Playing video games is an expensive hobby. Whether you’re purchasing a brand-new console or buying the latest releases, keeping your digital library padded with the latest games can be costly. Luckily, that’s beginning to change. More and more publishers have started embracing the free-to-play model in recent years, allowing players to leap into some good Nintendo Switch games without paying a cent.
We’ve dug through some of the best free-to-play titles available on Nintendo Switch and compiled a list so you can enjoy some great games without putting too much stress on your wallet. From battle royales and fighting games to management sims and platformers, let’s run through fourteen of the best free-to-play titles available on the console.
You can also check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch deals for discounts on games.
Arguably the biggest free-to-play game available right now, Fortnite has grown from an ambitious multiplayer shooter to a cultural behemoth. The game’s objective is simple: defeat 99 other players in a free-for-all battle and be the last one standing. You drop into a massive world and must quickly track down some equipment, finding guns, building structures and eliminating other players as you go. Meanwhile, the boundaries of the map will begin to constrict, funnelling you into a central arena where you’ll fight to be crowned the winner.
On paper, Fortnite’s a fairly standard battle royale shooter, but over the years its reach has stretched far outside of the genre. Whether it’s new game modes, crossover cameos, in-game concerts, movie screenings or an ever-expanding story with interactive events, Fortnite is now a multi-media sensation. All of Fortnite’s multiplayer modes are free-to-play, with microtransactions limited to cosmetics and a seasonal battle pass.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Blending the colourful mascot platformer and the battle royale genre, Mediatonic’s Fall Guys first launched in 2020. It has since gone free-to-play, opening its doors to new players wanting to experience its unique brand of multiplayer platformer mayhem. You can enjoy all of Fall Guys’ multiplayer modes for free, with paid content limited to an in-game cosmetic store and a premium seasonal battle pass with unique unlocks.
For those new to Fall Guys, the game sees 100 players step into the shoes of clumsy bean-shaped competitors as they battle against each other in a high-stakes game show spread across a series of increasingly difficult rounds. Think of it as Human: Fall Flat meets Takeshi’s Castle. The last player standing is the winner, taking home valuable points they can exchange for new costumes, emotes, and more. Fall Guys has grown exponentially in the years since its debut, with the game moving through multiple seasons and adding a variety of new stages.
Read our review of Fall Guys.
A chaotic mix of arcade racing and soccer, Rocket League has been a fixture of the free-to-play scene since it shifted to the model back in 2020. Pitting up to 8 players against each other as they attempt to launch a giant soccer ball into their opponent’s goal using small race cars, Rocket League is simple to pick up but tricky to master. Players will have to work efficiently as a team to defend against their opposition and score stylish goals.
With a huge community, Rocket League is arguably one of the most popular multiplayer titles in the gaming space right now. It’s also updated frequently, with developer Psyonix adding new seasons, events, game modes and cosmetics regularly. All of Rocket League’s multiplayer modes are free, with players able to purchase cosmetic items from an in-game store.
Read our review of Rocket League.
After developing Titanfall and its sequel, Respawn Entertainment entered the free-to-play battle royale space with Apex Legends. Set in the same universe as Titanfall, Apex Legends adapted the genre with a twist, creating a battle royale mixed with a team-based hero shooter.
After picking a hero from a large roster, players assemble into squads of three, using their unique abilities to defeat rival teams and attempt to be the last squad standing. Since launch, the game has been updated frequently, adding new seasons and game modes. All of Apex Legends’ multiplayer modes are entirely free and heroes can be unlocked through currency earned while playing. As for its microtransactions, players can purchase cosmetics and pay to unlock heroes instantly.
Read our review of Apex Legends.
Blizzard’s second iteration of its revered multiplayer, team-based hero shooter, Overwatch 2 welcomed a wealth of new players when it launched in late 2022. Focusing on 5v5 battles, players choose a hero and fight against the opposing team, using their character’s abilities to back up squadmates and win the game.
Overwatch 2 is a constantly evolving experience, with Blizzard adding new events and updating the game frequently. All of Overwatch 2’s multiplayer modes are free-to-play, while its heroes can be unlocked by playing matches (alternatively, they can all be unlocked with a one-time fee via the Hero Pack). Microtransactions are limited to unlocking cosmetics and purchasing a seasonal battle pass.
Read our review of Overwatch 2.
One of the longest-running entries on the list, Warframe first released in 2013. In the decade since, it has become a staple on consoles, offering users a free-to-play sci-fi action RPG with a lengthy main campaign, fast-paced third-person combat, fully integrated co-op, extensive customization and deep exploration.
For those looking for a game to sink countless hours into, Warframe is a solid bet. With frequent updates, it’s always evolving, offering a constant stream of new things to do, planets to visit and missions to undertake. Warframe is entirely free to play, with microtransactions limited to cosmetics.
