Since the launch of the Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) service, most games on the Nintendo Switch require a subscription to play online. But that’s not true of all Switch games you can play online. You do not need a NSO subscription for any free Switch games, meaning you can still play with or against other people for free.
Curious about which free games on Switch you should try? Read on for the best free Nintendo Switch games and why you should give each one a try.
Note: Tetris 99 is technically free-to-play as long as you have an active NSO subscription. However, I can’t consider it a free Switch game since that price barrier is there. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning if you have NSO already. Tetris 99 is a free battle royale puzzle you can play on Switch against 98 other players at a time.
Free Switch Games 2019
Warframe is a third-person action shooter developed by Digital Extremes. Warframe originally debuted on PC in 2013, with the Nintendo Switch version launching in November 2018. Since then, Digital Extremes has worked hard to bring Warframe on Switch up to feature parity with the other console versions.
Warframe’s free-to-play model is one of the most generous on this list, offering everything in the game for free if you are willing to grind. The grind can be vary between different pieces of equipment, but the premium currency is tradeable between players. Warframe is worth trying if you like third-person action games at all. You’ll team up with other players to defeat several different types of aliens and hear an interesting story along the way.
Paladins is a first-person shooter that combines aspects of MOBA games with the class-based shooter. Each playable character in the game has their own unique guns and skills that can be used in battle. There are also a number of different combat modes. Paladins is one of the best free Switch games on the eShop because of the rotating cast of characters.
If you decide you like the game enough to support the developer Hi-Rez, you can purchase all current and future champions for $29.99. The game also includes a premium currency for cosmetic items in the game, though this is not necessary to enjoy the game.
The game seems like a clone of Overwatch, but it was in development first. If you like Overwatch’s gameplay, then you’ll definitely like Paladins.
Smite is a third-person multi-player battle arena (MOBA) game where players fight in a variety of game modes. Each player controls one God with special abilities. Smite offers a rotating cast of gods with different abilities. Gods are divided up into sub-classes familiar to most MOBA players with warriors, guardians, assassins, and mages to play.
The MOBA portion of the game is similar to other popular games like League of Legends or DOTA 2. Smite also features a 5v5 arena mode that is just a death match between gods. Smite is developed by Hi-Rez and offers the same package available to Paladins players. You can purchase all current and future gods for Smite on Nintendo Switch for only $29.99.
The game also features gems as a premium currency that can be used to unlock skins for gods or chests to receive a random prize.
Brawlhalla is a 2D battle arena game similar to Super Smash Bros. The base game is free to play on the Nintendo Switch and features both local singleplayer and multiplayer. Brawlhalla also features several different modes on Switch.
- Ranked 1v1
- Ranked 2v2
- 4-Player Free-For-All
- 8 Player 4v4 & FFA
- Local FFA
- Local Custom Teams
- Local SIngle Player Tournament
- Alternative Game Modes (Brawlball, Bombsketball)
- The Training Room
The developers of Brawlhalla say the game will always be 100% free-to-play with no pay-to-win advantages. Everything you can buy with real money in the game is completely cosmetic and includes character skins, podiums, and new KO effects. None of them have any affect on gameplay whatsoever.
5. Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor is a mobile MOBA that has been ported to the Nintendo Switch. The game is heavily inspired by League of Legends and LoL players will be familiar with most characters in AoV. The game is published by Tencent and continually adds new characters each week.
It is heavily free-to-play with transactions around buying heroes or arcana for your heroes. There are currently 78 heroes available in Arena of Valor at the time of writing. These heroes are divided into sub-categories including Warrior, Tank, Assassin, Mage, and Hunter.
The Switch version of the game takes advantage of the console’s processing power for improved graphics and animations, better lighting, smoother lines, and additional detail. Several adjustments have been made to make traditional controls work with the primarily touch-based game.
6. Gems of War
Gems of War is the newest puzzle RPG from the creators of Puzzle Quest. The game features a mixture of match-3 gaming and deck building with hundreds of units available. You can equip your hero with weapons and armor to grant bonuses while completing the quests in story mode.
The game also features a robust PVP aspect where guilds can compete against one another in weekly PVP tournaments. If you’re a fan of match-3 gaming then Gems of War is a pretty great if you can get into an active guild.
The micro-transactions are pushed heavily in this game, so be wary of that if you hate them. The game will periodically offer you two $49.99 packs in a pop-up screen. It can be annoying to see constant nagging to buy gems and PVP is absolutely pay-to-win in this game.
