Tetris 99 (Switch eShop)

Okay, okay, we're cheating a little with this one — this is free to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers only, so you'll have to pony up for a subscription to access it (although there are ways to subscribe to the online service for an exceptionally reasonable price). Having said that, if you play any of your non-free Switch games online, you'll already have a subscription and Tetris 99 is therefore waiting on the eShop to swallow you whole.

The complete oddball of the family, Tetris 99 offers a truly unique way to play the tried-and-tested classic, even if the overall package feels a little lightweight. Playing live against 98 others is chaotic, and the action feels fast, precise, and wonderfully addictive. It’s seriously difficult, too – we’d fancy our chances in Fortnite over this any day – and we’re impressed with the fact that it's forced us to play the game with a completely different approach to our usual slow-and-steady ways. Signing up for Nintendo Switch Online just to play this game might be a bit of a stretch, but if you’re already a member, what are you waiting for? It’s free, and it might just become your next favourite time sink.

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Knockout City (Switch eShop)

Knockout City is an absolute blast, a colourful arcade sports game that's easy to jump into for newbies with plenty of depth and strategy for crews looking to become the ultimate dodgeball champions. With four modes and five stages on offer from launch, tons of unlockable cosmetics, daily challenges and cross-play/cross-progression included from the get-go, this one hit the ground running. It's a great game from Velan Studios, the team behind Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, and there's absolutely no reason not to jump in and see how you fare.

Jump Rope Challenge (Switch eShop)

Free-to-play fitness throwaway Jump Rope Challenge is very limited and unlikely to keep most people interested after a few days. But we have to acknowledge the intention here: this isn’t a game to make money, it's not a system seller, and it’s not even a game that we can honestly say you have to download. As a free product, though, it does exactly what you’d need it to do: get you up on your feet a bit, and maybe even put a smile on your face, too. What's not to like?

Pokémon Unite (Switch eShop)

Pokémon Unite is more difficult to recommend to casual 'free' players, but Pokémon fans will more likely stick with it for the long haul. The gameplay is engaging, with a large roster of Pokémon that can be tried out in offline modes, but owning iconic Pokémon such as Lucario or Garchomp to play in Ranked will require an immense amount of Aoes Coins or paid-for Aeos Gems. A lot of joy is to be found in Quick Matches due to daily map rotations, but ultimately Unite is too geared toward grabbing people’s purses to win games rather than providing an even and engaging playing field. Players that don't pay will likely find frustration in constantly matching with others who have spent money; it's worth keeping that in mind before committing to Pokémon Unite. Still, if you don't mind the F2P aspects and you're into MOBAs, this one is surprisingly solid.

Super Animal Royale (Switch eShop)

The concept of Super Animal Royale is very now – it draws on all the familiarities of modern mainstream gaming. No individual aspect of it stands out, but it does form an endearing whole. It feels cool to play (when there’s no grievous lag), the map is compelling and the battle royale formula is as much of a buzz as ever. The monetisation model is not in-your-face and the player base is certainly there. It’s free, it’s under a gigabyte, it’s fast, and it’s a good laugh. Why not download it?

F-Zero 99 (Switch eShop)

Another cheat thanks to its inclusion as part of Nintendo's subscription service.

Despite its relatively unchanged look compared to the 16-bit original, F-Zero 99 is unexpectedly refreshing. Though it may not be the return for the franchise that fans hoped for, it's a triumphant and welcome look back at Captain Falcon's first game with a clever twist. F-Zero is simply suited for the -99 style structure in ways that Mario, Pac-Man, and even Tetris aren't; it was already an elimination-style battle royale, just a small one. Adding more players doesn't just feel perfect for F-Zero, it feels natural.

Sky: Children of the Light (Switch eShop)

We love free stuff, and Sky: Children of the Light is one of the best experiences you can get for free on the Switch. A follow-up of sorts to the iconic adventure title Journey, the visuals of this open-world, 'social' game are simply stunning, whether you’re playing in handheld mode or on the big screen, and the variety of its different worlds provides more than enough incentive to explore. The social aspect is solid, and the game’s unique ability to foster bonds with complete strangers is frankly a marvel. The only real downside is that the gameplay is so simplistic in nature, some people's attention may wander. If it does grab you, however, then a magical experience awaits.