Read our review of Warframe.
Initially released as a tie-in with Fallout 4, Fallout Shelter is a management sim that puts players in the role of a vault overseer. The prestigious position gives them the ability to create, manage and ultimately run one of the franchise’s iconic vaults, keeping its dwellers fed, housed and happy. Along the way, they’ll have to create facilities, gather resources, fight enemies and send dwellers on missions into the wasteland.
Fallout Shelter is fully playable for free, with microtransactions limited to purchasing loot crates containing new dwellers, pets, weapons, resources and bottles of Nuka-Cola Quantum, which speed up activities.
Read our review of Fallout Shelter.
Super Kirby Clash
Bringing Nintendo’s adorable mascot back for another adventure, Super Kirby Clash is a team-based brawler where up to 4 players take on various bosses as Kirby and his allies. Playable with both friends and AI partners, the game features four distinct classes with their own unique abilities.
Although Nintendo marketed Super Kirby Clash as a “free-to-start” game, implying that players would eventually hit a paywall, the campaign is fully available for free. Microtransactions are limited to the in-game currency of Gem Apples, which allow you to purchase upgrades, stickers and support items. However, Gem Apples can also be acquired by playing the game, meaning you don’t have to buy them to reach Super Kirby Clash’s credits.
Reimagining the iconic pocket monster franchise as a loot-focused action-adventure game, Pokemon Quest is a unique take on one of Nintendo’s most seminal properties. The game transports players to Tumblecube Island; a new realm filled with cube-shaped Pokemon known as Pokexel. Your task is to explore the island, defeat wild Pokexel, train new Pokexel and manage your home base.
Pokemon Quest’s core content is entirely free-to-play, with microtransactions limited to upgrades that speed up progression.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades
A free-to-play dungeon-crawler set in The Elder Scrolls universe, The Elder Scrolls: Blades has players step into the shoes of one of the last surviving members of The Blades as they rebuild their town and take on various quests. Ditching the open-world format of other Elder Scrolls games, Blades is a linear action RPG where players raid dungeons for loot and experience. They can then use the resources they find to rebuild their hometown, creating a personal settlement that houses new NPCs and additional quests.
Alongside the main campaign, Blades also features online PvP and an endless dungeon mode, allowing players to traverse a randomly generated, never ending level for experience and other rewards.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades’ three modes are playable for free. However, it’s worth taking into account that the game has been heavily criticized for its intrusive microtransactions, which slow progression by forcing you to wait out long in-game timers that are only sped up via purchasable currency.
Read our review of The Elder Scrolls: Blades.
Focusing on a tournament between fierce warriors, Brawlhalla is a free platform fighting game that allows you to test your might against AI opponents or other online players. Selecting from a huge roster of legendary heroes spanning the ages, you’ll be able to battle in both free-for-all and team-based combat across several modes.
All of Brawlhalla’s maps are free-to-play from the jump and you can purchase new fighters with currency earnt playing the game. As for the microtransactions, they’re focused on cosmetic items and instantly unlocking new fighters.
Just Dance (2023)
It’s worth noting up front that the free version of Just Dance 2023 only includes two songs: “Sweet But Psycho” by Ava Max and “Dynamite” by BTS. The rest of the game’s tracks are unlocked by paying for its full version.
However, both songs are enough to get a taste of the latest iteration of Ubisoft’s annual motion-based dancing franchise. For those who haven’t jumped in before, Just Dance teaches players to dance to their favorite tracks, challenging them to follow a set routine and stay in time with the music. If they can keep up with the song, they’ll earn points, allowing them to set high scores and challenge their friends.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel
Considered by Konami to be the definitive video game adaptation of the iconic trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is a free-to-play version of Yu-Gi-Oh! with up-to-date rules and cards. Alongside a multiplayer mode that allows players to pit their deck against online opponents, Master Duel also has a solo mode, offering those new to the game the opportunity to learn the basics.
Master Duel’s base game is entirely free, with microtransactions limited to purchasing new card packs.
Sky: Children of the Light
Coming from the creators of 2012’s Journey, Sky: Children of The Light is an online, open-world social adventure that has players explore a desolate landscape. Much like Journey, the game is about connecting with others, as players meet, interact and befriend each other without saying a word.
Along the way, they’ll solve puzzles and begin to piece together the mystery of Children of the Light’s world and their place in it. The campaign is entirely free-to-play, with in-game microtransactions limited to cosmetics.
What Free Games Come With a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack?
If you have a Switch Online + Epansion Pack subscription, you can get access to quite a few classic Nintendo games and will get DLC for popular new titles for free. Although the subscription doesn't come with any new games, you do get access to classic N64 games as well as some of the best Game Boy Advance games. For a full list of the games that come with the subscription, check out our Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack catalogue.