Nintendo Switch is the perfect console for local multiplayer — simply crack off those Joy-Con and start having fun with whoever happens to be in the room with you. However, the console has built up a solid portfolio of online multiplayer games since launch, too, and we've picked out a handful — in no particular order — to help you get the most out of your online experience.
Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo's paid subscription service and is required to play most Switch games online. However, this doesn't apply to free-to-play games, though (Fortnite, for example).
While Nintendo's online infrastructure has had a rocky reputation in the past, Switch has come on leaps and bounds since launch and, despite its foibles, Nintendo Switch Online is certainly worth the modest monthly or annual fee if you've got Switch friends in distant places (there are also ways to make that cost even more reasonable if you're willing to share).
The subscription also gives you access to an ever-growing catalogue of lovely NES and SNES games to play at your leisure, many with online multiplayer options courtesy of the service's built-in framework, so in addition to the gems we've picked out below, you've always got the option to go retro if you fancy playing Double Dragon or Super Mario Bros. 3 with a faraway friend.
Our picks of the best couch co-op Switch games might suit you better if you prefer multiplayer of the local variety, but let's sit back and take a look at the best online multiplayer games currently available on the console.
Splatoon 3 (Switch)
Splatoon 3 is more of the excellent same that Splatoon 2 brought us, but refined to borderline mechanical perfection. It's the most fun we’ve had with an online shooter in years, and for series veterans it makes Splatoon 2 feel entirely redundant for all but its unique single-player content. It feels like the development team has solved every problem the Splatoon community was bleating on about, and then fixed some more that we didn’t even realise were problems until they were fixed. There's nothing revolutionary about it compared to its predecessors, and it's perhaps missing a Big New Idea™ that you might expect after five years, but Splatoon 3 is the pinnacle of the series, and the pinnacle of shooters on Switch.
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Fortnite (Switch eShop)
Epic delivered the full fat Battle Royale experience of Fortnite on the ‘homeheld’. You’re sure to notice the framerate difference if you’re coming from other consoles, but performance-wise, it’s steady and perfectly playable. Frequent updates keep the game feeling fresh and, crucially, that just-one-more feeling survives the transition to Switch intact. Before you know it, you’ll be eyeing the clock at 3:56 am thinking ‘hmm, that’s not a round number’. The heart-pounding suspense of making it to the final two may not be healthy, but it sure is addictive. Fortnite is one of Switch's most nail-biting online experiences, and with all the new features piling into the game every season, there's no time like the present to parachute in.
Rocket League (Switch eShop)
One of modern gaming's true online multiplayer success stories, Rocket League is an essential addition to the Switch's striking library. The spirit of the game has been transferred perfectly, with the added benefit of portable play which opens up the chance to host local matches with your Switch owning mates wherever and whenever you fancy. Developer Panic Button has done an utterly fantastic job with this port, but technical wizardry aside, what really matters is that the core game is so addictive, so compelling, so enjoyable and – perhaps above all else – so deep. Don't let anyone tell you that Rocket League is simplistic or lacks longevity; the vibrant community that has grown up around Psyonix's masterpiece renders that viewpoint wholly incorrect. It rewards skilful play and perseverance, and new tactics and strategies seem to flow from each and every match you partake in. Only the occasional network niggle throws shade on this otherwise sublime release, but it's still an essential online experience.
Tetris 99 (Switch eShop)
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.
