The Best Open World Games On The Nintendo Switch

Open world games are a dime a dozen in modern gaming, and the Nintendo Switch has some of the finest examples in the genre. From modern-day classics to reimaginings of classic Nintendo franchises, the Switch is host to a plentiful bounty of open-world adventures.

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Switch gamers have access to some of the best open worlds in gaming in, quite literally, the palm of their hand. The novelty of having access to console-scale worlds on a handheld device hasn’t quite rubbed off yet, here are the best open-world games on the Nintendo Switch.

Updated October 23, 2023 By Matthew Mckeown: Nothing beats the relaxed pace of Open-world games. Trundling along through vast vistas or cramped cityscapes with anywhere and everywhere open to exploration.

There’s a surprisingly large amount of them available on the Switch, which says a lot about its ability to tank the strain of some of these games. Especially big sandboxes like the modern Zeldas where you can get lost for hours just wandering around looking at the world. So if you’re looking for the next big stomping ground to unleash yourself on, here are a few more of the best Open World Games on the Nintendo Switch.

17 Saints Row IV

Saints Row IV: Saints Leader Using Alien Weaponry On Civillians

The fourth and very popular installment in a series that’s now sadly dead, Saints Row IV took the titular Saints Gang into the weirdest and best direction the series has ever seen. Trapped within a Virtual World the Saints have to escape, overthrow their Alien Overlords, and make it back to Earth. Not the simplest of jobs.

This time around though you have Super Powers that come in a range of flavors from Super Speed, Giant Jumps, Super Strength, Energy Blasts, and much more. There’s also a ton of odd and useful weapons, great set-pieces and of course plenty of Keith David.

16 Dredge

Dredge: The Captain And His Boat Sailing In Calmer Waters

An Eldritch adventure on the open sea, Dredge is an open-world indie game that’s gone down a storm. Set sail on haunted waters as the Skipper of a small and rickety fishing boat. Skim the oceans of their mutated bounty and try to get to the bottom of the nightmarish mystery at the heart of this game.

The ocean is full of twisted fish and treasure to dredge up that can be sold for a tidy profit and then funneled into upgrades for your boat. Plus, the games regularly updated with new content such as boat customization and more fish, so there are plenty of great reasons to sail these spooky seas.

15 Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley - The farmer attending to his crops

Stardew Valley

Released
February 26, 2016

Developer(s)
ConcernedApe

Publisher(s)
ConcernedApe

A cozy farm management game, Stardew Valley was a huge hit when it launched. Featuring a large explorable map, NPC’s to meet and even marry, plus a dungeon filled with creatures, there’s a lot to do outside of just rebuilding your Grandfathers’ farm.

Whether that’s tending to the farm, creating your own business, wooing the township, or digging into some of the deeper mechanics of the game, Stardew Valley can certainly keep you busy. It garnered a lot of praise from critics and it’s a go-to relaxing game for many. If you like something slow-paced, then Stardew Valley comes with a hearty recommendation.

14 Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifer: The Warrior In A Hub Area

A fast souls-like hack-n-slash experience with a lot of style, Hyper Light Drifter provides a challenging adventure to those who check it out. You play as a lone wanderer who seeks forgotten knowledge and lost technology. But in your way are all sorts of mechanical menaces, difficult dungeons, and brutal boss fights.

So popular that it got a sequel, Hyper Light Drifter is best played with a controller as some sections will definitely leave you with a white-knuckled grip on the handheld. There are plenty of absolutely gorgeous levels to go through and the soundtrack is great for letting your mind drift along with the game.

13 L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire: Cole Phelps In Shadow

Grab your hat and get in the car Detective, there’s been another murder in the Hollywood Hills and starlet-filled streets of Los Angeles. Set in the 50s, L.A. Noire broke a lot of new ground in facial capture technology at the time and it still stands up, somewhat. This thrilling detective noir game puts you in the role of Cole Phelps. An ex-marine turned cop that climbs the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Experience everything from a beat cop patrol to Arson, Murder, and the fast-moving drug-fueled world of Vice in this star-studded story from Rockstar Games. With the crime-filled streets now at your portable fingertips, there’s never been a better time to check out this absolute classic open-world game.

12 Don’t Starve

Don't Starve: A Survivor In A Small Starter Base

Don’t Starve

Released
April 23, 2013

Developer(s)
Klei Entertainment

Publisher(s)
Klei Entertainment

A hardcore open-world survival game with multiplayer for those with masochistic friends, Don’t Starve is a great handheld choice. Oozing style and an almost Tim Burton-esque aesthetic, it’s a simple goal but there are a lot of layers and unique mechanics to dig into to keep things fresh.

There’s a colorful cast of characters and each of them comes with their own unique abilities and benefits with some drastically changing your playstyle altogether. The game continues to get support, tweaks, and updates and it’s always a good time with friends. If you crave a challenging open-world survival game, Don’t Starve should be on your list.

11 Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact: Protagonist Character Looking Out At the Open World

Genshin Impact

Released
September 28, 2020

Developer(s)
HoYoverse (Formerly miHoYo)

Publisher(s)
HoYoverse (Formerly miHoYo)

An open-world game that is unashamedly anime, Genshin Impact is an open-world action game with a Gacha twist. Developed by miHoYo, you bounce around between your typical RPG party member types as you batter apart and destroy a range of monsters and enemy types across the sprawling world or deep within its dungeons.

