Best RPG Games for Nintendo Switch iMore 2021
Role-playing games deliver a different experience than many other games you can expect to find on Nintendo Switch. Instead of a game that revels in violence, you're put into the world of a character and expected to fulfill an epic quest of one kind or another. Whether this means roving the wilds chasing down dragons, finding the story behind 8 different travelers, or bringing a farm back to its former glory, Nintendo Switch gives you some great options. Out of all of them Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee or Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu are the best delivering a stellar pokemon experience with new features in the Kanto region that so many players already know and love.
- Best Overall: Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee!
- Best Overall: Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu!
- Best JRPG: Octopath Traveler
- Best Open World: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Nintendo Switch
- Best Platform: Child of Light
- Best Farm Sim: Stardew Valley
- Best Remastered: Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age
- Most Anticipated: Pokemon Sword
- Most Anticipated: Pokemon Shield
Best Overall: Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee! and Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu!
Returning to the Kanto region to capture Pokemon has never been as much fun as it is with Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee and Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu. Finally, we get a bigger screen filled with green grass, or rock paths that are filled with a variety of Pokemon just waiting for you to capture them. Since Kanto was the first region many Pokemon players ever experienced, this game is a nostalgia trip that will appeal to old fans and new alike.
Catching pokemon in these games is similar to that of Pokemon Go. You also don't ever have to wonder about whether a certain type of pokemon is nearby since to capture them you'll trigger the combat by walking into them on screen. This means you can avoid the pokemon you don't want to capture, or trigger bonuses by capturing several of the same species in a row. When you chain together a combo of captures, you can also get rarer pokemon to spawn, or snag candies that will help you boost stats of the pokemon you already own.
Unlike previous games, its very clear from the onset that you aren't alone in this journey. Whether you are playing Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee or Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu, your sidekicks have their own strengths and personality to aid you in your travels. They react to the things you do, and are seriously powerful beasties in adorable pastel colors. If you do a good job training your little buddy, they can easily mow through just about anything thrown at them including teams of other Pokemon, along with learning fierce new moves for battle.
Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee and Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu are Nintendo Switch exclusives, and it's easy to see why they're the best RPG available on the console. You get access to an excellent game that lets you play through the Kanto region fighting gym leaders and capturing Pokemon as you go. With awesome new additions like your buddy Pokemon, a new capture system, and great graphics, it's easy to sink 50 or more hours into the game before you finish.
- Awesome graphics
- Adorable sidekick of Eevee or Pikachu
- Excellent gameplay mechanics
- Turn based battles become monotonous
- Capturing erratic pokemon can be quite difficult due to controls
Best JRPG: Octopath Traveller
Eight very different people come together for an epic quest across the world. Each one has their own skills, personality, and goals, but they've come together somehow. It doesn't matter why they're working together, only that you're willing to help them succeed at the tasks that drive them. Eight characters, eight stories; this is Octopath Traveller.
In many ways, JRPG games have lost the popularity that they once held with American gamers. Octopath Traveller attempts to recapture the magic of games like Chrono Trigger with retro graphics, a cute story, and time-based combat systems. While they aren't entirely successful due to a disjointed story, there is a certain charm in Octopath Traveller that will speak to many longtime RPG fans. A lot of this is simply due to the graphics and sound design which work well together to invoke a sense of nostalgia, making it feel like you've played the game in the past, even when it is brand new.
Each of the eight characters has their own narrative that brings them to life. You'll play out joy, tragedy, betrayal, and victory alike as you game through the stories of a pious cleric, a murderous dancer, a idealistic trader, and more. Combat is a significant part of gameplay and it's a mixture of older time-based mechanics and newer tweaks that add to the gameplay to keep it from feeling stale. You'll want to capitalize on the weaknesses of enemies and think strategically to win out in battles, especially since you'll be stuck waiting for your action gauge to refill itself.
- Fun combat system
- Great character design
- Awesome throwback look and feel
- Story seems disjointed
- Grinding becomes necessary in late game
Best Open World: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim was originally released way back in 2011 to third-gen consoles, since then it's gotten a number of different updates that brought it to current gen systems. Those updates and tweaks mean that one of the best open world RPGs to ever be released is available on Nintendo Switch, and it looks better than ever before. Aside from some small issues with frame rate drops, it's easy to fall into a world that includes icy peaks, green forests, big cities, and small towns alike. It's also a truly massive game with hundreds of hours of content that includes optional dungeons, side quests, main quests, and even quests that are specific to certain professions like being a theif or an assassin.
Additionally, there are tons of awesome customization options. The game is exactly what you make of it. This starts at character creation where you decide exactly what you want to look like and it continues on from there. Weapons, armor, clothing, sidekicks...all of it is up to you. Later in the game, you'll even acquire houses which can be decorated, and if you so choose, you can take a partner or have kids. Everything comes together to deliver a world that feels alive and open to any possibility you stumble across.
- Hundreds of hours of gameplay
- Tons of different quest lines
- Great customization options
- Gameplay is still buggy
- Occasional frame rate drops are frustrating
- Combat can be hard to get the hang of
Best Platform: Child of Light
Child of Light is the story of the Princess Aurora, who dies and awakens in the misty gray land of Lemuria. All she truly wants to do is to return home to her grieving father, but to do that she will have to complete a quest. She must track down the sun, moon, and stars, all stolen out of the sky by the wicked Queen of the Night. Child of Light feels like an old school JRPG, while taking advantage of newer graphics and mechanics to deliver an experience any RPG fan can fall in love with.
