There was plenty of apprehension about Nintendo's latest experimental gaming device, but the Switch has become the hottest device in games today. Well done, Nintendo.
And well done to you too, assuming you just unwrapped one. The Switch might not be the most powerful console today, but its portability has made it a must-have, along with brilliant new games from Nintendo and a staggering influx of third-party support.
Now what, then? Well, it's time to set up your sweet new device, snag some games, and maybe procure a few handy accessories to ensure that you're making the most of the Switch. Read on and we'll help you sort all of that out.
1) Get up and running
The Nintendo Switch has a couple more parts and pieces than your average Xbox or PlayStation, but it's actually incredibly easy to put together and start using. Nintendo's been doing this for decades now, so it's no surprise that the Switch is user-friendly through and through.
Plug the included power adapter into a wall outlet and then connect the USB-C port to the bottom of the Switch itself, right below the screen. You'll then attach the Joy-Con controllers to the right and left sides of the screen, and they'll slide in with a satisfying click.
Hold the power button on top and you can begin the setup process, which includes choosing your language and region, setting up Wi-Fi and entering or creating a Nintendo account, and downloading any system updates that might be available. It's a relatively painless process.
And then there's the other end of the Switch experience: the TV dock. It's a simple plastic cradle that connects to both your TV and a wall outlet, and lets you fling Switch games onto the big screen and/or charge the unit while docked.
This part is easy too. Once you have a solid charge on the Switch itself, detach the power adapter from before and plug it in next to your TV, putting the USB-C end into the back of the dock. Run the HDMI cable from the dock to your TV and then you're all set. When you pop the Switch into the dock, it'll display on your TV screen.
Since the portable screen stays in the dock while you're playing on the TV, you'll need to remove the Joy-Con controllers to use them on their own. The Switch comes with little strap attachments that bulk up the tiny controllers and make the shoulder buttons much easier to use. Alternately, you can attach them to the included controller cable to make it feel more like a traditional gamepad, or buy the separate Pro Controller, which feels much like an Xbox One gamepad.
Earlier this year, Nintendo launched its premium Switch Online service, which costs £17.99 per year and is required to play games online. Luckily, it also comes with a stack of classic NES games (updated with online play) to enjoy, along with cloud backup for your game saves. It's optional, but you'll need it to complete online in games like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The free-to-play Fortnite is free-to-play-online, however.
2) Grab some games
The Nintendo Switch is sort of useless if you don't have any great games to play on it. Luckily, the system is stacked with awesome games now, with more than 1,000 already available – including some of Nintendo's biggest and best games in ages.
Last year brought us some absolute gems, including Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and all are still well worth your time and money if you've just gotten a Switch.
Looking for something newer? Here are some of this year's must-play games, along with three cheaper eShop games that you can download and play in a hurry. And if you need more picks, scope out our list of the 25 best Switch games you can play right now.
Best new games
Truly the supreme incarnation of Nintendo's long-running fan-service brawler, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings together 70+ characters from all sorts of legendary gaming franchises to battle it out in brash, button-pummeling showdowns. It's the perfect party game, and even as a solo experience, it feels like you could play this forever and still continue unlocking fun goodies.
Pokémon: Let's Go (£45)
The original Pokémon adventure gets a modern reboot with Let's Go, which merges the core of the Game Boy experience with a dash of Pokémon Go's simplicity and a gorgeous makeover. Available in separate Eevee and Pikachu-centric releases, it's an ideal entry point for anyone who hasn't played the core Pokémon games - and plenty fun for veterans, too.
Dragon Ball FighterZ (£46)
Dragon Ball FighterZ is the best new fighting game in years, and while it first debuted on other consoles, it doesn't lose a step in the translation to Switch. Bold and beautiful, it captures both the look and spirit of the classic anime series with its massively exciting skirmishes. It's the rare licensed game that rises above the source material; you don't have to be a fan to have fun.
Dead Cells (£22.49)
This hardcore side-scroller became a critical darling and an indie smash in 2018, marrying the dazzling pixel look of a 16-bit adventure with the brutal-yet-satisfying combat of a game like Dark Souls. It's punishing, no doubt, but this game will keep you coming back time and again.
Unless you've spent the last year-plus inside of a cave, you've surely heard about Fortnite – and if you haven't tried it, then now's your chance. Epic's cartoonish free-to-play shooter drops you into a 100-player battle for supremacy, which requires more than just a sharp aim; you'll also need to scavenge for supplies and rapidly build defensive structures on the large, satisfying map.
Anxiety and mountain-climbing might not sound like the most thrilling concoction, but Celeste is absolutely gripping. Part challenging platformer and part emotional gem, this acclaimed indie game is tough but accommodating, plus the dialogue and triumphant tale of overcoming personal struggles really elevate the experience.
3) Get some extra gear
The Switch comes with everything you need to get up and running (except games, of course), but a few choice accessories can really accentuate and extend the fun. Here are five worth considering.
The Switch comes with 32GB of internal storage, although it's actually less once you format the console – plus there are already some games too large to even fit within that chunk. So yes, you will absolutely want a memory card. Go larger if you want, but 128GB hits the sweet spot of price and ample storage, providing plenty of space to hold games and data without having to splurge too much.
If you're used to playing games on other current consoles, then the Switch's dinky Joy-Cons just won't satisfy for TV play, even within the included gamepad shell. Instead, grab Nintendo's great Pro Controller. It's essentially an Xbox One controller in feel, and even if the £55 price point is sizable added investment, your hands will thank you during epic Legend of Zelda sessions. Trust us.
PDP Premium Travel Case (£13)
Unless you plan on keeping the Switch at home at all times, you're gonna need a case. We like PowerA's large Everywhere Messenger bag, which holds the dock and cords, but something simpler probably works best for everyday play. Try PDP's case: it's slim, solidly stylish, and safely holds the system and 14 game cards. They also offer great Mario and Zelda variants for a couple quid more.
The Switch has a tiny kickstand on it, but it's flimsy – plus you can't charge the system while it's standing upright. Luckily, HORI has a neat solution: its fold-up Compact PlayStand, which holds the Switch up at one of three selectable angles while providing access to the USB-C port at the bottom. It's great for on-the-go throwdowns, especially if you plan on playing for a while.
The Switch packs a punch, but it'll only give you a few hours of uptime on a full battery charge. Need more for a long-haul flight, road trip, or any other time spent away from a wall plug? Anker's PowerCore+ 28,600 PD is our favourite external battery pack. It's huge, but it'll give you a few extra Switch charges so that the fun doesn't have to stop while away from home.