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Best action games on Nintendo Switch

Best action games on Nintendo Switch

Best Action Game Three Split
Image: Nintendo Life

What better way to unwind after a long day at work, school or wherever than to throw yourself into some intense hack-and-slash action? Or better yet, why not take the action with you?

Well, thank goodness for the Switch, which has become a quiet little home for some of the best action games of the generation. From classics from the PlayStation 2 era to being home to the Umbra Witch herself, Switch lets you sink your teeth into some tough action games that combine different mechanics, enemies and visual styles to create fascinating, palm-sweating experiences. These aren’t action RPGs – RPGs that feature hack-and-slash combat like NieR: Automata – and we’ve also got a handy list of the best action RPGs on Switch.

Instead, you’ll be hacking up enemies one moment, or running around to find some hidden collectibles or secrets the next – and while these games’ stories often embrace their over-the-top action, you can sometimes be in for a surprise.

So, we’ve rounded up the cream of the action crop here for you on Switch. And with developers like PlatinumGames, Capcom and indie studios like Heart Machine making a name for themselves in the genre, there’s an ever-growing amount of action titles available. Bend your fingers and sharpen the blade – let’s rock!

Astral chain (switch)

Astral chain (switch)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: PlatinumGames

Release date: 30 August 2019 (USA) / 30 August 2019 (United Kingdom/EU)

With its stunning graphics, stunning presentation, varied gameplay and deep, rewarding battles, Astral Chain is one of PlatinumGames’ most accomplished pieces. It mixes detective work with exciting fight sequences that are inventive, challenging and – perhaps most importantly – breathtakingly cool. The complexity of the game’s myriad systems may prove daunting to some players, but the inclusion of co-op play and the ability to automate many of the mechanics via the ‘Unchained’ mode means that even complete newcomers can still enjoy the ride. Astral Chain is certainly one of the best action games available on Switch, cementing PlatinumGames’ status in the genre.

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Hades (Switch eShop)

Hades (Switch eShop)

Publisher: Super gigantic games / Developer: Super gigantic games

Release date: September 17, 2020 (USA) / September 17, 2020 (United Kingdom/EU)

Hades’ sublime blend of satisfyingly gritty and flexible combat, stunningly vibrant art style, and genuinely fun and engaging storytelling makes for a pretty perfect action-packed package. Supergiant Games has an excellent track record so far, but this truly feels like the finest hour, a roaring rampage through the underworld to come to Switch. Even if you haven’t yet been swayed by the admittedly repetitive ebb and flow of the hack-and-slash roguelike genre, we passionately encourage you to at least give this one a try; for fans of the genre or anyone even remotely interested, this is a heavenly vision of hell that we recommend you sacrifice yourself for.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Switch)

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Switch)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Koei Tecmo

Release date: 18 May 2018 (USA) / 18 May 2018 (United Kingdom/EU)

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is a great time-sink game, with mindless but fun action gameplay that offers the potential for dozens – if not hundreds – of hours of content. While it certainly feels like a game that is too bloated in places, it manages to balance the Zelda and Dynasty Warriors elements well. Group all of this with stunning presentation and impressive portable gameplay, and you have a game that does a great job of doing something new (and weird) with a classic Nintendo property. We would give this one a recommendation, especially for fans of the Zelda series who have always wanted it to be some kind of anniversary game. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition may not have a ton of depth, but it’s frenetic hack-and-slash fun in the Zelda universe, and you’d be missing out by not picking up this complete edition.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (Switch eShop)

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (Switch eShop)

Publisher: Ninja theory / Developer: Ninja theory

Release date: 11 April 2019 (USA) / 11 April 2019 (United Kingdom/EU)

Having Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on Switch in this form is a blessing not to be missed. The game itself is a psychological sensory experience that we highly recommend, but the fact that it’s translated to the Switch in such a complete way is the real surprise here. It doesn’t feel like a downgrade at all, and it stands proudly alongside the other “miracle” ports on the system, arguably surpassing them in some ways. This goes beyond just being an engrossing action game – it’s also an incredible port and a deeply engrossing, haunting story.

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Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Switch)

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Switch)

Publisher: THQ Nordic / Developer: Kaiko

Release date: 2 April 2019 (USA) / 2 April 2019 (United Kingdom/EU)

This faithful port of the original Darksiders is a great way to get into the series. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition brings every slash of Chaoseaster and every gory execution to Nintendo Switch in all its glory. While still inferior to some later entries, this first outing is still a robust action platformer full of satisfying melee combos, open levels and a suitably over-the-top story. Easily one of the most underrated franchises to appear in the last generation, this port finally unleashes Apocalypse in handheld form.

Bayonetta 2 (switch)

Bayonetta 2 (switch)

Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: PlatinumGames

Release date: February 16, 2018 (USA) / February 16, 2018 (United Kingdom/EU)

After its amazing release on Wii U, Bayonetta 2 shines brightest on Nintendo Switch. It runs smoothly at 60 frames per second, looks incredible in both TV and tabletop modes, and offers an addictive free-flowing combat formula that sprinkles in platforming, light exploration, and a ridiculous story to create something you simply need experience. If you’ve never played it before, you’re in for a treat. If you’ve already played it, it’s even more enchanting as a handheld gem.

And of course we have recommending the original Bayonetta as well, although it shows its age a bit more. The beginning of the series is still oh-so-brilliant, and the entire trilogy is now collected on Switch. Voila!

Onimusha: Warlords (Switch eShop)

Onimusha: Warlords (Switch eShop)

Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Capcom

Release date: 15 January 2019 (USA) / 15 January 2019 (United Kingdom/EU)

Thanks to a handful of truly impactful changes, Onimusha: Warlords lives again on Switch. The tank controls are smoother to the touch, and the improvements to the visuals help take the edge off the clunky PS2-era look, allowing the game’s deep combat to shine. The updated soundtrack may be a little off, but even that adds an extra layer of authenticity to a game that draws from Japan’s rich wartime history. Hopefully the rest of the series will get the same treatment because this classic adventure adventure (with occasional moments of horror) has re-sharpened its blade and is ready for action once again.

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God Eater 3 (Switch)

God Eater 3 (Switch)

Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Bandai Namco

Release date: 12 July 2019 (USA) / 12 July 2019 (United Kingdom/EU)

While God Eater 3 took a bit of a beating in the visuals department on Switch, it’s a sacrifice more than worth it for mostly consistent performance and a smooth frame rate. The inclusion of local co-op is a real boon for Switch owners, allowing you to team up with friends to take down massive beasts together. With all previous content updates and patches included, you get a version that is as good as – if not arguably better than – those on PC and PS4. If you’re longing for an alternative to Monster Hunter, this is your next port of call.

Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition (Switch eShop)

Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition (Switch eShop)

Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Capcom

Release date: February 20, 2020 (USA) / February 20, 2020 (United Kingdom/EU)

Even so many years after its debut in 2005, Devil May Cry 3 remains one of the very best action games ever made. It may have aged in places, but the turbocharged, combo-heavy action feels as fresh today as it did in the mid-nineties. The new Freestyle mode – which allows players to switch fighting styles on the fly at any point during the action – is a genuinely excellent addition to the pack, and the ability to play Bloody Palace in local co-op is the cherry on top of a Switch port that should appeal to everyone who are interested in tasting the devilish delights of this all-time classic.

We want to give a shout-out to the original Devil May Cry as well. While it may feel its age even more than this, it’s still a brilliant mix of action and atmosphere.

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