The Nintendo Switch is a great console for playing games with friends and family. However, a quick browse through the Switch’s digital store can turn picking out a new game to play with friends into a daunting task. If you’re struggling to find something new for game night on Switch, we’ve rounded up a list of the best multiplayer Switch games that you can pick up right now. Picking a game always comes down to personal taste, but our list has something for everyone—whether you want a chill couch co-op game to play with friends, or you’re a hardcore player looking for your next online RPG or shooter fix—plus tips for buyers who want to make sure they’re buying the right game for them and their co-op partners.
How we picked the best multiplayer Switch games
As a reporter covering games for Gamespot, Digital Trends, and other gaming enthusiast outlets—as well as an avid Nintendo Switch player—I’ve played a wide variety of multiplayer Switch games. Our current picks reflect my extensive hands-on experience with the Switch, both personal and professional, as well as the tastes of my colleagues and other professional reviewers. These games all have robust multiplayer modes in their respective categories, active online communities, and receive updates from their developers with new content, seasonal events, and/or technical patches to maintain gameplay systems and online stability. In short, we picked these games because we’ve played them a lot and really like them.
Things to consider before buying one of the best multiplayer Switch games
There’s a wider set of things to think about before picking out a game to play with other people. Beyond the simple question, “does this seem fun,” you want to make sure that you’re setting yourself and, potentially, your friends up to have a good time. Depending on the situation, you should see if you’ll need any extra gear or an internet connection.
Who are you playing with?
The most important element of any multiplayer game is, of course, your friends. If you plan to play with a specific group of people, make sure you take everyone’s taste into account when looking for your group’s next game. Video games range not just in content, but also in gameplay style and complexity: Some players will find some genres more fun or accessible than others. For instance, a first-time player may struggle with memorizing complicated inputs. Other players may prefer the gameplay of a combat-heavy action game rather than a racing game.
Local or online?
Speaking of online versus offline games, make sure you check whether you need an internet connection, as both come with their own considerations. Some Switch games are made specifically for local play, while others are designed for online play.
Local multiplayer or couch co-op games are made for playing at home, on a single device. (There are a few games where you can connect multiple Switches locally but those are exceptions, not the rule.) There’s no extra setup for playing Switch games locally, but you will need to have enough controllers and, more importantly, everyone will need to be in the same place.
When playing games with friends online, you and all your friends will need to own the game and connect your Switch consoles to the internet. In most cases, you will also all need active Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions.
Online multiplayer on Switch is also made somewhat more complicated than other consoles because it lacks a meaningful infrastructure for in-game or party chat. While some online multiplayer games are playable with little-to-no communication between players, many require strategic coordination with your teammates. Select titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 2 support voice chat through the Nintendo Voice mobile phone app, but it’s difficult to use. You’re better off organizing a group call in Discord, the gaming-centric communication platform, or another app with group voice chat support.
Nintendo Switch Online
Most online multiplayer games require a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online, the company’s internet utility service. The base service, which costs $4 per month or $20 per year, allows you to play all online-compatible multiplayer games over the internet, gives you access to cloud storage, and a limited library of NES and SNES games, among other things. A premium subscription, Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, offers a wider range of retro games and covers the cost of access to extra content for certain popular Nintendo games, including Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
A small number of online multiplayer games—including Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Knockout City—do not require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to access online features.
In addition to Nintendo Switch Online, many multiplayer games may require extra hardware. The standard Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED come with two Joy-Cons to support 2-player modes, but you’ll need more if you plan to play with 3 or 4 people total. Some local multiplayer games may require each player to have two Joy-Cons, so you may need extras or a Switch Pro Controller.
If you’re buying a game to play with a group that includes kids, you may want to make sure the game is suitable for everyone involved. All games on the Switch are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or the ESRB, so you can check for questionable content at a glance. The ESRB’s ratings are easy to read and clearly labeled on a game’s box or eShop page, and there’s a handy guide for parents available on the ESRB’s website that details each of the ratings and content warnings.
