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How to Voice Chat on Your Nintendo Switch (With a Phone)

Nintendo has been woefully behind the times with online functionality, and the Nintendo Switch continues the trend. You can play games online with friends easily enough, but coordination and communication is still separate from the system itself.

Nintendo offers the Switch Online mobile app, which coordinates voice chat through your phone with an in-game lobby system that lets you talk to your friends using a headset. But I had mixed results with a wireless earpiece, and using a wired headset requires an adapter if you want to actually listen to game audio. It functions as designed but is absurdly clunky.

Instead, I recommend you use Discord, a free, powerful voice and text chat service that works on every major mobile and computer platform. You still need to use your phone, tablet, or PC, but it's much easier to customize, and you can use it as a communications hub for all your other gaming needs, too.

What You Need

Besides your Nintendo Switch, you need a smartphone or tablet (or computer within range), and ideally a monaural Bluetooth earpiece. This lets you hear the game audio from your Switch or TV while still keeping an ear on voice chat. Also, pair the earpiece to your desired communications device and make sure it's connected. If you can splurge on it, we're big fans of the Plantronics Voyager 5200, but you can also use a wired headset, or any headphones with a microphone.

Step 1: Download Discord

This one's easy. If you want to use Discord on your computer, go to the Discord website and download the program. Otherwise, just install it from the iOS or Android app store. Launch the program when it's ready.

Step 2: Create a Discord Account

Discord uses multiple private servers to let you keep your different social circles separate and under your control, but it handles users with a unified account system. Discord accounts are free and as easy to set up as any other chat service account. Your user name will be paired with a unique four-digit number code so you can track friends across different servers.

Nintendo Switch and Discord

Step 3: Create a Discord Server

If you're getting everything set up with your friends, you need to create your own Discord server (if another member of your group already made one, or you have a regular Discord server you use already, you don't need to do this). Servers are free, and let you keep groups of friends together in their own semi-closed systems, with support for multiple text and voice chat rooms on each server. Tap the plus sign on the left side of the app (tap the menu button first if your server list isn't already up) and tap Create.

All you need to do is enter your geographic region and the desired name of your server, then tap Create again. Your new Discord server is ready for use.

Nintendo Switch and Discord

Step 4: Invite Your Friends

Now it's time to get your Splatoon 2 crew, or ARMS league, or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe drift crew together on your server. Make sure everyone else followed steps one and two. Tap your new Discord server and then tap Invite Members. The page will generate a temporary invitation URL you can share through any text messaging system (including chats on other Discord servers and Discord direct messages). Anyone with Discord installed who accesses that URL will be able to join your server. Wait for everyone to join the server and watch the users fill up in the General chat.

Step 5: Make Game-Specific Chat Rooms (Optional)

Your Discord server can handle multiple chat rooms, so if you have several friends who want to play a bunch of different things you're covered. Just tap the plus sign next to Voice Channels and enter the name of the game you want to coordinate (or any other name you want for the channel). You can do the same thing with text chat rooms.

Nintendo Switch and Discord

Step 6: Join the Voice Chat

Tap the name of the voice chat room you want to join (General is the default server-wide chat) and then tap Connect to Voice. Now you can talk to everyone there through your earpiece while still paying attention to your Switch game through your TV or system speakers.

This solution isn't as elegant as a Switch-based friend or party voice chat system, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards for the foreseeable future. And it's much more powerful and easier to set up than the Nintendo Switch Online app.

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