HomeGAME GUIDESFORZA HORIZONOpen World Games That Have No Combat

Open World Games That Have No Combat

The open-world genre of gaming has had a sharp rise in prominence over the last decade. Games like Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto 5, and Minecraft were all released in the early 2010s and helped to pave the way for open-world games to be pushed into the forefront of the gaming industry. It’s easy to see why this genre is so popular, given that players love losing themselves in these massive landscapes that are

Open-world games are beloved for their massive maps. Here are some of the biggest open worlds that gamers can explore in the genre.

Along with fetch quests, NPC interactions, and looting, one common theme of the open-world genre is combat, as most games task players with overcoming some type of enemy force. Though conquering evil is all well and good, it can get tiresome. Sometimes gamers just want to play at their own pace, without the threat of raiders, zombies, aliens, or whatever else popping up looking for a fight. Thankfully, there are a handful of open-world games that solely offer puzzle-solving, social interaction, or simple exploration.

Updated on November 20, 2023 by Ritwik Mitra: Most people associate open-world games with titles that feature a ton of combat to keep players invested in the long run. While this is true in the majority of instances, there are many games with vast open worlds that promote other forms of gameplay that don’t resort to just letting players beat up baddies. In fact, most people would be surprised at just how compelling open-world gaming can be when they aren’t forced into integrating action-focused gameplay in some form or the other.

20 Need For Speed Unbound

The Latest NFS Game With Unique Cel-Shaded Visuals

need-for-speed-unbound-screenshot

Need for Speed: Unbound was shadow-dropped out of nowhere, serving as a nice treat for fans of this racing series. While the grind involved in this game can get rather grating at times, players who look past the padding of this title will enjoy the core racing mechanics and the new sense of style present in each and every facet of the game.

It’s refreshing to see a Need for Speed game that tries something different for a change instead of trying to look like every other racing game out there. The world of this game is fun to race in, even if it may not be anything spectacular.

19 Journey

A Serene, Calming Title Focused On Exploration

Journey - A Character In The Desert With The Sun Setting Behind A Mountain
Journey

Released March 13, 2012

Genre(s) Adventure

It’s amazing just how much of a phenomenon Journey was back when it was launched. No one expected this game to be so popular, but the simple and poignant exploration in this game made for a breath of fresh air as players roamed a vast expanse that was rife with visual storytelling.

Even now, this game is a great example of how calming video games can be, feeling more like a work of art and less like a traditional video game. Players who want to spend some time in a short yet immensely satisfying game will love what Journey has to offer.

18 Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture

A Walking Simulator With An Intriguing Premise

The observatory in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Released August 11, 2015

Developer The Chinese Room, SCE Santa Monica Studio

Genre(s) Adventure

Walking simulators have become all the rage in modern times, and it was only a matter of time before this genre would be merged with an open world. The end result is games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, an excellent video game where players have to explore a desolate settlement where its residents have seemingly vanished into thin air.

Players experience the story in whatever order they see fit, with the execution of this narrative being pretty impressive. Walking simulators may have a bad rep because of the lack of any gameplay, but the story and exploration present in Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture more than make up for this genre’s limitations.

17 Outer Wilds

Players Uncover The Mystery Behind A 22-Minute Time Loop In A Solar System

Outer Wilds screenshot showing The Vessel
Outer Wilds

Released May 28, 2019

Genre(s) Adventure

Developer(s) Mobius Digital

Outer Wilds is easily one of the most underrated indie titles, showing developers how to do a time loop story right if the ingredients are all placed in a neat and sophisticated manner. The game doesn’t really seem all that special early on, which is perhaps why many fans didn’t uncover the brilliance of this title.

Sometimes, some of the best games are not visually restricted by being a product of their time, but they have intentionally bad graphics by design.

It’s a shame since Outer Wilds features one of the greatest and most imaginative time loop narratives in any medium, gaming or otherwise. To this day, many fans of the game are puzzled as to why this title didn’t get the credit and recognition it deserved, despite being warmly received by critics and players alike!

