• Open-world games don’t always need combat to be engaging; titles like Firewatch offer relaxing exploration without enemies.
  • Puzzle-focused games like The Talos Principle 2 provide a challenging yet combat-free experience for players to enjoy.
  • Some open-world games focus on educational elements, like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Discovery Tour mode, offering a combat-free exploration experience.

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.



The Biggest Open World Games, Based On The Size Of Their Maps

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 June 18, 2024 by Ritwik Mitra: Most people assume that the vast majority of open-world games need some form of combat to keep players interested. While this is an understandable sentiment given the numerous sandbox games that let players engage in tense battles, this genre has its fair share of titles that feature an open world and don’t necessarily force players to interact with combat mechanics. With players wanting to check out titles that are more relaxing and aren’t too stressful, it’s easy to see why players will love checking out open-world games with no battles to speak of.

1 Firewatch

A Poignant Walking Simulator With Open Enviroments And A Captivating Narrative

Firewatch image should man overlooking mountains


February 9, 2016

Campo Santo


Firewatch is a story-driven experience for the ages that shows the beauty of indie gaming. Players take on the role of a fire lookout who interacts with his supervisor using a walkie-talkie, uncovering some tantalizing mysteries in the process as they make progress. The game features a striking art style that uses minimalistic visuals to leave a lasting impression on players.

After completing the game, players can explore the open world in a free-roam mode that lets them relax and take in the sights. With no combat to speak of, it’s easy to see why Firewatch is the perfect game for players to kick back and relax as they explore vast stretches of an open world that’s strikingly beautiful in its own way.

2 The Talos Principle 2

A Sequel To A Philosophical Puzzle Game Where Players Can Roam Around And Solve Puzzles At Their Behest

the fourth image of the cutoff quandary puzzle in the talos principle 2 dlc.

The Talos Principle 2

PS5 , Xbox Series X and Series S , PC

November 2, 2023


Puzzle , Adventure , Action

The Talos Principle is a game that took many people by surprise, with the non-linear approach to exploration coupled with some smart puzzle design letting players enjoy a philosophical title that explores what it means to be human. Fans were glad to hear that Croteam would capitalize on this title’s success with a game that let them enjoy more of the same.

The Talos Principle 2 is what most people would expect, with players getting all the time in the world to catch a breather and take in the wonderful sights that greet them in the game’s sandbox before getting around to solving a tricky puzzle. The sequel is a must-play for fans of the first game and people who like unique puzzle games with something interesting brewing in the background.

3 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Discovery Tour Mode)

Interacting With A Complex Array Of Fauna & Raising Awareness To Ensure Their Survival

Kassandra Ikaros in Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

October 15, 2018

Assassin’s Creed is a series that any fan of open-world games is quite familiar with. The games are known for a heavy focus on stealth and combat in every game, so it’s nice to see that Ubisoft catered to people who loved the historical locations present in the world and wanted to educate themselves about the setting without being pressured by forced combat scenarios.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey features a Discovery Tour mode that lets players fast travel wherever they want and learn about the world without worrying about encountering any enemies. All foes are removed in this game mode, making for a relaxing experience that players will love if the interesting worlds of the Assassin’s Creed games strike their fancy.

4 Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Interacting With A Complex Array Of Fauna & Raising Awareness To Ensure Their Survival

Alba A Wildlife Adventure ps5

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

December 11, 2020

Ustwo Games

There aren’t many games that actually place focus on things that matter, like animal welfare. So, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure feels like a breath of fresh air, focusing on the activism of the main character and her friends as they try to help a natural habitat thrive instead of being harmed by rampant tourism.



30 Best Nintendo Switch Adventure Games (That Aren’t The Legend Of Zelda)

The Nintendo Switch is home to plenty of stellar adventure games outside of the storied Legend of Zelda franchise — here are the best of them.

The cute aesthetic of Alba: A Wildlife Adventure coupled with its positive message and soothing gameplay makes it worth checking out for any fan of unique sandbox games. More people should check this game out, especially if they’re aware of the evils of mankind and how their quest for dominance has led to the endangerment and loss of many exotic, unique species that deserve to live just as much as anyone else.

