How times change! It used to be that you would go to your local video game store, bring the game of your choice to the counter, hand over some cash, and run home to put it in your console. Not only has digital distribution removed the need to leave the house, many games can be downloaded to your console for absolutely nothing. Marvellous!
Of course, free games (F2P) will have in-game purchases such as cosmetics, Battle Pass subscriptions, or certain modes that can be locked behind a paywall until you give the developers moneybut nowadays, many “freemium” games offer a huge amount of accessible content for exactly $0 – the best possible price!
The following varied list of the best free Switch games can be downloaded from the Nintendo Switch eShop for the princely sum of zero dollars right now, and almost none of them require a Nintendo Switch Online membership to play either (at exception of a few that we couldn’t resist adding). Perfect if you’re looking to save your pennies.
So let’s take a look — in no particular order — to the best free games on Switch…
Editor: epic games / Developer: epic games
There is a strong chance that Fortnite already graces your Switch dashboard, and for good reason. Epic delivered the full Fortnite (Battle Royale) experience on Nintendo’s ‘homeheld’, with stable performance and all the bells and whistles of versions on other platforms, plus motion controls for those of us who can’t live without them ever since Splatoon. With all the myriad costumes, IP crossovers, and seasonal mayhem that continues through the chapters, this just one more turn feeling has survived the transition to Nintendo’s console perfectly intact. Before you know it, you’re looking at the clock at 3:56 thinking ‘hmm, that’s not a round number’. The heart-pounding suspense of reaching the final two may not be wholesome, but it sure is addicting.
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Editor: Digital extremes / Developer: Emergency button
While Digital Extremes hasn’t quite perfected the formula it needs to make Warframe completely accessible – the number of interconnected systems and customizable elements suggests it never quite will be – it still offers a cooperative third-person shooter with all the MMORPG elements you never thought you’d see work on Nintendo Switch. From the impressive visual fidelity Panic Button has maintained to the breadth of content you can access for free, Warframe is a fabulous showcase of what’s possible in the F2P space, as well as what the Switch is capable of.
Editor: nintendo / Developer: nintendo
As a standalone game, Super Kirby Clash holds up well to the standard of the Kirby series with its incredibly diverse boss roster, simple RPG-lite mechanics, and deep replay potential. Although the online multiplayer is an unstable and unreliable mess, that’s no reason for you not to at least download the game and give it a shot. As a free version, Super Kirby Clash also manages to manage its monetization smartly and doesn’t hold back too much, giving you a fair amount of time-limited content relative to how much you’re willing to pay. We’d give Super Kirby Clash a high recommendation even if it was a low retail priced release, but given that it literally costs you nothing but your time, do yourself a favor and download- it as soon as you can.
Editor: MY GAMES / Developer: The Allods team
Nintendo Switch is really accumulating a decent selection of shooters. Warface isn’t particularly pretty, and its approach to accessing content means you’ll probably spend most of your time playing with rented items and weapons, but it still brought solid asymmetric online FPS action to Switch in a way that no other shooter has succeeded so far. It may not have the finesse of the bigger boys in the genre, but with stable performance in both modes and a huge amount of content (both now and in the future), like Payday 2Paladins, Fortnite, and Warframe now have another rival for your online hours.
Editor: Tencent Games / Developer: Tencent Games
With solid netcode, accessible and nice version of MOBA template and free template, Arena of Valor is a strong entry into the free-to-play space on Switch. Although it had some technical issues at launch, one of the biggest games in the world is available on Switch, and that’s something to celebrate – especially when it costs absolutely nothing to play.
Editor: Psyonix-Studios / Developer: Psyonix-Studios
One of the true online multiplayer success stories of modern gaming, rocket league was an essential addition to the Switch’s arresting library even before it went free in September 2020; now there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be your system. The spirit of the game has transferred seamlessly, with the added benefit of handheld play that offers the ability to host local matches with your Switch-owning friends wherever and whenever you want. Developer Panic Button has done an absolutely fantastic job with this port, but other than the technical wizardry, what really matters is that the base game is so addictive, so compelling, so enjoyable and – maybe above all – so deep. It rewards skillful play and persistence, and new tactics and strategies seem to come out of every match you play. Only the occasional network casts a shadow over this otherwise sublime release, but it’s still an essential online experience.
Editor: Hi-Rez Studios / Developer: Hi-Rez Studios
As a free game, Paladins: Champions of the Realm is an easy sell. As exciting, tense and rewarding as Surveillance, it brings the cross-platform hero shooter to a new platform without sacrificing the more sophisticated gameplay tenants that have made it such a hit with casual and professional gamers. There’s a definite learning curve for those looking to play competitively, but it’s one of the best multiplayer shooters on the console nonetheless.
Editor: GunHo America / Developer: GunHo America
Galak-Z: Variant S is a more focused and tighter experience than its precursor, but one that offers surprising depth thanks to the often staggering upgrade opportunities on offer. Going the freemium route, developer 17-Bit Studios was forced to introduce timers that can be canceled by spending real money, but these are deployed in a thoughtful way and even if you decide to dig deep into your pocket, you will always need considerable shots. skills needed to overcome the increasingly severe – albeit somewhat repetitive – challenge.
Editor: Phoenix Laboratories / Developer: Phoenix Laboratories
Phoenix Labs has done a great job with Intrepiddesigning a game that takes the best of monster hunter and whittles them down into a fast-paced, easily accessible action experience that’s sure to demand dozens of hours of your time once it gets the better of you. On top of that, you’re never hit by microtransactions, and it’s easier than ever to play with friends on other platforms. While this Switch port struggles from a performance standpoint, it’s still enjoyable on a consistent enough basis that such issues can be mostly overlooked. It literally costs you nothing more than time to try out Dauntless, and we highly recommend giving it a shot.