Got a Nintendo Switch for Christmas? Here are the 5 games to play first

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If you just got a Nintendo Switch for the holidays, you may wonder which games you should play to kick off your journey—and we’ve got you covered with our pick of five Switch games to play first.

To ensure you get maximum value out of your new console, I will go over Nintendo Switch exclusives only because that’s the best part about owning it. With that in mind, remember there are tons of third-party games you can play on the Switch, like Hades or Stardew Valley.

Here is our pick of five games to play first on Nintendo Switch.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder

Official art for Super Mario Bros Wonder, one of Nintendo's games in 2023. The image features Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Toad, and Yoshi.
Mario, Luigi, Peach, and other characters of Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Image via Nintendo

Super Mario Bros. Wonder is one of the best recent Mario games on Nintendo Switch. Mario Wonder is a 2023 take on the classic side-scrolling platformer, taking Mario back to its roots. 

Dot Esports’ assigning editor Adam Newell calls Super Mario Wonder “a unique experience that can be played over and over again.” Despite previously hating platformers, Newell was won over by the game, calling it a “delight” due to its “visuals, sense of wonder, and the wonderful gameplay mechanics in its Wonder Seeds that give each level a unique ‘what is going to happen this time!?’ feel when you go into it.” The game is bright, colorful, and exactly what you’d expect from a lighthearted Mario adventure.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the wild poster
This Breath of the Wild wallpaper screams with adventure. Image via Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, on the other hand, is a full-fledged action adventure that is a must for any Switch owner. The game will take you to the vast world of Hyrule, filled with places to explore, enemies to fight, and puzzles to solve.

The game gives you a lot of freedom in what you can do. Whether you want to witness the breathtaking story or discover the mysteries of the world, it’s all up to you. Breath of the Wild is a massive game, with Newell describing it as “something that cannot be explained. It’s an experience that must be played.”

Once you are done with Breath of the Wild, there’s a sequel for you to tackle: Tears of the Kingdom. Although Newell describes the sequel as a “massive glorified DLC with a story that didn’t have the heart of the original,” it’s still a great game in its own right, with enough new content to keep you engaged.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing characters gathered on the beach.
What could be better than enjoying a day by the beach? Image via Nintendo

If you are looking for something cozy, your next stop is Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You’ve probably heard the name before; it’s a simulation game where you live and build your own island (and owe money to raccoons), although it’s a bit more than just that.

The game takes you to an almost empty island where you can do whatever you please: fish, garden, collect bugs, build, or terraform the whole place—the choice is up to you. It can feel grindy collecting materials, but this game is all about what you want to do and the goals you set for yourself. If you are looking for a laid-back way to spend time gaming, Animal Crossing has got you covered.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Pokemon Legends Arceus key art
Everything has to start somewhere. Image via The Pokémon Company

Nintendo Switch is a home for another popular franchise, Pokémon. There are a lot of Pokémon games, and every fan has their favorite they will recommend to you. It can get overwhelming, especially since there are usually multiple editions of the same game, like Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. But Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the ultimate way to start your trainer journey.

Arceus’ story will take you back to the past of Pokémon, which is quite fitting for getting to know this new universe. The game has brought revamped systems to the series but still maintains the core gameplay of Pokémon. There’s a story, battling, and filling out your Pokédex in a simple but engaging loop. Arceus is by far one of the best Pokémon games on Switch.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario and Rabbids in Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
This is what happens when you let Rabbids touch stuff. Image via Ubisoft

For something different, my personal favorite is Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a turn-based strategy game featuring our friends from the Mushroom Kingdom and hilariously dumb Rabbids. Don’t think it’ll be dull just because it’s a strategy game, though—it’s quite the opposite.

The game offers you a range of tools to beat opponents while quickly moving around during the battle. Every character can attack, use skills, slide, and launch other characters across the battlefield. Characters can use all these features in a single turn, resulting in the most fast-paced and engaging gameplay a turn-based game can offer.

Outside of battles, you can explore the worlds of the Kingdom Battle to find hidden secrets and minigames in classic Mario games’ fashion. Or you can play minigames together with your friends.



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