Ever bought a game for $60/£50 on the day it released, then finished it just hours later? Chances are, you're either playing an FPS game from the late '00s, or you just got unlucky. The current trend in blockbuster singleplayer games is to make them long, or replayable, and it's definitely a good thing for people taking a chance on a new purchase.
If you're among the thousands of people who bought a Nintendo Switch in a panic buy, you're possibly wondering which games offer the best value in terms of hours played. That's why we've made this list, focused specifically on games that are really, really long.
Some of them, in fact, can be played forever, not that we necessarily recommend you do that. For each game below, we provided an estimate on how long it'll take to beat, based on the player data supplied to the website How Long to Beat. Find something you like the sound of, then give it a try.
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The Witcher 3: Complete Edition
How long is it? 51 hours (at least)
The Witcher 3 takes some graphical sacrifices to work on Switch, but if it's your only way to play what's widely considered the best RPG of the last ten years, you should totally grab it. This fantasy RPG, starring Geralt of Rivia, offers a beautiful world to explore, extremely well-written side quests and fun real-time combat.
51 hours is just scratching the surface with this game, really. When factoring in the two expansions that ship with this Switch edition of the game, you're looking at well over 100 hours of game to enjoy. A great way to pass the time if you're waiting for The Witcher season 2 on Netflix.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
How long is it? 33 hours (at least)
Skyrim is one of those games that's been ported to everything that'll run it, and that includes the Switch. You'd be hard-pressed to notice big differences between this edition and the original console releases on Xbox 360 and PS3. This fantasy RPG is still a treat to play nine years after it first debuted, even if the sidequest design is pretty rudimentary, and maybe a bit too familiar if you've played any of Bethesda's other RPGs.
Like The Witcher, the novelty of Skyrim on Switch is just seeing it actually work, but there's a reason RPG fans still revere this game all these years later. 33 hours might get you through the main story, but combined with the bundled-in DLC, you're looking at well over 100 hours of potential play time here.
How long is it? Roughly 60 hours
A throwback to turn-based RPGs of old, Octopath Traveler charts the adventures of eight unique characters, all of which have an interesting story to tell. The twist is you can play as any of them, whether that’s as an exotic dancer or a hardened warrior, and delve further into the storyline of each, if you choose.
The eight travelers also have special abilities that you need to use to interact with the world, and you'll experiment with different tactics in battle to overcome challenging enemies. You might need to intimidate a guard to cough up more information, for example, or charm a formidable character to join you in battle.
Octopath Traveler mixes things up further in the combat department thanks to its clever boost system. Store up action points with each turn, then spend them all in one go to unleash incredibly powerful attacks and abilities.
It’s easy to fall into the satisfying gameplay loop that Octopath Traveler offers: leveling up, scouring the land for more effective gear, and completing every single side quest that pops up. Trust us when we say that a truly epic quest awaits you.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
How long is it? Roughly 95 hours
Getting excited for Baldur’s Gate 3? You should be, if developer Larian’s last effort is anything to go by. If Divinity: Original Sin showed what the potential for a modernized CRPG could bring to the table, Original Sin 2 crystalized the format – and proved there was no developer better to pick up the Baldur’s Gate mantle than Larian.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a mammoth game, a blast in single-player and a revelation when enjoyed as a multiplayer adventure. Taking on the role of magically charged misfits on a journey towards godhood, it’s one of the most freeing RPGs imaginable. Taking the “if you can imagine it, you can try it” approach of a tabletop RPG, you’re free to approach any combat encounter in any way you like, taking full advantage of a cleverly reactive environmental system and turn-based battle mechanic.
That this gigantic game can be squeezed onto the Switch seems almost impossible, but it has been masterfully ported. It’s taken a visual downgrade, undeniably, but there’s one last treat in store if you’ve already played the PC version – the game is fully compatible with cross-platform saves.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
How long is it? 25 hours (at least)
The latest Pokémon game courted controversy for not featuring the complete roster of monsters from past generations, but that might actually come as a relief if you're starting the series for the first time. Either way, you've got hours of monster catching and battling ahead of you in the series' first HD effort. It'll take you over 20 hours to finish the main game, then much, much longer to fill your Pokédex, which you can do online.
You can extend things much further by taking your monsters online and battling other trainers. If, somehow, that's not enough game to fill your time, two new DLC packs are coming to Sword and Shield this year, complete with new Pokémon to collect.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Genre: Open world
How long is it? 50 hours (at least)
The first properly open world Zelda is, without exaggeration, one of the best games ever made. After an extended intro that explains all of the ways you can interact with the world, you can finish it at any time, though there is a critical path of sorts. But exploring, discovering and making your own stories is the lifeblood of Breath of the Wild.
Maybe you'll get hit by lightning while riding on horseback across a stormy plain. Maybe you'll use a bomb to knock three enemies off a cliff. Perhaps you'll glide off a mountain in your underpants. Breath of the Wild is unlike any other open world game in how tactile it feels. Link can climb any surface in the game, which is extraordinary and something we wish other open world games would copy. It's a world filled with secrets, that players can unravel in any order they like.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Genre: Life sim
How long is it? It never, ever ends
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest big Switch exclusive. Continuing a long line of life sim-style games going back to the N64 era, in each game you move to a new town, settle down and pay off your mortgage. In this particular entry, you've just flown to an island to start your new life. You can collect bugs, interact with the cheery animals who move in, and redecorate your home and its surroundings in the way you see fit.
