Even if money is tight, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same should apply to one’s entertainment. This is especially true in gaming, as there exists a bevy of free-to-play titles across multiple systems. It’s easy to see, though, that F2P titles have a less than savory reputation. Such titles often bring practices such as microtransactions and loot boxes into the conversation, though this isn’t the case for all. In fact, a glance in the direction of arguably the biggest video game company in the world will show that there is a number of Nintendo Switch free-to-play games that matter.
Nintendo Switch Free-to-Play Games
First and foremost, it’s important to define a free-to-play game in this context. Per the name, it’s a game that doesn’t cost any money to boot up and begin playing. At the onset, there are no strings attached. However, the presence of microtransactions and other supplementary purchases will be consistent. The goal of this piece is to find the titles that don’t heavily rely on microtransactions to be considered enjoyable. In other words, the following titles will allow players to enjoy themselves without having to pay one red cent. Let’s take a deeper look at the best Nintendo Switch free-to-play games.
Starting off the discussion of Nintendo Switch free-to-play games is one that comes with a caveat. Namely, it’s free for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. The idea of Tetris is easy to understand: arrange falling blocks to clear lines as their speed slowly intensifies. While this gameplay has stood the test of time, Tetris 99 takes it to the next level, pitting the player against 98 others in a battle royale format. The result is nothing short of ingenious and one that would be followed up by Pac-Man 99 and, for a brief period, Super Mario Bros. 35.
As far as Tetris 99 is concerned, it’s perhaps the most accessible free-to-play title on Switch. This is largely due to the easy-to-learn nature of Tetris itself, as virtually anyone can start playing. It can be a challenge to be the last player standing, however, since you’ll be joined by other competitive players. Since the game’s release, a series of DLC followed and special events have been held, adding to the game’s long-term value. While a retail version of the game was released in 2019, Tetris 99 remains a free-to-play experience for Nintendo Switch Online members.
Sky: Children of the Light
Sky: Children of the Light isn’t what one would expect from a conventional F2P title. Nonetheless, it’s among the most creative Nintendo Switch free-to-play games. Sky places the player in the role of a nameless wanderer as they fly and traverse sweeping areas, discovering new realms and forging friendships with other players online. Given that Sky was developed and published by Thatgamecompany, known for such artistic, imaginative titles as Flower and Journey, Sky is on-brand for the developer and in a positive way.
Sky: Children of the Light was originally released on iOS in 2019 and Android in 2020 before ultimately making its way to Switch this past June. Sky provides a number of options for players, including the ability to switch between 30 to 60 frames per second for better performance. Nonetheless, the game’s unique art style wasn’t lost in the transition from mobile platforms to Switch. While one may argue that Sky‘s approach is relatively basic, it stands as an inventive title that doesn’t cost a cent to boot up and begin playing.
If you’re looking for a free-to-play experience with old-school flair, Retrograde Arena may be for you. Developed by Neon Doctrine, Retrograde Arena is a multiplayer twin stick shooter that takes the top-down shooting genre in a unique direction. Specifically, it’s not bullets that are the lethal weapons, but rather, the environment. The game tasks players with shooting one another, propelling them against walls and other surfaces to defeat them. Local multiplayer is available, though it’s online where the true challenge lies.
The base game is entirely free, though it can be expanded via DLC. There currently exist 3 DLC packs, each priced at $4.99. Collectively, they expand Retrograde Arena with new modes, maps, and skins. This isn’t to say that they’re necessary, however, as the vanilla experience is still very exciting and competitive. It may not hold your attention for the long term, but as a game in which a few rounds can be played at a time, Retrograde Arena is a Nintendo Switch F2P to experience.
One-half soccer and one-half combat vehicle sport doesn’t even come close to perfectly describing Rocket League. Developed and published by Psyonix, this game pits teams of cars against one another as they attempt to score as many goals as possible. The game was originally released on PC and PS4 before landing on other platforms since then. Among these was Nintendo Switch with a release on November 14, 2017. Originally a paid game, it transitioned to a free-to-play model in September of 2020 across all platforms.
To say that Rocket League is a popular multiplayer game would be an understatement. The fact that it joins the likes of the FIFA and Madden series as an esports title in the general sports genre speaks volumes. Thus, a release on Nintendo Switch was a no-brainer. This particular port was done by Panic Button – this is a company that we will discuss again in this piece – and they ensured that the Switch version ran well compared to other platforms. Give Rocket League a few rounds and you may find yourself swept up in the hype as well.
Love it or hate it, there are a few games as popular as Fortnite. Developed and published by Epic Games, this iconic battle royale game is best known for its PvP survival mode. Pitting 100 players against one another, the mode in question tests players based on their combat, driving, and scavenging abilities, all the while tasking them with eliminating other players. When people think of Fortnite, it’s often this mode that springs to mind.
Among the seemingly countless platforms that Fortnite landed on was Nintendo Switch on July 12, 2018. Since its release, it has seen consistent content updates. These ensure that players on the portable and home console hybrid weren’t left out of the conversation. Furthermore, performance is quite strong on Switch, despite said platform’s limited hardware. While there are instances when graphical fidelity takes a hit, such as when aiming over long distances, performance is consistent. Though opinion on this title varies, Fortnite is among the most notable Nintendo Switch free-to-play games.
Warframe can best be described as a full-fledged gaming experience provided at no cost. This was one of the first major Nintendo Switch free-to-play titles released and to say that it set a high bar would be an understatement. It was originally released on PC before landing on home consoles, including the Switch on November 20, 2018. Originally developed and published by Digital Extremes, the Switch port was done by Panic Button. The Switch version is still an incredibly impressive feat, providing Nintendo enthusiasts with a PC gaming-like experience.
This multiplayer online third-person shooter title plays exactly how it did on PC. It even includes various performance settings that the player can play with. It also hasn’t been stripped of content, as updates have been rolled out since its Switch release. While it’s entirely possible to make in-game purchases, they aren’t necessary to get value out of Warframe. Even if one doesn’t invest any real-life money into this title, it won’t feel like much is lost, which makes it one of the most worthwhile Nintendo Switch free-to-play games.
This list doesn’t begin to touch on many of the other F2P games on Nintendo Switch. From Ninjala to Rogue Company to Spellbreak and beyond, there are many titles that cost nothing to get into. This is especially true for new Switch owners that may be itching for new content. If you’ve already been set back a few hundred dollars, it’s safe to assume that you’ll be waiting to pick up a few retail games. While you’re waiting, consider these options that will not only make matters easy on your bank account but, as far as free-to-play titles are concerned, may surprise you.