Who feels like exploring the best open world Nintendo Switch games of the year?
I hope the answer is you, otherwise the rest of this article is going to feel a little awkward, to say the least…
Yes, the Nintendo Switch now plays host to some of the biggest and best open world titles on any home console. For many, open world games are now what we look for when buying new titles, levels that span on for miles and miles with no limit to your possibilities or imagination.
It’s what we’ve become used to, with many of the games in this list acting as a blueprint for new and upcoming titles… and some copycat ones too (Fenyx Immortals Rising, I’m talking about you!).
But what are the best open world Nintendo Switch games for the console? Which titles make my jaw drop, and which have the best adventuring value for money?
Find out right here!
10. Starlink: Battle for Atlas (2018)
Yes, that is Fox McCloud up there on the cover for Starlink: Battle for Atlas!
Fox McCloud only appears up on the Nintendo Switch version, however, making this the quintessential version out of all the home console ports.
In a bit of an update to LylatWars, gamers can now piece together their very own Starship.
I’m not talking about in the game; you can actually make a starship mounted to your controller and change parts in real time!
It’s a fully interactive experience!
Battle for Atlas allows gamers to get super creative with their customisation. Chose from a whole range of pilots, wings, guns, and other exciting integral spaceship parts to create the ultimate fighting machine, all by adding pieces to your model.
The Atlas Star system is a stunning sight to behold too. It’s so beautiful that you could be forgiven for forgetting how brutally dangerous space is, with enemies lying in wait around every corner waiting to kill you.
Be creative; like the 3rd game in this list, every move you make affects the rest of the gameplay and how the enemies react to you. Only make measured moves, and may the force be with you…
… wrong franchise…
9. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings Of Ruin (2021)
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin takes the 9th spot in this list of the best open world Nintendo Switch games of all time!
If slaying critters, hunting monsters, and open world shenanigans are your bag, then you’ve stopped on the right game.
This second offering from the epic RPG series derived from the Monster Hunter universe boasts Fire Emblem-esque strategic fights and all of the elements that, as kids, we wished were parts of real life.
Becoming a rider and befriending monsters is what being an adult should really be about, not paying bills and trying to make sure your children go onto great things…
Speaking of children, you play as the grandson of a famous rider. After meeting a lady clutching a mysterious egg, you must set out on a journey which will test your bond to the very limits, all the while discovering everything about the legends that are part of the very fabric of your world.
Pretty deep, right?
8. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected (2020)
Fans of the original Saints Row game won’t need convincing when it comes to purchasing Saints Row IV: Re-Elected.
Apart from receiving some graphics updates to keep it looking fresh, this new version includes all 26 DLC packs as standard, giving you everything you need to enjoy the ultimate Saint’s Row experience.
And all for $30!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play a computer game while controlling the President of the United States? What about a POTUS that can transcend time and space like the Lisan al-ghaib.
(One for the Dune fans there).
Free the world in this epic open world game where politics and superheroes combine. Use alien weaponry and psychic mind powers in every quest. Team up with a friend or go it alone either on the TV or in handheld mode.
I wonder if Joe Biden can leap over buildings too?
7. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles (2018)
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles takes the 7th spot in our list of the best open world Nintendo Switch games of all time!
MergeGames have made an absolutely stunning title here. The world looks and feels like a slightly more stylised version of BOTW, boasting eight different environments with their own climates and impressive features.
Play through luscious beaches and savage mountain ranges, discovering flowers, animals, and the people that call these places home.
An evil murk has shrouded the land and instilled fear into the hearts the world’s citizens… a little like Ganon, then?
Help the residents of Gemea, farm, fish, and destroy enemies, all with a view of becoming the champion. Team up with mystical creatures as you discover your true potential, a classic fantasy self-discvoery tale of epic proportions
6. Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection (2019)
So I need to come clean about something; until I played Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection. I never really liked Assassin’s Creed games.
I know I know, I’ve just lost a lot of the audience, but it’s got to be said. And it’s not even as if these games are new, dropping in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
I think having them on the Switch and playing in handheld mode just allowed me to sit back and appreciate them a whole lot more. At their core, these games do feel inherently different to the original titles and look visually stunning too, especially thanks to the special treatment they’ve received through remastering.
Don’t worry if you’re coming to the Assassin’s Creed party late. This remastered collection contains all of the DLC add-ons for both games too.
Think of it as having everything underneath one plastic-cased game-box roof with no need for messing around.
Of course, this is now one of the best open world Nintendo Switch games, so there are a few extra exciting differences thrown in for good measure too.
