Trying to define a western role-playing game quickly becomes a difficult and nebulous task. Games of the 1980s – like Ultimate and Power and magic – laid a clear foundation, but the WRPGs released from the 2000s bear little resemblance to their ancestors. The genre has grown into one of massive worlds with staggering amounts of player choice and action that developers 40 years ago could not have imagined.
So grab your wizard’s hat and the sword of a thousand truths – we take a chronological look at how likely these 10 classic Western-developed RPGs will ever make it to our favorite handheld hybrid, including a couple that veer into action-RPG territory. ..
Without Ultima, we don’t think any other RPG on this list would exist. This seminal role-playing game not only paved the way for WRPGs, but also inspired Japanese role-playing games like dragon quest. Random battles, stat distribution, a fantasy world to explore – you name it, Ultima did it first.
Probability: 2/10 – Unfortunately, we are more likely to find a real-world Immortality Gem than to get a port of one of the many Ultima games. Original creator Richard Garriot left the franchise to become an astronaut, and there’s no precedent for Ultima games being ported to Nintendo consoles. Electronic Arts owns the rights now, and we’re pretty sure all of its development houses are busy working on Maddens and Battlefields – but don’t quote us on that.
A Diablo II remake made a lot of sense. The sequel to Blizzard’s original dungeon crawler popularized the action-RPG genre that thrives to this day, but many regard Diablo II as the pinnacle that any later game has yet to top. The first one Diablohowever, hasn’t received the same genre-defining praise, but there’s no doubt that it’s an influential game that, shockingly, has yet to receive a remaster after all these years.
Probability: 5/10 – Guessing whether Diablo will ever come to Switch is about as easy as unraveling Belial’s latest web of lies. Vicarious Visions has managed to resurrect Diablo II on Switch – it’s true, and Diablo III also received a port that we believe is the best way to play Blizzard’s controversial follow-up. If one developer or another manages to remake the first Diablo, we expect it to be on Switch the same way we expect Lord of Terror somehow make another unlikely comeback in Diablo IV.
But it’s a big if without even mentioning the Hell Bovine in the room: Microsoft now owns Activision Blizzard. There is precedent for Microsoft allowing games it publishes to be released on the Switch (see Ori and the blind forest, Banjo Kazooie), but until the dust settles on this massive acquisition, who’s to say how Microsoft will treat Activision Blizzard games?
The Switch has become an unlikely home for many classic computer role-playing games, such as the enhanced editions of Baldur’s Gate and Nights without winter. But where is the original Fall? The 1997 classic deviated from previous CRPGs by thrusting players in Vault 13 into a post-apocalyptic America – resplendent with 1950s imagery and nuclear bombs – rather than a fantasy world, creating a setting all at unique fact that deserves a refit for modern sensibilities.
Probability: 5/10 – The question, much like with Diablo, is whether or not the Switch’s massive install base tempts Microsoft as it now owns current Fallout developer Bethesda. We know that Bethesda likes to transfer its properties to the Switch, and the Switch has fallout shelter available on its eShop. We’re confident enough to say that the Switch would be too tempting for a Fallout re-release if that were to happen.
Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven (1998)
The long-running Might and Magic series arguably inspired the games on this list as much as Ultima. Many consider the sixth entry, The Mandate of Heavenfor ushering in a golden age of WRPGs with the fully explorable world of Enroth that mesmerized gamers in the late 90s, killing the previous grid-based exploration seen in other Western RPGs as a fearsome dragon.
Probability: 3/10 – Ubisoft currently owns the rights to Might and Magic and all of its spin-off series. The company seems content to exile the franchise to the crowded wastelands of the mobile market. Although much like Bethesda, Ubisoft likes to port its games to Nintendo Switch as much as it likes to mine its best-selling franchises for every penny. If a remastered collection of Might and Magic were to happen, we’d definitely expect the game to appear on Switch – but with how little brand recognition the Might and Magic series wields these days, we don’t. we won’t hold our breath.
Deus Ex (2000)
The first one Two Exdeveloped by Ion Storm and now championed by Eidos Montreal, successfully merged Western role-playing games with first-person shooter elements, setting a precedent for other hybrid RPGs (Mass Effect and BioShock, nobody?). Players solved scenarios in any way they saw fit: via expansive dialogue trees, by hacking into computers, or with guns if words weren’t their forte.
