Who doesn’t love a great open-world experience? In this list, we’re going to be diving into the best open-world Nintendo Switch video game titles that you can play right now in 2021.
#25 Saints Row The Third – The Full Package
Saints Row: The Third came out in 2011 and it gained quite a bit of attention for the franchise. This action-adventure game follows after the events of Saints Row 2 where players take the role of the leader of the 3rd Street Saints gang which has become a worldwide phenomenon media empire. When your gang becomes challenged, players are forced to take out this syndicate group that’s refusing to bend the knee and fall inline. There’s plenty to explore and go through in the main campaign but this title also had a ton of DLC content for players to enjoy. As a result, it’s worth checking out Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package edition which comes with all of the previously released expansions.
#24 Saints Row IV Re-Elected
When it comes to the Saints Row franchise, most have compared it to Grand Theft Auto but wackier. The game stepped it up in a new direction with the launch of Saints Row IV. Released in 2013, Saints Row IV follows the leader of the 3rd Street Saints and after receiving superpowers, players are then thrown into the world as its savior over an alien invasion.
We’re not sure if we’ll ever see a continuation of a Saints Row game that’s featured around superpowers and saving the day from otherworldly creatures. This was the last new mainline installment outside of the standalone expansion that came out in 2015 called Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell. Still, this game did feature an open world for players to explore and battle against hostile enemies. There’s also the Re-Elected edition which comes packed with all the previously released DLC.
Within the narrative in Ashen players will find that the world has lost the majority of the sun. Now our protagonist sets out on a journey to establish a home in a world that’s been covered in darkness. Gameplay, however, can be a bit brutal much like a Souls game where players need to pay attention to their opponent when attacking.
With that said there are some differences, of course, the obvious being the aesthetic with Ashen being a bit more colorful rather than forcing players to endure more of a bleak world like the Souls series tends to provide gamers. Ashen does feature a relatively open-world gameplay aspect but you’re mainly still going to be following a pathway to reach certain destinations.
Fe is an action-adventure game title that came out through EA’s indie program called EA Originals. This title doesn’t offer much information for players as you’ll have to piece together what’s going on. What we can say without spoiling anything is that this is set in a Nordic forest where you play a fox-like creature that can freely explore the world. Set up to be a Metroidvania-style game, players are tasked with roaming around and attempting to progress while having to backtrack and figure out ways to open up other restricted areas. If you enjoy titles like Journey where the story and gameplay mechanics is figured out by just playing the game then FE is well worth picking up.
#21 Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered
Red Faction Guerrilla came out several years ago at this point. With the title first hitting the marketplace back in 2009, players were able to dive into this third-person shooter on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the PC platforms. However, since then the title has been remastered for more modern platforms such as the Nintendo Switch.
This game as mentioned is a third-person shooter but set on Mars where players are attempting to overthrow the Earth Defense Force. Destruction is key for this series as players can deliver some big gameplay moments by delivering some brutal attacks to a building or any big structure.
#20 Portal Knights
Portal Knights throw players into an action RPG title where our protagonist sets off on grand quests that take place across the open world. This is more of a sandbox action RPG as well with players getting to explore and battle across randomly-generated islands. So rather than having one massive open world, players can explore different open-world islands. This is also a title that can be enjoyed by a wide age group so if you have younger kids or looking for something that might be more appropriate then this would be a game worth checking into.
Also, Portal Knights does offer multiplayer with up to four friends who can aid you in your journey. Additionally, the game offers a bit of a crafting element where players can create their island full of structures and recruit NPCs they find in the game to live and aid your home.
#19 Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Yonder: The Cloud Cather Chronicles is an adventure game set on a mythical island. Players take the role of a sailor that gets stranded on the island of Gemea which becomes infected by a mysterious Murk. To free the island from this disease, players will need to explore the world and visit each of the unique biomes to capture spirits that will fight against the Murk. Players not only will be able to explore freely in this island area but participate in different activities in the tropical island locations such as farming or fishing.
#18 Immortals Fenyx Rising
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a brand new IP from Ubisoft that threw players into the role of a young adventurer that was stranded on a strange island. It was only afterward that they discovered a new foe has taken out humanity and not even the gods could fight back. That’s when you were given their powers in hopes that your adventure could somehow take back the world and bring it to a peaceful state.
