Ninjala might look like a third-party take on Splatoon and yes, the similarities on an artistic level are pretty striking and plain for all to see. However, spend more than a few cursory moments with GungHo’s free-to-play effort and you’ll find a game that works very differently to the paint-splattered turf wars of the Inklings and Octarians. This is a unique, vibrant and surprisingly strategic multiplayer arena fighter that packs in plenty worth recommending. New seasons have brought updates and content that have kept this arena brawler almost as fresh as the competition, and seeing as it costs nothing to try, you've got nothing to lose. Winning!
It’s unknown at this point just how big of a project Deltarune will turn out to be, but this first chapter proves to be a solid, if a little too safe, take on the unique gameplay and humour that made Undertale such a hit. At worst, Deltarune Chapter 1 is just a smaller and shallower version of Undertale; at best, it’s a promising glimpse into a much more ambitious project that will hopefully grow to escape the shadow of its forerunner. Regardless, you can download Deltarune Chapter 1 for free from the eShop; see what you think.
Smite was a great and fresh take on the MOBA formula back in 2014, and it’s only gotten better thanks to a consistent amount of new gods, themed events and eSports support. Switch players get this game in its most evolved form, with a roster that's pushing three figures and a vast number of modes to unlock and enjoy. It does have a higher difficulty curve than the likes of Arena of Valor, and there’s a slow grind to earn skins via the Season Pass, but the game itself is one of the best entries in the genre and it’s right here on Switch – a cause for celebration and no mistake.
Though a bit uninspired, Brawlhalla still stands as a solid example of how to do a proper platform fighter, with several game modes, a diverse cast and a beautiful art style making this one easy to recommend - you really don’t have anything to lose by giving it a try. At worst, you’ll find a Smash clone that doesn’t have a ton of new ideas; at best, you’ll find a new go-to for when you have a few friends over for a gaming session.
In the highly competitive world of CCGs, PlayFusion has taken one of the biggest fantasy licences and seamlessly melded it with a card battling system that's both easy to grasp and different enough to set itself apart from its contemporaries. With the addition of extra modes, including the Arena of Echoes and Realm Trials, and the option to scan in cards from your physical deck, there's a deep and customisable experience in Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions that's ideal for genre veterans. Joy-Con controls work well enough – enabling you to play in docked mode – but it's at its best when played intimately in handheld mode with the touchscreen. The need for a constant internet connection will irk some, but for those that are willing to be tethered to Wi-Fi, PlayFusion has served up a fine rival to the likes of Hearthstone.
Asphalt 9: Legends is a free and surprisingly fun arcade racing game with mobile microtransaction free-to-play gubbins that could potentially ruin the experience for you, unless you’ve played enough mobile games to know how to ignore it. The reasonably priced Starting Racer Pack significantly lessens their impact, making it feel more like a ‘normal’ premium product, so if you try the free version and enjoy it, this – and this alone – is the sole purchase you should consider.
Some might write off Realm Royale as a Fortnite wannabe, and occasionally it can feel like one if you choose to play it that way, but the core principles of its gameplay bring enough new features to help differentiate it from its BR fellows. The unique traits of its four classes make a big difference, especially to teamplay, while the combination of forges (and their crafting potential) and the ability to seek shelter when downed (as a chicken, naturally) offer a more complex, and ultimately more forgiving experience. It’s also still in its beta, so expect Heroic Leap to be improving it for years to come.
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 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.
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?
Another cheat thanks to its inclusion as part of Nintendo's subscription service, PAC-MAN 99 may seem initially daunting with mechanics it simply doesn't explain but once you experiment and learn by fire, it won't take long to realise its true potential. Arika and Bandai Namco have barely touched the formula of this four-decade-old classic, and yet with just a few new layers it feels like a brand new game. We've invested more time than we care to admit into the previous '99' entries and it's clear PAC-MAN 99 is destined for evergreen greatness.
That's it for our list of the best free games on Switch. Think the Switch versions of Apex Legends, Fallout Shelter, or Pokémon Unite 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, 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, Visual Novels, Fighting Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Run and Gun Games, Sports Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, Card Games and Deck-builders, 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., and the Best Switch Collections And Compilations.
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, and 2020. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, Best SNES Games, Best N64 Games, Best GameCube Games, and Best Wii Games, as well as Every Nintendo Switch Online NES Game and Every Nintendo Switch Online SNES Game.