The best free Nintendo Switch games

The Nintendo Switch offers an unparalleled gaming experience, allowing you to enjoy games big and small, no matter whether you’re on the couch or on the go. That said, Switch games rarely receive a discount, even if you’re constantly checking for the best Nintendo Switch deals. Our list of the best free Nintendo Switch games is here to help.

We’ve rounded up the top free-to-play games on Nintendo Switch, from Switch Online exclusives like Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99 to third-party hits like Fortnite and Rocket League. 

Keep in mind that, although all of the games below are free to start, they all feature microtransactions in one form or another. However, we restricted our picks only to games that have ethical microtransactions (no pay-gating or anything like that).

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Apex Legends

Apex Legends needs no introduction. It’s the larger-than-life battle royale FPS game that has continued to take the world by storm since it launched in 2019. Now, though, it’s available on the Switch. Although Apex Legends doesn’t look its best running on Nintendo’s handheld, it’s still the full, fat experience that’s available on consoles and PC, and it’s free to download and start playing.

If you haven’t played Apex Legends, you take control of one of several legendary characters in the Apex Games. It’s a 60-player battle to the death where you’ll have to use your special character abilities and any guns that you can find to survive. Unfortunately, the Switch version doesn’t have cross-save or cross-progression, but you can still use all of the characters and weapons available in the game.

Nintendo eShop

Pac-Man 99

Pac-Man 99 is the next classic-turned-battle-royale. Like Tetris 99 and, formerly, Super Mario 35, Pac-Man 99 is a battle royale game based around the classic Pac-Man experience. You and 98 other players just play Pac-Man. But, instead of competing for the top score, you’re trying to survive. Each time you eat a Ghost, you send phantom Pac-Men to other players, and if they run into them, they’ll slow down for the rest of the game. On the flip side, if they eat one while going for a Ghost, they’ll get a speed boost.

Although it can get repetitive quickly, Pac-Man 99 is great for a few rounds whenever you have a little bit of downtime. Even better, the free mode is the best part of the experience. You can pay $29.99 for some extra skins and a couple of variations of score attack modes, but Pac-Man 99 shines with 98 other players on screen.

Nintendo eShop

Knockout City

It’s remarkable that it took until 2021 to get a good dodgeball video game, but that’s what Knockout City is. Minus some wild jumps and dives, it’s basically virtual dodgeball. Two teams face off trying to knock out each other. It takes two hits to knock out a player with a standard ball, but Knockout City includes balls with special effects, too. The Bomb Ball, for example, will explodes on impact after it’s thrown.

It’s a simple premise, but once you master dodging, catching, throwing, and passing, there are endless possibilities. On Switch, Knockout City is free to download and start playing. You can raise your Street Rank up to level 25, which is basically Knockout City‘s version of a battle pass. After that, the Switch game is $19.99. Frankly, though, the free period gives you more than enough time to play Knockout City, and if you make it to Street Rank 25, buying the full version is probably worth it.

Nintendo eShop

Tetris 99

Tetris 99 is the free game on Nintendo Switch (now that Super Mario 35 is gone, at least). Although you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to play, the game itself is free to download. Unlike a traditional Tetris game, 99 has you facing off against 99 other players in a battle royale. If you get a double, triple, or a Tetris, you send some junk — unfinished lines — to your opponent, filling their board and potentially sending them back to the main menu to start a new game.

There is something so visceral and frantic about battling head to head with other players in Tetris. Thankfully, if you want a more relaxed experience, that’s available, too, in the form of the Big Block DLC. It’ll run you $10, but considering the base game is free, it’s an easy sell.

Nintendo eShop

Fortnite

Fortnite might be the biggest shooter game in the world, and it’s available for just about every platform, including the Switch. You can easily link your accounts in-game, allowing you to carry over your progress from PC, PS4, or Xbox One (even mobile, if you’re an Android Fortnite fiend). Battle Royale and Creative modes are available on Switch, though Save the World is not.

Although you’ll need an internet connection to play Fortnite, you don’t need Nintendo Switch Online. Fortnite is one of a few exceptions to Nintendo’s paid online subscription.

Nintendo eShop

Warframe

Warframe isn’t just one of the best free Nintendo Switch games, it’s one of the best free games in general. This third-person shooter/slasher single-handedly proved that free-to-play games can come with AAA quality and a load of free content, establishing the same business model that other entries on this list follow.

The game functions similarly to Destiny 2. In Warframe, you take control of one of more than 30 Warframes, armor units that have their own abilities and customization. You can then take your custom character out on various short quests, either alone or with up to three other people. As you progress, you’ll be able to unlock new weapons, items, and worlds, each of which offers dozens of hours of gameplay.

Nintendo eShop

Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter came out of nowhere, announced and released during a Bethesda E3 press conference in 2015. Originally just released for iOS devices, the game has since been ported to Android, Windows, PS4, Xbox One, and, most importantly, Switch. No matter if you’re on your TV or on the go, you can build and manage your Fallout vault.

Rather than focusing on the dangerous nuclear wasteland outside the vault, Fallout Shelter focuses on what happens inside. In the game, you’re the overseer of a vault, tasked with managing your population, building new rooms, and ensuring you have enough resources to survive. Although the setup is similar to “idle” games like AdVenture Capitalist, Fallout Shelter has a surprising amount of depth.

Nintendo eShop

Brawlhalla

Brawlhalla is a Smash Bros.-like fighting game just a little worse and a whole lot cheaper. It features the same eight-player arena battles of Smash Bros., but without the nostalgic Nintendo characters in tow. Instead, Brawlhalla offers a long list of Legends, with eight free ones cycling through your roster each week. You can purchase all of the Legends, but since they’ll all be available for free at some point, it won’t give you an in-game edge.

That’s what’s most impressive about Brawlhalla — it has microtransactions, but not to the point that it feels pay-to-win. All of the characters feel balanced, so you could easily spend hundreds of hours in Brawlhalla without spending a dime. Furthermore, the game supports cross-play between PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switc

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