11 things every new Switch owner should know: best games, gear

An OLED switch hangs in the air in front of a red wire grid.

Picture: Nintendo / Kotaku

So you just had a Nintendo Switch. Lucky you! Or maybe you have one for someone else and want to help them get the most out of it. How nice! In both cases, here is some good things to know after opening everyone’s favorite portable hybrid console.

While the Switch is pretty easy to set up and use, there are a few tips that will make the experience even better, from increasing battery life to saving time clicking the eShop. I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you’ve already gone through the initial process of starting up your Switch, creating a user profile, and signing in to a Nintendo Account. If not: go for it! If so, do the following:

Get a screen protector

A Nintendo Switch sits with a plastic shield hanging an inch above its screen.

Picture: InvisibleShield / GameStop

No matter how careful or delicate you think you are, you will cut the screen, I promise. You might accidentally knock it over at some point. Maybe you have a cat that’s going to run over him. And if nothing else, you’ll likely move it in and out of the docking station a few times during its lifespan, which can damage the screen as well. You can avoid lasting consequences with each of these incidents by purchasing a screen protector. Hori makes it an economical but effective plastic. There are a bunch of other options as well. The carrying cases are a nice way to provide extra protection also.

Create an additional account

Even if you’re the only person playing your new Switch, do yourself a favor and create an additional user profile. Bonus points if you set its region to Japan. Some games only allow one save file per account. Having an easily accessible alternative will give you more options. And if it’s set in Japan, it’ll unlock additional games and demos that haven’t made it to North America yet, including some in Switch Online’s retro subscription library.

Activate dark mode

A screenshot of the Switch's settings menu shows the option for Dark Mode enabled.

Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

Unless you like to tackle your eyeballs, go to the settings menu and turn off the shiny white background. It will be more calming and also reduce unnecessary battery usage.

Adjust brightness

This is another obvious one. Unless you’re sitting on the beach, there’s a good chance you don’t need your Switch screen to project at full power. If you are in a dark room, turn down the light completely. The auto brightness setting works well everywhere else.

Save battery life with Airplane mode

This is the third tip related to battery life, and it should tell you how important it is to maximize the limited juice your handheld has access to. Want to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the park like that guy in the ad? Turn on Airplane mode to turn off unnecessary features like WiFi and Bluetooth. It will extend battery life and is easy to toggle back and forth at any time in the settings menu.

Remove the password requirement for the eShop

The Switch will require you to enter your password every time you just want to log into the eShop, unless you disable it. To do this, open the eShop, select your profile icon at the top right, click on your account information and update the password entry settings.

Download free games

A Warframe fighter battles sentries with their space swords.

Warframe is a deeply kinetic action MMOI you can get lost in for free.
Screenshot: Digital extremes

Switch’s free games library isn’t as comprehensive as some platforms, but there’s still a lot you can get your hands on and start enjoying it right away without spending a dime. Here are the three main recommendations of this department:

  • Fortnitea battle royale shooter game where kids yell at each other while showing cool dancing emotes.
  • Warframe – a stylish sci-fi loot shooter game with massive campaign that you can grind as you like.
  • Pokémon United – a super fun and very accessible MOBA (Multiplayer Online Fighting Arena Game) featuring your favorite pocket monsters.

There are other decent options as well, including the platform fighter Brawlhalla, battle royale alternative shooter Apex Legends, and Foyer– esque card game Eternal.

Build your library

Free games are great, but the Switch has a lot of other great experiences to offer as well. In addition to stellar proprietary games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Animal crossing: new horizons, he’s also been responsible for ports of blockbusters and indie games, as well as remasters and re-releases of older Nintendo games. The “Bargains” tab of the eShop menu will show you the biggest games on sale on any given day, and the “Wish List” feature will allow you to keep tabs on things that matter to you and then alert you if and when. it never drops in price.

Mario runs against Yoshi in Mario Kart 8 battle mode while holding a feather.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best-selling game on the Switch for a reason: it’s a must-have.
Screenshot: Nintendo

Once you’re ready to throw bones the Nintendo way, you can’t go wrong with any of the games on KotakuBest Switches listing. Lists of most sold Indie games on Switch in recent years are also good places to start.

Back up your data with cloud backups

The Switch didn’t launch with cloud saves, but it now has them thanks to Switch Online. Unfortunately, the paid subscription service will set you back $ 20 per year, but it might be worth it if you plan to invest a lot of time in offline games like Breath of the wild Where Super Mario Odyssey in the months and years to come. This way, even if your Switch is stolen, breaks, or becomes unrecoverable, your save data won’t suffer the same fate.

The Switch Online Expansion Pack still not worth the extra $ 30, but with dozens of the best NES and SNES games ever released, the basic subscription level is worth trying after three months for an entry point of $ 8. If and when you let your Switch Online subscription expire, you will have 180 days to renew it before any backups you had stored in the cloud are deleted.

Find friends

Almost four years later, the Switch’s social features remain gravely underdeveloped. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist at all. While there is no group chat (you’ll have to rely on in-game chat features or Discord), you can still befriend other players and see what they’ve been playing. There is even a section on trends that will let you know if, for example, your friends have all had a case of Mario tennis fever. The Nintendo console will allow you to link Facebook and Twitter accounts to quickly browse these platforms in search of mutuals also on Switch.

Buy another controller

The Joy-Con are very cute and come in all kinds of different colors. Unfortunately, they are also bad to play with. A nifty way to put more gamepads in people’s hands for IRL gaming sessions, they can cause hand cramps after a while and will almost certainly start to feel defective drift at one point. They’re fine to start with and usable enough in portable mode, but you won’t regret upgrading to a $ 70 Switch Pro controller. You can also get an Xbox Series X controller (my favorite) to work with the Switch by purchasing a cheap third-party dongle. And if you want a cheaper and more versatile option, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is always excellent and only $ 50.


That’s it! Go enjoy your Switch now. And if you decide to ignore all of these tips, for goodness sake, please put a screen protector on it anyway.


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