Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a delightful addition to Nintendo's slow-life-sim series and one which upholds the traditions of being able to visit friends' towns and nosily inspect their tragic sense of interior and exterior decor. While there are a host of multiplayer options that include Party Play with one Switch or local co-op with more than one Switch in the same room, the online option gives you the opportunity to visit any willing host's island, judge it mercilessly and, perhaps, take home some exotic fruit or other goodies.
Sure, it's hardly the cutthroat world of death matches and score-based competition you may find in other online experiences, and it's not without problems that we'd like to see addressed in an update (the process of actually getting to another island is sluggish, and even slower if multiple people are visiting), but once you're actually at your destination, the game's gentle, sedate brand of online multiplayer is well worth investigating if you're stuck at home far away from friends and family.
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While Digital Extremes hasn’t quite perfected the formula it needs to make Warframe completely accessible - the sheer number of interconnected systems and customisable elements suggests it never quite will - it still offers a brilliant co-operative third-person shooter with all the MMORPG elements you never thought you’d see running on Nintendo Switch. From the impressive visual fidelity Panic Button has maintained, to the sheer breadth of free-to-play content, Warframe represents another milestone for the console.
This is yet another excellent port of Minecraft, nothing more and nothing less. The versatile setup of the Switch allows this to be the most easily accessible, convenient and playable version to date. Of course, it's a game that’s often best enjoyed with others, and both online and offline multiplayer are supported here, with up to four players allowed locally and eight players online. If you want to play the best portable version of the game, look no further.
Another one from Hi-Rez Studios, 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 battle royale bedfellows. 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 developers Heroic Leap to be improving it for years to come.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order isn’t a groundbreaking, narrative-heavy reinterpretation of the comic characters you know and love, but then again neither were the first two games. In that regard, it’s a very faithful sequel that mines the vast roster of characters from the comics while including plenty of nods to the current state of the more modern Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it doesn’t do anything particularly new or outstanding, it embraces the brainless fun of its brawler combat with gusto, and it’s at its absolute best when played with a team of player-controlled supers whether locally or (as its placement on this list necessitates) online. Excelsior!
How does Super Smash Bros. Ultimate stack up against previous entries? Vocal concerns about past games have been actively addressed, every single fighter from the series is present, the customisability is overwhelmingly vast and it’s all topped off with super-solid single-player modes to boot. Online is a bit of a minefield for games like Smash that demand precision timing and the lowest latency possible, but Ultimate plays just fine online for the most part. You’ll occasionally run into a game with someone whose connection is less than solid, but the majority of the time it feels practically as responsive as playing a local game with a wireless controller (possibly thanks to the system’s preference for matching up against nearby players). Die-hard fighting game fans may find Smash Ultimate's online performance disappointing, but casual Smashers shouldn't have trouble enjoying an online brawl at all.
Among Us is an instantly accessible and super-addictive casual gaming experience that serves up some hilarious whodunnit hijinks in short bursts that are perfectly suited to portable play. There are a few niggles here with regards to controls that make communication fussier than it really needs to be, but this is a fine port that enables Switch gamers to jump in and see what all the fuss is about with this most unlikely of gaming sensations.
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.
That's it for our round-up of wonderful online multiplayer games to keep you occupied on Switch. Do you think we've missed any? As always, let us know below.
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.