7. Fallout Shelter
Control an underground vault from Vault-Tec and manage your Dwellers. This combination of a Sim game meets management game is highly fun to play if you can ignore the micro-transactions. You oversee the entire vault, assigning jobs to your Dwellers and plan excursions out into the wastelands. Find new armor, gain experience, and earn more caps.
Vault life can sometimes be disrupted by threats that you will need to manage.
8. Galak-Z: Variant S
Galak-Z: Variant S is a sequel to the cult hit Galak-Z: The Dimensional. The game follows on from the events of the Void DLC for that game. It throws wise-cracking hero A-Tak and his crew into a fresh conflict with new aliens, space pirates, and the Imperial fleet.
The free-to-play aspect features bonuses for logging in to play every day. There are lots of timers in Galak-Z. Auto-healing your ship and decrypting relics are just two examples of gameplay features that are behind timers. You can buy premium currency called Crash Coins to speed up these timers, but that’s really the only purpose of them. It’s pretty generous compared to most free Switch games 2019.
Fortnite is a popular third-person battle royale game developed by Epic Games. You can play Fortnite on Nintendo Switch with other Fortnite players on other platforms. The game is the most popular game in the world right now, thanks to its unique combination of battle royale and building.
Fortnite popularized the Battle Pass as a new way to operate free-to-play games. Battle Pass premium purchasers get more skins and rewards for completing their Battle Pass. The Battle Pass resets every season, which lasts about two months or so. A Battle Pass isn’t needed to enjoy Fortnite, but you will unlock more skins for your avatar with a premium pass.
10 . Pokémon Quest
Pokémon Quest first debuted on mobile devices but it is now available to Nintendo Switch gamers. You can download the game for free and experience what many consider a mash-up of Pokémon Rumble and Minecraft. The blocky Pokémon characters form a party that can be used to defeat challenges and acquire higher level Pokémon.
You can go on expeditions to gather new materials and fight wild Pokémon. At the Base Camp, you will train your new Pokémon, cook, and decorate your Base Camp. You need in-game energy points to go on an expedition. A new trip recharges every 30 minutes in the real world. All 150 original Pokémon are available in the game, with players picking between Charizard, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle as starters.
Since our list of free Switch games went live there are now multiple new free games to try. Check out this list of newly added free games for the Nintendo Switch.
Prime World Defenders
Prime World Defenders is a great free-to-play tower defense game on Nintendo Switch. Players can level up their towers by combining cards to create stronger defenses. A mixture of enemies that can only be effected by certain towers helps to keep the game from getting too stale. There are micro-transactions in the game, but it is perfectly enjoyable without spending much at all.
Eternal Card Game
Eternal is a deck-building strategy card game that draws much of its looks from Hearthstone, but feels more like Magic to play. Players who have switched between the two praise Eternal’s generous microtransaction model. Many players feel as though the cost to obtain a competitive deck in Hearthstone’s ranked mode is just too greedy. If you agree, you might like to try the new card game on Switch.
Dawn of the Breakers
Dawn of the Breakers is a free-to-play mobile-style JRPG. The combat is pretty basic with chaining effects and combos. Players move through a game board to progress. new breakers can be unlocked and added to the team through a gacha mechanic with low drop-rates. Gems are required to make a gacha pull. The game is pretty generous with its premium currency and is worth a try if you like beat ’em up games.
Asphalt 9: Legends
Race on over 70 tracks based on real-world locations. Players can collect 50 of the world’s fastest racers in Asphalt 9. The game also features a car editor for getting the exact look you want for your favorite cars. Nintendo Switch players can get exclusive BMW Z4 skin in Joy-Con colors by earning 6 flags in career mode. Career mode features over 60 seasons and 800 races. There are limited-time challenges and exclusive rewards on offer every day.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 Lite
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 Lite is more of a demo than a free game, but it is a very generous demo that’s worth checking out. The game features the first five episodes of story mode, online matches, and all the content of the Hero Colosseum for free. The game supports up to 6 players simultaneously over local wireless. Stand with Goku and his friends as you battle a new enemy warping the world of Dragon Ball.
Dauntless is a free to play Monster Hunter alternative that finally arrived on Switch. The weapon sets and monsters available differ enough for Dauntless to be interesting. Perhaps the best description for this game is ‘Monster Hunter Lite.’ It is not as in-depth as Monster Hunter, but it is just as fun to play with friends. Just be aware the micro-transactions in the game are there to cut out the wait.