Overwatch 2 (Switch eShop)

Overwatch 2 is a lot of things, but a proper sequel to the original (now unavailable) Overwatch is not one of them. Although a few new maps and heroes are welcome, and the gameplay itself remains just as enjoyably intense as it always was, there is nothing here that feels innovative or notable enough to justify that ‘2’ in the title. Overwatch 2 feels more like a few updates Blizzard could have pushed to the original release. Couple this with the heightened focus on monetization and, despite its positives, you’re left with an experience that feels like it falls short of the potential it had.

However, as a free-to-play game, it costs you nothing but time to try, and matches are just about as fun and addictive as they always have been.

Fall Guys (Switch eShop)

Fall Guys’ brand of chaotic fun is still great all of these years later, and the free-to-play Switch release is no different, assuming you can ignore your opponents' choppy frame rate. While there are some disappointing elements linked to cross-progression, those ultimately won't matter if this is your first time entering the Blunderdome. Some moments of lag and frame rate quirks aside, the Switch version offers a solid way to play if you're looking for some barmy 60-bean battling and the barrier to entry has never been lower.

Palia (Switch eShop)

Palia isn’t really anything special, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. There’s a fun gameplay loop to engage with here that fans of farm sims will be sure to enjoy, and though the MMO elements feel rather underbaked in this pre-1.0 release, the microtransactions don’t feel overbearing and there’s enough solo-focused content here to make it worth trying out. It would be tough to recommend you pick this one up were it a full-price retail release, but you’re sure to get at least an afternoon or two of good fun if you choose to try it out. At the end of the day, it costs nothing but time and storage space to give Palia a shot; we’d suggest you download it and see if it’s for you—especially if you can’t get enough of farm sims.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular free game on Nintendo Switch?

Fortnite, probably. It has been the biggest game in the world for several years and has expanded with additional branches including LEGO Fortnite, Fortnite Festival, and Rocket Racing, all of which are free to play.

That's it for our list of the best free games on Switch. Think the Switch versions of Apex Legends or Fallout Shelter deserve to be on the list above? Let us know which of the games above you've sampled and which you feel are most deserving of your time and, perhaps, a little money as well.

This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness and Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Nintendo Switch Roguelikes, Roguelites and Run-Based Games, the Best Free Switch Games, the Best Remakes And Remasters, the Best Switch Music And Rhythm Games, Best Feel-Good Switch Games, Best Switch Open-World Games, Best Switch Soulslike Games, Best LGBTQ+ Switch Games, and even Games to Play After You've Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Whatever your favourite genre, we've got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Local Wireless Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Twin-Stick Shooters, Visual Novels, Kart Racers, Fighting Games, Football Games, Funny Games, Golf Games, 'Walking Sims' And Narrative Games, Switch Games For Lovers And Lonely Hearts, Detective Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Puzzle Platformers, Tabletop Mode Games, Run and Gun Games, LEGO Games, Sports Games, Survival Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Camera Games, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, Card Games and Deck-Builders, and Life Sims And Farming Games.

Still hungry for more? Elsewhere we look at Wholesome Games, TATE Mode Games, Flight Sim and Space Combat, Point and Click Adventure Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game, Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch, plus the Best Switch Ports, Best Wii U-To-Switch Ports, Best Switch Collections And Compilations, Best Cheap Switch Games, Best Switch Demos, Games That Are Better On Switch OLED, Switch Games Under $10, $20, $50, and Switch games with the Best Soundtracks and the Best Graphics. Phew!

If you're looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best GBC Games, Best GBA Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, Best NES Games, Best SNES Games, Best N64 Games, Best GameCube Games, and Best Wii Games, and Best Wii U Games, as well as Every Available Nintendo Switch Online Retro Game, and ranked lists of Every Nintendo Switch Online NES, SNES, N64 and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Game.