Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The best Nintendo Switch shooter games

Nintendo was never known for creating consoles that were home to some of the best shooters, but Nintendo has turned that around with Switch games — offering a robust lineup of shooting games in 2D, 3D, first-person, and third-person, with a little something for everyone. You’ll find indie shooters on the system, some from AAA third parties, and even one from Nintendo itself. While the Switch doesn’t stand toe to toe with the PC, Xbox One, or PS4 shooter games, it has enough variety to make it a solid choice when playing games of that genre.

In this list, we’ll go through the best shooters on the platform — while highlighting what makes them so great. Let’s hope the Nintendo Switch keeps the momentum going as a great system for shooters for years to come.

Below are the best shooter games on the Nintendo Switch, including some free FPS games worth playing.

First-person shooters

Doom

Id Software and Bethesda surprised just about everyone when 2016’s Doom reboot managed to not only be worthy of the series’ name, but was miles better than we assumed it would be. The smooth action and brutal Glory Kills system were impressive on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, but the Nintendo Switch port managed to make the kill perfectly playable on a handheld as well. Despite lower resolutions and some muddy textures, Doom runs like a dream on Switch. Its sequel, Doom Eternal, will be coming to the platform as well, and there are even motion controls now via an update.

Read our full Doom review

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Bethesda’s other major first-person shooter franchise went in a very different direction with the 2014 soft-reboot Wolfenstein: The New Order, and its sequel Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is available in full on Nintendo Switch. Set primarily in an alternate-history United States taken over by Nazi Germany, the game’s story sees legendary hero BJ Blazkowicz slaughter fascists in even more entertaining ways and even offers information on his childhood and parents. It’s backed up by excellent first-person shooting gameplay with plenty of challenge, too, letting you play as either a one-man wrecking crew or as a stealthier agent who takes out his enemies from a distance.

Read our full Wolfenstein II review

Overwatch

It took a few years, but Overwatch finally released for Nintendo Switch in 2019, and despite some lower-resolution textures and a few loading issues, it’s a perfectly fine way to play the online shooter. The same characters, maps, and modes are intact, and with a Wi-Fi connection when you’re out and about, it’s the perfect way to keep playing and leveling up your account. The game’s blend of tactical team-based objective gameplay with all-out action never gets old, and the continued release of new characters and events has kept players on other platforms coming back for years. There are few games that have been able to pull that off, even as a mountain of imitators have attempted to steal Blizzard’s thunder.

Read our full Overwatch review

Superhot

Few shooter games are as creative as Superhot, and even fewer are able to execute on their ideas as well. Set in a cyberpunk-infused world with a user-interface similar to The Matrix, you battle against faceless enemies and are killed instantly if you take one hit. The twist in Superhot, however, is that time only moves when you move, so you can plan every step and attack in advance in order to take down your targets efficiently. It’s a simple gimmick that manages to be extremely effective, and the story that unfolds in between each stage had us invested and frequently laughing from beginning to the very end.

Bulletstorm

A first-person shooter that plays as an exaggerated parody of other first-person shooters, People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm didn’t make much of a splash when it initially released on last-generation consoles. That’s a shame, because the game’s irreverence, ridiculous story, and Skillshot system make it a breath of fresh air compared to all the gray-and-brown military shooters that have become so popular. The Switch version even includes the option to play as Duke Nukem for the entire game, if you’re into that, and you’ll definitely be saying the game’s dumb one-liners after you stop playing.

BioShock

Even 13 years after its original release, BioShock remains one of the best first-person shooters of all time — and thankfully, we can now play it on the go on Nintendo Switch. Its visual style is designed in such a way that it still looks great and will likely remain timeless. The underwater city of Rapture oozes with environmental storytelling, and its inhabitants are just as creepy as ever. We arguably don’t get enough good survival-horror games (or many at all), but BioShock is up there with the greats like Resident Evil and Dead Space. When you’re finished with the first one, you can play its follow-ups, BioShock 2 and BioShock: Infinite, as part of the collection on Switch.

Borderlands 2

We also don’t get enough shooter RPGs, but thankfully, the fan-favorite Borderlands 2 is available on Switch. It sends you on an insane quest for loot, with over-the-top weapons and a gameplay loop that will likely sink its teeth into you. It’s important for a game to feel good to play, and Borderlands 2 absolutely hits it out of the park in that department. Unlike a lot of shooters that focus on dark and realistic tones, Borderlands has always emphasized silly themes and sticks out due to its beautiful cel-shaded visuals. You can play the original Borderlands, The Pre-Sequel, and Borderlands 2, along with all of their DLC, on Nintendo Switch.

Third-person shooters

Splatoon 2

The only game developed by Nintendo itself on this list, Splatoon 2 is exactly what a Splatoon sequel needed to be: more Splatoon. The multiplayer gameplay remains fast-paced and intense as you destroy your enemies with ink blasters while also trying to cover the map in as much ink as possible, and the game’s multiplayer progression system and customization options keep you engaged despite matches playing out similarly each time. It also offers another creative and platforming-filled campaign mode filled with plenty of fish puns, as well as a new cooperative Salmon Run mode that will put your abilities to the test.

Read our full Splatoon 2 review

Fortnite

Fortnite Chapter 2

The biggest video game in the world can be played in your living room or while you’re sitting on the toilet. Fortnite: Battle Royale took the basic formula established in titles like The Culling and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and mixed in a structure-building element that lets you turn any location into a defendable fortress. Its goofy art style and continuous updates have changed the game drastically over time, and as a cross-play game, it is supported across all systems. This means a Switch player can enjoy the battle royale game with his friends on Xbox, PS4, or even their mobile phone, so no one has to ever play by themselves again. As one of the best free games on Switch, it also comes at no cost to you.

