The 15 Best Nintendo Switch Games to Play Right Now

When the Nintendo Switch launched in March, some jokingly called it a “Zelda machine.” That’s because there wasn’t much of a reason to buy the console other than to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Now, nine months later, the Switch boasts an expansive roster of impressive games that range from ports of cherished third-party releases to new Nintendo titles that are bound to be remembered as classics.

Here’s a look at some of the best games you can play for the Nintendo Switch right now.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Some Nintendo Switch are well-suited for passing the time during a quick commute to work. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is not one of those games: It’s best enjoyed when you have a substantial block of time to sink away into the game, allowing you to get lost in its sprawling world. The latest RPG entry from Monolith Soft and Nintendo follows a scavenger names Rex and his sentient weapon Pyra, as they traverse massive, living landmasses known as Titans. It’s a vast, absurd yet astonishing world that’s bound to please those who are always looking for new areas to explore.

Buy now: Xenoblade Chronicles 2, $60, Amazon

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey delivers everything you’d expect from a modern Super Mario game — and so much more. It’s the first sandbox-style Super Mario flagship since 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine, and a lot has improved in that 15-year gap. Mario’s ability to take on the form of his enemies thanks to his magical companion hat Cappy adds a whole new dimension to gameplay. Mario has always been able to gain new abilities through power-ups. But the capability to fully transform into foes like Bullet Bill and others gives Mario even more tools for progressing through levels and solving puzzles. It’s this aspect that makes Odyssey feel profoundly different than any of Mario’s previous incarnations.

Buy now: Super Mario Odyssey, $60, Amazon

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the first games available for the Switch, and it’s still the best reason to pick up Nintendo’s new console. With its lush woodlands and sun-soaked mountains, the scenery alone is enough to impress.The best part of this game is that you can actually explore all of it — and you absolutely should. Where Breath of the Wild differs from most Zelda games is that it’s about survival just as much as it’s about completing puzzles and defeating Ganon. When your health runs low, you have to hunt and cook meals to replenish it. If Link enters an area that’s too cold or warm, he’ll have to concoct an elixir or find the right clothing to stop his health from dropping. Of course, the crux of the storyline hinges on stopping Ganon, but in order to do so you must free all of the Divine Beasts while scouting out towers and solving puzzle-ridden shrines along the way. Breath of the Wild takes the strategy and puzzle-solving skills that were always necessary for success in Zelda games to an entirely new level.

Buy now: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, $60, Amazon

Read more: The Top 10 Video Games of 2017

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

You don’t have to be a fan of the maniacal Raving Rabbids from the Rayman universe to appreciate this game. This Super Mario and Rabbids mashup is filled with tactical turn-based battles that are surprisingly delightful and addictive. Characters like Mario and Luigi, along with Rabbids cosplaying as those familiar faces, essentially function as weaponized chess pieces during battle. To succeed, you’ll have to intelligently hop around the battlefield, finding optimal spots for dealing damage while dodging obstacles along the way. Like many games of its genre, Mario + Rabbids invites you in with levels that are easily beatable but engaging, then ratchets up the difficulty as the plot progresses.

Buy now: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, $60, Amazon

Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Super Mario Kart has always been a staple of Nintendo’s consoles, and there are plenty of reasons to pick up the latest installment for the Switch even if you’ve played Super Mario Kart 8. The Deluxe version introduces new characters like the Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy from Splatoon and an updated Battle Mode that includes new gameplay styles. Combine that with smaller updates like the ability to hold two items at a time and play with others without an extra controller, and you’ve got a game that substantially differentiates itself from its predecessor.

Buy now: Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, $55, Amazon

Stardew Valley

With long-running series like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, Nintendo has developed an audience for games of the life simulator variety. That’s part of the reason Chucklefish and ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley feels like such a natural fit on the Switch. Gameplay that involves planting crops as you watch your plot of land flourish into a prosperous farm is just the type of experience that works brilliantly on mobile. And since the Switch pulls double duty as a handheld device and a console, you can get that portability without the compromises that can come with using touchscreen-only controls.

Buy now: Stardew Valley, $15, Amazon

Rocket League

Race car driving meets soccer. Need I say more? The PlayStation 4’s most downloaded game of 2016 and one of the Xbox’s most-played games has made its way to the Nintendo Switch. The premise of Rocket League is almost painfully simple: chase down a giant ball and knock it into the goal. I say “chase down,” but nothing about a Rocket League match resembles a traditional car chase. What makes Rocket League so fun is that you’re constantly scrambling to jab the ball into the goal at any cost, which often means careening up the sides of the arena and tumbling through the air. The Switch version also has special Mario and Metroid-themed cars.

