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The best free Nintendo Switch games (that's right, totally free!)
The Nintendo Switch is now one of the most successful home consoles of all time. It’s already the best-selling Nintendo home console ever. If you have one, you likely play it all the time, and might even need some new game ideas. To help you out, we’ve got a list of the best free Nintendo Switch games you can get!
When we say that, we mean it — these games are totally free to play, apart from your possibly needing a Switch Online subscription. In some cases developers do hope you’ll spend money on cosmetics and other content, but you don’t have to pay to play (or win).
We’ve tried to make this list as well-rounded as possible. You’ll find racing games, first-person shooters, battle royales, puzzlers, and more. The chances are good that one of these titles will work for you.
Speaking of Switch Online, don’t forget that your subscription includes access to many NES, SNES, and Game Boy titles. You’ll have to add the Expansion Pack to your subscription if you want to play N64, Game Boy Advance, or Sega Genesis games.
Best free Nintendo Switch games:
Editor’s note: This list of the best free Nintendo Switch games will be updated regularly as new games launch.
1. Asphalt 9: Legends
There aren’t too many free-to-play racing titles for the Switch, making Asphalt 9: Legends a shoo-in for inclusion on this list of the best free Nintendo Switch games. If you like cars, custom mods, and riding around in various beautiful environments, this is the game for you.
We’ll be upfront though — the free version of Asphalt 9 is pretty limiting. Without spending any money, some of your rides will be limited by a timer. And of course, you won’t see the full scope of cars, mods, and environments.
If you play the game and decide you like it, heed our advice and don’t buy individual tokens. Instead, buy the Starting Racer Pack, which gives you tons of blueprints, 200,000 credits, and 300 tokens, which should be more than enough to get you through the bulk of the game without needing to worry about any microtransactions. If all you want to do is drive a cool car, though, you don’t need to spend anything.
Without a doubt, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the best games for the Nintendo Switch. That’s a full-price product however, so enter Brawlhalla, which is similar to Smash but doesn’t cost anything.
Like its rival, Brawlhalla lets you pick from dozens of different fighters. It’s a lot simpler than Smash though, with more restraint on speed and fighting combos. If you like the concept of Smash but find it to be a bit overwhelming, you might like Brawlhalla (and it’s free, so you don’t lose anything by giving it a go).
There are microtransactions in the game, but there’s no benefit to spending money other than aesthetics. In other words, it is not a situation where the more you spend, the better chances you have of winning. As long as you don’t care about your characters’ skins or anything like that, you can enjoy the game indefinitely without spending a cent.
3. Fall Guys
It was a little late, but Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout finally received the Nintendo Switch port we all knew it needed from the beginning. Interestingly, the game dropped the “Ultimate Knockout” portion of its title — and its status as a paid game. Now, Fall Guys is totally free-to-play!
Of course, there is a premium season pass you can buy with real-world funds, should you so choose. But this game now becomes one of the best free Nintendo Switch games because you can do pretty much anything you want in the game without any money at all. Only super fans will need to spend cash.
The only problem, really, is that Fall Guys has waned in popularity since it first launched. Its landing on the Switch was great news, but its cultural moment has kind of passed. Still, it’s a terrific game and worth checking out if you missed it when it was all the rage!
It was inevitable that Fortnite would end up on this list, as it’s nothing short of a phenomenon, even years after its debut. Although PUBG invented the battle royale genre, Fortnite pretty much defines it at this point, to the extent that it’s a pop culture touchstone.
We’re not going to delve deep into details, as you’ve probably already played Fortnite on one platform or another (including Android) if you had any interest. In short though, there’s nothing unique about the Switch version — it just doesn’t run as well as it would on a PC or PS5.
If you’d like to upgrade your character’s looks in some way, that will cost you some cash, but the game itself can be downloaded right now and played for hundreds of hours without complaint.