It’s a game that’s often described and compared to Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The gameplay is a bit similar as well with players venturing out into the open world and battling against different foes and completing puzzles. Unfortunately, Immortals Fenyx Rising did get swept under the radar a bit as the title was released somewhat close to the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 which dominated the headlines at the time.
#17 LEGO City Undercover
The Lego games have ranged quite a bit. We’ve seen licensed video games get a Lego treatment along with Lego’s video games. One of those original titles is Lego City Undercover, a game that puts players into the role of Chase McCain, a police officer that is tasked with tracking down an escaped convict known as Red Fury.
Set in a big metropolis open world, Lego City Undercover acts much like all the other Lego games. Players can beat up enemies, roam the open-world city in different vehicles, solve puzzles, and of course battle against bosses. If you want a wacky style of Grand Theft Auto that’s suitable for a younger audience then you can’t go wrong with Lego City Undercover.
#16 Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Dragon’s Dogma is an RPG that came out from Capcom which hasn’t seen much love lately with fans still waiting on another installment. With that said, you can still get quite a bit of enjoyment with the title today. Players will take the role of a warrior who becomes heartless after losing a battle with a dragon. Now to regain your heart, players will need to track down the dragon and save humanity from destruction. Along the way, you’ll have all sorts of mythical enemies to deal with and quests to partake in. This is a real-time combat RPG as you dodge attacks and deliver fatal blows of your own.
While the game came out in 2012, there has been an enhanced version of the game released as well called Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. This game edition not only makes some necessary enhancements to the game but also offers more content for players to go through as well such as a new dungeon. As mentioned, fans enjoyed this hack and slash action RPG set in a fantasy open world but we’re still waiting on a sequel. With that said, a recent Capcom hack revealed that the company had a sequel planned so we’re just waiting on the official word to come out that the sequel is being developed.
#15 Burnout Paradise Remastered
If you enjoy racing games then you know about the iconic Burnout franchise. This is a massively popular IP that has several installments to go through although at the moment the Burnout series has become somewhat dormant. Fortunately, the series did receive a remastered edition of one of the more popular installments to the franchise, Burnout Paradise. This original installment of Burnout Paradise was released in 2008 where it featured an open world, several different types of races, and select game modes. Players could freely race around the open-world streets or partake in street races as they pleased.
Just last year we saw this installment receive a remastered edition where players could once again enjoy this title but on more modern platforms with enhancements made to the gameplay visuals. Within the remastered edition of the game, players will receive most of the DLC packs beside the Time Savers Pack, 60 frames per second support. It’s one of the better arcade-style racing games out there as well and one that’s worth adding to your Nintendo Switch game collection.
#14 L.A. Noire
It’s pretty easy to see where the inspiration came from for L.A. Noire. This iconic criminal detective video game throws players back into the late 1940s as a member of the law enforcement as you attempt to solve a series of crimes. Throughout the game, players will move up the different ranks and divisions featured within the police department. At the time, this game was extraordinary with the technology used to capture the facial expressions of the different actors portraying the characters in the campaign. Set in a sprawling city, the game acts a bit like a Grand Theft Auto title as players could freely roam around the town but there’s not that much to do on your own.
Instead, the real reason to traverse around is to reach different crimes and from there you’ll partake in investigations, searching for clues around the map, and interrogating suspects in hopes you’ll solve the case. While the original developers behind this game, Team Bondi, disbanded several years ago at this point, there was hope that we would see a new sequel hit the market from Rockstar Games. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any movement on that front and we’re left with just the first installment to enjoy.
#13 Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been around since 2007 and continues to see new installments. Ever since Assassin’s Creed Origins, we’ve seen this franchise focus on a big open world for players to explore along with plenty of quests and enemies to face against. Unfortunately, those games have yet to be released on the Nintendo Switch and it’s not likely that we’ll receive them on the platform.
With that said, there is the Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection available for players to pick up. With this collection, players can replay both the Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed Rogue video game installment. They might not feature as big of an open-world experience, but they have been well-received titles in the past. Especially with Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag as it threw players into a pirate-themed adventure full of ship battles and wandering about for loot and plunder.
