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Exploration Games FAQ
What is an exploration game?
Exploration PC games are games where the player or players have a large world or levels to play in. As the player explores the world, they’ll discover points of interest, characters, weapons, lore, and more. Sometimes the map is so detailed that simply wandering around it is considered gameplay.
Pure exploration games are sometimes called walking simulators because the character does little more than explore the map and uncover the backstory. A walking simulator needs a detailed world in order to engage the player. This usually means the player is investigating something and attempting to uncover a mystery during the game. Walking simulators can have puzzles, notes, and NPCs but will typically avoid direct action or violence and allow the player to explore the game at their own pace.
Because of the loose definition, you’ll find exploration games can often exist in other genres. Survival games have maps with large and varied biomes, ruins, caves, and more, and can be explored. They could be in a post-apocalyptic world or on an alien world with unique structures. A good way to keep the player engaged in the game’s narrative while struggling to survive is to let them discover new areas, with the narrative delivered via the new environments.
Some games have a huge map with dozens of discrete activities within them. Players could follow the story of a cowboy or roam through the prairie on the hunt for people or animals.
A number of space games will generate entire planets for players to explore and map, giving a true sense of exploration to those who find new planets and report on their positioning and resources they’ve discovered.
RPGs and MMORPGs could also be considered exploration games, as they’ll often direct the player to new areas with countless new missions to take on, stories to discover, and new gear to unlock.
Exploration has a wide scope for game developers to build on.
Are there exploration games to play with friends?
Yes. Several exploration games are cooperative, and you can play them with friends and random people who could become friends. MMORPGs can be considered exploration games, too.
How have exploration games changed over the years?
Generally, in gaming’s past, the games with the most exploration were RPGs. Though the world was not the focus of the RPG, the games would not be interesting without it. Pure exploration games are a relatively modern development. Some indie developers have focused their entire development on games that eschew the complicated RPG systems and instead tell a single story within a world specifically designed to guide the player.
There are also games that sit midway between RPGs and expiration games that take the RPG character creation and stats and put them into a giant world where the action has more focus. They’re usually called “action adventure” games, and they make up a lot of tent pole releases that cost hundreds of millions to make.
Are there exploration PC games that do not have combat?
Yes. Some exploration games focus on the mystery and world without asking the player to engage in combat. Some of the most famous titles are entirely combat free.
What are the different kinds of exploration games?
Exploration games come in any genre and have multiple types. Fantasy, sci-fi, and even the modern world. Everything from large RPGs to small stories set in single houses can be considered an exploration game.