Honourable Mention: Puyo Puyo Tetris - While Tetris 99 has stolen its limelight, Puyo Puyo Tetris is still a remarkable entry in the puzzle genre, combining two of the greats in one fantastic package with solid online play.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection (Switch)
Diablo III: Eternal Collection is a lovely port of a classic RPG loot-a-thon that keeps its feet firmly in the past. The execution is wonderful, but its gameplay is not something that will appeal to everyone due to the high level of repetition. Local multiplayer is a beautiful addition, and even though the limitations of having to have all four characters on one screen can be mildly irksome, it’s still excellent fun. Online is the absolute bee’s knees in contrast, allowing you to drop into any friend’s game at a moment’s notice provided they’ll allow it, and continue grabbing loot and smashing evil in the face. Its visuals are clear and functional if not especially interesting, but performance is top notch to make up for it. If you’re looking for a loot-driven grind-a-thon with more explosions of viscera than you can comfortably discuss with your mother, this is the game for you.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe delivers a huge amount of racing goodness right out of the box; arguably the best Mario Kart release we've seen. Some will argue about where this entry stands in the pantheon of the franchise, but for our money it's competing for top spot. It's the definitive Mario Kart 8 experience, content-rich and a delightful feast of comedic, cartoonish karting action. You can play solo or in two-player split-screen online, with Global and Regional rooms for racing and battling. With a solid online setup that has the potential to keep you playing for months and even years to come, it's a game that continually raises a smile and, occasionally, induces that trademark Mario Kart rage as shells strike and positions are lost. It's addictive and unifying, unfiltered fun that draws in anyone daring enough to take up the wheel.
There's also the new Booster Course Pass tracks that are gradually being added, so there's even more reason to pick this (and the DLC) up!
Paladins (Switch eShop)
Hi-Rez Studios' team-based shooter Paladins: Champions of the Realm is an easy sell. As exciting, tense and rewarding as Overwatch, it brings the cross-platform hero shooter to a new platform without sacrificing the moreish gameplay elements that made it such a hit with both gamers and pros. There’s a definitive learning curve for those looking to play competitively, but it’s nonetheless one of the console’s best multiplayer games.
Honourable Mention: SMITE - Also coming from Hi-Rez, this free-to-play MOBA is to League of Legends and Dota 2 what Paladins is to Overwatch. It's a textbook example of how to port an online-focused experience to a handheld-friendly console and is absolutely worth a look.
Monster Hunter Rise (Switch)
New mechanics, monsters and a gorgeous setting make Monster Hunter Rise a new high-water mark for the franchise. The Wirebug, Switch Skills, Palamute and carefully thought-out monsters shake things up enough to make the game feel fresh for hunters who have previously spent thousands of hours with the series, and while the package could be slightly intimidating for newcomers, it's arguably the ideal place to get started if you're serious about getting into the franchise. And, with a peerless four-player multiplayer experience, the Rampage quests are a blast. Monster Hunter Rise is one of the strongest entries into the franchise to date, and another stone-cold classic for the Nintendo Switch. You can also grab the expansion, Sunbreak, for even more monsters, modes, hunts, and more.
Honourable Mention: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a sort of ‘greatest hits’ collection of the high points of the series to that point, giving you hundreds of hours of content to play through. An entirely separate quest board and ranking system exists for the multiplayer component, potentially allowing for limitless hours of replayability. Monsters fought while online are generally much tougher to take down, but having up to three other people whaling away with weapons of their own makes up for this, and you get a much greater sense of satisfaction beating a monster as a team, rather than alone.
Doom and Diablo have been fantastic on the Switch, and Street Fighter is always a pleasure. Smash goes without saying.
Still....no Wargroove love? That game has been the sole focus of multiplayer gaming in my house since it launched!
I never picked up doom as I assumed it's online would be a wasteland and Ill never find a game.?
Also am considering worms as its on 50% off but again I feel this will be dead.
You forget that it is hip to hate on Fortnite...SO HOW CAN IT BE GOOD?
Good list, just wish there was some more online games yo play.
Missing Warframe and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on that list. Ouch.
@ReaderRagfihs i was about to say this. It's an unplayable mess.
Warframe +1 over here!
You put Street Fighter on there but no Warframe, or Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate?
Only like 12 people still play ARMS. Stop trying to push it.
Warframe and Monster Hunter... we’ll ponder those over the weekend 😉
Arms being here and not Mario Tennis Aces is criminal.
I also suggest dragon ball fighterz. What a game!!
@Thecoe my partner plays Worms online on the Switch... with some difficulty. There are players but not many so you end up playing the same people regularly. Due to the few players and the length of matches it could take up to 15 mins to find someone to play with. The people that do play have really stuck with it though.