#12 South Park: The Stick of Truth
South Park has had a following since the adult cartoon series first released back in 1997 and it’s still going strong today. The show about young kids getting into some bizarre situations along with a slew of crude jokes has no issues getting viewers to tune in. The IP has even made its way into video games well before our pick on this list. With that said, if you’re a fan of the series and haven’t already picked up South Park: The Stick of Truth, then do yourself a favor and give this game a go. It’s setup visually just like the cartoon series and it has a unique storyline to follow. For this game, players take the role of a new kid that has just moved into the neighborhood. Our protagonist doesn’t take long before they stumble upon the iconic characters from the series who are partaking in an imaginary fantasy battle.
Players will join in as they go through all sorts of trouble that revolves around the magical and mythical stick. Not only will you get to meet some familiar faces from the series as you explore the open-world city but you’ll have to fight off all sorts of hostile enemies such as gnomes and aliens. There’s even a sequel that launched that’s also worth checking out called South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which again follows the cast in a new journey as they pretend to be iconic superheroes undergoing a civil war.
#11 Borderlands Legendary Collection
Borderlands was such an iconic action RPG FPS that it paved the way for more shooter looters. While most of us are enjoying Borderlands 3, the video game installment is not available for the Nintendo Switch. That doesn’t mean players are out of luck as there is Borderlands Legendary Collection. This game comes with Borderlands Game of the Year Edition, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Here players can once again roam the open world in search of new gear and better loot with up to four players.
These games are over-the-top action-packed and with a wacky cast of characters. Likewise the games also feature some really interesting locations to explore and best of all, we know that Tales From The Borderlands, a Telltale Games title, is making a return so you could have all of the Borderlands titles to enjoy on the Nintendo Switch platform outside of the latest mainline installment.
#10 Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2
The Bloodstained franchise was meant to be a spiritual successor in a way to Castlevania which was being brought out by producer Koji Igarashi. We have the first installment, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night along with a sequel that came out last year, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2. This game acts as old school retro video game title that’s broken up in episodes. If you’re a fan of old-school platform titles then you’ll probably find quite a bit of love here while you traverse around the different levels and areas battling against enemies. Of course, you should also go back and enjoy the first installment as well, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night which follows an orphan named Miriam who has been cursed by an alchemist who is slowly turning her skin into crystal. To stop the curse, she must explore a castle to find the summoner of this curse.
#9 Xenoblade Chronicles 2
RPG fans that enjoy a sprawling open-world adventure to enjoy had a few good installments to pick from through Nintendo such as Xenoblade Chronicles which came out on the Nintendo Wii U. Now a sequel has since launched, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Nintendo Switch where much of the same mechanics make a return though the story will feature a new character. Overall, the game is set within the world of Elysium which is made up of mostly clouds, and right from the start of the game players will be introduced to a war between kingdoms Mor Ardain and Uraya.
Unfortunately, it’s not like a massive open world that is seamless but you will have different areas where you can freely explore. I would also like to point at Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition which launched in 2020 for the Nintendo Switch. This takes the first installment and offers several enhancements to the game such as the visuals and soundtrack. That’s another iconic open-world RPG from Nintendo that’s well worth the purchase if you enjoy action RPGs.
#8 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
For a good, while now The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had become somewhat of a joke. Mainly the reason for this is because Bethesda would continuously port the game to the latest platforms. We may still be waiting on the next mainline installment for The Elder Scrolls to come out, but for those of you who want to feel a bit nostalgic or perhaps even play this game for the first time, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is readily available for the Nintendo Switch.
This is an open-world action RPG where players take the role of a custom protagonist in a world filled with creatures and civil war. With so many interesting quests, it’s tough to point to just the main campaign of being a Dragonborn which are mortal beings that have the soul of a dragon. This is also featured in a massive open world filled with random characters to meet, unique locations, enemy creatures, bandits, factions, guilds, the list just goes on and on.
#7 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition
We probably don’t need to say much about this title as most are well aware of The Witch franchise. This franchise put development studio CD Projekt Red on the map as they offered an iconic high fantasy action RPG trilogy for fans to enjoy. While the concluding installment came out well before the Nintendo Switch, some of us assumed that this title wouldn’t be able to run on the Nintendo hybrid console. Surprisingly, this title was ported over and players can either replay this lengthy RPG title again or enjoy it for the very first time.
