Thanks to its ability to be played on a TV or on the go, the Nintendo Switch is the most versatile gaming console available right now. It’s also home not only to Nintendo’s first-party games, but also a growing number of third-party and indie gems on the Eshop. All of which is to say that if you don’t own a Switch yet, there’s a good chance you’re considering adding one to your gaming setup. To make sure you cover all of the essentials, here’s everything you need to get up and running on Nintendo Switch.
Compared to buying an Xbox One and PS4, choosing which Switch to buy is relatively easy because it only comes in one internal hardware configuration. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have to make any choices. The Switch comes in two different color options, so you’ll have to decide if you want your console and controllers to be gray, or if you want to add a splash of color with the red and blue Joy-Con option.
Additional Joy-Cons are available in an array of colors, but the Switch console mainly comes in either gray or red/blue. Read our full Nintendo Switch review for more details about the pros and cons of the Switch’s hardware.
You won’t find much to do on your Switch without adding some games to your collection. Here are some of the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Super Mario Odyssey — 10/10
“Odyssey is sustained beyond its major milestones not only through colorful worlds and hidden challenges, but through the sheer joy of controlling Mario, who’s never felt more responsive or dynamic in action. Even with everything new that’s been introduced, Nintendo’s forward-thinking platformer retains the series’ classic handcrafted appeal, which is even more impressive when you realize how densely packed each kingdom is.” -Peter Brown [Read the full review]
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — 10/10
“No matter how gorgeous its environments are, how clever its enemies are, and how tricky its puzzles get, the fact that Breath of the Wild continues to surprise you with newfound rules and possibilities after dozens of hours is by far its most valuable quality. It’s a game that allows you to feel gradually more and more empowered yet simultaneously manages to retain a sense of challenge and mystery–which, together, creates a steady, consistent feeling of gratification throughout the entire experience.” -Peter Brown [Read the review]
Splatoon 2 — 8/10
“At first glance, Splatoon 2 seems very similar to the first game. But all the small changes, and even the bigger ones in single player and League Battles, make for a fresh take on the already unique shooter. If you played a lot of the original, the sequel has enough to keep you coming back, and if you’re new to the game, it’s a fantastic place to jump in.” – Kallie Plagge [Read the full review]
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — 9/10
“For Mario Kart fans, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might look like more of the same with small Double Dash-inspired tweaks. But thanks to a series of updates both big and almost unseen, it’s the version of Mario Kart to get… It plays beautifully on Switch in both handheld and docked mode, and its core racing is as exciting as ever. And, most notably, it completely revamps the original’s lackluster Battle Mode, rounding out an already great racing game.” – Kallie Plagge [Read the full review]
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — 9/10
“An inconsistent online mode and situational downers don’t stop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from shining as a flexible multiplayer game that can be as freewheeling or as firm as you want it to be. Its entertaining single-player content helps keep the game rich with interesting things to do, as well as bolstering its spirit of loving homage to the games that have graced Nintendo consoles. Ultimate’s diverse content is compelling, its strong mechanics are refined, and the encompassing collection is simply superb.” -Edmond Tran [Read the full review]
Octopath Traveler — 8/10
“Despite the lackluster stories that pull you through the world, Octopath thrives on its character progression and the temptations of high-level challenges and rewards. The promise of new jobs, exciting boss fights, and powerful gear will inspire you to poke around every corner, and there are no shortage of discoveries to strive for. And all the while, you’re treated to one of the most interesting and effective re-imaginings of a retro aesthetic around.” -Peter Brown [Read the full review]
Bayonetta 2 — 10/10
“Bayonetta 2‘s combat is so expertly constructed, and its presentation so joyously insane, that you’d have to try so very hard to get bored of it all. In a year filled with the promise of ever more elaborate experiences on all the shiny new hardware, that Bayonetta 2–a homage to classic game design and escapism–should be the most fun I’ve had playing a game all year is unexpected.” -Mark Walton [Read the review]
Stardew Valley — 9/10
“The sheer number of things to accomplish in Stardew Valley can keep you interested beyond the original three in-game years you need to reach the end of your story… And that’s truly what makes Stardew Valley such a lovely experience, it encourages you to go out and be the best you can be, in whichever task that brings you the most joy. Stardew Valley motivates naturally, with blissful optimism.” -Mary Kish [Read the full review]
Read our regularly-updated list of the best Nintendo Switch games so far for even more suggestions.
The Switch’s paid online service, Nintendo Switch Online costs $20 per year to take most games online, in addition to providing features like cloud saves and voice chat. You’ll also get access to a selection of classic NES games with new online capabilities.
Perhaps more than any other console on the market, the Nintendo Switch is an accessory-friendly device. That’s mostly because of its hybrid nature as an at-home console and a handheld you can take on the go. Each use case lends itself to different accessories. Here are some you might want to consider.
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
The Switch comes with a Joy-Con Grip to make your Joy-Cons feel as much like a standard controller as possible. Even so, it’s not the most ergonomic piece of hardware. If you play lots of games on your TV–or if you just want a controller that fits better in your hands, buying the Pro controller is the way to go.
Whether you want to adorn your Switch with different colors or you want to bring in a couch co-op partner (or competitor), you can’t go wrong by stocking up on additional Joy-Cons.
What good is a portable device if you don’t take it on the go? This Nintendo Switch carrying case offers terrific protection for your device, plus offers plenty of room for games and pockets for cables or other accessories.
Nice screen you’ve got there; it would be a shame if something happened to it. With any portable device, it’s likely to take a beating from time to time. Protect your Switch’s screen from scratches with an affordable screen protector like this.
One great thing about the Switch is how easy it is to hook up to other televisions. Adding a dock to a second TV makes it even easier.
The Switch is a fantastic gaming machine, but its onboard speakers leave much to be desired. Sidestep that issue by investing in a quality headset like this one.