The Best Switch Games Online Without An NSO Membership

When online multiplayer began rising in popularity on home consoles in the early 2000s, Nintendo was one of the last major companies to implement it into its software. They didn’t always provide the most reliable or fun experiences, but at least it was free compared to Sony and Microsoft’s subscription-based services.

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Related: Online Games That Don’t Require PlayStation Plus

Nintendo would eventually start charging for access to online games when it launched Nintendo Switch Online in 2018. You’ll need it to access online features for games like Splatoon 3, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and more. Fortunately, you can still play many games online without a subscription to Nintendo’s service.

Updated on July 17, 2023 by Kyle Chamaillard: If you want to play something online with your friends but don’t want to pay for a monthly membership to do so, there are still plenty of free Nintendo Switch games you can enjoy without a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online. We’ve updated this list to remove Knockout City, as its servers shut down in June 2023, and include a few more titles that are worth checking out.

12 Ninjala

A group of Ninjala characters fly over a city and prepare to attack each other

If you enjoy the aesthetic and lighthearted fun of Splatoon, Ninjala is an excellent free-to-play game overflowing with content and different modes to play. You can compete with friends to try and earn the most points during team battles or hop into a battle royale to face off against seven other players.

Each character uses close-range weapons like hammers and axes to attack opponents, but the most fun comes from maneuvering around the stage. You can run up walls and use objects around the world to make yourself feel like a ninja and sneak up behind enemies before they realize what hits them.

11 Asphalt 9: Legends

A red car drives toward the finish line

The Asphalt series has been around since 2014, and while it might not be as well-known as Need For Speed or Forza, the latest entry is a fantastic free-to-play alternative to those bigger titles. With over 200 cars to unlock and 70 gorgeous racetracks to explore, there is a surprising amount of content for a game you don’t need to pay to enjoy.

Since launching on the Switch in 2019, Asphalt 9: Legends has continued to receive even more content, so you can always expect something new whenever you hop back in. Between a career mode, online multiplayer, and rotating seasonal events, this free racing game is a must-have for anyone with a need for speed and a love of cars.

10 Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

A chain strike activates multiple cards on the field

If you would rather spend your time strategizing and building the perfect deck instead of shooting or racing against other people, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is the perfect game for you. It’s designed to compliment both veterans and newcomers to the classic trading card game, and even if you’re initially unfamiliar with the IP, it will have you hooked by the time you finish your first couple of matches.

If you’re not feeling confident enough to challenge people online right away, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel features a fantastic single-player mode that lets you practice and become more familiar with the rules of the game. You can earn an in-game currency to buy more cards to experiment with and use community recommendations to build the perfect deck for you.

9 Overwatch 2

Sojourn, Moira, and Winston attack Junker Queen, Mercy, and Zenyatta

Overwatch is one of many games to switch to a free-to-play formula so more players can access it without having to pay any money. When the original Overwatch launched on Switch, it required you to buy it and pay for the online subscription, but the new iteration wipes all of that away, allowing you to hop in without spending a dime.

Related: Is Overwatch 2 Worth Playing?

Overwatch 2 is mostly the same as the original game but has made enough interesting changes to help make it feel fresh to both new and returning players. One of the biggest differences is the inclusion of a battle pass that unlocks new cosmetics and characters as you play through Overwatch 2’s exciting multiplayer modes like Push or Mystery Heroes.

8 Brawlhalla

Brawlhalla: Cassidy shoots at Thatch while Asuri gets ready to attack Ada

The Nintendo Switch is the home of arguably the best platform fighter ever – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Now that it has finished receiving new content, however, it might be worth checking out some of its competition. Brawlhalla has an excellent roster of characters and great gameplay, and it has been receiving new content since it launched in 2017.

One of the most compelling aspects of Brawlhalla is the number of recognizable faces in its roster. With crossovers from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Castlevania, Brawlhalla contains a smorgasbord of iconic characters to play as, and each fighter has unique powers and abilities that are incredibly fun to learn and master.

7 Dauntless

A warrior charges toward a Hellion in a giant desert

Monster Hunter: Rise allowed Switch players to go on an epic adventure and defeat magnificent beasts, but it required both you and your friends to subscribe to the online service to play it together. Dauntless offers a very similar experience and doesn’t cost anything to download and play.

