie to the AAA.
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