Part of the Nintendo Switch‘s appeal is its versatility. You can play it at home on the TV and on the go in portable mode. This versatility also applies to multiplayer games, which can be played with single Joy-Con controllers, in tabletop mode, and wirelessly both online and locally.
And while the Switch might not be the competitive powerhouse that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are, it still offers an incredible library of multiplayer games. In fact, the portable console is home to some of the best co-op experiences we’ve seen this generation. Here are our favorites, whether you’re a fan of raucous racing games, mellow simulators, or monster-hunting titles of the finest caliber.
Everybody loves board games, but it’s easy for your collection to grow out of control. Before you know what has happened, your entire closet is overrun with dozens of boxes, making it a nightmare to pull down a game and get it set up. Clubhouse Games simplifies that process. This new title from Nintendo includes 51 hit board games, card games, and a random assortment of other mini-games that are fun for the whole family.
Clubhouse Games makes it easy to jump into classics such as Mancala, Dominoes, Backgammon, Chess, Chinese Checkers, and Four-in-a-Row at the press of a button. Games can be played in a variety of modes — including TV, tabletop, and handheld — and support up to four players.
The next step in the Minecraft franchise is here, and it doesn’t disappoint. Minecraft Dungeons is a drastic departure from the original title, but it still features its trademark charm and accessibility.
Players of all skill levels will enjoy this action-packed romp through the blocky world of Minecraft Dungeons, as they slowly collect an arsenal of powerful weapons to take down the evil Arch-Illager. It may not be as difficult as other ARPGs, but it’s one of the most entertaining dungeon crawlers on the market. The game is best played with a few friends, so grab an extra controller and start slaying those Creepers while you await the game’s next DLC.
Streets of Rage 4
Anyone looking for a trip down memory lane should look no further than Streets of Rage 4. This title manages to stick to the beat-em-up formula from the original three games without feeling like a title that’s two decades old. Dotemu has done a wonderful job keeping the heart of Streets of Rage intact, while simultaneously revitalizing the dormant franchise.
The game is short — and can be finished in a single playthrough — but with multiple playable characters and unlockable content, you’ll more than get your money’s worth. It can become a bit challenging during the later levels, so running through the game with a partner is highly recommended. Better yet, teammates who are effectively communicating can pull off some beautiful combos, clearing entire rooms in a matter of seconds.
Why create the perfect village, complete with a lavish mansion, if it’s only going to be populated by a single player? Like other Animal Crossing games, Animal Crossing: New Horizons allows other players to enter a village, either online or in a local cooperative mode. This only requires a single Joy-Con controller per player, too, so the stock Switch and the game are enough to get started.
Islands are shared per console, meaning that if multiplayer players enjoy the game in the same household, they’ll have to make room for each other. It seems like a nuisance, but learning to live with another person is an important part of maturing, especially when they can build wherever they want.
Read our full Animal Crossing: New Horizons review
Fully playable as a single-player game like the other Darksiders titles, Darksiders Genesis is the first in the series to also offer cooperative play. Two players can choose to control either War or newcomer Strife in an isometric action game that plays like a mix of Diablo and classic Darksiders. The two Horsemen of the Apocalypse control completely differently from each other, with Strife focusing on ranged combat while War does damage up close.
Darksiders Genesis also offers deep replayability because of its Arena missions, which play out as mini horde modes that task players with defeating enemies as quickly as possible. It’s surprisingly deep, and just as fun as the main levels.
You can’t play Monster Hunter: World on Nintendo Switch, but Phoenix Labs has created an alternative that not only scratches the same itch, but is completely free to play. Dauntless is an online action/role-playing game that lets you craft your own armor and weapons and face off against powerful enemies in cooperative play. It isn’t shy about where it took its influences, but continued updates, a gorgeous art style, creative character designs, and an intriguing world all make it the perfect substitute. Because it’s free, you don’t have much to lose by giving it a try.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
The latest game in Nintendo’s favorite series about a terrified plumber searching for his missing friends, Luigi’s Mansion 3 features a lengthy single-player campaign mode like the first two games, but you can also play through the story with a friend by your side as trusty and viscous “Googi,” making puzzle-solving and combat more entertaining and easier for less-experienced players. You’ll be using Googi almost constantly, so the second player will have plenty to do.
For more dedicated multiplayer gameplay, you can check out the cooperative ScareScraper, either online or with local friends, or compete in minigames over at ScreamPark. Both are the perfect way to get everyone in on the ghost-hunting action, if they aren’t too scared by the spookiness.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
The classic handheld game series arrived on Nintendo Switch in 2018 with Pokémon: Let’s Go, but that version of Pokémon heavily streamlined the role-playing mechanics to make the experience more accessible. In Pokémon Sword and Shield, it’s back to the deeper battling and training we expect from the franchise, and you can battle against friends to prove who is the ultimate trainer.