Best multiplayer Switch games: Reviews & Recommendations
Finding your next Nintendo Switch multiplayer game should always be an exciting time, but we understand if picking the right game for your friends and family can feel a bit stressful. If you’d like some concrete recommendations, our list is full of different kinds of games that should be great for all kinds of gamers, whether you’re playing with one friend or a big group, in person or online. These are among the best games on Switch—multiplayer or otherwise—and there’s something here for everyone, from die-hard action RPG and fighting game fans to casual players that prefer puzzles and party games.
Best local multiplayer Switch game: Mario Party Superstars
Why it made the cut: Mario Party Superstars is the perfect casual game to play during a night in with some friends, or when you’re hosting a family-friendly event and need something everyone can play together.
- Genre: Board game/mini-game collection
- Number of Players: 1-4 Players (Online and offline)
- Age Rating: E (Everyone)
- NSO requirement: Yes (For online play)
- Simple rules and controls
- Family-friendly gameplay featuring popular Super Mario characters
- Dice rolls and other random events keep gameplay fair
- Variable match lengths and rulesets
- Some players may find the randomness unfair
- Nothing new for longtime fans
Based on Nintendo’s favorite franchise, Mario Party is a light and breezy minigame collection revolving around a digital board game. The latest in a long line of spinoff soirees, Mario Party Superstars, is a revival of sorts, bringing back a grab bag of fan-favorite boards, mini-games, and playable characters from previous Mario Party games with updated art and modern controls.
The quick, easy-to-learn minigames do impact your performance in the board game, but Mario Party also injects a fair (or unfair, depending on who’s asking) degree of random boosts and penalties that keep everyone on their toes for the whole game.
We prefer playing Mario Party Superstars with others in person—the trash talk and antics are just more fun when you’re sitting next to everyone on the couch—but its online infrastructure is among the best on the Switch, so it’s also a great game to play online if you’re understandably avoiding social events right now.
Best online co-op Switch game: Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Why it made the cut: Mario’s latest adventure features two unique gameplay modes, masterful level design, and some of the best online co-op platforming you’ll find on any console.
- Genre: 3D platformer
- Number of players: 1-4 players online or locally.
- Rating: E for Everyone
- NSO requirement: Yes
- The best version of Super Mario 3D World
- Smart levels designed for solo or co-op play
- All-new Bowser’s Fury mode is excellent
- Later 3D World levels can be difficult for novice players.
- Bowser’s Fury mode has limited multiplayer options
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is one of those rare games that can appeal to just about anyone. This double feature pairs a revamped port of the Wii U’s Super Mario 3D World with an all-new mini-campaign, Bowser’s Fury. Both games feature multiplayer components, but Super Mario 3D World seamlessly weaves crowd-pleasing co-op into the core experience.
In Super Mario 3D World, players can control one of four iconic characters—including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad—and set out on an adventure across dozens of unique levels, each with its own unique gameplay twist. The level variety keeps things fresh, while the challenging (but never brutally difficult) layouts keep you and your friends on your toes.
Best indie multiplayer game on Nintendo Switch: Overcooked: All You Can Eat Edition
Why it made the cut: Overcooked’s cute and cartoony exterior belies the fast-paced puzzle game hidden within. This co-op cooking game tests your gaming skills as much as your communication skills.
- Genre: Puzzle/Action game
- Number of players: 1-4 (local or online)
- Rating: E for Everyone
- NSO requirement: Yes
- Simple controls and gameplay mechanics
- Novel puzzle design emphasizing cooperation and communication
- Family-friendly art style and setting
- Challenging to play online without chat
Overcooked takes the fast-paced excitement of running a restaurant kitchen and turns it into a hectic co-op puzzle game. A team of 2-4 players prepares and cooks a variety of dishes in kitchens with all kinds of outlandish obstacles: You’ll sling burgers in underground mines riddled with pitfalls, roll sushi on a floating raft, and whip up pancakes on alien planets. Some levels have players leaping between platforms to reach different parts of the kitchen, throwing ingredients to teammates from across the screen, or warping between workstations, all while orders and dishes pile up. Overcooked: All You Can Edition combines the levels from Overcooked and Overcooked 2, adds cross-platform online play, and more.
