Over the past year or two, the Nintendo Switch has become one of the best ways to play online multiplayer games.
As long as you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription—which only costs $4/month or $20/year—you can play all of the online multiplayer Nintendo Switch games. (In fact, you can even play most of the free games online without an NSO subscription.)
But there are a lot of Nintendo Switch games with online multiplayer functionality, and a lot of them have steep price tags that make it hard to know if they'd be worth buying.
Here are the best Nintendo Switch games where online multiplayer is an essential part of gameplay. Most are player-versus-player, but a few can be played cooperatively.
13. Among Us
Among Us has taken over all kinds of online communities, and for good reason: it's simple, it's thrilling, and it's addictive. You run around completing tasks on your spaceship, while trying to identify which crewmate is the impostor (and ejecting them before they kill everyone).
You can play for free on Android and iPhone, but the experience is cleaner on Nintendo Switch. It only costs a few dollars and you get all the skins (which are DLCs for mobile). Worth it!
Mario Tennis Aces is the best iteration of the Mario Tennis franchise, with its refined gameplay and new mechanics like "zone shots" (where time slows down and you aim a powerful shot) and "zone speed" (where time slows down for everyone but you move at normal speed).
But my favorite way to play Mario Tennis Aces is in Simple mode, which excludes all the extra features and sticks to the basic topspins, slices, and lobs. I find that it's the most exciting way to play, especially online.
11. Tetris 99
Tetris 99 is what happens when Tetris meets battle royale gameplay. This online-only version of Tetris puts 99 players together in a fight for survival, where clearing lines sends garbage to other players, making it harder for them to survive. Last one standing wins!
The battle royale gameplay works surprisingly well, and if you like Tetris, you'll find that Tetris 99 can be quite addicting. You may get into the Top 10 often, but being the winner is tough—and exhilarating every time.
Fortnite popularized the battle royale game genre, and it still remains one of the most popular online multiplayer games with an active playerbase all over the world. The Nintendo Switch experience isn't perfect, but it's more than fine for anyone but the most hardcore of players.
Airdrop onto an island with 99 other players, scavenge for weapons and items, and eliminate everyone else until you're the last one standing. It's tons of fun, especially when played in duo mode and squad mode!
Overwatch is a 6v6 team-based hero shooter where everyone plays as a unique character from a large roster. Complete map objectives while staying alive and eliminating opponents, and make sure your team comes out on top before time runs out.
The Legendary Edition for Nintendo Switch includes the full game as well as 5 Legendary Hero Skins, 5 Epic Hero Skins, and 5 Origin Hero Skins.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is an action-RPG with sandbox crafting elements. Explore the world, collect resources, design towns and construct buildings, and defend against monsters in a fun and frantic hack-and-slash combat system.
Up to 4 players can play together as a cooperative squad, either via online multiplayer or local wireless multiplayer. You can also visit the worlds of other players, although you can't alter them.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the second best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch. Most players are content with single-player mode and don't care to visit anyone else's island. But with online multiplayer, up to 8 players can play together on one island.
While Animal Crossing: New Horizons is popular, it's not the kind of game that appeals to everyone. But if you have friends who play it, and if those friends have Nintendo Switch Online, then you might find it a lot more fun to play with them instead of tending to your own, isolated island.
6. Diablo III
Diablo III is best played on a PC, but the Nintendo Switch experience isn't too far off. Our own Dave LeClair wrote about his experience playing Diablo III on Nintendo Switch after playing it on PC, and he liked it.
Blizzard Entertainment did a wonderful job porting it to the hybrid handheld console. Just note that the core game is still the same, so if you already have Diablo III on another platform, you can safely skip this.
That said, the Eternal Collection grants some Zelda-related Nintendo Switch exclusives: a Cucco companion pet, a Triforce portrait frame, an exclusive transmogrification set for Ganondorf's iconic armor, and a set of unique cosmetic wings.
When Monster Hunter World released in 2018, Nintendo Switch users were left out. Their only option to enjoy Monster Hunter gameplay was the older and less refined Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.
But in 2021, the script flipped and Nintendo Switch users gained exclusive access to Monster Hunter Rise. This latest entry in the Monster Hunter series feels a lot like Monster Hunter World, but with several enhancements and new features of its own.
Not only does it support online multiplayer with up to 4 players in a party, Monster Hunter Rise even introduces a new survival mode where players defend the base village against monsters using siege weaponry.
Warframe is a shining example of free-to-play microtransactions done well. This online multiplayer third-person loot shooter includes procedurally-generated missions, open-world exploration, and deep RPG elements with satisfying character growth over time.
Today, Warframe is one of the most-played online multiplayer games on any platform, and continues to grow. Whether you play alone or squad up with up to 3 other players, Warframe is one of the best free games you can play on the Nintendo Switch.
You knew Minecraft would have to be on this list, right? While the Nintendo Switch version of Minecraft originally only supported online multiplayer with other Nintendo Switch players, the Bedrock edition of Minecraft in 2018 introduced cross-play with other platforms.
Meaning the Minecraft experience on Nintendo Switch is now what it should've been from the start: fun and enjoyable with any other Minecraft player, whether you play cooperatively or competitively.
2. Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 is an online multiplayer 4v4 territory-control game where players use colored ink to mark the ground and object surfaces in their team's color. The winning team is the one who marked more territory by the time the clock runs down.
There are other game modes as well, including a single-player Hero Mode and a new Salmon Run Mode where a team of 4 players play cooperatively to defeat waves of enemies.
Splatoon 3 is set to be released in 2022. Depending on when you read this, you may or may not want to wait until that comes out.
Rocket League is an strong contender for best online multiplayer game on the Nintendo Switch—especially now that it's free-to-play. With an active global playerbase that sees anywhere from 500,000 to over 1 million concurrent online players, it's certainly popular.
You drive a rocket-powered car in teams of 3v3 and try to get the ball into the other team's goal. It's really that simple, but there's a lot of depth to it depending on how deeply you want to learn the game mechanics. Just want mindless fun? That's fine, too!
Rocket League matches are only 5 minutes long (maybe a few extra minutes if you go into overtime), so it's a great game to play in short bursts. But if you're addicted like I am, you can play for an hour at a time or more and not realize where the time flew.