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Which Switch games can you play online without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription?

Looking for some free fun on your Nintendo Switch, but don’t want to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online? We’ve got you covered.

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Nintendo Switch Online

Looking for some free fun on your Nintendo Switch, but don’t want to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online? We’ve got you covered.

When Nintendo launched the Switch in March 2017, its online offering hadn’t been finalised. That meant that, for a while at least, everyone could play Nintendo Switch games online without paying for a membership, like with PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold.

A Nintendo Switch Online subscription was always coming, but this window allowed Nintendo to kick the tyres, test the technology without charging anybody, and figure out what added extras to throw in to try and sweeten the pot.

The Nintendo Switch Online subscription service launched 18 months after the console, in September 2018, for $20 US (£17.99) a year.

Like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, the bread and butter of Nintendo Switch Online is multiplayer. The sweeteners include cloud saves and free games. In this instance it’s free, classic NES game, which is a slightly different proposition to the freebies you get on PS4 and Xbox One. Oh, and Tetris 99, a battle royale Tetris game that isn’t as stupid as it sounds

But it’s multiplayer that drives most people to Nintendo Switch Online. Where once you could play Mario Kart 8 or Splatoon 2 without it, you now need a subscription to duke it out online in these – and most other – Nintendo Switch games.

But there are a few, a small handful of Nintendo Switch games you can play online without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Mostly they’re free-to-play games, and some of them are even pretty essential. Question is, though: which games are they?

Switch games you can play online without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription

  • Arena of Valor
  • Brawlhalla
  • Dawn of the Breakers
  • Fortnite Battle Royale
  • GetAmped
  • Kitten Squad
  • Onigiri
  • Paladins
  • Smite
  • Warframe

There are of course other Nintendo Switch games that need a consistent internet connection – like Fallout Shelter – you can play without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. But as far as we know, the games listed above (updated April 2019) are the only ones you can play online, with or against other people, without a subscription.

Have we missed something? Has something new come out since we made this list? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add it in.

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Guides

How to find and catch the buzzing insect in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

What is that buzzing? Where is the insect? How do I catch it? Here’s how to catch the Mole Cricket in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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What is that buzzing? Where is the insect? How do I catch it? Here’s how to catch the Mole Cricket in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

There’s nothing more relaxing than taking a stroll around your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but what is that buzzing sound disturbing the peace?

It is, in fact, a Mole Cricket, a perfectly harmless critter that can only be detected by its buzz. The Mole Cricket is available from November to May in the Northern Hemisphere, and May to November on Southern Hemisphere islands. It’s available 24-hours a day but takes a little bit of effort to catch. Here’s a quick guide.

How to catch a Mole Cricket in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

  1. You can’t deliberately set out to catch a Mole Cricket, so just go for a stroll and listen out for its buzz.
  2. Once you hear the buzz, stop walking. We recommend wearing headphones as it makes it a little easier to pinpoint the cricket’s location.
  3. Walk around slowly until the sound is at its loudest. It should be roughly equal in each ear.
  4. Pull out your shovel and start digging up the ground around you.
  5. When you find the right spot, the cricket will appear and start jumping away.
  6. Swap to your net and set off in hot pursuit. If you’re quick enough, you’ll catch the rascal before it escapes.

The first time you catch a Mole Cricket, you should donate it to Blathers at the museum. Subsequent crickets can be sold to the Nooks for 500 bells. Not too shabby.


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For more Animal Crossing, read our guide to transferring patterns using NookLink and QR codes. Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily news updates.

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The best Doom Eternal weapon mods (and the order you should unlock them in)

The latest Doom game is awash with unlocks and upgrades. Here’s our guide to the best Doom Eternal weapon mods (and the ones you should unlock as a priority).

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Doom Eternal rocket launcher weapon mods
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The latest Doom game is awash with unlocks and upgrades. Here’s our guide to the best Doom Eternal weapon mods (and the ones you should unlock as a priority).

Early on in Doom Eternal, as the game is subjecting you to death by tutorial, you’ll run into a weapon mod upgrade station. It’s a weird little green floating robot that contains at the most weapon upgrade, but also, the potential for every weapon upgrade in the game.

It’s weird, sure, but it’s not the weirdest thing in the game. (Don’t tug too hard at those threads. The sinew holding the game together is tenuous at best, and it’s actively worse when they try and explain anything. Definitely do unlock the retro armour, though.)