Other than handheld mode, players can take advantage of HD rumble and motion control aiming, making the whole game 100% more immersive!
5. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (2020)
If you’re a fan of the original Xenoblade Chronicles game, then the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition will blow you away.
It’s impossible to have a best open world Nintendo Switch games without talking about XC. With supercharged graphics and subtle changes to the main game such as increased difficulty options and better quest tracking facilities, this is true the definitive edition of the legendary title.
Fans of the original will also be stoked to discover that there’s a new epilogue section to play through. You don’t even have to play the main game to get to it, making it possible to play through this new chapter before tackling the main plot.
For those of you that haven’t played Xenoblade before, it was the largest open-world game on any Nintendo machine until BOTW dropped. With epic real-time battles against monsters that look as though they’ve jumped straight from Final Fantasy, it’s a killer RPG that boasts some serious weaponry and exciting gameplay.
Search for secrets, navigate the world and dungeons through day and night, and try to stay alive… which is tougher than it sounds!
4. Minecraft (2017)
If you don’t know about Minecraft, then you might not be a functioning human.
Yes, one of the best Xbox 360 games of all time has made its way to the Nintendo Switch in spectacular fashion, providing Minecraft fans with the option of playing on the go, on the bog on the bus, or just stretched back on the sofa.
Minecraft is one of those gaming institutions like Mazza, Spyro, and Halo that are instantly recognisable. Just scrolling through the epic worlds that people have made in this game such as a Hyrule scene or the Taj Mahal gives me goosebumps.
See, computer games can promote creativity!
With Minecraft, the only limit is your imagination. Build anything, mine everything, and play as long or as little as you want every time you pick up the controller.
This game has sold way over 200 million copies, even more than the iconic GTA V. If that isn’t a success story, then I don’t know what is!
3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition (2019)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Poland’s finest hero, officially takes the Retro Dodo bronze medal of open world excellence!
Honestly, this game has everything and more in it. I can’t begin to explain how much it blows my mind every time I turn it on. I just wish the GOT producers had paid a little more attention to this game then that final series might not have been such a let down!
If you’re looking for addictive gameplay and fast-paced action in a stunning game world, then you’ve come to the right place.
And, if you’re already familiar with the Witcher books written by Andrezj Sapkowski, then you’ll already know how fantastic the story is. The books sparked the games, which in turn made a Netflix series happen. The rest is history.
Players take the iconic Gerald of River on a mission to hunt down monsters, kill demons and ghouls, and explore incredibly locations wile roaming for mysteries.
I could spend hours just trundling around in this game and often do…
Every action you make affects how the game plays out from thereon in, so think twice before you say or do anything!
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2017)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes second place in our list of the best open world Nintendo Switch games of all time.
This is another game that needs no introduction whatsoever, being one of the most famous titles of all time and the pinnacle title in the Elder Scrolls series.
This game won 200 titles even before it came to the Switch, for crying out loud. It’s the real deal!
Whether you play handheld or dock up to your TV, gamers can take Dragonborn, now dressed up as Link with Champion’s Tunic, Master Sword, and Hylian shield, through all the levels of this classic game.
Ten years on and I’m still finding things that I never discovered the first time round of playing Skyrim.
It might not have topped this list, but Skyrim is noted as being pretty much the first visually enticing open-world title on the scene, influencing all the other titles in this list and many more.
Do anything, challenge everyone, and slay dragons with brutal weaponry. There’s plenty of DLC content already included in the Switch version too; the gift that never stops giving!
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (2017)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t just the best Nintendo Switch game of all time, but it’s also the best open world Nintendo Switch game of all time too!
I have loved the Legend of Zelda series with a strong passion for as long as I can remember. Reading through the Ocarina of Time guide in the Nintendo Magazine, discovering the colour Dungeon in Link’s Awakening… it’s all ingrained in my childhood.
Skyward Sword teased some of the elements that we would later see in Breath of the Wild, but nothing could have prepared any Zelda fan for the incredibly scale of BOTW. It was like nothing we had ever experienced and changed the Zelda formula forever!
It takes 90 minutes to run from one side of Hyrule to the other in this game… running, not walking. This game is huge, and nothing is off limits.
Climb anywhere, cook hundreds of different meal combinations, craft arrows, pick up weapons that break; literally everything that we know about Zelda was thrown out of the window in favour of this open-world behemoth!
Everything from catching wild horses to riding bears is on the table. And the enemies are insane too; I wouldn’t like to come against a Red Lynel at any point in my life, virtually or otherwise!
Battle Guardians, avenge the Champions, and defeat Ganon. Enjoy yourself with this one, you’ll love it.
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.