Just like the 3DS before it, the Nintendo Switch is home to many of this generation’s best RPGs. From some of Nintendo’s own in-house teams, to indies and partners like Square Enix, there have been some truly great RPGs on this handheld-home console hybrid. Not only are new bangers in this genre being published to Switch, but old classics are ported as well, making the Switch a true haven for the RPG genre. Here are 6 of the best RPGs that you can get on the Nintendo Switch, as of 2023.
One of my favorite games of the past year, Citizen Sleeper offers a bit of a different roleplaying experience than the other games on this list. Instead of being a JRPG or featuring any sort of action, Citizen Sleeper functions more like a tabletop RPG. Using dice rolls to fuel your actions, you explore a space station full of incredibly compelling characters. You get to know a bounty hunter forced to hunt you down, a man running a mushroom stall, and a father and daughter just trying to make some money.
All of these characters have their own motivations, and it’s hard to know who to trust. Each character, though, offers their own compelling story. While the game does have some time-sensitive deadlines, it’s usually manageable enough to be able to see nearly everything the game has to offer (though making some mistakes is likely in your first playthrough). It’s also relatively short (I finished one playthrough in around 8 hours, and HowLongToBeat puts it at 6), making it a perfect RPG for a weekend, road trip, or long flight.
Purchase Citizen Sleeper here. Also available on Steam.
Final Fantasy (series)
Yeah, this is kind of cheating, but the longer I thought about it, the more it seemed impossible to include just a single Final Fantasy game on this list. The franchise that made the RPG genre what it is, Final Fantasy has had a ton of influence on the industry. It shows in their retro games that are ported to Switch, of which there are plenty to keep you busy. The list includes:
- Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy VIII
- Final Fantasy IX
- Final Fantasy X/X-2
- Final Fantasy XII
In addition to those existing ones, the Pixel Remasters of 1-6 are coming this spring. These games are something every RPG fan needs to experience if they haven’t already. If you’re looking for a good jumping on point, I’d recommend starting with the Final Fantasy X/X-2 remaster. It features the more classic gameplay the series is known for, with a unique upgrade system and cutscenes that look great in the remastered collection.
Purchase Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD Remaster here.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses released in 2018 and was the first main series game in the franchise released on the Switch, preceding 2023’s Fire Emblem Engage. While some have grown to prefer Engage due to its deeper, more complex tactical combat maps and systems, I believe that Three Houses is still the better experience, mostly due to its far better main story and characters.
Three Houses pushed Fire Emblem and perhaps even Nintendo’s storytelling further than it’s gone before, offering four unique storylines that give largely different versions of the game’s events. You can elect to play one of these storylines, or all four, depending on how much time you want to put in. If you only do one, though, I would highly recommend siding with the Blue Lions.
If you’re more after the tactics side of Fire Emblem, perhaps Engage is more for you. But Three Houses‘ story and presentation just blows that game out of the water. Just listen to this final boss theme and tell me you aren’t ready to slay whatever is in front of you:
Purchase Fire Emblem Three Houses here.
Persona 5 Royal
By now, you’ve probably heard enough about Persona 5 Royal to be tired of it, but you hear about it so much for good reason: it’s one of the most fun RPGs of recent memory, and as of October 2022, now one of the best RPGs on Switch. The social sim aspects are great, with (mostly) lovable characters that make you look forward to both the dungeon crawling and downtime phases of Royal. In addition, the game oozes with style, with the red and black color scheme present throughout nearly every menu in the game. It’s tough to make menus look sick, but that’s exactly what Persona 5 did. And, like Three Houses, the game has a banger soundtrack. Here’s one of my personal favorite tracks, “No More What Ifs:”
And pretty much the whole soundtrack is on that song’s level. It’s so good, pretty much an entire generation now thinks of jazz as “Persona music.” A blessing to the series, but a curse for every jazz musician.
Purchase Persona 5 Royal here.
And as an additional note: nearly all of the same compliments apply to Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden, both of which were recently released on the Switch eShop.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus
Pokemon Legends Arceus is one of the best innovations that Pokemon has brought to the series, and one of the best RPGs on the Switch. There’s an argument to be made to put the newly released Pokemon Scarlet & Violet on this list instead, but Legends is more deserving to me for being far more bold in the direction it pushed the series. The shakeup to main gameplay formula makes this game a true realization of the “catch ‘em all” model that the series has advertised since its inception.
For the first time, there’s no need to trade, transfer, or hack to complete a full Pokedex. The whole thing can be done individually, without a second game or player to trade and evolve Pokemon. The main game itself is fun enough, revolving around catching certain Pokemon and completing certain challenges to access later areas in the game. This loop is fun enough, but the game really shines in the postgame. Completing challenges to capture legendary Pokemon and exploring to finish up some missing Pokemon is very fun. Finally, the postgame culminates in what is the series best boss fight since Red in Pokemon Gold & Silver. If you skipped this one to wait for Scarlet & Violet, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.
Purchase Pokemon Legends Arceus here.
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
After being “remastered” for the New Nintendo 3DS (or as we all know it, the worst named console of all time), Xenoblade Chronicles finally got a proper remaster on Nintendo Switch. After having to fight to even get the game ported to the West, Xenoblade is now a well-respected RPG franchise in Nintendo’s lineup. You can really play the games out of order and still understand what’s going on, but our pick for the best is still the original. As opposed to a somewhat tutorial-filled beginning, the original game uses a more plot-heavy the player engrossed in the game’s world right away (there are still long tutorials, though. You’re playing an RPG). Once you get used to it, the combat is very satisfying, with plenty of combos and strategies to pull off using your team’s arts. This gameplay system and engrossing story makes Shulk’s story one worth seeing through until the very end.
Purchase Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition here.
Did we miss any picks for the best of the best on Switch? Let us know in the comments, or even better, reply on Twitter! Boosting our engagement would be a great way to really stick it to us, let us know that we’re wrong about Xenoblade or whatever.