The gameplay can get hectic, but it’s simple enough that players of any skill level can quickly grok the controls and rise to meet each level’s new challenges. The game supports online and local co-op and competitive modes. It’s definitely a local-first experience, though, especially on Switch. Constant communication between teammates is crucial, so online cooking crews should plan on using Discord or another third-party chat service.
Best online RPG on Switch: Monster Hunter Rise
Why it made the cut: Few games match the high of hunting ferocious creatures with your friends in Monster Hunter, and Monster Hunter Rise brings some of the best hunting to Switch.
- Genre: Action RPG
- Number of players: 1 player (offline); 1-4 players (online)
- Age Rating: T for Teen
- NSO requirement: Yes
- Tons of single- and multiplayer content
- SImplest online connectivity in the series yet.
- Plenty of upcoming updates and DLC content will add even more value
- Can be challenging to learn for first-time players
- Online matchmaking
The Nintendo Switch has plenty of excellent multiplayer RPGs—including Warframe, Diablo 2 and 3, and Torchlight 3, all of which were considered for this category—but Monster Hunter Rise currently stands as the system’s best online RPG. The latest in the beloved, long-running Monster Hunter series, Rise asks you and a team of up to three friends to track and slay giant monsters. Felling a beast rewards you with materials that are used to upgrade and craft new weapons and armor, including giant swords, axes, and hammers, so you can go off and hunt stronger enemies.
Despite its simplicity, the Monster Hunter formula creates a deeply engaging cycle of preparation, action-packed hunting, and character customization. And, while hunting monsters can get repetitive, those quests give you time to master the various tools and weapons at your disposal so you can better stalk your intimidating prey.
Best online racing game on Switch: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Why it made the cut: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the biggest Mario Kart game yet, sporting an active online community and tons of local head-to-head game modes for offline matches.
- Genre: Racing game
- Number of players: 1-4 offline; up to 12 players online
- Rating: Rated E for Everyone
- NSO requirement: Yes
- Tons of content and game modes
- Variable difficulty settings of online and offline races
- Can play locally on a single Switch via split-screen mode
- Rehashed content may be underwhelming to long-time fans
- Need to pay for upcoming DLC content
Is there any more quintessentially “Nintendo” multiplayer game than the Mario Kart franchise? The Switch version, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is actually an enhanced port of Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. Injected with more gameplay modes and enhanced with better online multiplayer, there’s more Mario Kart in Deluxe than any other version. You can race in 48 new and returning tracks, plus 8 battle arenas for competitive modes, using a wide array of Nintendo characters ranging from Mario and Luigi to crossovers like Link from The Legend of Zelda, the Inkling from Splatoon, and Isabell from Animal Crossing.
What’s more, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will receive a lot more support over the next year. Nintendo recently announced a series of premium updates that will add an additional 48 new tracks over the coming months and into 2023, so you know people will continue playing online for a long time.
Best competitive puzzle game on Switch: Tetris 99
Why it made the cut: Tetris 99 is a refreshing, large-scale multiplayer reinvention of the impeccable gameplay we all know so well.
- Genre: Puzzle game
- Number of players: Up to 99 players per online match
- Rating: Rated E for Everyone
- NSO requirement: Yes (included as a perk of the NSO subscription)
- Multiplayer matches are a novel spin on Tetris gameplay
- Seasonal events and daily challenges keep the game fresh
- Included with Nintendo Switch Online subscription
- Online matches can be overwhelming if you’re new to Tetris
- Only available to active NSO subscribers
Tetris 99 turns the classic block-dropping puzzle game into a massive “battle royale”-style competition. Rather than simply playing to beat your own score, you arrange blocks and clear lines to send junk blocks and jam up the 98 other players who are all trying to hold out as long as possible.
Some may find the idea of hyper-competitive online Tetris to be too overwhelming, but even if you’re one of the bottom 98 players, you still gain points that unlock new cosmetic items like stage backgrounds, music tracks, and player icons. The game also offers daily and weekly challenges that don’t necessarily require ranking number one on the leaderboards to complete.
Tetris 99 is a “free” perk of the Switch’s Nintendo Switch Online subscription. There’s currently no way to buy and play Tetris 99 without NSO, but the game is good enough that we could easily recommend subscribing for a little while just to play it.