16 The Talos Principle

A Philosophical Puzzle Game In Open Environments That Scratches That Portal Itch

The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle

Released December 11, 2014

Genre(s) Puzzle

Developer(s) Croteam

The Talos Principle is an excellent puzzle game that fans of the genre should definitely check out. The game’s vast and abandoned landscapes are quite intriguing, and fans will love the slow drip of the story as they solve numerous challenging puzzles.

These brain teasers are quite stimulating, with the game’s puzzle design being quite excellent indeed. Players who want to check out a puzzle game with a great story should check out The Talos Principle, with this game available on VR systems too.

15 Disco Elysium

An Introspective CRPG With An Amazing Narrative

Kim & Harry Disco Elysium

ZA/UM put themselves on the map with Disco Elysium, an incredible and awe-inspiring RPG without any combat whatsoever. Players control an amnesiac cop who is easily one of the greatest protagonists in gaming history, with the eccentric nature of this character and the unique nature of his psyche making this game quite engaging indeed.

Not many games make failure as entertaining as Disco Elysium, with many people arguing that some fail states are arguably better than the moments players unlock if they pass some particularly difficult skill checks. Regardless of which character players decide to roleplay, they can rest assured that Disco Elysium will have many interesting moments for them to uncover using their skills.

14 Animal Crossing: New Horizons

A Calming Simulation Game That Came During The Perfect Time

a screenshot featuring Ankha from Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Released March 20, 2020

Developer(s) Nintendo EPD

Publisher(s) Nintendo

Genre(s) Simulation

Multiplayer Online Multiplayer , Local Multiplayer

ESRB E for Everyone: Comic Mischief

Expansions Animal Crossing: New Horizons — Happy Home Paradise

How Long To Beat 61 Hours

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the best simulation games around, with players slowly building up an island and turning it into a dream resort for their residents and friends. New Horizons came out at pretty much the perfect time, releasing during the peak of the pandemic and quickly becoming one of the highest-selling games in the series.

Players can’t go wrong with these fun, cozy games on the Nintendo Switch.

This title is a simple and relaxing game, where players can spend hours upon hours attaining materials to slowly build up a great island and wow their friends when they arrive. It’s a shame that Nintendo didn’t give this game the post-launch support it deserved since this title had a ton of potential to become the best Animal Crossing game of all time.

13 Assassin’s Creed Origins (Discovery Tour Mode)

A Shift For The Assassin’s Creed Series with A Seperate Mode That Removes All Combat From The Game

Character walking through the desert

The Assassin’s Creed franchise originated in 2008 and has gone on to become a cornerstone of open-world gaming. The series began under the banner of stealth, action, and adventure, but since the release of Assassin’s Creed Origins, the franchise has started to transition into the action RPG genre.

The influx of RPG elements wasn’t the only interesting new feature in Origins, as the game also offered a Discovery Tour mode. The Discovery Tour mode removes combat, quests, and enemies from the game. Instead, it lets players explore Ancient Egypt from an educational standpoint, with an audio tour guide offering detailed information.

12 Minecraft (Creative Mode)

One Of The Best Survival-Crafting Games With A Mode That Removes Any Combat

Minecraft-characters-underwater
Minecraft
Platform(s) PS4 , PS3 , PS Vita , Xbox One , Xbox 360 , Switch , 3DS , PC , Android , iOS , Wii U

Released November 18, 2011

Genre(s) Sandbox , Survival

ESRB E10+ For Everyone 10+ Due To Fantasy Violence

How Long To Beat N/A

X|S Enhanced No

File Size Xbox Series 1 GB (December 2023)

Metascore 89

Split Screen Orientation Vertical or Horizontal

Number of Players 1-4

It’s been nearly 10 years since Minecraft first hit stores. The game is still going strong today, thanks to continuous improvement and updates that make the game almost unrecognizable from its original state. The open-world game is filled with enemies to kill in Survival mode, but the popular Creative mode removes such hazards.

Along with the absence of enemies, Creative mode also gives players every item and piece of equipment in the game. This allows them to make some incredible creations — the only limitation is their own imagination.

11 Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

A Calming Game Focused On Exploring A Lush Island

Yonder - open world
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Released July 18, 2017

Developer Prideful Sloth

Prideful Sloth’s open-world adventure Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was initially released on PlayStation 4 and PC in 2017 before coming to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in the years that followed.

