What are the best Switch RPGs? That’s a question we aim to answer in our definitive list. But before we get onto that, we should address the elephant in the room: how do you define an RPG and is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild an RPG?
It may sound like a silly question, particularly if you’ve played many of them, but when you actually break it down it’s pretty complicated. Because, the reality is, there are so many facets that determine whether a game is an RPG. So, to be clear, we consider an RPG to be, primarily, tied to three basic tenets: an explorable world, deep character progression, and a strong sense of narrative.
So, yes, by our definition The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is, indeed, an RPG. There’s a big world to explore, Link considerably increases in power over the course of the adventure, and, though you have to actually dig to find it, there is a narrative thread underlying the whole experience. So, without further ado, here is our list of the best Switch RPGs.
The best Switch RPGs:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Link’s latest adventure trades the gloomy dungeons for a beautiful, wide-open world full of enemies to battle, puzzles to solve, and surprises to uncover. If you can only afford one game on this list, make sure it’s Breath of the Wild.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
The latest Pokémon adventure didn’t reinvent the wheel so much as refine it. The result is one of the best Pokémon RPGs yet, though one that will be familiar to those that have played previous entries.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Arguably one of the finest RPGs to ever grace our planet, Skyrim is available on Nintendo Switch. It’s got an enormous open world to explore and you can build any character imaginable. If building your own character from scratch is your primary goal when playing an RPG, you can’t do better than Skyim.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Prefer your RPGs to be full of tactics? Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the choice for you. It’s the latest entry in the long-running series that sees you train up your own heroes, which you then send out into battles. Death is permanent, though, so do be careful.
Stardew Valley is so much more than just an RPG. You can develop your own successful farm, make new friends, and even find love. Of course, you can also explore dank caverns and whack enemies with big weapons. It’s got it all.
3D meets 2D in Octopath Traveler, which is simultaneously inspired by the classics and rather progressive in its gameplay. You recruit a team of very different characters, each of which has its own personality and fighting style, and explore an intriguing world full of adventure.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
If you like the sound of a combination of an angsty, drama-ridden JRPG story and open world that stands up next to Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the game for you. It’s a terrific adventure with a combat system that feels ripped right of of an MMORPG.
The latest (and greatest) action RPG finds a comfortable home on Nintendo Switch, which lends itself really well to a quick Nephalem Rift or two while you’re on the bus to work.
Dragon Quest XI
The latest entry in the long-running JRPG series may have come to Switch late, but it arrived in a definitive edition that allowed you to play the entire game in classic, SNES-era visuals. It’s a love letter to RPG titles of old but is full of so much charm, energy, and fantastic presentation, it still feels fresh.
You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this nearly 60-hour game (as well as the amazing post-game), but if you want a more traditional experience to sit and unwind with, this is one of the very best RPG games you’ll ever play on your Switch.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
If you’re into your classic RPGs, like Baldur’s Gate and PlaneScape Torment, you will absolutely love this. In fact, Original Sin 2 was so good that developer Larion was selected to helm Baldur’s Gate 3. That’s quite the achievement.
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Arguably the finest RPG in the past decade, The Witcher III found a comfortable home on Switch. It might not be the best-looking version, but it is the most portable. It also supports cross-saves with the PC version, so there’s that.
If you miss the good old days where you couldn’t play handheld games in the dark due to the lack of a backlight, Golf Story will make you happy. Not because it’s a dark game. Because it’s a bit like Mario Golf.
Final Fantasy XII
You can swap this for any entry of Final Fantasy that’s currently available on Nintendo Switch, as they’re all great. We think XII is the best of the ports though, at least, and holds up well today thanks to its intriguing combat system.
Fancy something a little bit different? Well, it doesn’t get much more different than Undertale. It trades up the typical combat of a classic JRPG for… petting dogs, dancing with slimes, and whispering secrets to knights.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
We don’t think there will come a day where Ni No Kuni doesn’t blow you away with its visuals. That’s a testament to the ability of Studio Ghibli, the beloved animation studio that helped create this wonderful adventure.
Dark Souls: Remastered
If you love a challenge, you’ll get a kick out of Dark Souls Remastered. This spruced up version of the first entry arguably remains the series’ finest hour.
Tales of Vesperia
The Tales of series surprisingly only has a single entry on Nintendo Switch, so it’s a good thing that it’s Tales of Vesperia. Fans will debate long into the night which Tales game is best, but this regularly appears at the top of lists, and for good reason.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Marrying the gameplay of classic JRPGs with the visuals of the modern day, Battle Chasers: Nightwar has enough in its locker to please genre fans new and old.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
The latest entry in the action-focused Ys series sees you wash up on a desert island and have to forge a survival alongside the washed up crew members. It’s a departure from the norm, and well worth a look in.
Monsters might pose a threat, but they’re not the most challenging aspect of Darkest Dungeon. No, that’s managing the sanity of your adventurers, who will start to lose it as you progress through the eponymous dungeon.
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
If you like your JRPG endless, Disgaea 5 is the choice for you. There’s just so much content in these games that you can easily lose hundreds of hours leveling up your dream team.
JRPG meets western RPG in Dragon’s Dogma, and old school entry by Capcom. You’ll explore a wide-open world alongside fellow adventurers, battling massive monsters and getting all of the loot.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
What’s novel about the The Legend of Heroes series is that it follows the same cast of characters, rather than rebooting everything each time a new game comes out. It’s nice to check back in each time a new version drops.
