While cutting-edge open-world games might require more processing power than the Nintendo Switch can muster, there are still plenty of great open-world games on the Switch.
Many creative and enterprising developers have successfully optimized their titles to work on the Switch, even with their huge and vibrant worlds with hundreds of hours of content to explore.
And that's fantastic for us because open-world games offer the kinds of sprawling environments, lush details, and countless side quests that hook us in and provide an escape from the real world.
From light and beautiful to dark and gritty, here are our picks for the best open world games on the Nintendo Switch!
10. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
Though the series started off as a straight copy of Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row quickly found its own unique sense of style, with a leader of a street gang becoming the superpowered President of the United States who fights off an alien invasion.
It's all quite silly, funny, and extremely engaging as you're given the freedom to explore the city hub. Though the combat isn't as tight as most other titles on this list, the humor easily makes up for it.
9. Immortals Fenyx Rising
Many people view Immortals Fenyx Rising as a cheap knockoff of other games on this list—and, to be fair, they're mostly correct. But the end result is still pretty darn great.
Sure, maybe it doesn't handle puzzles and environments as well as other open world games on the Switch, but the combat in Immortals Fenyx Rising is incredibly satisfying.
The plot weaves elements of Greek mythology into a fantasy world, which doesn't earn many points for originality, but it does manage to be interesting and memorable. Isn't that all that matters?
8. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
While every game in the Xenoblade Chronicles series has had its merits, the third installment is by far the best of the lot.
You'll spend over 100 hours exploring a deeply crafted world where two nations—Keves and Agnus—are stuck in perpetual war, coming to grips with the sprawling conspiracy at the heart of this story.
The plot is surprisingly dark considering how bright and colorful the artwork is, and the combat is genuinely fun even when you're spending hours grinding on the world map.
Minecraft was once the biggest indie game in the world, but it's hard to consider it an indie game anymore after it was acquired by Microsoft and turned into something much more bloated.
Even so, there's a ton of content to explore in Minecraft, which is equal parts sandbox and open world adventure, with an explorable area that's five times bigger than Earth itself.
There isn't much plot here—certainly less than every other game on this list—but that doesn't make it any less interesting to play.
6. Green Hell
Green Hell is an open world survival game that's as brutal as it is engaging. It has one of the best crafting systems of any video game, plus a darkly brilliant story to play through.
Yes, Green Hell is gruelingly difficult, but the satisfaction you'll get from finally acquiring that new item you've been wanting or overcoming that difficult area that's been holding you back will far outweigh any frustration you feel along the way.
The only downside is that the Nintendo Switch version of Green Hell has downgraded graphics to ensure it can run on the system. If you can overlook that, there's a deep experience to enjoy here.
5. No Man's Sky
Everyone loves a good comeback story and it's hard to think of a bigger comeback story in gaming than No Man's Sky.
What was once considered a steaming pile of disappointment at launch has turned into a fascinating game after a long series of patches and content additions that brought it in line with what the developers originally promised.
With a surprisingly beautiful port and an endless number of planets to explore and aliens to encounter, No Man's Sky has earned its spot among the best open world games on the Switch.
4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
From the first moment you hear the epic opening track, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim makes it clear that this is going to be one of the most memorable games you'll ever play.
It has been ported to just about every modern console over the past decade, so it's no surprise that it eventually came to the Nintendo Switch—and what a fantastic port it is.
Skyrim has everything you could want in an open world game: competing factions to choose between, countless side quests to complete, and even the opportunity to eat several dragon souls to gain more power. Prepare to sink many hours!
3. NieR: Automata
Honestly, of all the games that have been ported to the Switch, NieR: Automata is probably the most surprising. Who would've thought that the Switch's aging hardware could handle it?
Fortunately for us, it can! NieR: Automata is a creative, unique game that provides an open world experience like no other, plus some of the best particle effects you'll find on the console.
You can easily spend over 100 hours playing through it multiple times in pursuit of the different endings on offer, and you won't mind thanks to the art (which is simply gorgeous) and the characters (who you'll both love and hate at the same time).
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
It's no secret that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of the best open world games of all time, but it always seemed too graphically intensive for the Nintendo Switch.
But somehow CD Projekt Red managed to bring their epic experience to the handheld console without sacrificing too much.
While this version does suffer slightly from performance issues and a graphical downgrade, the game is still a lot of fun to play.
Geralt remains one of the best protagonists in video game history and his quest to rescue Ciri is engaging from start to finish. Plus, there's an entire living and breathing world to immerse yourself in.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
You knew this was coming, didn't you? It should surprise no one to see this world-class game at the top of this list.
From the almost haunting beauty of post-fall Hyrule to the story of rescuing Princess Zelda from the castle, every story beat feels perfect and well-thought-out.
More importantly, the combat mechanics and interacting systems allow you to approach the world in your own personal way, resulting in all kinds of emergent gameplay that feels so real.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn't just the best open world game on the Switch—it's easily one of the best open world games ever made. The fact that it simultaneously embraces yet rejects its roots in the series makes it familiar yet fresh and exciting.
Note: While The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom recently released, it's too early for us to rank it on this list. However, preliminary impressions are good and it's likely worth playing if you enjoy Breath of the Wild!