As with the other mainline Pokémon games, the latest two feature exclusive monsters that can only be acquired in their respective versions. The only way around this is to trade with your friends, so you’ll have no choice but to make a couple of them to get a full Pokédex. The latest DLC, Isle of Armor, adds to the fun, providing more Pokémon and sidequests, as well as an entirely new region to explore.
Super Mario Maker 2
The traditional 2D platforming Super Mario Bros. series has long been a favorite for cooperative play, and Super Mario Maker 2 continues that tradition with the ability to complete courses with other players, or design them together online so your dastardly creations are the work of two villains instead of just one. Without proper communication, you might not succeed, but those working in tandem can cut down on the time needed to make a stage. Will one of you focus on Thwomps while the other cooks up a switch-heavy nightmare? Only you can know for sure.
Though not traditionally “multiplayer,” the best part of Super Mario Maker 2 is heading online to play the courses others from around the world have designed. Just a few days after launch, we were already seeing incredibly creative stages that included elements we couldn’t dream of being in a Mario game. Of course, there were also a lot of troll-heavy stages that want to trick you, but the cream rises to the top.
Read our full Super Mario Maker 2 review
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The greatest Mario Kart game Nintendo has made, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers an endless supply of multiplayer fun. Well, and rage of course. No one likes to get hit by a blue shell by some slacker after maintaining the lead for the entire race. Boasting split-screen and wireless local multiplayer and online support, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe truly is the most fun when played alongside friends and family.
The impressive tracklist, which includes courses both old and new, and slick, easy-to-learn controls make it a perfect party game for both casual gamers and Switch enthusiasts. The competitive battle modes offer nice alternatives to the traditional races as well. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a must-buy Switch game.
Read our full Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review
The sequel to one of the Wii U’s most surprising games happens to be one of the best Switch games you can play today. In Splatoon 2, you take control over an Inkling with a penchant for covering large swaths of Inkopolis with paint. The default game mode is a 4v4 battle that tasks teams with spreading paint using various guns and brushes. Turf Wars is a fun spin on the territory control format.
Additional competitive modes tweak the formula, such as a roaming tower defense mode with an area that gradually moves. Along with competitive multiplayer, co-op is available via Salmon Run, a three-round match objective-based match against the CPU. The only downside of Splatoon 2′s robust multiplayer suite is that it doesn’t support split-screen multiplayer. You either have to play online or through local wireless with multiple Switch consoles. Still, it’s a wonderful experience.
Read our full Splatoon 2 review
Do you enjoy yelling directions at your significant other, brother, sister, or grandfather who has never played a video game before? Yes? Great, then you should absolutely play Overcooked 2, the cooperative cooking game that ruins weekends and family get-togethers. Two to four players race against the clock to prepare dishes for hungry patrons. You must chop, fry, and place ingredients onto plates before racing finished meals over to the counter.
Ingredients can be tossed to teammates as well, but the frantic pace of the orders makes chaos just one wrong move away. Not to mention the kitchens constantly shift, creating a pseudo-platforming game on top of the already tall task at hand. Once your relationships are ruined, you can compete in a multiplayer to prove who was the weakest link. Overcooked 2 is a blast, even if it’s extremely stressful. It supports both local and online multiplayer.
Mario Tennis Aces
As the only Mario sports game currently on Switch, Mario Tennis Aces is really a no-brainer. This simple to pick up tennis sim follows the mantra of all Mario sports games before it. It’s earnest in its dedication to recreating the sport while spinning it enough to give it an arcade feel.
Each character has a different style of play, but all have special moves and the power to break their opponent’s rackets. The various courts, too, introduce some zaniness to the traditionally proper sport. Mario Tennis Aces has both local and online multiplayer, including multi-round tournaments.
Read our full Mario Tennis Aces review
This sandbox game needs no introduction at this point. A decade old, Minecraft still delights millions of gamers today. The Nintendo Switch version lets you bring your created worlds on the go, some of which may be infused with Nintendo-themed decorations and characters.
Up to four players can occupy a world in local multiplayer, building and exploring together in harmony. Online multiplayer, including cross-platform play, lets you explore and inhabit worlds both near and far. The only limit in Minecraft is your imagination, and multiple imaginations working together are better than one.
Super Mario Party
Super Mario Party has been a Nintendo console staple since the Nintendo 64 era. With more than a dozen entries to its name, chances are you’ve played the interactive board game series before. On Switch, Super Mario Party has the classic Party mode, complete with over 80 minigames to partake in between turns. The four main boards are dynamic, making each round interesting.
