16 Best Open-World Games With Turn-Based Combat

It’s not often that a game will cross-genre between open-world and turn-based, but when they do, they create unique and memorable gameplay. In some cases, we even see a series start out as one, then switch to the other – as is the case with the Warhammer: 40,000 series – but getting both in one thrilling game is rare.

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The driving force between the mixing of the two is the action; often we see sci-fi and fantasy games have both elements, though action-adventure can have both, as well. When it’s successfully done, it adds to the action, giving more details of what’s happening and slowing it down for you to really appreciate what transpires.

Updated September 30, 2023, by Sanyam Jain: The turn-based combat genre got a breath of fresh air with the release of Honkai: Star Rail. The developers have done a great job at making this game beginner-friendly, thus introducing many more players to the genre.

16 Of Blades And Tails

Of Blades And Tails gameplay meeting bears at their camp

Of Blades and Tails has a similar vibe to the Zelda games, but it is set entirely around animals and their different tribes’ needs and goals. The main storyline will take you on a journey through their world, battling adversaries along the way. If you deviate from the path you’ll find dungeons and ancient ruins that have yet to be explored, giving you ample opportunity to discover items and characters – friend and foe.

As you travel, you’ll collect items and build your character and inventory as you win battles. The more you explore the surrounding areas, the better your chances of upgrading your character and improving your odds in fights.

15 Honkai: Star Rail

Honkai Star Rail Kafka Looking Down With Blue Eyes

Developed and published by HoYoverse, Honkai: Star Rail is a gacha game that features an anime-style art design with new characters every third week. Apart from being a great game to start your turn-based journey with, it also features a phenomenal story filled with twists and turns where you visit various planets with your companions on the Astral Express.

The story starts off at Herta Space Station, and Kafka is the first character you’ll get introduced to. As long as you can keep your hands away from the wallet while playing this game, it’ll give you an amazing experience in every way. You’ll also find various endgame modes to try your characters out.

14 Encased

Encased SciFi RPG gameplay encountering rival

A sci-fi adventure RPG, Encased is set in an alternate-reality 1970s world after absolute devastation has rocked civilization. A mysterious Dome is found in a remote desert, and you’re tasked with traveling there to explore the landmark. On your way, you’ll encounter opposing groups trying to get to the Dome first — or prevent you from getting there — and you’ll need to fight your way through.

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If you leave the main path, you’ll find uncharted deserts with tons of discoveries to be made, as well as plenty of foes to battle. When you venture off on your own is up to you, but since it’s all the road less traveled, you’ll never go wrong exploring.

13 Dragon Quest 11: Echoes Of An Elusive Age

Serena casting a spell in Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest 11

Platform(s)
PS4, PC, Xbox One, Switch, 3DS, Stadia

Released
September 4, 2018

Despite being the eleventh entry in the Dragon Quest series, Echoes of an Elusive Age is still as fresh and interesting as the first. On your way to Yggdrasil, you’ll encounter various monsters trying to stop your journey from being successful. On top of the character tasks and goals on the main quest, you can leave the core plot to engage in side quests.

When you explore your surroundings, you’ll also have randomly generated battles pop up, so don’t let your guard down anywhere.

12 Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity II Deadfire Battle gameplay

Pillars of Eternity 2 puts you in the role of captain of your own ship, navigating treacherous waters and docking to explore harsh lands in pursuit of a god who’s gone rogue. This game is story heavy with a well-developed plot, allowing you to play solely the main quest without feeling like you’re missing out on anything.

If you do go venturing off, however, you’ll be in a previously unexplored archipelago known as Deadfire (hence the name of the game), where you’ll come across a wide variety of characters with plenty of things for you to do and fight.

11 Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales

Thronebreaker The Witcher Tales gameplay Gwent style card battling

Thronebreaker was created by the same team that brought us The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so you know going in that the world will be fully developed and gritty. In this game, Meve, the Queen of Lyria and Rivia, is under attack and must wage war against the invaders to defend her land. You’ll journey through the lands to fight against the enemy, as well as to gain followers and build an army of your own.

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Along the way, you can leave the main path to gain more followers by helping them with their own quests and making decisions on behalf of Meve. You’ll explore new areas of the land that have previously gone ignored. Thronebreaker also features a card-battling game like Gwent.

10 Shin Megami Tensei 5

The protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei 5 looking over a post-apocalyptic Tokyo

Shin Megami Tensei 5

Platform(s)
Switch

Released
November 12, 2021

Shin Megami Tensei 5 is an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, giving you glimpses of a futuristic world that are marred by devastation. You play as a teen pulled into the fight between gods, humans, and demons. Nahobino (a mysterious being that isn’t human or demon) leads the way for an army trying to restore order to the world – or not.

As you navigate the apocalypse, you’ll get to make decisions that affect the story, and ultimately the ending. There are four possible endings to Shin Megami Tensei 5 ranging from restoration of the world to complete abandonment.

9 South Park: The Stick Of Truth

A screenshot showing a scene from South Park: The Stick of Truth

The Stick of Truth is not for the faint of heart because it carries the vulgarity and the crude humor from the hit show. If you are a fan of the show, however, this game has you create a character and plops you into the town of South Park to join in on Cartman and company’s antics. Loosely inspired by Lord of the Rings, the kids are in a mystic battle for the Stick of Truth.

