The Nintendo Switch has an amazing and constantly growing library of great games, many of which can be played completely for free. In the past, free-to-play games were often considered to be low quality and/or too repetitive. However, the best free-to-play games on Switch are nothing to scoff at, offering hours of entertaining gameplay at no upfront cost.
Here, we will be highlighting a variety of free Switch games that are worth checking out. Make sure to check back as we’ll updating this list in the future with new entries. If you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
Developer: Digital Extremes
Publisher: Digital Extremes
Warframe is a fast-paced third-person shooter that’s managed to stick around and remain popular for quite some time. You control a space ninja as they explore sprawling levels set on different planets while battling waves of alien and mechanical enemies.
Although that may sound like a recipe for repetition, Warframe is able to remain enjoyable by offering an array of different activities for players to check out at any time and a massive selection of 30 fully customizable character classes. The most recent Saint of Altra update added new missions, weapons and armor, and introduced the kinetic speedster warframe “Gauss”.
Developer: Evil Mojo Games
Publisher: Hi-Rez Games
Paladins has become a lot more popular since releasing for the Switch, amassing a community of over 25 million players. The fantasy-themed hero shooter sees players competing in 5v5 team battles in familiar game modes like Siege, Team Deathmatch and Onslaught.
The main appeal stems from the game’s diverse roster of 40+ “Champions” combined with its unique deck building system that allows players to customize a Champion’s abilities to fit their playstyle. Paladins also happens to be one of the few Switch games to support crossplay with both other consoles and PC, making it easier to play with friends.
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Epic Games
Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode continues to dominate as the most popular free-to-play game around, so it came as no surprise when a Switch version was announced. The game sees players dropping down on a huge map with an ever-shrinking circle where they will have to loot, shoot, and build on-the-fly bases in order to have a shot at being the last player standing.
Fortnite continues to benefit from numerous QoL updates, crossover events with popular properties, rotating Daily Challenges, and dynamic environments that change from season to season. Finding a match is never a challenge thanks to the game’s insanely large playerbase as well as crossplay support across all platforms.
Here we have another Battle Royale-style game centered on the infamously addictive puzzle series Tetris. Tetris 99 sees up to 99 players competing in rounds of traditional Tetris in real-time, with the goal of clearing as many lines as quickly as possible in order to send “garbage rows” to other players’ boards, often leading to elimination.
Players have the option to focus on one opponent or have the computer automatically target enemies based on a criteria. Matches can ramp up pretty quickly and end up feeling a lot more intense than you would expect in a puzzle game. Although Tetris 99 is exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online, additional DLC introduces offline CPU Battles and Marathon, an endless version of Tetris with scorekeeping.
Developer: Game Freak
While we wait for the release of Sword and Shield, fans might consider spending some time with Pokémon Quest, a voxel-style action game featuring a roster of cube-shaped Pokémon from the original Red and Blue games. In it, you’re tasked with defeating all the Pokémon on a selected island and attracting new Pokémon to come join your base camp by cooking meals with different ingredients.
Battles see you assigning up to three Pokémon to your party and heading out on expeditions in a variety of locations. Pokémon can perform both normal and special attacks which have cooldowns, and the game provides a way to boost a creature’s stats via “Power Stones”. Although real-time battling is a nice change of pace for the turn-based JRPG, the base camp feature is arguably the best part of Pokémon Quest, giving players a way to see and interact with all their Pokémon at once.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Bethesda’s free-to-play base builder Fallout Shelter is just as addictive today as it was when it released in 2017. The game puts players in charge of designing and managing their very own fallout bunker, making upgrades and modifications in order to attract new vault dwellers and ensure the survival of mankind.
A broad range of customization tools allow you to change the name and appearance of every member of your community in addition to assigning them special roles that help keep the vault running smoothly. Vault dwellers can form relationships, have children, and be sent on expeditions out into the wasteland where they will encounter Radroaches, Super Mutants, and even Deathclaws.
Developer: Titan Forge Games
Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios
SMITE is arguably the most popular MOBA around, with around 30 million registered players across each platform, including Switch. The game sees you controlling one of over 100 different mythological gods, goddesses and creatures with unique abilities/weapons in a variety of 5v5 game modes.
Players who are inexperienced with MOBAs need not feel intimidated, as SMITE includes a number of features designed to onboard new players such as CPU Arena Battles as well as auto-buying/leveling. A diverse roster of playable characters and crossplay support make SMITE one of the most appealing free-to-play titles on Switch.
Developer: Blue Mammoth Games
Brawlhalla is a 2D arena fighter that takes some cues from the popular Nintendo series Super Smash Bros. while introducing a roster of 40+ playable characters. The goal is quite simple–fight your way to victory by knocking your opponents off the stage and becoming the last remaining player in 1v1, 2v2, and 4-8 Player FFA/Team battles. Alternate game modes like Brawlball and Bombsketball offer a casual experience that helps balance out more competitive matches.
If you like your games to have plenty of timed special events then Brawlhalla may appeal to you; the game has had numerous crossovers with popular TV shows, movies, and even other video games, usually adding a new fighter or costumes related to that property for a limited time. Lastly, the game’s simple controls make it one of the best beginner-friendly free-to-play titles.
Developer: Large Animal
Color Zen is a relaxing minimalist puzzle game in which players attempt to match corresponding colors in order with the goal being to fill the screen completely with a specified color. Complimenting Color Zen’s vibrant visuals is the game’s immersive sound design, which blends smooth background instrumentals with player-input sound effects.
Failing to solve a puzzle doesn’t bring any real penalty other than having to start from the beginning of a level, with there being 460 included. The game’s simple and intuitive controls allow you to use the touch screen in handheld mode and Joy-Con when docked, making it suitable for playing at home or on the go.
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
You will find there are many free pinball games available in the Switch’s eShop; however, few have managed to secure as many licensing deals as Pinball FX3. The game features 35+ real pinball table designs including some from iconic pinball table manufacturer Williams.
Pinball FX3 goes beyond just replicating the look of each table, replicating realistic physics in order to create a more immersive simulation; this combined with support for the Switch’s HD rumble and vertical display makes for an engaging new way to play pinball. The base game includes a decent number of free tables to check out with plenty more available for purchase.
Whether its PC or console, AAA or Indie, New-York born and raised Justin has a natural curiosity to seek out hidden gems and share them with other gamers. He also maintains his own YouTube channel in addition to writing and managing the social media profiles for GamingScan.