The art style of Child of Light is particularly compelling. It's a 2D world that is hand-painted in whirls of gray and blue that make Aurora, with her red hair, pop against the background. Similarly, the audio design is fantastic, with a score that draws you into the world, and involves you in the emotional story.
Child of Light uses a time-based battle system which does take some getting used to in our world of real-time fights, but it doesn't take too long. You'll be able to attack, defend, or use magic and be strategic when you do. After all, you won't be able to do anything as you wait for the action gauge to refill. As you level up, you can make these gauges fill faster by opting for specific spells or abilities that boost both Aurora and the allies she meets along her journey.
- Gorgeous graphics
- Great story
- Awesome JRPG gameplay mechanics
- Puzzles can be tricky
- Spells and monsters lack variety
Best Farm Sim: Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is a simple story: your grandfather has left you a farm in the town of Stardew Valley. Upon arrival, the farm has seen better days with an overgrown field and ruins. In fact, the entire town seems to be in a bit of a slump, but with some help it can return to being an excellent place to live and work.
The main gameplay of Stardew Valley is about bringing your farm back to it's glory days. You can plant a variety of different plants for each season (with the exception of winter) as well as taking advantage of foraging, mining, and fishing. As you play, you'll meet the many other people in town, go to town events, and maybe even fall in love.
Starting out requires clearing away rocks, stumps, tress and grass so that you have room to plant your crops. Once you've gotten that handled you're able to explore the town, discovering places to fish, people to befriend, a old community center filled with sprites and even a cave to be explored.
The choices you make affect gameplay directly. Depending on your choice your farm will grow and change. Gameplay emphasizes choice in how you manage your farm, and it uses simple graphics to do it. By collecting wood and stone, you can build expansions to your house, along with a barn and chicken coops. You can raise animals, plant different crops each season, and even create an orchard of fruit trees. The decisions are all yours to make.
- Cute graphics
- Tons of options for how you manage your farm
- Fun story
- Gameplay can become repetitive
- Planning ahead is required
Best Remastered: Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age
There are plenty of awesome remastered games that have hit Nintendo Switch, and if you're a fan of the Final Fantasy series, this is one you definitely don't want to miss. The story revolves around a group of unlikely heroes who are thrust into the middle of a political war when the small country of Dalmasca is conquered by the gigantic Archadian Empire.
Originally a PS2 release, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age has gotten a pretty significant update to the graphics. You won't notice nearly as many hard edges as most remasters have, although the graphics do suffer a bit in handheld mode which is a bummer. A major update adds ability to speed up gameplay to 4x or 8x speeds making it easier to roam through the world, which is welcome considering how slow movement seemed previously.
The combat system is also solid, and it uses a combination of real-time and ATB gauges. When wandering the world, you'll be able to see enemies and decide whether you want to engage with them, or avoid them at all costs. You also only control one member of your party in combat, using predetermined gambits to tell other party members how to react in the heat of battle. Each character also now gets access to two license boards which allow you to customize their progression to build characters that have the specific skills you want them to acquire.
- Awesome graphics
- Interesting story
- New ability to speed up gameplay
- Graphics suffer in handheld mode
- Combat takes some getting used to
Most Anticipated: Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are the newest installments in the Pokemon RPG franchise and will be arriving on Nintendo Switch on November 19, 2019. It will bring players to the new Galar region, featuring new pokemon, abilities, a wild area to explore and the Dynamax phenomenon which makes Pokemon grow to stupdendous size.
The Galara Region is a brand new area for Pokemon players. Here you'll find not only new native species, but two new Legendary Pokemon: Zacian and Zamazenta. The Wild Area has far more variety in the Pokemon you will find than the towns it connects. Filled with nature it has plenty of different species, and you'll see different Pokemon depending on the weather conditions you are dealing with.
A new phenomenon also exists in the Galar region: Dynamax. Unique to specific locations in the region, Pokemon can take on gigantic appearances during battle. When this happens not only do they become larger, but their stats increase making them far stronger than usual. There are also new Max Raid Battles where four Pokemon Trainers can join forces in order to challenge wild Dynamax Pokemon. You can snag both games at once with the double pack, or grab just one game at a time for half the price.
- Two awesome new Pokemon games
- New region with new Pokemon to explore and discover
- Addition of the Dynamax phenomenon
- Doesn't release until November
Role-playing games allow you to inhabit a world that is completely different from the life you live. This might mean farming, or adventuring, and Nintendo Switch offers up a variety of different games that can get just about any gamer excited to play. Of course the absolute best experience is with Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee or Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu.
There are plenty of different Pokemon games out there, but these takes the cake by giving you a whole new way to explore the Kanto region with a new buddy. Capturing Pokemon feels more fluid than ever and your buddy has a huge personality on top of being a wickedly powerful fighter. Choose how to train, square off again gym leaders, and become the best Pokemon Trainer in the world with a game that exemplifies the RPG genre on Nintendo Switch.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jen Karner has been an avid gamer for more than twenty years and has spent hours exploring hyrule, hunting down dragons, and building a farm. You can follow her on Twitter
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