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The best single-player Nintendo Switch games

The Nintendo Switch has continued to dominate the video game world thanks to its portable design, along with its ability to be played on a TV. On top of that, the Switch is home to one of the best game lineups in history, ranging from multiplayer experiences, to those that can be played solo, and some in between. While multiplayer and online titles have huge audiences, single-player games have been a staple of video games since the medium began — leading to some unforgettable experiences.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at the best single-player games on Nintendo Switch. This list is made up of games that can be played offline, even if some have a multiplayer component or online functionality. We’ll cover lots of different genres — from RPGs, to platformers, to puzzle games — so hopefully there will be a little something for everyone.

These are the best single-player Nintendo Switch games.

Recommended reading:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition

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Let’s start off with a game that was not originally designed for Nintendo Switch. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt first launched for PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2015 and went on to become one of the most beloved RPGs of all time thanks to its beautiful sprawling open-world, interesting characters and story, and the sheer amount of things to do. In 2019, CD Projekt RED partnered with Saber Interactive and Nintendo to bring The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition to the Switch, and it’s a glorious achievement.

This version comes with all the previously released DLC and expansions — including Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine — playable either on the go or on your TV. Of course, it doesn’t look and run as well on Switch as it does on other platforms, but it’s miraculous to see such a graphically intensive game available on a handheld device. It’s a great RPG to get lost in, with more than 150 hours of content for you to enjoy.

Read our full The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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The entire world was going through a rough time in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s one of the reasons Animal Crossing: New Horizons was so beloved, as it brought so many of us together during a hard time. It’s a game that is approachable to players of all skill levels — even those who have never touched a controller in their lives.

And it offered a way for us to explore tropical islands during a time when traveling was not an option. Its social aspects can’t be ignored, either. Being able to hang out with your fellow villagers or even other real players still is an absolute joy. But, of course, you can still have a blast with New Horizons while playing solo, and for that it deserves a place on this list.

Read our full Animal Crossing: New Horizons review

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

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The tactical RPG genre isn’t the most popular in the world, but it has a highly dedicated audience that buys pretty much everything it has to offer. One of the more popular games that falls into that category is Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which features the classic grid-based mechanics — but this time, features three distinct houses to choose from (hence the name), all of which are part of a school. These houses all feature different characters and story, meaning you’ll have plenty to do if you want to see everything the game has to offer.

The great thing about this particular entry is that it’s one of the most approachable of the series, offering various difficulties and modes for all skill levels. It also features a major social aspect like the Persona games, wherein you can “hang out” with friends to make them more effective in battle. This is yet another single-player adventure with potentially hundreds of hours of things to do.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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We probably don’t need to explain too much about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s a classic RPG that has made its way to pretty much every modern platform available, including Nintendo Switch. Skyrim can be as deep as you want it to be, with lots of different options for nearly every playstyle from stealth, to long range magic user, and of course traditional hand-to-hand combat.

This version has everything that comes in the Special Edition, including the Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn expansions. Plus, the Nintendo Switch version has some fancy Zelda-related gear such as the Master Sword, Hylian Shield, and Link’s tunic. You can also utilize the Switch’s motion controls in this version, which is a lot of fun.

Read our full The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review

Super Mario Odyssey

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For some reason, many Nintendo fans seem to overlook just how good Super Mario Odyssey is. It’s a game that takes some risks, expanding on the tried and true Super Mario formula, making it one of the most refreshing games in the series. Odyssey features large open levels with various themes, offering a ton of variety — not just aesthetically, but in its gameplay, as well.

These levels feature a slew of secrets for you to discover, many of which range in how difficult they are to find. One of the new features in this game is the Cappy hat, which can be thrown to “possess” many of the creatures you come across, including a T-rex! This game is pure joy and features one of the most impressive musical sections of all time (we won’t spoil that here) during the New Donk City level.

Read our full Super Mario Odyssey review

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

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Here’s a game most people didn’t expect to like — let alone love. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn-based tactics game in the same vein as XCOM. In it, you can play as familiar characters from the Mushroom Kingdom, including Mario, Peach, or Yoshi, along with their Rabbids counterparts. Each character has their own unique abilities, which can be used to tackle various scenarios in many ways.

Kingdom Battle’s main gameplay loop is its shining aspect, which puts you in the shoes of a squad as you maneuver around the levels in a turn-based fashion. As you complete levels, you’re rewarded with XP, which can be turned into new abilities and gear. It’s a fairly sophisticated game in terms of its many systems and surely shocked many players with its high quality, especially since it wasn’t actually made by Nintendo.

Read our full Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle review

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019) is a remake of the 1993 Game Boy game of the same name, and it’s one of the finest in the series. Part of what makes this remake so good is that it keeps the integrity of the original, while adding lots of modern touches that make it playable today. Most noticeably different is the game’s chibi art style, which almost resembles little toys you’d play with as a kid.

