Since its release in early 2017, the Nintendo Switch has surpassed 100 million units sold. That’s no small number, and Nintendo continues to prove its worth when it comes to both family-friendly games and role-playing games. The Nintendo Switch has boasted multiple hard-hitting titles, some of them being exclusive to just the Switch! If you’re a new owner of such a device, or perhaps just a player looking for some new games to play, read on to discover some of the best Switch-exclusive RPGs!
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
We’re sure most of you saw this one coming! The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild launched alongside the Nintendo Switch in 2017 and was critically acclaimed as one of the most well-rounded Nintendo open world games. While the story itself was rather simple, the gameplay and setting are masterfully crafted to provide a deep sense of adventure and exploration.
The game begins with Link waking 100 years after Calamity Ganon defeated Princess Zelda’s “champions”. Just before being overwhelmed, Zelda placed Link in a slumber to be awoken at a later time so that he could one day take on Calamity Ganon and restore peace to Hyrule. The game wastes little time in getting started; immediately upon waking, the player takes control of Link and stumbles upon an old man, who guides Link (and the player) through finding and completing shrines, which rewards the player with spirit orbs used for upgrading stamina and health.
In addition to earning spirit orbs, the first 4 shrines reward the player with Sheikah slate abilities such as bombs, stasis, magnetism, and the ability to freeze water. After completing the initial 4 shrines, the old man reveals his true identity (no spoilers here!), who then gives Link a glider which can be used to quickly traverse the world by climbing high and gliding.
The journey truly begins after this revelation, and there is no shortage of areas to explore, shrines to complete, and key items to find. Link can also collect food ingredients and cook them into meals which replenish health or provide temporary status boosts like heat or cold resistance. The game pushes the hardware of the Switch to the limits, and the world is incredibly beautiful and rewards exploration and curiosity. Breath of the Wild is arguably an incredible RPG and may only be topped by the coming sequel!
2. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Following the success of the first Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 landed on the Switch in late 2017 and was quickly hailed as one of the best Switch exclusive RPGs! Much like Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 features an open-world environment which highly rewards exploration of the world. The gameplay and combat system are fluid, utilizing an action-based battle system, which has the appearance of turn-based combat, yet the player doesn’t have to wait their turn to attack.
The characters, referred to as “drivers”, use living weapons called “blades” which determine what the driver’s wielded weapon and available arts (attacks/healing/buffs) are. Players can also obtain new blades through “blade resonance”, which allows the characters to resonate to “core crystals”. In total, players can wield up to three blades at once, enabling them to add variety to their battles.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 sports a large open world the player can traverse through, and exploration is rewarded through chests which can contain items such as currency and core crystals. With all the included content in the game, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 can take upwards of 100 hours to complete, and none of those hours will be dull thanks to the satisfying and flashy combat mixed with the rewards of exploration.
This game is sure to keep you busy, so if you own a Switch be sure to give Xenoblade Chronicles 2 a try!
3. Pokemon Sword & Shield
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention this Pokemon game! Both Pokemon Sword and Shield take place in the Galar region, and they introduce 81 new Pokemon (seriously, how do they keep inventing new ones!?)
Though the gameplay largely remains the same as all the other Pokemon games, a new mechanic called “dynamax” allows players to choose one of their Pokemon and cause them to grow drastically, increasing their HP and lets the Pokemon use “max moves”, which are just stronger versions of their normal moves.
Another new feature in Pokemon Sword and Shield are max raid battles; players can team up with up to three other trainers and take on dynamax Pokemon, rewarding them with rare Pokemon and valuable items. Although each generation of Pokemon games have few major changes to the gameplay formula, it can’t be denied that the Pokemon franchise is still going very strong, as Pokemon Sword and Shield have sold over 20 million copies.
With their classic adventures and battles combined with new Pokemon and gameplay mechanics, Pokemon Sword and Shield are obvious choices for you!
4. Astral Chain
Clearly having been inspired by cyberpunk-type media, Astral Chain is a “hack and slash” RPG which released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. With an art style that appears to be a mix of anime and cyberpunk visual styles, Astral Chain quickly gained popularity with its flashy and engaging combat.
The story is set in a dystopian future in which a specialized police force is tasked with protecting the remaining humans on earth. The player controls a detective, along with their “Legion”, a living weapon which can also be controlled by the player simultaneously in combat. Players can utilize their legions in multiple ways, such as attacking the same enemy together, attacking separate enemies, or even having their legion attack an enemy on their own while the player heals himself. Legions don’t stick around, however; there’s a 100-second timer whenever the player summons their legion into battle, forcing the player to carefully plan their use of legions.