The fighting is turn-based, but unlike a lot of others in the genre, it is also timed. This adds a bit more pressure to your battle, but also makes the game more than a casual play-through. In between all the core fights, the gang has side quests you can take on – like rescuing a classmate from detention.

8 Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario, Rabbid Luigi, Rabbid Peach, Princess Peach, and Luigi attack with guns and weapons

Mario’s world has meshed with the wild shenanigans of Rabbids in a quest to defeat the ‘bad’ Rabbids invading the land. You play as three characters: in the beginning, this is Mario, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Luigi, and you fight against various Rabbids that have been corrupted and given powers.

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Fights are set up in maze-like fields, and you’ll alternate turns between your group and the enemy. Though Kingdom Battle may not be the first game you think of for an open-world game, it really allows you to make your own path through the Kingdom. There are traditional pipes for Mario to teleport through and bridges to cross, all of which allow you to choose where you go and who you fight next.

7 Pokemon Series

Pokemon Onix Cloyster Battle

Throughout the years the Pokemon series has pretty faithfully stuck to the turn-based open-world format. You can move freely about the map, with wild Pokemon appearing along your way for battle. You can also set out specifically to find missions from your quest and battle it out for domination to the end. The world is your Cloyster.

The only real deviation from this gameplay is with Pokemon Legends: Arceus, where they still have turn-based battles, but turns are determined by stats and a player could potentially have multiple turns before the next opponent. Ultimately, however, it still incorporates open-world elements with turn-based-like battles.

6 Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity Original Sin 2 - A fight in the game - Dual Wielding Icon - Ranged Icon - Single-Handed Icon - Two Handed Icon

An RPG for up to four players, Divinity: Original Sin 2 has been compared to Skyrim with its amazing gameplay. The world of Rivellon is incredibly open, and you can explore it alone or with your team, creating nearly endless potential to develop the story.

Among its list of awards, Metacritic has deemed it a ‘Must Play’ game. There are creative NPCs and sidekicks (Sir Lora, anyone?), and companions are fully playable. On top of everything, multiplayer is highly competitive, making it as challenging as it is inventive.

5 Phantasy Star 2

Phantasy Star 2 Combat

Phantasy Star 2 was a game originally from the late ’80s and early ’90s, depending on what part of the world you lived in. A sci-fi RPG, Sega created it primarily for the Sega Genesis, which is arguably the best version, though they have updated the game over the years for online and PlayStation.

You can have up to four members in your party, and perspective alternates between top-down for world exploration and third-person for the battles. Phantasy Star 2 was the first-ever game to use six Mega Bit cartridges, and while this doesn’t affect overall gameplay enjoyment, it does add to the sheer inventiveness required by the developers in the ’90s.

4 Baldur’s Gate

A screenshot of fighting in Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance for Game Boy Advance

This classic RPG is set in the fantasy world of Dungeons & Dragons, specifically in the Forgotten Realms. Baldur’s Gate was originally released in 1998 but has spawned an entire series that had releases as recent as 2016.

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Characters are entirely customizable, and gameplay is story-driven with over 75 hours worth of adventure and battle. Each decision you make in the world at large and in battle will affect your destiny, so closely consider your every turn.

3 Dragon Age: Inquisition

Party members fight a Highland Ravager Dragon in Dragon Age Inquisition.

2014 brought us the award-winning Dragon Age: Inquisition. The Game of the Year winner is an action RPG full of fantastical magic and creatures. You battle through the chaos that has overtaken Thedas to redeem civilization and reclaim it from the Mages wreaking havoc in their wake.

Thedas is a massive world that is fully explorable, and every decision you make has the potential to alter your fate – and the fate of the world. Battles can be fought in real-time third-person POV, or in a strategic view that gives you aerial perspective over the entire battlefield, with time to make each decision.

2 Yakuza: Like A Dragon

Yakuza Like A Dragon: Ichiban uses a Suplex while on fire

Set in modern-day Japan, Yakuza: Like A Dragon was released by Sega in 2020. An RPG, this turn-based fighting game doesn’t follow the traditional style of turn-based gaming. As you seek out those responsible for framing you for a crime you served 18 years for (as well as tearing your family apart), you’ll encounter battles with new grunts. Visually, these fight scenes are similar to those in Tekken or Street Fighter, but with each turn, you get to select what move you’ll make next.

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A story-heavy game from the Yakuza series, Like A Dragon gives you adventure in Japan along with the seedy reality of a crime syndicate you have to work your way through to the top.

1 Wasteland 3

wasteland_3_flamethrower_in_combat

Another 2020 release, Wasteland 3 is the direct sequel to Wasteland 2 and offers squad-based RPG gameplay. Combat is turn-based and features an Isometric POV, meaning instead of the typical top-down camera angle you can view the fights from multiple angles to get a better grasp of what’s happening.

The main campaign can be played as a co-op with one other player, and every decision you make has consequences for the outcome of the game. You’ll also acquire a vehicle during gameplay to allow you to explore the world to the fullest ability, giving you more opportunity to make decisions and battle it out for the win.

NEXT: Action Games That Should Go Turn-Based

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