But above all else, this game is absolutely fascinating. It’s one of the weirdest Zelda games, featuring a range of quirky and dark themes. On the surface, it seems like your average Zelda adventure, and it uses this to its advantage to hook you in. Like most Zelda games, Link’s Awakening is ripe with wonderful characters, smart dungeons, funny writing, and satisfying gameplay.

Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review

Pokémon Sword and Shield

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The Pokémon series has always been known for captivating its audience in a single-player setting, and that rings true with Sword and Shield. In these games, players are sent to the Galar region, which is based loosely on the U.K. It follows the same main formula as the other games, wherein players must journey across the land to defeat the Gym Leaders to become a Pokémon master.

Even though it doesn’t stray too far from its roots, Sword and Shield does stand apart from the other entries, particularly thanks to its new Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing mechanics. This new addition allows your Pokémon to grow to a gargantuan size, upping the ante when you battle it out against other trainers. These games also include a large wild area that grants you more control over the camera as opposed to the traditional isometric view we’ve grown used to. We also recommend checking out the game’s Isle of Armor DLC when you get a chance!

Read our full Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Isle of Armor DLC review

Luigi’s Mansion 3

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The Luigi’s Mansion series has always been underrated, but thankfully the third entry has garnered more of an audience on Switch. In Luigi’s Mansion 3, you explore a large hotel while trying to stay safe from the numerous ghosts that stand in your way. Its main mechanic sees you using your flashlight and Poltergust vacuum to suck up ghosts while visiting the many rooms available in the hotel.

Clearing out each room and collecting treasure hardly gets old, and it’s addicting when you get in the swing of things. There’s so much Luigi’s Mansion 3 has to offer, from boss battles, smart puzzles, atmospheric stages to explore, and a ton of humor that gives it personality. Luigi is a fantastic lead and is a nice change of pace compared to his more confident brother.

Octopath Traveler

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Often times, when we think of classic SNES art styles, games like Octopath Traveler come to mind — but in reality, this game looks way better than anything the SNES had to offer. Octopath Traveler is a turn-based RPG with one of the most gorgeous art styles available on the Nintendo Switch — featuring eight playable characters with various abilities and backgrounds.

The turn-based combat works somewhat like you’d expect, but thanks to being able to store boost points, you can stack your attacks in a smart way. This adds an additional layer of strategy and turns the system on its head. While the playable characters’ stories don’t differ as much as many had hoped, the overarching narrative and dialogue of this game is enough to keep you around. As is exploring the beautiful world of Octopath Traveler, which is full of little things to discover here and there.

Dark Souls Remastered

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Being able to play the original Dark Souls on Nintendo Switch is special. It’s a game that is near and dear to many hearts in the video game community, and with the release of Dark Souls Remastered, you can play it on the go. This version features slightly enhanced visuals and quality-of-life updates while maintaining the foundation of the original.

Sure, it doesn’t look the best — especially on Switch — but even the first game looked rough when it launched. Its visuals aren’t what has attracted so many players around the world. This version keeps the tight, heart-pounding gameplay, with its superb level design, and atmospheric storytelling, making it one of the best action RPGs of all time. It has shown signs of age, but that doesn’t take away from just how important Dark Souls is from a design point of view.

Hollow Knight

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When it comes to 2D Metroidvanias, few games even come close to the quality of Hollow Knight. It borrows some of the ideas introduced in Dark Souls, like the ability to retrieve your lost items when you die, as well as its sense of atmosphere — but done from a 2D perspective. The game is designed in such a way that encourages you to explore while retreading your steps to past areas once you’ve collected a certain item and ability.

While it’s absolutely challenging in its combat, it feels manageable if you put in the work. There’s something so deeply unsettling about Hollow Knight, but that’s what makes it so good. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you like 2D action platformers with deep mechanics and an emphasis on exploration, you’ll feel right at home with this game.

Celeste

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What an extraordinary game Celeste is. On the surface, it’s a challenging 2D platformer, but even after spending just 30 minutes with it, you’ll discover it’s so much more. The main idea in Celeste is to overcome challenge. In the game, you literally are tasked with climbing a mountain — which serves as a metaphor for real-life obstacles.

That’s why it’s fitting to see Celeste ramp up its difficulty, offering a fair challenge that never seems impossible. The entire premise is to overcome the challenge and climb the mountain as you learn to discover yourself. Not only is its premise striking, but its gameplay is superbly satisfying, with tight, responsive controls that feel right. We won’t spoil its story here, but suffice to say that there’s a reason Celeste won so many Game of the Year awards in 2018.

Read our full Celeste review

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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Many of the games on this list fall into the RPG (or JRPG) category, and we’ve got another to add to the lineup: Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This entry extrapolates on the ideas introduced in the original game, but adds a different set of characters and a whole new world to explore. Of course, aside from its interesting characters and story, the main thing you’ll notice with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is its combat mechanic, which resembles that of an MMORPG, with an auto-attack feature.