In addition to fighting enemies, the player will investigate events and solve puzzles throughout each level, providing a break from each enemy encounter and giving the player key information related to the story. Astral Chain’s unique combat system with the inclusion of legions makes for a bit of a learning curve, though with a little practice you’ll soon be chaining combos and eliminating your enemies in epic fashion.
5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Selling over 3 million copies worldwide, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the best-selling game in the Fire Emblem franchise!
The developers took a unique approach to the story, which is split into two phases: the school phase and the combat phase. The school phase is spent instructing playable characters on combat and other attributes, while the combat phase is, well, when the player gets to engage in combat.
During the school phase, players can choose what their character cast will specialize in when it comes to weapons and class type, allowing more unique methods of battling enemies later in the game. Some prominent changes in the combat include the ability for each class to use any type of weapon, as well as the use of battalions which can boost the player’s allies or weaken their enemies.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses also features a new game plus mode, allowing players to start the game from the very beginning after completing the story while retaining some of their progression from their previous playthrough. Considering the freedom to develop your characters to suit your personal playstyle, as well as the amount of story content and satisfying combat, Fire Emblem: Three Houses can most definitely be considered become yet another classic under Nintendo’s belt!
6. Shin Megami Tensei V
As you might have gathered from its name, Shin Megami Tensei V is the fifth installment in the Shin Megami series. Deviating from the generally easy-going storylines of many RPGs, Shin Megami Tensei V instead chooses to take a darker approach to its overarching story and characters.
Set in a sort of post-apocalyptic world, Shin Megami Tensei V places an emphasis on its combat and general gameplay and limits the amount of cutscenes the player must watch, a refreshing move in a genre known for its long drawn out cutscenes. With more fluid movement, exploration feels exciting and fulfilling, allowing the player multiple options of getting around the world. The turn-based combat itself is difficult and forces players to carefully examine their choices before making a decision in battle; every move you make in this game counts, and one wrong move can yield devastating results!
Though Shin Megami Tensei V may not be for everyone, it’s a fantastic departure from the RPG formula we’ve all become so familiar with, and the story and gameplay execution are both flawless and incredibly satisfying. As a Switch-exclusive RPG, Shin Megami Tensei V is an excellent choice for RPG players seeking a bigger challenge in their games!
7. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
After nearly ten years without another entry in its series, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games come back strong with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order exclusively on the Nintendo Switch!
Featuring characters from all across the Marvel universe such as the Spider-verse, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Avengers, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is an action RPG in which players will race against the dreaded villain, Thanos, to obtain the Infinity Stones.
When played with friends in co-op, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’s combat shines through, lending itself to epic coordinated fights against your enemies. It’s a bit of a pity the progression system leaves more to be desired, and upgrades to playable characters are mostly boosts to their stats and go largely unnoticed. Despite this, the gameplay itself is jam-packed with spectacular action sequences and visuals resembling, well, comics!
Perhaps best enjoyed with friends, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is an exciting entry in the series and will hopefully pave the way for even more exciting action! In the meantime, players can enjoy this exclusively on their Switch playing as some of their favorite Marvel superheroes!
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “how did Miitopia make it on this list?!” Well, that’s why Gamepleton is here — to introduce some of the hidden gems in the world of gaming!
Miitopia is a surprisingly fun RPG which released in the summer of 2021. Featuring a turn-based combat system, Miitopia is very much a light-hearted, family-friendly take on the RPG genre. Previous Wii owners may remember customizing their “mii” avatar, and that customization makes its return in spectacular and hilarious fashion!
A notable change in the customization is the option to put on makeup on your mii, allowing for even more customized mii versions of yourself or your friends. It’s obvious this game is intended to be played with others; if you’re playing alone in battle, you can control only your character, while the AI controls the others in your party.
As is the norm in the RPG genre, exploration is rewarded with key items as players make their way through towns and castles. In classic Nintendo fashion, Miitopia is clearly designed to bring friends and family together for silly, memorable fun, and the game does a fantastic job tickling that itch! If you’re looking for an easy-going game to play with others, Miitopia is it!
Exclusively Yours, Switch Owners!
Although there are few Nintendo Switch-exclusive RPGs currently available, the titles that are available are sure to fill any RPG players’ desire to go on an adventure! Players can also rest assured that Nintendo is clearly committed to releasing more titles in the RPG genre, with the much-anticipated release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Triangle Strategy, and more exciting titles!
As we look to the future, it will be interesting to see how developers continue to push the Nintendo Switch’s hardware to its limits while delivering high quality experiences, like the games in this list. Until then, be sure to check out these Switch-exclusive RPGs and experience them for yourself!
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