Doom Eternal weapon mod upgrade robot

Because weapon mod upgrades are limited by the number of unlock robots, this means you have to be selective about your weapon mod choices. Well, at first. The further you get into the game and the more you explore, the more weapon mods you’ll unlock. By the endgame, you’ll likely have unlocked them all, or thereabouts.

But as you progress through Doom Eternal, you’ll need to be picky about the order you unlock weapon mods to be the most effective demon slayer. Here are our recommendations for the ones you should prioritise as you work through the weapons on offer.

Combat Shotgun

Doomguy’s first weapon – there’s no pistol in Doom Eternal – is one of his most basic. But it’s also one of the most versatile, if you pick the right mod.

You might be tempted by the Full Auto mod, which sounds like a good idea, but the Sticky Bombs mod is far more useful. You’ll lean on it for taking down Cacodemons for one thing – the daft round boys will just eat those explosives up – but it’s also handy for targeting weak spots and sticking to speedy enemies, or for doing damage to a group of demons.

Heavy Cannon

This is Doom Eternal’s version of the assault rifle and its usage is similar. Less powerful than the Combat Shotgun with a slower rate of fire than the Chaingun, but is quite a sensible weapon for a very unsensible game.

Again, the Micro Missiles mod seems like the winner here, but you’re far better favouring the Precision Bolt. It consumes multiple rounds to fire, but does dramatically more damage and at a much greater range. Use this to pick enemies off before they can engage, or target demon weaknesses with extreme precision.

Plasma Rifle

Doom Eternal’s Plasma Rifle is very similar to the classic version. It’s rapid, like the Heavy Cannon and Chaingun, but packs a bit more punch per round – particularly to energy shields.

Both the mods for the Plasma Rifle are decent, actually, so you’ll want to unlock both. The Heat Blast uses residual energy from firing the rifle to deliver a burst of energy and push back nearby enemies. The Microwave Beam, on the other hand, will freeze an enemy on the spot with chain lightning, particularly handy for speedy, slippery demons.

Super Shotgun

The Super Shotgun is, as ever, one of the most powerful “regular” weapons. It uses two shotgun shells per shot and deals devastating damage at short range.

You can’t mod the Super Shotgun in Doom Eternal because it comes equipped with a mod out of the gate. It’s fitted with an under-barrel grappling hook called the Meat Hook, which functions like a cross between Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion and Link’s Hook Shot. “Get over here!”

Rocket Launcher

Now we’re getting up to the heavy-duty gear. Your Rocket Launcher doesn’t deal as much damage as the ones equipped on the demons, but it does have some neat tricks.

You could argue that both the Rocker Launcher mods are useful, but we’d favour the Lock-on Burst. After a couple of seconds to acquire a target, it fires three rockets – which is obviously three times the damage – but better than that, the rockets will track and home in on their target. This is vital against fast-moving beasts and can be used to effectively shoot around corners. The other mod, Remote Detonation, just allows you to detonate a rocket in flight.

Chaingun

The Chaingun is Doom’s classic, chain-fed Gatling gun. Where normally it shares ammo with the pistol, here, it shares ammo with the Heavy Cannon.

Again, both the mods for the Chaingun are useful. One allows you you to raise an Energy Shield to deflect incoming projectiles, while the other turns the Chaingun into a Portable Turret. The turret deals huge damage in a short period – which means it splurges ammo and is prone to overheating, in true video game turret tradition – whereas the shield has obvious uses.

Ballista

The Ballista is a brand new beast in Doom Eternal. It’s an energy weapon, similar to the Plasma Rifle, but consumes a lot of ammo per shot to deal heavy damage. Also, it’s a demonic laser crossbow. Crossbows are cool.

The Arbalest mod sounds like the better one here – a charged explosive bolt – but you’ll want to favour the Energy Blade. That delivers a horizontal beam of energy that can cut demons in half, and fans out to target a big group.

BFG-9000

You can’t mod the BFG-9000 in Doom Eternal, but why would you want to? It’s the best.


Check out our guides section for more useful tips and tricks.