MMOPG’s are massive by nature. But these maps are especially impressive with just how much there is to explore.

After the player’s ship crashes onto an island, Yonder tasks players with helping the inhabitants by clearing a substance called Murk. The gameplay predominantly centers around fetch quests. Though this may sound tedious, exploring the Breath of the Wild-like game world can provide hours of simplistic enjoyment.

10 Shape Of The World

A First-Person Game Focused On Exploring A Procedurally-Generated World

Shape of the World - walking through the woods
  • Available Platforms
    – Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
  • Initial
    Release Date
    – June 5, 2018
  • Main Story Completion Time
    – 1 Hour
  • Best Feature
    – Offers a great way to wind down with some wonderful art designs.

Shape of the World was released in 2018 by the team of Hollow Tree Games and Plug In Digital. This first-person game puts players in a beautiful, artistic forest and simply lets them explore the surrounding environments.

The game’s world is procedurally generated, ensuring that players will always have a fresh experience each time they boot it up. Shape of the World simply wants its players to find peace and relaxation. The game’s Steam page exemplifies this philosophy, stating: “This is a place to get lost in, a relaxing world for you to spend 1 to 3 hours meandering at your own pace, observing and unwinding.”

9 Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020)

Lets Players Explore Picturesque Landscapes With Numerous Planes And Helicopters

Flying over a river town in Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator

Released August 18, 2020

Publisher(s) Xbox Game Studios

Genre(s) Flight Simulator

ESRB E For Everyone

How Long To Beat 37 Hours

X|S Enhanced Yes

File Size Xbox Series 129 GB (November 2023)

Microsoft Flight Simulator is, in some ways, the ultimate open-world game, as it lets players travel around the entire earth. Players can soar past Big Ben, ascend Mount Everest, and explore the seven wonders of the world.

Being able to fly around an in-game recreation of the earth is, of course, the game’s biggest selling point. However, the game is also a great educational tool for those interested in piloting a plane. The gameplay is so realistic, in fact, that some pilots used it to ensure that they didn’t get too rusty during COVID lockdowns.

8 Forza Horizon 5

An Excellent Addition To The Open-World Racing Series

Forza Horizon 5 - Zenvo TSR-S - Player cruises through the Horizon Festival
Forza Horizon 5

Released November 9, 2021

Publisher(s) Xbox Game Studios

Genre(s) Racing

ESRB E for Everyone

How Long To Beat 20 Hours

X|S Enhanced Yes

File Size Xbox Series 134 GB (November 2023)

Platforms That Support Crossplay PC, Xbox One & Xbox Series X|S

Forza Horizon 5 continued the Forza Horizon series’ excellent track record of providing players with incredibly well-designed open worlds to explore that are varied, meticulously detailed, and simply stunning to look at.

The game takes place in a fictional version of Mexico and boasts a wide range of biomes that give the gameplay superb variety and give players a good reason to try out the plethora of different vehicle types on offer. Unsurprisingly, Forza Horizon 5 was a huge hit with critics, exemplified by its 92 Metascore on Xbox Series X.

7 Need For Speed: Underground 2

A Breakthrough In The Racing Genre And One Of The Best NFS Titles

Need for Speed: Underground 2 title art
Need for Speed: Underground 2

Released November 9, 2004

Developer(s) Electronic Arts

Publisher(s) Electronic Arts

Genre(s) Racing

How Long To Beat 20 Hours

From one racing game to another, Need For Speed: Underground 2 differentiates itself from its peers by being released nearly 20 years ago now. The game was developed by Electronic Art’s former subsidiary EA Black Box and is credited today for its influence on open-world gaming.

Underground 2‘s open world was far from its only selling point, however, as the game also features a fantastic range of customization options and a great range of game modes. Truth be told, any list of the best video games without combat could be entirely populated by open-world racing games if one were so inclined.

6 Rime

A Puzzle-Focused Exploration Game

Rime - walking towards oddly shaped structure
  • Available Platforms
    – PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One
  • Initial
    Release Date
    – May 26, 2017
  • Main Story Completion Time
    – 5.5 Hours
  • Best Feature
    – The game’s well-designed island begs to be explored.

