With the current global coronavirus pandemic, it’s never been more important to stay indoors and prepare for long-term self-isolation. Not going outside is a task that gaming enthusiasts have been preparing for all their lives. It feels safe to call the Nintendo Switch one of the greatest consoles ever made, definitely one of the greatest Nintendo consoles, thanks in part to its stellar single-player library. These coming weeks or months will be a perfect time to catch up on your backlog or expand your horizons if you’re new to gaming. To help get you started, here are the best single-player games on the Switch to play during self-isolation.
Undertale has reached an almost memetic status ever since its release five years ago. It’s a cute little RPG inspired by the classic EarthBound on the surface. But it has a number of systems and ideas going on underneath. Most of the game’s best moments or sequences involve actually making your mark on the game world yourself.
Your character falls into the Underworld and meets all manner of monsters, friends, and possible foes. How you interact with them — whether you’re a peacemaker or a monster yourself — is up to you, though. If you’re fond of clever humor or twee aesthetics, Undertale is one of the best single-player Switch games to try out during isolation.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem played it safe for its first installment on the Switch, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It takes place in a school setting where everyone is sorted into distinct groups and has a familiar personality type. Yet something just works about recruiting an army of friends only to send them off to war, especially when it’s wrapped up in traditional Fire Emblem political intrigue.
You’ll choose which house of students you lead at the beginning but can recruit others as you progress. In-between grid-based tactical fights, you’ll train your students individually and try to forge strong bonds with them. Everything opens up enormously in the game’s second half, too. Everything you think you know is gone. In its place is a world wracked with war and turmoil, but you can make a difference. The question is whether your path is the right one. Even though it’s familiar, Three Houses is a big step forward for Fire Emblem‘s storytelling.
Since the 1990s, the Civilization series has made its mark as a standardbearer of strategy gaming on the PC. Civilization VI, the latest entry, is finally on the Nintendo Switch. The country-building 4X (“explore, expand, exploit, exterminate”) game plops you and some early settlers on a continent of your choosing with a leader of your choice.
It then leaves you to guide this new civilization into the future and beyond however you see fit. You can dominate all others on the globe or aim for a technological victory. Whatever path you choose, resource management is vital. You’ll control everything from village output to what marvels of architecture your civilization puts out. Civilization is famous for encouraging a “just one more turn…” mindset in its players, so if you’re looking for a way to kill a lot of time in isolation without noticing, Civ VI and its expansions are definitely among the best single-player Switch games you can play in isolation.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
For a lot of Animal Crossing fans, a console-quality Animal Crossing on a handheld was the dream scenario. And that dream came true with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. New Horizons is the first Animal Crossing game on Switch. So far it seems like everything you could possibly want, if the early sales numbers are anything to go by.
Everything you’d expect from Animal Crossing is here. You build a house, make friends, fish, catch bugs, and basically live the most relaxing life imaginable. The addition of the Nook Miles system gives players regular incentives and direction too. It’s a small change that makes a big difference with the Animal Crossing gameplay loop. Best of all, you can spend plenty of time relaxing “outdoors” on a calming deserted island with your new animal buddies. You might not be able to go outside during self-quarantine, but you could do a lot worse than New Horizons.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
On paper, a Mario strategy game featuring the Ubisoft Rabbids sounds like a terrible idea. Not on paper, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is something much different. This surprisingly well-crafted squad-strategy game took everyone by surprise when it turned out to be one of the best strategy titles on the Switch. Kingdom Battle is fun, charming, and full of Nintendo polish, despite having such a close connection with another company.
You’ll lead squads of three characters, Mario and two others, throughout a changed Mushroom Kingdom. The Rabbids accidentally invaded and made everything… weird. It’s up to you to put things right, but the battles only get more difficult as you go along. If you can find a copy on the cheap, this is a no-brainer, even if you’re not a huge fan of strategy games. Mario + Rabbids isn’t extremely complex, but it still rewards players for actively thinking and making the most of their skills and weapons.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition
Widely lauded as one of the best single-player RPGs of all time, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has more than enough to keep you occupied for however long your self-quarantine might last. That’s even more true for the Nintendo Switch version. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition includes two huge story expansion packs to pad things out even more. If you liked Netflix’s The Witcher but have yet to try any of the games, Wild Hunt is a great choice.