5. Overwatch 2
Overwatch 2 is pretty much just Overwatch 1 but bigger and (nominally) better. It’s also 100% free, which gives it a leg up over the original.
Like Overwatch, the sequel is a hero shooter. Overwatch 2, however, shrinks matches from 6v6 to 5v5 even as it grows the hero roster to become humungous. It can be overwhelming, given the unique playstyle of each hero, but all you really need to do is latch onto a few favorites and master them.
Another difference is the absence of loot boxes. Instead, there’s a battle pass system to earn new characters, cosmetics, and more. Of course, you can unlock some perks through grinding, but you might need to do a lot to get what you want. Either way, the gameplay is free — you just might need to spend money to get some things in a reasonable timeframe.
If you’re looking for another free hero-style shooter, you can try Apex Legends for a different spin on battle royale. There are in-game transactions as usual, but it doesn’t take away from the fun.
6. Pokémon Quest
The mainline Pokémon games for the Switch — Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Pokémon Sword and Shield, and the earlier Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee — are some of the best-selling titles on the console. In many respects, Pokémon Quest is not as good as those other games, but Quest has the obvious advantage of zero cost.
As one would expect, Pokémon Quest involves you searching for and befriending Pokémon. However, the distinctive cube-art design of the game makes it look different from other Pokémon titles, and its smaller scale (not to mention microtransactions) makes it feel different, too.
Truth be told, you don’t need to spend any money at all to play Pokémon Quest. However, since so much of the game is based on you making Tumblecube Island your own, the idea of buying some cute things to decorate your base camp with might be too tempting. If you can resist, you can easily enjoy Pokémon Quest without spending any cash.
Need more Pokémon in your life? Don’t forget about Pokémon Unite, another free-to-play Nintendo Switch game. It’s the first-ever 5v5 title featuring your favorite Pokémon, and you can battle it out with ranked matches and all-new Unite moves.
7. Rocket League
If you’re unfamiliar with the Rocket League phenomenon, it’s easy to summarize: it’s soccer, but instead of human players, there are super-powered cars. That’s it. That’s the game.
Obviously, the game is a ginormous hit, so that simple description doesn’t do it justice. In September 2020, though, the game went free-to-play, making it one of the best free Nintendo Switch games.
As expected, the game’s monetization strategy revolves around changing the look of your car. The good news is that if you’ve already played Rocket League on another console, you can transfer your rankings and trophies across platforms so that they will appear on your Switch.
If you get good enough at the game, there’s also a huge global championship e-sports tournament. Good luck!
8. Tetris 99
How do you take Tetris — one of the oldest and most popular games of all time — and modernize it for something like the Switch? How about turning it into a battle royale? It worked, because Tetris 99 is easily one of the best free Nintendo Switch games, and might even be the very best.
If you know how to play Tetris (and honestly, who doesn’t at this point?), you know how to play Tetris 99. The main difference is that you’ll be going up against 98 other people when you play, and only one person is going to walk away as the champion. You’ll also be sabotaging other players as you go, hoping they don’t do the same to you.
There is a caveat: to play Tetris 99 the way it’s meant to be, you’ll need to be a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber. There is a way to play it offline against 98 CPU players, but that will cost you a one-time $10 fee. It’s only “free” if you’re already a Switch Online customer.
One of the most popular free-to-play games on the Switch is Warframe. It’s an action RPG with over-the-shoulder third-person controls. Set in the distant future, the game centers on an ancient alien race awoken from suspended animation only to find themselves at war with the various factions.
Most of Warframe’s levels are procedurally generated, but there are some story-specific levels that advance the game’s plot. In general, you run-and-gun your character around, taking out baddies, leveling up, equipping new gear, and so on.
Warframe is totally free to play and makes its money the same way as many other games on this list: microtransaction upgrades. The good news is that you can earn every upgrade in the game through grinding if you don’t want to spend any cash. This levels the playing field a bit, as every player can access every upgrade — although players with money to burn will advance much quicker.