Probability: 6.75/10 – Only once has a Deus Ex game appeared on a Nintendo console, and that was Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut on Wii U. The last mainline entry in the series, humanity divided, was released a year before the Nintendo Switch. When there’s another Deus Ex game, the Switch might not be able to handle it, but if the original ever gets remade or remastered, we wouldn’t need JC Denton to infiltrate Eidos Montreal to find out. it’s coming to Switch or not. This would most likely be the case.
With Embracer Group in the process of acquiring the studio and intellectual property from Square Enix, we may see some activity in this series again.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
Whenever Todd Howard and his friends stop porting Skyrim to every system imaginable, we very much hope they port older Elder Scrolls games to Switch. Not more than The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the title that launched both the series and the open-world RPG genre as if using an Icarian flight scroll. Morrowind, like many titles on this list, is a bit rough around the edges, but perhaps a neat reissue before The Elder Scrolls VI to beat the hype is in order.
Probability: 5/10 – It’s unclear when or if Bethesda intends to re-release Morrowind or other TES games. But despite the Microsoft acquisition, we expect any remake or remaster to end on the Switch with the strength of the relationship between Bethesda and Nintendo.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004)
Often labeled ‘Deus Ex with vampires’, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines lurked out of sight as a particularly stealthy vampire when debuting, eventually gaining cult status. For a while, the series lay dormant until recently when Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive relaunched the franchise with the announcement of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. Bloodlines has some of the best writing seen in a WRPG to date, which makes it a shame so many people missed it on the first try. This game begs for a remaster or port more than any other on this list.
Probability: 7/10 – The Vampire: Masquerade franchise is brought back to life as a badly slain vampire. Before Bloodlines 2, Vampire: The Masquerade – The Swan Song will be released next month on multiple platforms, including the Nintendo Switch. With two games in the works and perhaps a vampire revival on the horizon, a remake of the cult classic that also lands on the Switch seems inevitable.
Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006)
For better or worse, we got the first Neverwinter Nights on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. BioWare’s role-playing classic, starring Baldur’s Gate, laid the groundwork for its later mega-hits in Dragon Age and Mass. Effect – and its sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2, though Obsidian Entertainment took the reins for the second outing. But as of now, we haven’t had the follow up on the Nintendo Switch yet.
Probability: 7/10 – CRPGs have had something of a renaissance on the Nintendo Switch, with many enhanced editions being ported there. It’s somewhat surprising that only the first Neverwinter Nights got the Switch treatment, but we expect before long one developer or another will be fighting over licenses for whatever demon-infested dungeon it languishes in.
Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
It has been over a decade since Dragon Age: Origins impressed gamers and critics alike with its complex characters and incredibly gripping narrative. We’re sorry to report this and hope you don’t feel as old as we do. But – and stay with us here – a decade denotes “classic” status, right? If a Dragon Age collectible game for Nintendo Switch similar to Mass Effect: Legendary Edition (and where is it, by the way?) were to appear, we’d be the first to pre-order.
Probability: 2/10 – Unfortunately, we’re not sure if a Dragon Age collection would end up on Switch after the Mass Effect collection skipped the console. Dragon Age: Origins would surely work well enough, but the third game in the series, Inquisitionmight struggle on the Switch hardware.
Witcher II: Assassin of Kings
If you argued Witcher III: Wild Hunt epitomized the WRPG genre, we’d be hard pressed to disagree. Few games on this list have received as much universal praise as Geralt’s Third RPG Adventure, which focused heavily on an involved narrative with an abundance of hard choices to make with each quest. We’re looking at you, Bloody Baron.
To the surprise of many, Witcher III has arrived on the Nintendo Switch. And the derivative card game too, Thronebreaker: The Witcher’s Tales. But what about the first two games developed by CD Projekt Red? The first Witcher game wears its age on its sleeve, but Witcher II: Assassin of Kings is a terrific WRPG in its own right.
Probability: 5.5/10 – Unlike many WRPG developers, Microsoft hasn’t purchased CD Projekt Red yet (knock on wood). If we ever get a Witcher collection, we’ll probably get a version on a Nintendo console.
There are undoubtedly dozens of Western-made RPGs that could have graced this list with the magnitude of the genre’s growth since its humble beginnings. Let us know in the comments which of your favorites we missed, and vote in the poll which of the items above you’d most like to see ported or remastered for the Nintendo Switch.