Monster Hunter Generations
Not a fan of that story nonsense, and would rather just fight powerful monsters and craft your gear out of their hides? Monster Hunter Generations offers that and then some. It’s also got some excellent multiplayer for those that like to play with friends.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
While humour is at the forefront of The Fractured But Whole (I mean, the name speaks for itself), it doesn’t skimp on the RPG. There’s a decent combat system here, which is good, as there’s fighting aplenty.
Pillars of Eternity II
If Baldur’s Gate III had been released at the turn of 3D visuals, it would play like Pillars of Eternity. Both entries in this series are head-over-heels in love with Baldur’s Gate, PlaneScape Torment, and the other Infinity Engine games, but introduce many modern sensibilities that make the experience more palatable for today’s gamer.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
Set during a WW2-inspired war, Valkyria Chronicles 4 takes place during the same timeframe as the original entry in the series. If you enjoyed that, you’ll love experiencing the story from a different angle, with the gorgeous, painterly visuals making a return.
Bravely Default 2
Don’t let the number scare you, this is a standalone entry in the franchise and a spectacular HD debut to boot. While it doesn’t do many new things, this is a really solid JRPG that builds on typical elements like different jobs and classes, while giving them all some really smart quality of life improvements and delivering a heartfelt, funny, and surprisingly dark story.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 – Wings Of Ruin
This RPG focused spin-off of the main Monster Hunter series could be a fantastic entry point for younger fans. Exploring the vibrant world, and capturing and collecting monsters, all sounds very familiar to Pokemon fans. But a few smart twists on the formula and some really impressive online features mean this title is one of the most impressive RPG titles any younger Switch owner can hope to play. Though adults shouldn’t dismiss it either, especially if they’re looking for another monster-collecting adventure.
NEO: The World Ends With You
Making a sequel to the cult DS game The World Ends With You was always going to be tough. So the fact we got Neo: The World Ends With You so many years later, and one without the trademark touch controls, left a few fans uneasy. Luckily Square Enix delivered a stylish RPG experience that keeps the character of the originals but stuffs it with fresh ideas and gorgeous visuals. You can check out our full thoughts in our Neo: the World Ends With You review, but anyone who enjoyed the original or is up for an action-packed romp through Tokyo, definitely needs to check this one out.
Shin Megami Tensei V
Another long-awaited sequel, Atlus finally unleashed hell when Shin Megami Tensei V arrived on Switch. A traditional turn-based RPG that takes no prisoners, players act as the blue-haired Nahabino to uncover the mysteries of a fight between the forces of the underworld and god’s army of angels. It pulls it all off with a dark comic twist, alongside incredibly rich and satisfying gameplay that rewards thoughts over pure brute force. Maybe not for everyone, but more difficulty options have been added since launch to make things a touch easier. Check out our full Shin Megami Tensei V review to see why we think it’s easily one of the best RPG games on the Switch.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus
What a fantastic start to 2022. I think even the most fairweather Pokemon fan has commented on the formula getting a tad stale, so what a refreshing breath of fresh air Pokemon Legends: Arceus is. Set in the land of Hisui centuries before it became known as Sinnoh, explore open areas and catch Pokemon as they roam, in some of the best gameplay a Pokemon game has ever had to offer.
Just being able to see Pokemon going around their business and throw a Pokeball is so refreshing, and the game also brings some other great features and streamlines some classic ones to boot. Yeah, it could look a little better, but it reinvigorated our love for the franchise and now we can’t wait to see how much carries over later this year when Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet bring these mechanics to a brand new Pokemon generation.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
It’s weird to think now but back when the original Xenoblade Chronicles came out on Wii fans had to petition Nintendo to get it released in the West, in something called Operation Rainfall. Well thank god they did, because Nintendo eventually buckled and more gamers were graced with one of the best JRPG games ever made. An epic story, with interesting battle mechanics, gorgeous locales, and so much more.
The Switch version takes everything good about the original and sharpens its edges, making this truly the definitive way to experience one of the best JRPG titles ever made. It’s an absolute stunner on the Switch, finally finding hardware that can bring its lands to life with justice. There’s even an additional chapter called Future Connected, so even players who’ve experienced it before have something new to check out here.
Following hot on the heels of Octopath Traveller, Square Enix’s Team Asano has returned with another gorgeous HD-2D RPG, this time attacking the world of tactics-based titles with Triangle Strategy. If you’ve enjoyed Fire Emblem, you’ll be right at home here. Three warring countries battle it out over resources in this tense political thriller, where every decision you make influences both your party and the world around you.
Live a Live
Previously a Japan only release for the Super Nintendo, Team Asano chose to give this forgotten gem the full HD-2D treatment and we are so glad they did. Eight different stories set over vastly different time periods and places, with each one having their own interesting story, all come together to deliver one of the most interesting RPGs you can ever play. In case you need convincing, read just how much we adored this title in our Live A Live review.
We’re not kidding either, every decision matters, and how you conduct yourself in battle will even sway your party when you vote on tactical decisions later. If you’re a ruthless commander your team may not vote so altruistically later, and these decisions carry weight right to the end of the game. We absolutely loved it in our full Triangle Strategy review, and with its amazing battle mechanics and branching story paths, this is a game you can play repeatedly and enjoy every playthrough.