Buy now: Rocket League, $20, Amazon

Read more: Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aimé on Super Mario Odyssey, the Switch, and more

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Third-party game support has been Nintendo’s Achilles heel in the past, but it’s making a big effort to change that out of the gate with the Switch. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was among the first games to be announced for the Switch back in January. Bethesda’s massive open-world adventure game may be about six years old now, but since the Switch is portable, it’s the first time you’ll be able to stay glued to the game even when you’re not at home. It also takes advantage of the Joy-Con’s motion controls for things like lock-picking and aiming and firing your bow. Such minor differences may not be enough to convince previous players to return to Skyrim on the Switch, but it’s worth considering for Nintendo loyalists who may not have had the chance to play it yet.

Buy now: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, $60, Amazon

Arms

Imagine Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots on steroids, and you’ll have a pretty clear picture of what it’s like to play Arms. As its name implies, the game is all about your character’s arms and how you use them. The fighting game includes a roster of brawlers equipped with spring-loaded extendable arms that are used to pound enemies in a variety of ways. Each type of arm brings its own advantage: certain arms are capable of dealing multiple shots at once, while curved arms can be helpful for cornering opponents. Arms puts the Joy-Con’s motion controls to excellent use, although the game is plenty fun when played as a more traditional fighting title too.

Buy now: Arms, $55, Amazon

Splatoon 2

With new weapons to choose from, local multiplayer, and a new type of Horde-style co-op mode, Nintendo’s colorful and wonderfully messy shooter is even better on the Switch. Splatoon 2 doesn’t feel substantially different than its Wii U predecessor, and that’s a good thing. The crown jewel of this sequel is the new Salmon Run co-op option, which requires you to splat Salmonoid enemies and gather special eggs along the way in order to progress. Shooter fans picking up a Nintendo console for the first time in a while should definitely consider giving Splatoon 2 a try.

Buy now: Splatoon 2, $55, Amazon

Doom

Doom may be one of the most unexpected additions to Nintendo’s console we’ve seen so far, yet it translates surprisingly well to the Switch. Don’t expect the resolution to be as sharp as what you’d get on a more powerful console or PC, but this roaringly fast-paced shooter shines in handheld mode. There’s also some integration with the Joy-Cons motion controls for performing glory kills.

Buy now: Doom, $60, Amazon

Fire Emblem Warriors

Fire Emblem Warriors balances the Fire Emblem and Warriors universes in a way that’s sure to please fans of both series. As is the case with previous Fire Emblem games, directing your party tactfully across the battlefield is crucial for success in this game. The familiar pairing mechanic that lets you take advantage of your fellow combatant’s skills and attributes is also present in this game. Fans will appreciate the game’s History Mode, which is a set of maps based on classic Fire Emblem titles.

Buy now: Fire Emblem Warriors, $60, Amazon

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I Am Setsuna

I Am Setsuna is Square Enix’s ode to the beloved genre that made the company famous in the first place: Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs). But unlike many RPGs, I Am Setsuna isn’t about a hero’s journey. It’s a tale with grim overtones that revolves around a mercenary tasked with accompanying the titular character to her death. But it’s this bleakness combined with a satisfying combat system that can make I Am Setsuna so moving and memorable.

Buy now: I Am Setsuna, $55, Amazon

Sonic Mania

Sonic’s latest adventure feels perfectly at home on the Switch. It looks and feels just like the Genesis games you remember from your childhood, filled with tricky traps, dizzying loops that you traverse at breakneck speed, and familiar allies like Tails and Knuckles. Some of the stages even feel untouched, like Chemical Plant and Lava Reef. But there are enough surprises and extra flourishes that makes Mania feel like the perfect balance of freshness and nostalgia.

Buy now: Sonic Mania, $20, Amazon

Pokkén Tournament DX

Turn-based combat has been at the core of nearly every popular Pokémon video game. But when Pokkén Tournament debuted for the Wii U in 2016, players got their first taste of what it’s like to battle Pokémon melee-style outside of the few playable characters in Super Smash Bros. The new version of Bandai Namco’s Tekken and Pokémon mashup brawler for the Switch is even better, especially considering it addresses some of its predecessors’ biggest shortcomings. Most notably, Pokkén Tournament DX adds more playable Pokémon and a new three versus three team battle mode, among other changes.

Buy now: Pokkén Tournament DX, $60, Amazon

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