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How to transfer patterns to Animal Crossing: New Horizons using NookLink and QR codes

Here’s our guide to using the NookLink app to transfer Design Pattern QR codes from Animal Crossing: New Leaf (and the web) to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

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NookLink and QR codes in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
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Here’s our guide to using the NookLink app to transfer design pattern QR codes from Animal Crossing: New Leaf (and the web) to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

I played over 300 hours of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on Nintendo 3DS. That’s not long compared to some players, but it’s enough time to build up a nice collection of patterns and Pro Design clothing patterns.

Like a gazillion other players, I have now started a new life in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but I don’t want my hard work to go to waste.

Here’s how to use the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app to transfer designs from Animal Crossing: New Leaf (and the web) into Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Before you start, you need the following:

  • A Nintendo account – You can get one right here
  • The Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app – Available via the App Store or Google Play
  • A Nintendo 3DS console and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf or Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
  • Access to the web if you want to download designs from other players.

Setting up NookLink

To start, load Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Select the minus (-) button on the title screen to access the settings page and choose ‘NookLink settings’. The game will connect to the internet and begin the set-up process.

Open the Nintendo Switch Online app on your smart device – make sure it’s connected your Nintendo account – and select Animal Crossing: New Horizons in the Game-Specific Services section. NookLink will open and the set-up process will be completed.

How to use the NookLink App to transfer QR codes

Using the ‘Designs’ option, you can transfer patterns from New Leaf, Happy Home Designer, and the internet to New Horizons through the magic of QR codes.

To transfer QR codes from Animal Crossing: New Leaf on Nintendo 3DS, follow these instructions:

  1. Load the game and visit the Able Sisters store on Main Street.
  2. Use the Sewing Machine at the back of the store.
  3. You can only create a QR code from a pattern you have created. Choose ‘Create a QR code’.
  4. Select the pattern you want to use and wait for the QR code to be generated. The code is also saved to the Nintendo 3DS Camera library.
  5. On your smartphone, open the NookLink app. Select ‘Designs’, then ‘Scan a QR code’.
  6. Point the camera at the QR code and confirm you want to save it. You can only transfer one design at a time.
  7. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, start the game and open the NookPhone.
  8. Select the Custom Designs app.
  9. Press the plus (+) button to ‘Download’ and the game will connect to the internet.
  10. Select ‘OK’ to transfer your design to a spare slot.

Clothing – shirts, tops, and dresses – are considered Pro Designs. They consist of four QR codes representing the front, back, left, and right sides of the design. The NookLink app will scan each code in sequence, and voila, the pattern is transferred.

Transferred design patterns are saved to the Custom Designs tab. Costumes are saved to the Pro Design tab. It’s also worth noting that you can’t edit designs created by someone else.

If you’re looking for some good Animal Crossing QR codes, a quick web search will return plenty of options. We highly recommend the Animal Crossing Pattern Tool, which also has its own design tool. (Hat tip to creators Thulinma, DamSenViet, and Myumi.)

What else does NookLink do?

In addition to its design functions, NookLink also includes the following moderately useful features.

Passport

You can review your villager passport, including your name, motto, and birthday. It also displays your town name and lists current residents.

Chat Keyboard

Send chat-balloon messages to the game when you’re playing online. But be careful, other players can read these. Please be nice.

Best Friends

Players assigned Best Friend status in New Horizons are displayed here. To become a Best Friend a player has to be a friend on your Nintendo Switch console, and you need to have played together online. You can designate Best Friends in the NookPhone app.

Settings

Change the active player or app language. You can also pass the time by reading a copyright notice and some development credits. Fun times.


Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for weekly Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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How to unlock Doomguy’s retro armour in Doom Eternal

Forget weapon and armour upgrades. The first thing you should unlock in Doom Eternal is Doomguy’s retro marine armour.

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how to unlock Doomguy's retro marine armour in Doom Eternal
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Forget weapon and armour upgrades. The first thing you should unlock in Doom Eternal is Doomguy’s retro armour.

There are two little-known facts about Doomguy’s armour in the original Doom from 1993.

First, the classic “besieged by demons” pose was modelled after Id Software founder and legendary Doom designer, John Romero.

“I kept telling the model what to do but he couldn’t see the scene in his mind,” recalls Romero in a blog post. “Frustrated, I threw my shirt off and told him to give me the gun and get on the floor – grab my arm as one of the demons! Defeated, he deferred. I aimed the gun in a slightly different direction and told [cover art illustrator] Don [Punchatz], ‘This is what I’m talking about!'”

