Almost every type of game has RPG elements nowadays, whether overtly or not. Most games implement a type of play progression that you wouldn't expect to see a generation or two ago.
That said, sometimes you just feel like playing a meat and potatoes RPG. That can still mean quite a few things to different people, which is why we've assembled different types in this list.
Here are the best RPGs and JRPGs worth playing on the Nintendo Switch! Between these, you'll have hundreds—if not thousands—of hours of captivating story and fun gameplay.
16. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Despite some of the horsepower-hungry games that successfully made their way onto the Nintendo Switch, plenty of people were skeptical about whether The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt would work on the platform.
Their concerns were proven unnecessary when the game finally came around. Sure, it doesn't look as good as it does on a high-end PC, but being able to dive into the sprawling world around Geralt of Rivia—and doing it in handheld mode—is too fun to miss.
15. Pokémon Legends: Arceus
The Pokémon series has been stuck in a rut since its inception, with each generation doing little more than apply a fresh coat of paint on the same formula, save for a few deviations (like Pokémon Snap or Pokémon Stadium).
That all changed with Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which took the franchise in a direction that many fans had always wanted to see: an open-world Pokémon experience where trainers set out to complete their Pokédex.
That change alone isn't what makes it one of the best JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch, but the mechanics are so fresh and well-implemented that it elevates the story and worldbuilding in ways unlike ever before.
For the first time, Pokémon Legends: Arceus brings a sense of wonder with a world that's primal and feral. It's a Pokémon game with none of the original rules or limits, and that makes it infinitely better.
14. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
You can debate whether The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a proper full-blown RPG or an action-adventure game masquerading as one. Either way, it's one of the best RPG-style games on the Nintendo Switch, and you seriously shouldn't skip it.
The clear influence of Bethesda's Elder Scrolls series means that this game feels more like an RPG than the Zelda franchise ever has. For me, that's close enough to count.
13. Tales of Vesperia
The original Tales of Vesperia was one of the few RPGs available on the Xbox 360 when it launched. The fact that it was actually good? Oh, that was just an incredible bonus on top.
Now, 10 years later, you can revisit the same excellent game on modern systems like the Nintendo Switch. While the Switch isn't starved for RPGs, that doesn't mean you should miss out on this one.
12. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age might be a controversial pick, but we stand by it. You don't want to miss out on this remaster of one of the most underrated Final Fantasy games of the franchise.
In The Zodiac Age, we saw changes to the License Board that adds a job system to make it easier to change your party composition on the fly. For that alone, it's easily the best version of the game, period.
The characters in Final Fantasy XII remain one of its strongest points, with the sky pirates Balthier and Fran feeling so reminiscent of Han and Chewie that we're surprised Square Enix never got a stern letter from Disney. Plus, the world feels both tense and beautiful at the same time.
Even if you played the original Final Fantasy XII on the PlayStation 2, you owe it to yourself to try out this newer version. It's that good.
11. Divinity: Original Sin 2
The PC version of Divinity: Original Sin 2 was a major hit, with the Definitive Edition making it even better with all the patches plus extra digital content (including an art book, map, and soundtrack).
That's the version that came to the Switch, and somehow it managed to deftly handle the transition to a small screen. Even better, you can swap back and forth between playing the game on Steam and your Switch.
10. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age was one of the best RPGs around when it first dropped on the PlayStation 4 and Windows in 2018. A year later, an enhanced version called Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age came to the Nintendo Switch.
In getting the better version of the game, the Switch benefited from new ways to play and better-sounding music. This is a long game, too, so you're definitely getting your money's worth.
9. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
If you want a game with a lot of content, Fire Emblem: Three Houses will surely deliver. With each of the four routes taking around 35–40 hours to complete, you're in for at least 150 hours of solid gameplay. (And that's not even including the Ashen Wolves DLC.)
Each playthrough of Fire Emblem: Three Houses will unfold differently, as it depends on which house you choose to teach and what decisions you make at certain key plot points.
Tactical combat has never looked or felt better than in this game, complete with brightly colorful maps that make it easy to see what you're doing without sacrificing difficulty.
Each game unit has so much personality that you'll almost feel bad about sending them into the fray, especially when you finally decide which one you plan to romance.
8. Collection of Mana
Collection of Mana is actually a set of three games that includes a port of the Nintendo Game Boy classic Final Fantasy Adventure and the Western port of Trials of Mana (AKA Seiken Densetsu 3), which was only available in Japan for a long time.
But the entire collection is worth getting just for the Switch port of Secret of Mana, one of the greatest SNES games of all time. Combine all three together and you have a collection that goes from "should probably play" to "absolutely must play."
7. Grandia HD Collection
The first Grandia made a splash on the Sega Saturn and PlayStation with the sequel coming to the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2.
This collection packs both into a single package for a budget price. Fans had some complaints, but a patch is on the way to address them. Either way, these two games deserve a second look.
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Switch has a solid library of exclusive games, but as we've explored before, it's also a great system for ports.
Skyrim might look better here than it did on the Xbox 360, but it's nowhere near the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One versions, let alone the PC version. Does that matter? Not really, no.
5. Octopath Traveler
Looking at Octopath Traveler is like looking into a parallel universe where games never went three-dimensional and instead, 2D art just got better.
This is a very traditional RPG in some senses that is also quite modern in others. It isn't for everyone, but if you pine for the days of SNES RPGs, this is comfort food in video game form.
4. Persona 5 Royal
Bet you didn't see this one coming, did you? It almost feels like cheating to include Persona 5 Royal on this list. Persona 5 has long been considered one of the best JRPGs of all time, and Persona 5 Royal is an even better version of it.
The Nintendo Switch feels like the perfect home for this incredible roleplaying experience. The graphics and sound transition perfectly to the console, and the overall experience is fantastic whether you're playing the game docked or in handheld mode.
You simply can't go wrong with Persona 5 Royal. It's the most stylish JRPG of all time, with characters and music that never get old. There are multiple romance options, and the story of rebellion and disillusionment only gets more poignant as time goes on.
The Nintendo Switch version is one of the best ports the system has ever seen. If you've been on the fence about it, do yourself a favor and play it!
3. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
With an open world and a similarly open-ended combat system that brings MMORPGs to mind, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a sprawling game.
That said, the cheerfulness of the story helps keep it from getting bogged down. Just make sure to set aside a good chunk of time to play this one, especially if you plan on getting the rarer Blades.
2. Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was one of the biggest JRPG releases of 2022. This mammoth of a game will take you more than 120 hours to complete, plus many more hours if you're a completionist type.
JRPGs fans looking for a meaty experience will find plenty to enjoy here. The game's combat system is simple enough that you can pick it up quickly, while introducing enough wrinkles and layers over time that you won't grow bored. There's always more depth to explore.
Also, the story is brilliant and the music a real highlight, as has often been the case with the Xenoblade Chronicles series.
The only downside? You need to play at least 10 hours before you really get to freely explore the world—that's when the whole game really takes off.
1. Nier: Automata
Nier: Automata is a kind of visual spectacle you wouldn't expect on the Nintendo Switch, with countless particle effects and relentless action. The fact that this game runs so well on the Switch? Astonishing.
Seriously, there's no visual downgrade here compared to other gaming consoles. This isn't a lesser version of the game—it's the game.
Yoko Taro is the best in the business at creating mind-bending twists and playing with the very concept of what a video game is. You'll have to play Nier: Automata multiple times to unravel all the mysteries and endings, culminating in one of the greatest video game endings of all time.
If you've never played Nier: Automata before, now is the time to jump in. The Nintendo Switch version—called The End of YorHa Edition—is now the best way to experience this legendary game.