You’re a supernatural monster hunter trying to track down your adopted daughter. Why? Because otherworldly legions are after her too. But that’s only part of the story. The other part is in the sidequests, which are as expansive and emotional as the story itself.
The Switch has no dearth of great platformers and Metroidvanias. But the massively popular Hollow Knight, with its strong visual design and overall mood, put it above the rest. Often compared to Dark Souls and Metroid, Hollow Knight is a demanding action platformer with a peerless sense of aesthetic.
You’re on a bug knight on a journey and must explore the vast ruins of a kingdom that mysteriously collapsed on itself. The game rewards skill, but it has plenty of in-game tutorials and shortcuts to make some of the harder encounters feel a bit smoother. Hollow Knight is definitely worth seeking out as one of the best single-player Switch games just for the game’s art and especially the excellent soundtrack. Self-quarantine and isolation can be tough without the right music, after all.
Deadly Premonition Origins
To say that Deadly Premonition Origins is something of a “cult game” would be an understatement. The game borrows heavily from the short-lived supernatural mystery TV show Twin Peaks. That and the games follow an FBI agent who travels to a small industrial town in Washington State to solve a series of grisly murders, filtered through the offbeat sensibilities of its game director, Swery65.
It often feels like Deadly Premonition is as obsessed with direct-to-VHS horror films as the murder you’re trying to solve, giving it a unique vibe. There are certainly some stumbling blocks, like gameplay that was taken straight out of 2006 and then “fixed” in 2013. But in the end, all these issues just give the game even more charm. The odds are high that you’ve never played anything like Deadly Premonition, so his weird little open-world horror game deserves a place on a list of best single-player Switch games.
Super Mario Odyssey
Some people would argue Super Mario Odyssey is one of the best Mario games ever made, if not the absolute best. It’s hard to disagree. Odyssey is boundlessly imaginative, with each world managing to feel unique even within a shared gameplay framework. Even the water level is good, which is certainly not something we can say for every Super Mario title.
Odyssey’s cap-based possession ability is at the center of each level’s design. Yet it feels more like a nice bonus, because the platforming in Super Mario Odyssey is honestly better than it’s ever been. There’s a ridiculous amount of jumping combos players can execute, giving them more control over Mario than ever before. With all the Cappy interactions as well, it’s like a whole extra game’s worth of puzzles and interactions packed into an already excellent Mario game.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild manages to be a standout Zelda game by stripping down everything that made Zelda games what they were before. The trick is in the exploration and survival. Instead of wandering a small overworld just to get to the next dungeon, Link has a huge and deadly world to explore. It’s special because it removes restrictions from other, similar open-world games and throws that patented Nintendo charm as well. It’s something completely new.
Breath of the Wild is fun and inventive, constantly rewarding players who think outside the box. Much of that reward comes from the game’s physics that always react exactly the way you expect them to. It opens up a vast array of ways you can approach puzzles and basically everything else too. The fact that Nintendo is following it up with a direct sequel should tell you exactly why this is one of the best single-player Switch games.
Dark Souls Remastered
Dark Souls is the video game for a good many people. Outside of a smattering of cutscenes, Dark Souls is almost exclusively interactive gameplay, which is probably why it has such a big following. The game’s immersive story isn’t just told through cryptic item descriptions; it’s also told through level design, enemy and item placement, the sense of isolation the player feels, and even boss actions. There’s really nothing else like it. The first half of Dark Souls has some of the best-designed level structure as well, making each place you explore feel consistent and easily navigable.
You just have to be slightly more patient than usual with Dark Souls because there is a learning curve. Dark Souls Remastered on Switch runs great and the Joy-Con work just fine for the demanding combat, but you should probably have a (sanitized) Pro Controller on hand just to be safe. Is there a better time to learn patience and self-discipline than when you’re locked inside the house all day? No, probably not.
Those are some of the best single-player games to play during your self-quarantine. You can also get them all on the Switch’s eShop, so you don’t have to venture out. And if you’ve played through all of those games already, why not take a look through the Nintendo Enthusiast reviews section? You could find something new and exciting. Whichever of these games you choose, please stay indoors and keep your home as sanitary as possible. Let us know what games you’ll be passing self-isolation with in the comments!