Read our full Fortnite review

Warframe

You can’t play Destiny 2 on Nintendo Switch, but you can play a game that millions of players seem to prefer: Warframe. The free-to-play science-fiction game blends elements of shooters and third-person action together, with a ton of content and customization options. It’s a free-to-play game done well, never feeling like it’s asking for your money before you can do well, and developer Digital Extremes even includes enormous ships you can fly through space to take on roaming enemies. You have very little to lose by trying it out, except the time you’ll spend playing it if it manages to get its hooks in you.

Resident Evil 4

Sure, Resident Evil 4 is often categorized as a survival-horror game, but c’mon — it’s a shooter, too. Many consider it to be the best Resident Evil game in the series, and while we like to lean more toward the newer entries like Resident Evil 7 and the recent remakes, Resident Evil 4 is a must-play. It masterfully treads the line between shooter and horror, with tons of campy characters and scary monsters to fall in love with. It’s especially satisfying to acquire new upgrades to make the main character, Leon Kennedy, even stronger. Even if this game has some outdated things like the depiction of its damsel in distress, Ashley, there’s still a lot to love in RE4. Word on the street is that it will be getting a remake treatment, due out in the next few years, so we might have that to look forward to.

Isometric and arcade shooters

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+

What a bizarre and wild game. The Binding of Isaac is a rougelike that we’re honestly surprised is even available on the Nintendo Switch, due to its heavy religious themes. It just goes to show how Nintendo — and video games as a whole — have evolved over time. In this game, you play as a naked baby named Isaac, who shoots horrifying enemies with his tears (no, we aren’t joking). It plays a lot like a dungeon crawler but features procedurally generated levels, in which no two runs are the same. Random drops will help (or hurt) your character as he climbs through each floor in this top-down shooter. It’s grotesque, difficult, and funny — and there isn’t anything else like it.

Ikaruga

One of the best modern shoot-‘em-up and bullet hell games available on any platform, Switch included, Ikaruga is absolutely perfect for the platform. The game only makes use of a few buttons, with your ship able to fire projectiles and switch its polarity in order to deal damage against certain enemies while absorbing attacks from others. The game served as the main source of inspiration for Nier: Automata, and while we wait for that game to finally release on the console, you can get a taste of its aesthetic and intensity here. Just don’t get too upset if you find yourself struggling to make it more than a few minutes in without dying.

Jamestown+

First released in 2011 as Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony, the alternate-history vertical shooter came to Switch in 2019 as Jamestown+. The game is set on Mars hundreds of years in the past and sees colonizing forces battling it out with an array of advanced weaponry. It has the classic intense feedback you want from a vertical shooter, and it uses a gold-collecting system to power special “Vaunt” abilities that give you momentary shielding and increased damage. Jamestown+ is so much more than meets the eye, and its soundtrack is a bizarre blend of golden gaming age nostalgia and frontier-era music that we’ve never heard before.

Nuclear Throne

Rogue-like games and shooters don’t usually mix, but no one told that to Vlambeer. The developer’s take on the top-down shooter lets you augment yourself with abilities via the nuclear wasteland, and backs it up with blistering shooting action as you make your way to the titular Nuclear Throne. You have tons of different weapons and explosives to choose from as you fight your way to your goal, and you’ll need to learn just a little bit more on each run if you want to ever be successful. Even just one slip-up can leave you vulnerable to shot from the game’s bizarre enemies, so never take your safety for granted.

Cuphead

Initially only available on Xbox One and PC, Cuphead is now an indie game on Nintendo Switch, and we’re so glad it is. The 2D shooter plays like a classic run-and-gun game mixed with a platformer, and its art style is reminiscent of classic Disney animated films like Steamboat Willie. Don’t let the cute exterior fool you, however, as it’s also one of the hardest games available on Switch. The Cuphead bosses show you no mercy, particularly as you approach the ending, and it will take every ounce of your abilities to make it to the final boss unscathed.

Rolling Gunner

A classic-styled horizontal shoot-‘em-up game made just for Nintendo Switch, Rolling Gunner will scratch that itch for anyone in love with Thunder Cross or Gradius. It isn’t going to hold your hand, as you’ll have to be vigilant in dodging bullets and lining up shots on enemy ships, but there are multiple difficulty options to appeal to more players. Its visual style falls somewhere between modern and retro, making use of enemies in the foreground and background. Though it isn’t trying to drastically reinvent the wheel, it understands what made classic shoot-‘em-up games so revered in the ‘90s and early 2000s.

Blazing Chrome

Blazing Chrome blasting enemies

You won’t see the Contra: Rogue Corps game on our list even though it is offered on Nintendo Switch because it’s a poor-quality Contra game for consoles and arcade shooters alike. Instead, we recommend the Contra-like Blazing Chrome, which replicates the gameplay of Contra III and Contra: Hard Corps to glorious effect. The bosses and enemies in the game are still relentless. You have a variety of different weapons to choose from, but what makes Blazing Chrome more playable than its predecessors is a generous checkpoint and continue system. You don’t have to worry about wasting time on starting your game over if you can’t get past one section.

Sine Mora EX

Like Ikaruga, Sine Mora EX essentially takes the classic aerial arcade shooter formula and offers one unique twist on it: Tying your own health to the game’s time limit. Get hit by enemies, and you won’t automatically explode, but the time you have to complete the level depletes. This poses a worthy challenge with no room for error as you must conquer your enemies as fast as possible to have enough time left to complete your mission. It’s wrapped up in an extremely dark apocalyptic story and even features voice acting and a separate arcade mode for those who just want to get to blasting without all the preamble.

Editors' Recommendations