Once again in this installment players are stepping back into the role of Geralt of Rivia – one of the titular Witchers – dealing with the invasion of the Northern Kingdom by the Nilfgaard Empire and the otherworldly threat of the Wild Hunt. Offering a massive open world, hours upon hours of story content and side quests, monsters to hunt, with a wide range of different unique locations to visit, there’s a ton of reasons why The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition is worth the purchase. If this is your first time dabbling into The Witcher series then it would be best to look at some recap videos to showcase what exactly has happened in the narrative before this third installment.
#6 Dragon Quest Builders 2
While the Dragon Quest franchise may not be as massive as Final Fantasy in the west, this franchise has seen some more notable title releases that gained some traction for the IP. One of those games is Dragon Quest Builders 2 which is a sandbox action RPG that’s set within the world of Alefgard. The game acts quite a bit like Minecraft in that players can build up areas but there is plenty of activities to partake in as well.
You’ll find that there are monsters that flood into the area that destroy your creations. When players are not being attacked they can freely roam around and explore for resources. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that this is an action RPG title so the gameplay won’t be the standard turn-based RPG that the mainline installments are known for. Instead, players will be able to freely move around with hack-and-slash mechanics to defeat hostile enemies.
Minecraft is such a worldwide iconic video game hit that it would be surprising to find someone at this point that doesn’t know what the game is. This survival open-world title continues to thrive with new updates being added to the title regularly. With the game randomly generating a world, players can attempt to complete the game or freely explore and build up their creations. Resources are crucial as you venture out to chop down trees, dig up dirt, and mine for precious metals or stones. This game also features multiplayer support in which players can join in together in the same world and adventure or freely craft up their world.
#4 The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening
The Legend of Zelda has been around since the Nintendo Entertainment System and fans can’t get enough of these epic adventure journeys featuring our protagonist Link. One of the games that launched for the series was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, a title that was only available on the Nintendo Game Boy and the Nintendo Game Boy Color. Fortunately, Nintendo brought the iconic title back with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake for the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo has kept the top-down view with a more cartoonish visual aesthetic. Players can once again relive this game with the much-needed visual updates and enhancements. Of course, the game doesn’t have the open-world element that we saw with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While you might find this game to be more limited in how much there is to explore, players will still have a good amount of areas to visit and dungeons to complete.
#3 Õkami HD
The paintbrush-focused puzzle title Okami was first released back in 2006 from development studio Clover Studio. This was a quiet game that had gained quite the following and it wasn’t that long ago that we received a has an HD remastered version. Within the video game, players will follow Japanese folklore in which a white wolf and swordsman fought off an eight-headed demon. Now years later, the eight-headed demon, Orochi is freed once again cursing the lands. This is not a massive open world for players to explore but instead, the game features different areas.
#2 Super Mario Odyssey
With a new Nintendo console system comes a brand new Mario title. Super Mario Odyssey puts players in control of Mario who will be exploring brand new worlds with a new ability thanks to a specialized hat companion. With this hat, players can control just about anything giving a wide range of ways to complete the level.
From there, players can control different NPCs, enemies, and various objects. Speaking of levels, there are a plethora of worlds to go through that may be drastically different than before such as the realistic city setting. Of course, the main goal here is to once again save Princess Peach as she was captured by Bowser who is seeking to marry the princess. Each world the player can freely explore and complete a series of objectives along with finding different secrets littered throughout the game.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a huge hit when it launched and tends to be one of the more popular installments for The Legend Zelda franchise in general. What made this game so unique is that this time around, players will be placed in a large open-world environment with the ability to play through the game’s dungeons in any order.
Players will take on the role of Link after he awakens from a deep slumber that lasted a hundred years. A mysterious voice alerts link to reach a ruined Kingdom known as Hyrule where he will learn of Calamity Ganon, the antagonist who had previously destroyed Hyrule, though, during the process, he had trapped himself within the buried kingdom. From there, players will have to train and acquire gear to take the antagonist down. To top things off, we know that a sequel is in the works although details have been extremely scarce.