I'm still yet to buy ARMS but guessing there won't be many people to play online with anymore, especially now everyone has to pay a subscription.
"Let’s face it – this is probably sitting on your Switch dashboard already, and there it should stay."
Splatoon 2 is probably the most solid online experience I've had on the Switch. Great game!
ARMS - is the game I've played online the most - every party crash I pull it back out. It remains the game I feel is least appreciated on the Switch - due to it's brutal early learning curve. I'm glad they are continuing to do Party Crashes - they have plenty of people playing them.
MK8 - I played a good bit online, and can humbly say I'm insanely good at the game, but the cheaters make things frustrating online. Watching someone fire a blue shell at the start line, right as the race begins, before we've even gotten to the power-ups is frustrating and happens more often than it should.
Rocket League - such a disaster online. I really liked it local, played 30 hours with friends and family, then went online and stopped playing the game altogether. I've never seen worse match-making in my life.
I wish there was a way to report or ban so-called “squid parties.”
Best games I found great online support
Mario kart 8
Mario tennis ace
Hard to find games
Super bomberman r
I have traded these in
How come Warframe is quite often ignored on this site? Seems strange especially in an article like this. It's an amazing game, a technical stunning production, and one of a few F2P games that actually lives up to the free part. Not to mention the huge amount of single and multiplayer content.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate and Warframe. Gotta mention these.
@wazlon arms was great at launch but it took a big hit after the online subscription. Tennis aces took a hit as did all the online games but arms was really hard for me to get a game online. Sometime I waited over 10 minutes.
I bought ARMS at about half price a while ago, but haven’t played it. I am not that interested in the multiplayer, but I am very interested in the game.
Without a doubt, Tetris 99 is definitely my top online game on Switch. It's addictive, it's rewarding, it's maddening and has made me want to throw my Switch out the window numerous times already - in short, it's everything you could want from a competitive online experience.
Got a lot of love for aces, shame it never launched with doubles, local couch co-op against others online is genius!!
I'm glad that you've included Diablo 3 in the list. This game tends to get brushed off as "a port of an old PC game". It's actually a pretty rare game that's as fun online as it is offline. And it feels nothing like a port.
No Mario Tennis?? Really??? Too bad, it's one of the best multiplayer games in the console now.
Pretty dissapointed. It deserves to be there much more than many from the list.
Clearly Paladins for me. One of the best free to play on console. I have really good time with it and the motion control with the controller pro is really great, almost as great as the one in Splatoon. Good diversity beetween all the characters and spending money is totally for new cosmetics. You just have to connect 2 mins each days and after a week you'll have a good amount of money and 50 jewels to buy the cosmetics for characters or yo unlocks new characters. This game is awesome from my point of view.
Vivian's my best!!!
Having regional match ups to compete for GLOBAL Smash Power in Ultimate is absolute nonsense.
They should have dedicated servers for the game. People are paying for an online service now. They didn't pay for NES games, pleasant though those are.
Furthermore, there was nothing wrong with For Glory/For Fun. The arena system is abysmal, so as it stands there is no quick way of having a casual online match that doesn't affect your ranking.
And that's the biggest problem with it, they've introduced a highly competitive element in Elite Smash, but they've not seen to ensuring that online works well enough for that. In Smash 4 if you had lag playing an online For Glory match, that was just annoying. Now it's destroying your Switch infuriating. Even winning when the connection is this bad isn't fun. And other online games that I own don't have nearly as many difficulties.
People have apparently accused the Smash development team of being lazy. That clearly isn't the case. The issue is they have made some bad choices, particularly with the online, and have focused on adding to the chaos of a Smash game, rather than focusing on it actually working online. I would take merely the original 12 roster if it could work properly online. Spirit Adventure is OK, but did we need it?
All of these are great, but there is one simple thing Nintendo can't do that makes me go to Fortnite WAY more than any others: Native voice chat. There is simply no point to play online with friends if you can't talk to them.
No Warframe makes this article a complete joke. Unlike fortnite whose only claim to fame on switch is voice chat, Warframe has voicechat plus it's a triple A experience with 1000s of hours of content.
Internet rage and such.
