The classic board game, Catanhas made its way onto the Nintendo Switch so fans can play both on their TVs and on-the-go. Catan includes the full Seafarers Expansion and offers Cities & Knights as DLC, so a full experience can be felt. Although this can translate to a worthwhile title, there are a few problems felt in both single player and multiplayer that ultimately hurt this release. In addition to this, newcomers to the series can look to a tutorial and the included almanac for review but it doesn’t feel like much. There aren’t any tips or help offered by the game, so independent learning from trial-and-error can take up some time. Asmodee Digital’s latest is fun but still needs a little bit of ironing out to make it truly great.

Catan Review

Classic Catan Gameplay

From the start, gamers can expect the classic experience of Catan except now without all the setup required. It’s the standard playstyle that longtime users are used to but playing solo isn’t as fun as it could be, so don’t expect much if you’re friends list isn’t all going to be hopping on. For starters, when in solo mode, the AI is atrocious when it comes to trading. Rarely ever did a trade with them go through even on the easiest settings. I went as far as trying to trade 7 pieces of wheat for one wood resource and it was immediately denied. Constant attempts to gain one measly resource for an exorbitant amount never worked. The AI is worthless to try cooperating with, so definitely try to play this in an online setting.

What is really unique about this title is that there are loads of customizable options. Playing matches earns XP which in turn levels the player up. Every level unlocks something new and centered around cosmetics. Board pieces can end up looking lavish while the table being used can look vastly different than the standard board. There are roughly 20 levels that can be achieved, so anyone that sinks tons of time into this title may find themselves at the tail end of that number. Although, if you do tend to win a lot it can be achieved relatively quickly, compared to someone who merely plays a few matches here and there.

Catan Review

Rough Single Player

Once the game is booted up, you’ll notice that there is both a Single Player and Multiplayer option that can be selected. In the Single Player section, users can choose from the game’s Campaign, Scenarios, or brush up on one’s knowledge with the Tutorial. For the Campaign, there’s a large map that has different chapters but there is no major storyline so hopping around is fine. The Campaign itself, though, is pretty barren.  Difficulties can be altered from Easy to Hard, however, there isn’t much replayability once it’s done. Only three chapters cover the base game while 12 are from the Seafarers Expansion, which is included. It’s nice to run through these sections, yet a problem is that nearly a third of the 25 chapters are locked behind the Cities & Knights DLC. It’s only $6 but that shouldn’t mean a third of the campaign should be locked behind it. This is a fun section of the game but doesn’t offer a lot to come back to once all is said and done.

Scenario Mode is a bit different, however, it’s much of the same thing that the Campaign is. The three base scenarios are the exact same ones found in the other mode. Not only this, but a majority of the Seafarers Expansion’s scenarios are the same too. Why this is a separate mode feels a bit pointless except for the Configurations. Users can turn off the timer, adjust victory point caps, and even randomize the maps. Since the Campaign is the same map every time, making it random can make things unique but that doesn’t change how similar it is. Beyond these two modes, playing Solo can be tedious. A full single player experience with AI and adjustable rules would make it a lot better than it can be. These two sections serve mainly as practice for the Online component where skills can be put to the test.

Lackluster Online Experience

It has to be stated that there is no local multiplayer in the Nintendo Switch’s version of Catan. So if the first thing you’re looking for is to boot this up in a room with your friends, then this may not be the best choice for you. It makes sense that there is no local option since everyone would be able to see what resources each person has and what moves they could make. On the other hand, a feature similar to that seen in the Jackbox Party Pack games may have been utilized where people could use their phone screens. Also, it is a shame that Catan does not include a feature to place the screen on a table and play it like an actual board game. These would make this title exceptionally better than it already is but ends up hurting the product altogether.

Playing Online is an option and can be incredibly fun if you can find a match. Users can invite up to three friends for a game or add a few AI if four human players can’t be found in Custom Mode. Rules can be altered for new experiences every time but, ironically enough, the board itself can’t be made custom. Random opponents also aren’t able to be included in the Custom Mode, only AI additions are available which takes away from partying up. Auto Match is a neat concept yet it takes forever to find a match, possibly because the game just came out. What would help alleviate this long time is a number showing how many are online but since that’s not there, you’ll be stuck waiting and wondering for quite a while.

It could be a great time to match up with others but if they rage quit then an AI takes over. Luckily, there are a few ways that are in place to avoid this. An ELO rating system is in place that matches players up according to their skill levels, so matches are fair and level. Leaving a match or going AFK results in players losing points and not being able to play against the best, which could create a competitive online community in the long run. If leaving matches becomes too constant, then bans are put into effect so many of the problems that can pop up are avoided making this worth checking out. There are also online leaderboards which are unique and contributes to a competitive scene.

Catan Review

For what it is, Catan on the Nintendo Switch helps scratch that itch for anyone looking to play the classic board game digitally. It doesn’t live up to any expectations though due to the lack of local multiplayer and rough single player experience. Playing this with friends online can be great but definitely make sure you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription as it is required to play the game at its best. Besides this, the game can be a bit underwhelming at times due to its boring soundtrack/sound effects and uninteresting visuals. This game could be something great should there be a few updates fixing the aforementioned problems, but for now playing the physical board game remains the best way to experience Catan.


Thank you to Asmodee Digital for providing us with a review code!

Catan Review (Nintendo Switch)
Catan on the Nintendo Switch is a fun experience but it lacks a worthwhile single player component and local multiplayer to truly be great.
Overall Score7
  • Unlockable Cosmetics
  • Classic Catan Gameplay
  • Plenty of Scenarios
  • No Local Multiplayer
  • No Traditional Singleplayer
  • Impossible to Trade with AI
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

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