And second, the exposed midriff belly-shirt thing he’s got going on? That’s not deliberately sexy armour. (Let’s be honest, it would’ve been weird if it was.) If you look closely, you can see that the stomach panel of the bottle green marine armour has been ripped and clawed away by demons.

That second detail’s important because one of the better features of Doom Eternal’s infernal, eternal upgrades is the ability to unlock Doomguy’s classic armour from the first game. Because you see the big guy animated in cutscenes for the first time it’s a bit weird to see his exposed abs rendered in such detail, but the retro armour is so much cooler and more metal than his modern, shiny demonic Stig armour.

Doom Eternal sexy abs

So hot. But how do you unlock it, exactly?

How to unlock the retro armour in Doom Eternal

You can’t unlock the retro armour in Doom Eternal right away, sadly, but you can get it within the first few hours if you prioritise your unlocks. (You could argue that prioritising cosmetics over upgrades is daft, but we’d argue that the retro armour is one of the best things about Doom Eternal. Read into that what you will, or just read the review.)

A few missions in, you’ll run into objects called Sentinel Batteries. You’ll need these in the main campaign to activate Sentinels – those big, ruined robots that litter the world – to allow you to advance through the level. Well, not the whole Sentinel; just an arm or a weapon here and there.

When you’re finished shuffling robots around, you’ll find you’ve got a Sentinel Battery left over. When you return back to the Fortress of Doom – the totally unnecessary hub base in Doom Eternal – you can use that Sentinel Battery to power up the rest of the ship and unveil the rest of its labyrinthine layout.

Once you’ve done that, any additional Sentinel Batteries you find in the game’s campaign can be used to unlock rooms in the Fortress of Doom. You’ll need two Sentinel Batteries per room unlock, so we thoroughly recommend using your first two spares to unlock the retro marine amour. (Pfft! Who needs weapon and armour upgrades when you have such a sexy stomach?)

You can find it at the following location:

Doom Eternal retro marine armour location

And when you shove two Sentinel Batteries into the ports to the left and right of the doorway, this is what you’ll see:

Doom Eternal retro armour display

Look at it! It’s flipping glorious!

Time to start working on those abs, Doomguy.


Check out our guides section for more useful tips and tricks.

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Guides

How to exploit demon weaknesses in Doom Eternal

How to exploit demon weaknesses in Doom Eternal, including the Cacodemon, Arachnotron, Mancubus, Pinky, Revenant, and Doom Hunter.

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Doom Eternal Revenant demon weakness
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How to exploit demon weaknesses in Doom Eternal, including the Cacodemon, Arachnotron, Mancubus, Pinky, Revenant, and Doom Hunter.

Doom Eternal ramps up on the strategy and technicality from the 2016 Doom reboot. There are more weapons, more upgrades, more power-ups, and more movement options.

But there are also more demons. Some of them are classic Doom baddies; others are new inventions for Doom Eternal. In order to take them on, you’ll need to know their weaknesses.

Arachnotron

This robot spider brain-in-a-jar thing – enemy design in Doom Eternal is weird, right? – is similar to the Spider Mastermind boss from Doom (2016) but features a large turret on its back. These are tough enemies to have to fight early on, frankly.

Weakness: The turret. Hit the turret with whatever you’ve got and you’ll render the Arachnotron less dangerous. Still a bit old bullet sponge for so early in the game, though.

Bonus: None. Spiders. Eww.

Cacodemon

This big round boy is all eyeball and teeth. He’s kinda cute, bobs around in the air and doesn’t seem too dangerous. But the Cacodemon is relentless and – if you get mobbed by more than one of them – you can get pinned down easily.

Weakness: Like a dog, the Cacodemon will eat anything you throw at him. Pop a grenade (or sticky bomb round from the Combat Shotgun weapon mod) into his mouth then hit with him a Glory Kill.

Bonus: Because they still float when stunned, you can actually use the Cacodemon to escape a tight spot or reach a platform if you perform a Glory Kill on one that’s a bit further away.

Doom Eternal Cacodemon demon weakness

Revenant

The Revenant is a cybernetically augmented flying skeleton. Subtle. These demons don’t have particularly high health compared to some, but they are very fast and agile, which can make pinning them down difficult.