5 Astroneer

A Procedurally-Generated Adventure Game Where Players Form Structures And Gather Valuable Resources

An image of a character interacting with an alien in space


February 6, 2019

System Era Softworks


Intergalactic adventures are all the rage now, with a major part of the gameplay loop being combat with alien lifeforms and the like that adds an interesting new dimension to the gameplay. However, not all sci-fi games need to rope players in with action. Instead, what makes things arguably better are games that have a greater focus on the wonders of exploration.

Despite being a procedurally generated game, Astroneer‘s fun exploration and cozy crafting gameplay make it a perfect title for players to unwind without worrying about a large alien threat that stands in their way. The game features a well-made drip feed of content that never overwhelms players without losing their interest, which requires some finesse to achieve by any developer, indie or otherwise.

6 Sable

Explore A Desert Planet And Solve Many Puzzles Along The Way

Sable looking out at the world from a tower in Sable


September 23, 2021



Sable‘s gameplay is about as simple and cathartic as it gets. Exploration is the name of the game, taking a page out of Journey‘s book and letting players enjoy a serene title that relaxes players and lets them enjoy a great vibe as they explore this largely empty world and solve the wealth of puzzles that lay within.

Players who enjoy fun puzzle games without any high stakes will love what Sable brings to the table. The amazing art style of this game will wow players throughout an unforgettable experience, making it clear why Sable is considered by many to be one of the most underrated games in recent times.

7 Need For Speed Unbound

The Latest NFS Game With Unique Cel-Shaded Visuals


Need for Speed Unbound

December 2, 2022

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 every facet of the game.


18 Best Combat Systems In Open World RPGs, Ranked

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

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. As long as players are willing to get through oodles of filler present in this game, they’ll find Unbound to be a halfway-decent racing game worth checking out.

8 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

August 11, 2015

The Chinese Room, SCE Santa Monica Studio


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 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.

9 Outer Wilds

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

Outer Wilds screenshot showing The Vessel

Outer Wilds

May 28, 2019


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 seem all that special early on, which is perhaps why many fans didn’t uncover the brilliance of this title.


10 Great Games With Purposefully “Bad” Graphics

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!

10 The Talos Principle

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

The Talos Principle

The Talos Principle

December 11, 2014



The Talos Principle is an excellent puzzle game that fans of the genre should 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. Of course, even if players don’t have this ultra-immersive medium at the ready, that shouldn’t dissuade anyone from checking out The Talos Principle to see why it’s such a riveting title in every sense of the word.

11 Disco Elysium

An Introspective CRPG With An Amazing Narrative

Kim & Harry Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium

October 15, 2019


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.

12 Assassin’s Creed Origins (Discovery Tour Mode)

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

Character walking through the desert

Assassin’s Creed Origins

December 15, 2020

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.

13 Minecraft (Creative Mode)

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



PS4 , PS3 , PS Vita , Xbox One , Xbox 360 , Switch , 3DS , PC , Android , iOS , Wii U

November 18, 2011

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. Players will be surprised to know just how engaging Minecraft can be when they don’t have to look over their shoulder to tackle any threat that may arrive in the dead of night when they’re the most vulnerable.

14 Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

A Calming Game Focused On Exploring A Lush Island

Yonder - open world

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

July 18, 2017

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.


14 Biggest Open World MMORPGs (From Smallest To Largest)

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.

15 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.”

16 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

August 18, 2020

Flight Simulator

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 that some pilots used it to ensure that they didn’t get too rusty during COVID lockdowns.

17 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

November 9, 2021


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.


Great Racing Games Like Forza Horizon 5 (For Those Who Don’t Own An Xbox)

Players who don’t own an Xbox or gaming PC but want to play something like Forza Horizon 5 should take a look at the following games.

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.

18 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

November 9, 2004

Electronic Arts


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.

19 A Short Hike

A Brief, Charming Exploration Game That Fans Will Certainly Love

a short hike - fishing

A Short Hike

April 5, 2019



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.


10 Best Open World Games Without Fast Travel

Fast travel is often a crutch that people lean on in open-world games, but what of those titles that don’t have such a feature?

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’s a great game, particularly for those with an aversion to combat.

20 The Sims 3

The Sims 3 - promotional image of chaotic characters

The Sims 3

June 2, 2009


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.


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