This means you’re in charge of selecting the attacks, while managing health and positioning, based on the members of your party. This makes it feel like a mix between real-time and turn-based combat, giving it its own identity. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re into that style of combat, you can easily fall down the rabbit hole of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Bayonetta 2

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Sure, Bayonetta 2 originated on the Wii U, but considering hardly anyone owned that system (and even fewer people bought this game on it), we wanted to give the Switch version some credit. To put it bluntly, this game is over-the-top action at its finest. The first fight of the game takes place atop a jet as it flies into the city — just to give you some context of how wild Bayonetta 2 is. The combat is very much like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, with an emphasis on combos, chaining together multiple moves, and using your witch powers.

We also very much appreciate the level variety, which range from open spaces to more claustrophobic areas. The levels themselves are full of secrets to find, as well, giving you an incentive to explore and discover goodies like upgrades or currency to buy items. This is truly one of the best action games of all time due in part to its combat, which has a certain flow and rhythm once you get the hang of it.

Read our full Bayonetta 2 review

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Definitive Edition

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For our last JRPG of the list, we wanted to give a shout out to Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Definitive Edition, the version that released for Nintendo Switch. This definitive edition is made up of the base Dragon Quest XI game but with lots of added features and includes over 120 hours of things to do. One of the most noticeable improvements with this release is its orchestrated soundtrack, which was not present in the original game (and was something many fans griped about since many prefer the orchestral sounds over the synth sounds of the original).

Aside from all that, you get turn-based JRPG goodness you’ve grown to expect from the series with Dragon Quest XI. It has a large world to explore, lots of secrets, and of course, a party made up of memorable characters. We also love how the story isn’t exactly what you’d expect — offering some twists and turns that give it a more memorable narrative. There’s even the option to play the entire game in a 2D pixelated mode, paying homage to the classic entries, which is a nice touch.

Read our full Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition review

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

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You might not be into the Musou style genre, but what if it were themed around Zelda? That’s the case in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a game that serves as a mashup between the Dynasty Warriors series with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. What’s special about this game is that it doesn’t just play like a Warriors game with a Zelda skin over top — no, instead, it’s clear Breath of the Wild was in mind from the very start, as it borrows many of its features such as the Rune abilities.

It still includes the staple hack ‘n slash gameplay, but there’s enough variety added, along with a memorable cast of characters to keep things fresh. There’s so much to do in Age of Calamity, and more is on the horizon, thanks to the game’s season pass, which will give players more characters and story content to enjoy over the course of the year.

Read our full Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity review

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

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In Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo implemented multiple diorama-style levels that allowed you to play as Captain Toad. That idea was so beloved that it became its own game in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. If you’ve grown tired of standard 3D platformers and want to try something new, this is the game for you. The twist is that Captain Toad can’t jump, leading to some interesting and well-designed levels that radiate creativity.

The satisfaction of fully exploring each level to gather all the treasure never gets old, so if you’re a completionist, you should give this game a try. It’s also stunningly cute, with silly character designs across the board. The boss battles are smart, the music is catchy, and much like the Mario games, Treasure Tracker is just pure joy.

Read our full Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker review

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

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When it comes to 2.5D platformers, it doesn’t get much better than Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. In it, you have many of the Kong family members to choose from, all of whom have their own unique abilities. The levels themselves are absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful oceans, snowy mountains, jungles, and everything in between. These levels are home to hidden secrets that you’ll absolutely want to go out of your way to find — especially since they might help you gain access to special items. This gives you incentive to be thorough when making your way through each level.

In the Switch version, you also gain access to the new Funky character, who is playable in the New Funky Mode. This makes things easier, giving you extra health and a double jump so you don’t get as frustrated. That’s the thing about Tropical Freeze — it’s tough as nails, but the Funky mode does wonders and makes it more enjoyable. Everything from the visuals, to the sounds, and the platforming is top notch. We especially love how the music is tied to each of the stages, making them feel much more personal. In short, this game is a blast and is even better on Nintendo Switch.

Read our full Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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And finally, what Nintendo Switch list would be complete without The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? This game took so many risks and went against the traditional Zelda format. To many, this might be a negative aspect, but for most, it was the reset the series so desperately needed. It features a massive open world ranging in different biomes, from the desert, to a massive area full of lava, beaches, swamps, and pretty much everything else you can think of.

It also has one of the most open-ended approaches to design, giving you free reign to tackle things in the order you choose. In fact, if you want, you can run immediately to the final boss of the game right from the start, though we don’t recommend doing that. It’s a game that’s full of wonder and discovery, made up of so many unexpected little moments that are all worth discussing. Even more impressive is that you can climb nearly any surface, which enhances your ability to explore. Instead of dungeons, Breath of the Wild features 120 Shrines, all of which lean into a certain gameplay theme. There’s a reason why this game is still regarded as one of the best Switch games to this day, and it deserves every ounce of praise given to it.

Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review

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