Nintendo has never been particularly known for supporting shooter games on its systems, particularly of the first-person variety, but there are actually a surprising number of excellent shooters you can play on the Switch right now. Some of these are ports of existing shooters now available on a handheld for the first time, while others were developed exclusively for Nintendo Switch. Whether you want a competitive hero shooter or a classic arcade shoot-‘em-up game, there is something available for you here. These are the best Nintendo Switch shooters, broken down by category.
Id Software and Bethesda surprised just about everyone when 2016’s Doom reboot managed to not only be worth 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, and its sequel
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 cross-play is supported across all systems. This means a Switch player can enjoy the game with his friends on Xbox, PS4, or even their mobile phone, so no one has to ever play by themselves again.
Read our full Fortnite review
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.
Isometric and arcade shooters
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.
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.
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.
Initially only available on Xbox One and PC, Cuphead is now also 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. 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.
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, and 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.
Contra: Rogue Corps is available on Nintendo Switch, but we didn’t include it on our list because it’s not only a bad Contra game, but a bad arcade shooter. 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 and 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. No longer will you have to play an entire game over again because you got stuck on one section. Who has time for that anymore?
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. By slowing downtime and quickly defeating enemies, you can salvage this time and make it to the end, but you have to be playing at your very best. 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.
- The best PS4 shooter games
- The best Nintendo Switch games (February 2020)
- The best PS4 games
- The best Xbox One games (February 2020)
- The best video games that got second chances through updates