"Signing up for Nintendo Switch Online just to play [Tetris 99] might be a bit of a stretch..."
20 bucks for the GOTY? Sounds more like a 'killer app' for the service to me.
The online in Mario tennis is probably the best part.
Lots of people seem to play diablo how comes I never find a game to play with anyone?
I play hardcore which could be the issue but it's just no fun otherwise
@Franklin actually... I paid for the NES games.
And come on no Warframe or Monster Hunter? I do not know you guys any more? (Queue witty their checks must have been ost in the mail comment)
Rocket League is great! After a year and a half I am still playing and having fun.
I love Doom, Tetris 99, Mario Kart, Diablo 3 and Smash.
I feel that some of the games like ARMS and DOOM shouldn't be present on this list because the lobbies are completely dead.
I think I’ve got all of these (except the free to play ones), but don’t get online as much as I should. Then when I do I lose anyway.
Dragonball Fighterz the same too. I’d like to try Wargroove online but I’ve not got around to it yet.
As much as I love the game, Smash Bros Ultimate's online needs work. The issue of running into matches that I don't care for is still present and I also feel Squad Strike should have online functionality.
The worst part is to me, the easiest fix to the online is to just add in a decline option. When the game finds an opponent, it selects either your rules or your opponents but then it should present said rules to both players and if you're not okay with them, you have the option to decline it.
As much as I love Rocket League, it's just a constant buggy mess. I've never known any other game that clears a bunch of issues and introduces more with each update.
I just wish Psyonix would focus more on fixing the problems before adding anything new.
Wow, you list Minecraft, ARMS, Splatoon 2 and Doom before Warframe and Monster Hunter?
My gut feel is that people aren’t really playing any of the games on this list anymore. They were possibly once great, but Nintendo stuffed up their online offering, and people have simply lost interest. In this day and age, you need to do it right first time, or not bother. And Nintendo didn’t do it right. But I’m sure those NES games are great...
Uninstalled Fortnite after giving it a longer leash than any other game ever. Buggy mess just isn't worth it.
Doom multiplayer is pretty nonexistent though the single player game is still worth the sticker price.
Splatoon 2 is not only the best Switch multiplayer game, is the best online game ever made.
I love Splatoon and my post is totally unbiased.
Smash Bros Ultimate is the worst online experience I've had in years, not even playing in front of my router seems to have solved any of the massive lag in the matches (due to being P2P, I can't do much about opponent's connection). To make things worse, they've advertised the Ethernet adapter as if it was our concern, a basic feature that was stripped from the dock is now almost mandatory to the experience.
It's almost cynical to see SSBU in this list.
@Blizzia Monster Hunter Boyzzz!🤘🏿
@1UP_MARIO Ouch! 10 minutes and if I remember from the demo then online matches aren't that long.
The Monster Hunter and Warframe cheques arrived! We've added them both to the list.
@Swiftstorm It's nothing personal against the game, more the reality of always having five new games in the queue I personally put about an hour into Warframe when it first came out - barely scratching the surface - and then had to move on to something else. Dom has had a great time with it, though, and we'll be adding to and evolving these lists over time from now on - we're happy to adjust them if something slips through the net.
Haha awesome! And no worries I was not implying foul play, just felt it strange that you hardly ever seem to mention the game, as it is really a great experience on Switch.
And don't worry an hour gets you as far as 200. It is in intricate web of convulted systems. The gameplay and community makes up for it. The best advice I got when starting was: "Have fun playing, do not worry if you don't understand the many systems".
But glad to see it included. Thanks!
@brandonbwii Um, it's on the list. Look again :/
@wazlon arms alone is a good game to play over and over. There are also matches to be had online as well. Not much has changed since the sub service.
where da fucc is overwatch mk11
luigi's mansion 3 & brawlhalla
Friday the 13th
It's kind of a bad list. Where's ARMS and Clubhouse Games and Super Mario Maker 2? Those are better online games than most of the things on the list.
@brandonbwii Literally on page 2. Made this acc just to laugh at you.
I know, I just didn’t feel like deleting my post.
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