Tequila Works’ puzzle game Rime was released on all major systems in 2017. The third-person adventure is yet another open-world game devoid of any combat that opts to strand its players on a mysterious island. Rime then tasks players with solving environmental puzzles by moving objects, shouting, or singing.

The game received a mixed reception from critics, exemplified by the juxtaposing Metascores of 64 on Nintendo Switch and 82 on Xbox One. Praise from critics revolved around the art style and visuals, though the lackluster puzzles received criticism.

5 A Short Hike

A Brief, Charming Exploration Game That Fans Will Certainly Love

a short hike - fishing
A Short Hike

Released April 5, 2019

Genre(s) Adventure

Developer Adam Robinson-Yu

With an impressive Nintendo Switch Metascore of 88 and an Overwhelmingly Positive score on Steam, Adam Robinson-Yu’s A Short Hike was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2019. The game’s main quest requires the player to jump, swim and glide through the open world to find a collection of Golden Feathers.

The main quest isn’t all that’s available to players, however, as they can also partake in numerous side activities such as fishing, finding treasure with the help of maps, and competing in the unique Beachstickball. It really is a great game, particularly for those with an aversion to combat.

4 The Sims 3

The Sims 3 - promotional image of chaotic characters
The Sims 3

Released June 2, 2009

Genre(s) Simulation

The first entry into The Sims franchise was released in 2000 and played a fundamental part in the rise of casual games. The popular Electronic Arts series has since become one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, likely due to how it appeals to such a wide audience.

2009’s The Sims 3 saw a significant shift in playstyle for the series. The game broke down its predecessor’s linear walls in favor of an open world to explore. Exploring the game’s town is a joy and is the main reason why The Sims 3 is the most beloved entry in the franchise.

3 Obduction

A Puzzle-Focused Adventure Game By The Creators Of Myst And Riven

Obduction - house in the distance
  • Available Platforms
    – PC, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation 4, PSVR, Xbox One
  • Initial
    Release Date
    – August 24, 2016
  • Main Story Completion Time
    – 12 Hours
  • Best Feature
    – Classic
    Myst
    gameplay in a modern setting.

Obduction was released in 2016 by Cyan Worlds, the same team behind the aforementioned Myst. The game begins with the playable character being abducted by aliens and putting them in a Myst-like game world where they must solve puzzles to find their way home.

Combat isn’t always the focus of RPGs, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be sub-par, as these games prove.

Obduction was well-received by critics. It received praise for the game’s atmosphere, its constant unsettling sense of not-belonging, and its well-designed collection of puzzles. For those who love open-world games but don’t enjoy combat, Obduction is an excellent choice.

2 Eastshade

A Calming Title Where Players Explore The World And Draw Paintings

Eastshade - hot air balloon
  • Available Platforms
    – PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
  • Initial
    Release Date
    – February 13, 2019
  • Main Story Completion Time
    – 9.5 Hours
  • Best Feature
    – Meditative gameplay on a beautiful island.

Eastshade is a relaxing, visually impressive open-world game developed by the suitably named Eastshade Studios. The game starts with a bit of a bang. Once again, the player is on the wrong end of a boat crash, but the game soon finds a far more meditative pace.

With an easel and canvas by their side, players travel the world of Eastshade and paint the scenery and environments around them. The game isn’t just a painting simulator, however. Players can also receive quests from NPCs and brew a multitude of tea flavors.

1 The Witness

An Excellent Open-World Puzzle Game

The Witness' map
The Witness

Released January 26, 2016

Developer(s) Thekla Inc.

Publisher(s) Thekla Inc.

Genre(s) Puzzle

ESRB E For Everyone due to Alcohol Reference

2016’s The Witness faced high expectations when the puzzle game was first announced, predominantly due to it being designed by Braid‘s Jonathan Blow. The game also turned heads when the first details started to be released. It was clear that players were going to find themselves on a Myst-like island with beautiful modern visuals.

The Witness differentiates itself from Myst with its puzzle variety, as the game solely features line puzzles. Sticking to one kind of puzzle-solving may make the game sound one-dimensional, but there’s an excellent range of themes and solutions to the puzzles that ensure the game remains engrossing.

MORE: Open World RPGs That Take The Longest To Complete

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