Weakness: His shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. These also double as the Revenant’s jetpack, so if you target these, he’ll be grounded.

Bonus: If you unlock the lock-on weapon mod for the rocket launcher, you can take the Revenant down with three rockets and very little skill. Feels like overkill, but sometimes it’s worth it when this sprightly skeleton is pinging around the arena.

Carcass

Carcass is a grotesque melted mannequin of a thing, part human, part cybernetic. They’re not that dangerous, but they will generate energy shields. In theory this is to defend themselves, but they’ll often accidentally hinder your movement, too.

Weakness: Hit the energy shield with the Plasma Rifle and it will overload and explode. Blood Punch has the same effect.

Bonus: Some soldier zombies also carry energy shields, like Carcass. Use the same technique to bring them down quickly, and use the exploding energy shield as a makeshift weapon in a crowd.

Mancubus

Isn’t it weird that a succubus is usually depicted as a sexy temptress in demonic fiction, but the Mancubus is a giant slob of a demon? That’s not to say you’re not allowed to fancy the Mancubus – to each their own – but he’s a pretty grim unit.

Weakness: His dual-wield, arm-mounted flamethrower-cannons are his biggest offensive weapon and also his weak spot. Target them to take him down.

Bonus: If you Glory Kill a Mancubus, he’ll explode. Comes in handy in a crowded space.

Doom Eternal Mancubus demon weakness

Cyber Mancubus

If a Mancubus is a sexy seductress, does that make a Cyber Mancubus the online chatroom version? No, in Doom Eternal, he’s a regular Mancubus in an ill-fitting suit of armour. You can still kill them with their armour on, but it’s a lot harder work.

Weakness: Still the arm-mounted armaments, but you’ll need to hit Cyber Mancubus with a Blood Punch first to knock off his armour.

Bonus: Also explodes. Boom!

Whiplash

Whiplash is a new enemy in Doom Eternal and – in a weird, tone-deaf marketing move – was “lauded” as the first female demon in Doom history. Score one for equality, we guess? In play, Whiplash is very irritating because she’s so nippy and mobile, even more so than the Revenant.

Weakness: Use the Ice Bomb to freeze Whiplash solid, then unload into her with everything you’ve got.

Bonus: If you don’t have Ice Bomb available, then homing missiles or a sticky bomb Combat Shotgun round will follow Whiplash around, which helps.

Pinky

Pinky is a sort of pig-demon, originally just called “Demon” in Doom (1993). He’ll charge around like a bull chasing a matador and is very tough and well-armoured. Like the classic Pinky, Doom Eternal also features invisible Pinkies called Spectres, which is very unfair.

Weakness: Their tail. Dash or double-jump out of a charging Pinky’s path, then unload into the stubby little tail. A Blood Punch will also kill a Pinky in one shot.

Bonus: Use the Ice Bomb to freeze a Pinky (or Spectre) solid. This will give you an extra couple of seconds to target the tail, and if you hit it with a Super Shotgun blast? Down in one.

Doom Eternal Pinky demon weakness

Doom Hunter

One thing Doom Eternal does that is really cool – or really unfair, depending on your point of view – is introduce enemies as an end-of-level boss, then just start using them as regular enemies like it’s nothing. You’ll fight one Doom Hunter after a big build-up, assured it’s a unique boss enemy, then move onto the next section and fight two more. No big deal. It’s one of the game’s smarter ideas, ratcheting the demons as you progress.

Weakness: The Doom Hunter’s mechanical sled is shielded, so you’ll want to use the Plasma Rifle – or a Blood Punch – to disable the shield.

Bonus: Once the shield’s disabled, hit the sled with everything you’ve got. It will eventually break, leaving the Doom Hunter almost immobile.

Anything else?

There are some bigger bosses that we don’t want to spoil – and for the most part, the game telegraphs their weak points and timings anyway – and some demons that don’t really have any specific weakness you can exploit.

As a general rule of thumb: if it’s big, use the Chain Gun to stagger it; if it’s fast, use Ice Bomb and tracking rockets; and if it’s shielded, use the Plasma Rifle and Blood Punch.


Check out our guides section for more useful tips and tricks.

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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you found this article interesting or entertaining and you want to support quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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