Open world games are a dime a dozen in modern gaming, and the Nintendo Switch has some of the finest examples in the genre. From modern-day classics to reimaginings of classic Nintendo franchises, the Switch is host to a plentiful bounty of open-world adventures.
Switch gamers have access to some of the best open worlds in gaming in, quite literally, the palm of their hand. The novelty of having access to console-scale worlds on a handheld device hasn't quite rubbed off yet, here are the best open-world games on the Nintendo Switch.
Updated June 17, 2021, by Thomas Heath: The Nintendo Switch continues to be a popular destination for open-world games. The console's hybrid nature allows the exploration of giant worlds never before seen on a handheld system. The system boasts an impressive library of open-world adventures with older titles such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim sitting alongside newer adventures such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, as well as Nintendo's own first-party offerings.
This list has been updated to reflect the wide range of open-world experiences on the Nintendo Switch, from smaller indie releases to AAA titles from major publishers such as Bethesda and Nintendo.
10 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Release Date: 11/17/2017
Metacritic Score: 84
If Skyrim is available on a console, the chance that it's one of the best open-world games on that system is high. The Switch version of the game adds very little not seen in other versions, but the core Skyrim experience is fully realised on the hybrid system. It's one of the most replayable games on this list, as well, with nearly limitless potential for gamers to create their own unique stories in each and every playthrough.
9 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition
Release Date: 10/15/2019
Metacritic Score: 85
The Complete Edition of The Witcher 3 contains all the content released for the game. It may not be quite as pretty as its other console brethren. But all 150+ hours of content is presented with no sacrifices aside from a reduction in visual quality.
The two-story expansions included are fantastic additions, too. Moreover, players have come to adore the card game Gwent so much that it now has its own separate spin-off.
Release Date: 07/20/2018
Metacritic Score: 86
Could Minecraft be considered the most expansive open-world game ever? It definitely is the most successful having sold more than 200 million copies across all platforms. In reality, Minecraft is an amalgamation of a whole host of genres, but it definitely has a lot of open-world elements.
The portable nature of the Switch version makes it a preferable way to play around in the sandbox world Minecraft offers.
7 A Short Hike
Release Date: 08/18/2020
Metacritic Score: 88
A Short Hike takes place on a small island and puts players in control of a flightless bird. The island can be explored in any way and order, with a wealth of hidden treasures and activities to partake in.
It's a charming game and a perfect example of how sometimes it's nice to just sit back and enjoy a relaxing experience that lets players simply explore the world it presents.
6 Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Release Date: 05/29/2020
Metacritic Score: 89
The remastered version of the first game in the Xenoblade series is an essential experience for RPG fans. The game's unique combat system can put some players off, but persisting through it provides players with an impactful story that will keep them engaged for more than 65 hours. Enough polish has been applied to this remaster to make it worthy of a playthrough for JRPG fans.
5 Okami HD
Release Date: 08/09/2018
Metacritic Score: 89
Okami HD is one of the best Zelda-inspired games available on the Switch. It holds its own as an incredibly unique adventure that will likely never see a successor.
An ode to Japanese folklore, Okami's story draws inspiration from ancient stories and myths in its narrative. It's also probably the best example of a game that blurs the line between games and art.
4 Hollow Knight
Release Date: 06/12/2018
Metacritic Score: 90
Hollow Knight is brutally hard and can occasionally border on feeling unfair, but there is a reason it is perceived as one of the best indies ever made. The non-linear layout of Hallownest allows gamers to explore the numerous realms of the kingdom any way they wish to do so with few barriers in their way.
The combat is excellent, as is the story that unfolds as players explore Hallownest. It also includes all additional content for free, resulting in a 45 - 50 hour experience.
3 Retro City Rampage DX
Release Date: 08/03/2017
Metacritic Score: 91
Retro City Rampage DX puts players in an open-world city heavily influenced by 80s and 90s pop culture. It's a tongue-in-cheek parody of games from the era too, with lots of references to games both old and new. Its time travel-based story is fantastic, too, while the GTA-inspired gameplay is incredibly fun. Players have the ability to hijack vehicles and use an extensive range of firearms to wreak havoc in Theftropolis.
2 Super Mario Odyssey - 97
Release Date: 10/27/2017
Metacritic Score: 97
Nintendo's latest attempt at 3D Mario is arguably its greatest. Super Mario Odyssey presents players with 16 brilliant sandbox worlds to explore -- all jam-packed with moons to collect. On top of this, Odyssey is the best that Mario has ever felt with an impressively expansive movement set.
Odyssey is the most inventive attempt at putting Mario into a 3D space Nintendo has ever released.
1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
Release Date: 03/17/2017
Metacritic Score: 97
Breath of the Wild is the highest-rated Switch game on Metacritic and it has changed the future of the Zelda series forever. This entry into the franchise introduced an open- world for Zelda fans to explore for the first time and thrusts players into a Hyrule with limitless possibilities and ways to create their own adventures.
It also introduced survival elements such as cooking different foods with varying effects and temperatures that added refreshing new elements to the legendary series.
You've never seen a space opera like this.