Super Mario Party also adds Partner Party, a 2v2 mode with a grid-based movement system. As a pleasant alternative, Partner Party relies on strategy more than the main mode. Super Mario Party also has a rhythm minigame mode and a co-op river raft mode. Though its online multiplayer is very minimalistic, Super Mario Party is an ideal game to play on family game nights. Up to four players can play at once, but only single Joy-Con controllers can be used (you’ll need four total). So no handheld mode or Pro controller support for this party, sadly.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Puyo Puyo Tetris combines two beloved puzzle franchises to create one of the greatest grid-based puzzler packages of all time. Supporting both local and online multiplayer for up to four players, you can play under a variety of rulesets, including a challenging mode that drops both Puyo Puyos and Tetr0minoes on the same grid.
You can also play each puzzle game individually, so if you just want to play Tetris or Puyo Puyo, the option is available. While Tetris 99, the awesome free-to-play (for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers) battle royale spin on Tetris, is also a viable puzzle option on Switch, you play that with 98 other strangers. It doesn’t have the intimate feel of Puyo Puyo Tetris.
Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together!
Snipperclips: Cut it Out, Together! is one of the Switch’s most innovative multiplayer games. Two players take control of anthropomorphic pieces of paper. Each stage is a small puzzle that, to complete, requires some quality teamwork. This usually means snipping portions of each other with scissors to create the correct shapes to retrieve objects, press buttons, or reach inaccessible areas.
Snipperclips has a cute aesthetic, with each level feeling like the page of a notebook filled with different utensils. A party mode for up to four players introduces some feverish competition, such as a great basketball minigame. Snipperclips is as clever as it is funny, and Snipperclips Plus adds dozens of new stages and new ways to experience previously completed levels.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is certainly the ultimate fighting game on Nintendo Switch. The iconic Nintendo brawler with fighters from franchises both near and dear to Nintendo and outside of the Nintendo’s sphere altogether is a game you and your friends could easily sink hundreds of hours into.
With tons of stages and characters to choose from — with even more on the way — Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is always a dynamic experience, especially when enjoyed with friends and family. Ultimate supports up to eight-player multiplayer both online and offline (on a single console!). The real question isn’t whether you should buy it, but if you and your competitors will agree on whether items should be turned on or off.
Read our full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review
Diablo III: Eternal Collection
Diablo III: Eternal Collection compiles the 2012 base game and all of the excellent post-launch DLC into one package. The dungeon crawling action RPG focuses heavily on loot, offering a rewarding loop for those who take the time to replay areas and engage with the seasonal content updates. Though Diablo III is fun solo, it becomes an even more addictive experience when you squad up with three friends either locally or online. It’s one of the best multiplayer RPGs on Switch.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
When you buy a Nintendo Switch, one of the first things you should do is download Fortnite: Battle Royale. It’s free-to-play and remains one of the most popular games on the platform. The battle royale game that focuses on building on the fly certainly isn’t for everyone, but if the loop grips its claws into you, well, you’re in for hundreds if not thousands of hours of online multiplayer fun. Fortnite also doesn’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to play, so it’s truly a free experience.
Read our full Fortnite: Battle Royale review
The Jackbox Party Pack 3
The Jackbox Party Pack 3 is a party game that contains five unique board games for up to eight players to compete in. There’s Trivia Murder Party, a quiz show that requires you to compete against a diabolical killer; Guesspionage, a clever guessing game; Fakin’ It, a game revolving around deception, and more. Like Super Mario Party, The Jackbox Party Pack 3 is a great choice for game nights, especially for adults.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle‘s multiplayer isn’t available from the jump, but not long until your adventure in this tactical strategy game you’ll unlock the Buddy Dome, a separate campaign for two players.
Each player controls two characters in the objective-based campaign. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is an excellent and hilarious strategy game that excels even further when played cooperatively. This is also a great game to use to introduce the genre to younger players.
Read our full Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle review
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe includes both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U, two excellent Mario sidescrollers ported from the Wii U. All of the more than 100 levels can be played with up to four players cooperatively, and the two new playable characters, Nabbit and Toadette, make the game easier for younger players. In addition to the main campaigns, there are a few competitive multiplayer modes to add to the fun.
Read our full New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe review
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 is a great spiritual successor to NBA Jam. The 2v2 arcade basketball game has all of the current NBA teams, a ton of current players and legends such as Michael Jordan.
Up to four players can play at once (two on each team) in fast-paced games that feature tons of high-flying, ridiculous dunks and zany power-ups that create the over-the-top gameplay that NBA Jam fans have missed for so long.
For fans of more traditional basketball sims, NBA 2K19 is the better choice, as it adheres to the realism of 5v5 basketball. But for those who want a casual sports game, look no further than NBA 2K Playgrounds 2.
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