Often compared to Breath Of The Wild in scale and complexity, Genshin Impact has a wide array of features to dig into as well as plenty of spectacle fighter action for those just looking for more combat time. To briefly mention the Gacha, it’s their main microtransaction money maker, but it does rotate out unique things like characters, banners, and other exotic collectibles.

Skyrim: Nintendo Switch Link Costume On Dragonborn

Skyrim

Released
November 11, 2011

Developer(s)
Bethesda

Publisher(s)
Bethesda

If Skyrim is available on a console, the chance that it’s one of the best open-world games on that system is high. The Switch version of the game adds very little not seen in other versions, but the core Skyrim experience is fully realised on the hybrid system.

It’s one of the most replayable games on this list, as well, with nearly limitless potential for gamers to create their own unique stories in each and every playthrough.

9 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition

Witcher 3: Geralt Fighting The Fiend In A Field

The Complete Edition of The Witcher 3 contains all the content released for the game. It may not be quite as pretty as its other console brethren. But all 150+ hours of content through exciting quests is presented with no sacrifices aside from a reduction in visual quality.

The two-story expansions included are fantastic additions, too. Moreover, players have come to adore the card game Gwent so much that it now has its own separate spin-off.

8 Minecraft

Minecraft - Steve And Alex On A Hill Filled With Animals And Enemies

Minecraft

Created by
Markus Persson

Video Game(s)
Minecraft, Minecraft Dungeons, Minecraft Legends, Minecraft Caves and Cliffs

Could Minecraft be considered the most expansive open-world game ever? It definitely is the most successful having sold more than 200 million copies across all platforms. In reality, Minecraft is an amalgamation of a whole host of genres, but it definitely has a lot of open-world elements.

The portable nature of the Switch version makes it a preferable way to play around in the sandbox world Minecraft offers.

7 A Short Hike

A Short Hike: Bird Character On Clifftop Viewpoint

A Short Hike takes place on a small island and puts players in control of a flightless bird. The island can be explored in any way and order, with a wealth of hidden treasures and activities to partake in.

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It’s a charming game and a perfect example of how sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a relaxing experience that lets players simply explore the world it presents.

6 Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Xenoblade Chronicles: Characters Exploring A Wide Open Field

The remastered version of the first game in the Xenoblade series is an essential experience for RPG fans. The game’s unique combat system can put some players off, but persisting through it provides players with an impactful story that will keep them engaged for more than 65 hours.

Enough polish has been applied to this remaster to make it worthy of a playthrough for JRPG fans.

5 Okami HD

Okami HD: Kusa Village And The Okami Dog

Okami

Released
September 19, 2006

Developer(s)
Capcom, Clover Studio

Publisher(s)
Capcom

Okami HD is one of the best Zelda-inspired games available on the Switch. It holds its own as an incredibly unique adventure that will likely never see a successor.

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An ode to Japanese folklore, Okami’s story draws inspiration from ancient stories and myths in its narrative. It’s also probably the best example of a game that blurs the line between games and art.

4 Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight: The Knight In Key Art

Hollow Knight

Released
February 24, 2017

Developer(s)
Team Cherry

Publisher(s)
Team Cherry

Hollow Knight is brutally hard and can occasionally border on feeling unfair, but there is a reason it is perceived as one of the best indies ever made. The non-linear layout of Hallownest allows gamers to explore the numerous realms of the kingdom any way they wish to do so with few barriers in their way.

The combat is excellent, as is the story that unfolds as players explore Hallownest. It also includes all additional content for free, resulting in a 45 – 50 hour experience.

3 Retro City Rampage DX

Retro City Rampage: The Police Fighting With The Protagonist

Retro City Rampage DX puts players in an open-world city heavily influenced by 80s and 90s pop culture. It’s a tongue-in-cheek parody of games from the era too, with lots of references to games both old and new.

Its time travel-based story is fantastic, too, while the GTA-inspired gameplay is incredibly fun. Players have the ability to hijack vehicles and use an extensive range of firearms to wreak havoc in Theftropolis.

2 Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey: Mario Meeting NPCs In The Luncheon Kingdom

Nintendo’s latest attempt at 3D Mario is arguably its greatest. Super Mario Odyssey presents players with 16 brilliant sandbox worlds to explore — all jam-packed with moons to collect. On top of this, Odyssey is the best that Mario has ever felt with an impressively expansive movement set.

Odyssey is the most inventive attempt at putting Mario into a 3D space Nintendo has ever released.

1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Breath Of The Wild: Link Taking In The View Of Hyrule

Breath of the Wild is the highest-rated Switch game and it has changed the future of the Zelda series forever. This entry into the franchise introduced an open- world for Zelda fans to explore for the first time and thrusts players into a Hyrule with limitless possibilities and ways to create their own adventures.

It also introduced survival elements such as cooking different foods with varying effects and temperatures that added refreshing new elements to the legendary series.

NEXT: Popular Gaming Franchises That Should Go Open-World

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