Like in Monster Hunter, you can choose from a variety of weapons and craft armor using resources either found in the wild or from defeating Behemoths. You can easily spend hours getting lost in the game’s lush world or grinding to unlock the next piece of gear either alone or with a group of up to three other friends.

6 Sky: Children Of The Light

A group of Sky Children play instruments together

Sky: Children of the Light is unique from the other games on this list because it’s more of a social experience than a competitive one. Developed by Thatgamecompany – the creators of Journey and Flower – Sky features a variety of explorable realms and gorgeous vistas, but the main appeal of the game is meeting and interacting with other players.

Socializing with others during season events is a blast, and once you begin unlocking cosmetic items like clothes, expressions, and musical instruments, you can make your Sky Kid reflect your personality. Hopping into Sky is often a relaxing experience, with a lot of vibrant colors, soothing music, and an incredibly welcoming community.

5 Apex Legends

Vantage holds her sniper while Echo flies over her shoulder

Apex Legends is one of the best battle royale games out there, and it’s pretty incredible that it can run on the Switch. You and a squad of up to three other players land on a dynamic map and need to work together to outlast the other teams. It’s explosive fun that is hard to put down once you hop into it.

Related: Multiplayer Games With The Highest Player Count

What helps make Apex Legends special is its diverse cast of characters, each with both endearing personalities and powerful abilities. Each match will require you to strategically use your Legend’s skills to ensure your team’s survival to earn the title of Apex Champions. It’s been receiving new content since it launched in 2019 and continues to be one of the most popular games in the genre.

4 Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

A group of Fall Guys watch as another one plays Switch in handheld mode

Like Overwatch, Fall Guys initially cost money to purchase and an online subscription to play it. Fortunately, the day it launched on Switch is also the same day that Fall Guys switched to a free-to-play model to incentivize new players to check its colorful spin on the battle royale genre.

Instead of eliminating other players on a giant map, Fall Guys pits sixty contestants against each other in a series of obstacle courses, platforming challenges, and more. You can earn in-game currency to unlock hilarious outfits to customize your Bean. There are over eighty different rounds in Fall Guys, and you can hop in alone or with a group of friends to see who will come out on top.

3 Rocket League

A Mario and Luigi vehicle soar over a grassy field

There are plenty of third-person shooters and action games you can play without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, but sometimes it’s nice to dabble in something a bit different. Rocket League provides one of the most riveting and unique experiences on the console by fusing fast cars with the sport of soccer.

After being split into teams, you must drive your vehicle into a massive ball to try and land it in the opposing team’s goal. It’s fast-paced, gripping, and incredibly satisfying when you maneuver yourself to hit the ball at just the right time to earn the winning goal. Playing Rocket League on the Switch also comes with exclusive vehicles inspired by Super Mario Bros. and Metroid.

2 Pokemon Unite

Pikachu, Greninja, Blastoise, Charizard, and Alolan Ninetails stand in a stadium

A majority of Nintendo’s online multiplayer games require a subscription to their online service to play them, but Pokemon Unite is the exception to the rule. The Pokemon series loves to experiment with different genres, and this take on the MOBA surprised many with its simple yet compelling gameplay.

One of Pokemon Unite’s biggest achievements is how accessible it is to anyone who has never played a MOBA before. The in-game tutorial quickly teaches you everything you need to know, and the matchmaking ensures that you play against people with a similar skill level. It’s also an incredibly easy game to pick up and play, as matches only take between five and ten minutes.

1 Fortnite

Synapse, Dream, Fishstick, Asmodeus, and Tempest

When Fortnite spiked in popularity shortly after it launched in 2017, it became an inevitability that it would come to the Nintendo Switch. It wouldn’t take long, as the battle royale appeared on the console in 2018 and allowed you to play it both on your TV or in handheld mode, depending on your preference.

The Switch version of Fortnite might not look as good as other versions, but it still runs incredibly well and doesn’t affect the gameplay whatsoever. It’s a great game to hop into with friends for either a few matches or an evening of fun, and Fortnite’s ever-changing world and mechanics help prevent it from ever feeling stale. Fortnite is full of exciting modes, quests, and more, and you can experience it all without having to pay for a thing.

Next: The Best Free Multiplayer Games On Switch

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