Best online shooter on Switch: Splatoon 2
Why it made the cut: Splatoon 2’s unique spin on online shooters is as vibrant and colorful as it is competitive, and one you can only play on Nintendo Switch.
- Genre: Third-person shooter
- Number of players: 1-4 offlines; 1-8 online
- Rating: E10+ for players 10 and older
- NSO requirement: yes
- Unique arena-control gameplay
- Plenty of unique weapons and strategies to try
- Multiple competitive, co-op, and single player modes
- Upcoming sequel will likely draw players away in Summer 2022.
Splatoon 2 is unique among shooters. Rather than focusing on blasting your opponents like in Fortnite or Overwatch—both solid shooters also on Switch—Splatoon 2 is all about shooting the arena with paint. Each four-person team has its own paint color, the team with the most paint on the floors and walls at the end of the match wins. Weapons range from paintball and squirt gun-like “firearms,” to giant paint rollers and paint grenades. Of course, these weapons can also be used to knock out other players for a few seconds, giving you a window to coat the level without interference.
Older competitive shooter fans might brush the game off for its family-friendly aesthetic, but the bevy of unique weapon types, character loadouts, and gameplay modes (including ranked matched) will appeal to hardcore players. If you’re not in a competitive mood, there is the 4-player co-op horde mode Salmon Run and a single-player campaign that focuses on platforming and puzzles utilizing the game’s paint-based weapons.
The only thing to note is Splatoon 2 was released in 2017 and no longer receives regular content updates or community events. There’s a sequel, Splatoon 3, on track to launch in Summer 2022. In the short term, Splatoon 2 has a strong community so it’s fine to jump in, but you should expect to move over to Splatoon 3 when it launches to make sure you have people to play with.
Best multiplayer fighting game on Switch: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Why it made the cut: Beneath Super Smash Bros Ultimate’s massive character roster and layers of gaming history and references is a fun platform fighter that can appeal to players of all skill levels.
- Genre: Platform fighting game
- Number of players: 1-8 players online and locally
- Rating: T for Teen
- NSO requirement: Yes
- A massive roster featuring beloved characters from throughout video game history
- Custom game modes and gameplay options to suit every player’s skill level
- Robust single-player content to complement the multiplayer modes
- Tons gaming trivia and history to unlock
- Finding and learning a new character can be overwhelming.
- Online matches will be challenging for new players.
The memes were right: Super Smash Bros Ultimate is one of the biggest video game crossovers ever made. Including paid DLC content, there are 89 playable characters, 114 stages, and hundreds of songs, trophies, and other references from franchises across all of video game history. It’s not just Nintendo either; Characters owned by Microsoft, Square Enix, Capcom, SNK, Sega, Konami and more all make appearances.
More than a video game museum, though, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is one of the great fighting games. A “platform fighter” that revolves around simple, but precise movement and attacks. Without any combos to learn, it is very easy to figure out the basics but takes months or even years to master.
Multiplayer Matches can support up to 8 players (or AI-controlled opponents) in team-based or free-for-all bouts. Specialty arenas and randomly appearing items mix things up even further, ensuring that you can always find a new way to play. (That said, did I mention that there are nearly 90 characters?)
Q: How much does a multiplayer Switch game cost?
New Nintendo Switch games typically cost $60 at launch, though independent games may cost less. Many games also feature premium downloadable content, or DLC, for an additional fee.
Q: Can you play Fortnite on Nintendo Switch?
Yes. Fortnite is available as a free download from the Nintendo Switch eShop. It is one of the few games that does not require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to connect to the internet.
Q: What is the best multiplayer Switch game for kids?
The vast majority of Nintendo’s first-party published games are made for all ages. In addition to all of our recommendations from this list, we’re partial to Super Mario Odyssey and Mario’s many sports games, including Mario Golf: Super Rush and Mario Tennis Aces.
Final thoughts on the best multiplayer Switch games
The Nintendo Switch is one of the best-selling video game consoles of all time, and that’s thanks to its incredible library of games—multiplayer and otherwise. The handful we’ve covered here just scratches the surface of all the great games it supports that you can play friends.