There's no strict way to complete Animal Crossing, which makes it the perfect game to play over the next few months. You're supposed to enjoy it for 30 minutes or an hour a day (though one look at people's towns on social media will tell you they are not obeying that philosophy), selling fruit and digging up fossils each day.
It's a nice, relaxing bit of escapism with a colorful cast of characters, and Nintendo is running seasonal events in-game over the coming year to keep you occupied. And don't get us started on the turbulent turnip market.
Super Mario Maker 2
Genre: Level creation
How long is it? Endless
Super Mario Maker 2 is a great game to sink your time into. While there is a campaign of sorts, which you’ll storm through in only 10-15 hours, it’s the creation tools that are really at the heart of this game, and they will last you a whole lot longer.
Like the Super Mario Maker game on 3DS, this sequel for Switch allows you to make and refine (or entirely ruin) your own Mario platforming levels, offering near-endless combinations of Goombas, Thwomps, item blocks, hovering vehicles, green pipes, and more. There’s even a mix of game styles, too, from the 8-bit NES era to the 3D graphics of the Wii U – whether you’re traversing the ocean floor, building terrifying slides, or dumping Mario in the desert.
With the option to upload your creations for other Switch owners, and play whatever monstrosities they’ve made in return, you’ll never run out of things to do, while the level editor offers huge freedom in crafting and tinkering levels to your heart’s content.
Just remember: a Mario level is never finished. It is only abandoned.
How long is it? Endless
Stardew Valley is what you get if you mix a farming sim with a dating sim, throw in a splash of dungeon crawling and a whole heap of charm. The pixelated RPG sees you moving from the hustle and bustle of the big city after inheriting your grandfather’s old farm on the outskirts of Pelican Town. It’s up to you to get the farm up and running again.
But, unlike in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the game isn’t played in real-time (and you won’t be up to your eyes in debt to a raccoon). Instead, you work your way through the seasons at your own pace, choosing when you want to farm, go exploring, chat to the neighbors or just spend the day fishing. The beauty of Stardew Valley is there is no pressure to do anything quickly - that’s city thinking after all.
You will sink a worrying number of hours into the game as you uncover Pelican Town’s secrets, get to know its inhabitants and get your farm into a profitable state. But you’ll have plenty of fun doing it.
How long is it? Endless
Unlike a few of the picks on this list, there’s no end to Tetris 99. Much like the original puzzle game that has become a staple of Nintendo’s home consoles, Tetris 99 is a time sink for anyone who gets addicted to its upbeat music and consistent serotonin hits when you clear a line of blocks.
In Tetris 99, you’ll be fighting against almost a hundred other players to survive for the longest time possible. It’s a battle royale, so much like in Fortnite or Apex Legends you’ll be fighting tooth and nail to survive until the very end.
When you clear a line of tetrominoes you’ll then be shooting them across at other players and trying to make their lives as difficult as possible. It’s a simple concept, but the best part is the game is free-to-play so you’ll be able to try it out yourself without spending a penny.
Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 Enhanced Editions
How long is it? Roughly 50 hours for the first game, 80 for the second. Not including expansions!
Before there was Dragon Age, before there was Mass Effect, the RPG veterans at Bioware were making a name for themselves with the Baldur’s Gate series. An epic fantasy adventure in the top-down CRPG vein, it weaved a lengthy, engrossing story across two gargantuan games using traditional Dungeons and Dragons rulesets.
They’re among the most influential series of all time (the second game regularly features near the top of ‘greatest games of all time lists’, despite being 20 years old at this stage), and the Nintendo Switch is the perfect console for them, letting you take these huge adventures with you wherever you go. Traditionally controlled by keyboard and mouse, the Switch port does a masterful job of tweaking the UI and button scheme to give you direct movement over your party of characters with the analogue stick.
If you manage to get through these monsters, there are also great double-pack ports of stablemates PlaneScape: Torment and Icewind Dale on the Nintendo Switch. The former of those two is every bit as good as the Baldur’s Gate series, though with a darker sci-fi-horror theme.
Get through the first two Baldur’s Gate games and you’ll be well-prepared for the long awaited Baldur’s Gate 3, an all-new game in the series expected to release in 2020.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
How long is it? 80 hours combined (at least)
A healthy chunk of the Final Fantasy back catalogue is on the Nintendo Switch now, and it's hotly contested as to which game in the series is actually the best. In terms of value, though, we'd argue this two-pack is a great purchase. You get the 2001-released, aquatic-themed Final Fantasy entry and its breezy 2003 predecessor, both looking extremely nice on that portable screen. They were originally made for PS2, but got a healthy tune-up for the PS3 back in 2014, and this version is based on those.
Each game is vastly different from the other. FFX features a detailed turn-based combat system and deep character customisation, while the other is a semi real-time RPG with an extensive class system. If this doesn't suit you, consider Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age, an entirely real-time game with no random battles.
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