- 10 Amazing RPGS Where Combat Is Completely Optional - November 13, 2023
If we take the modern wave of ‘Cozy Games‘ out of the equation, it is quite hard to think of games where fighting, shooting, and killing aren’t paramount to an enjoyable and addictive gameplay loop.
I personally grew up in an area where FPS shooters were inescapable, meaning that if you weren’t firing bullets, you weren’t doing it right. Thankfully, games these days have a few more tricks up their sleeve, and that extends to the RPG genre.
The crutch of turn-based combat with the typical ‘Attack, Magic, Item’ menu seemed like a necessity in the world of RPGs, but over the years, clever developers have found innovative ways to get around using these traditional methods, and some have even taken combat out of the equation altogether.
It seems unthinkable, but believe it or not, this decision has led to some really standout Role-playing gems.
So, in a bid to showcase that violence isn’t always the answer, we are going to showcase some amazing RPG classics that don’t have a combat system at all. Without further delay, here is RPG Informer’s list of Ten Amazing RPGS Where Combat is Completely Optional
To ensure that this list is absent of punches, kicks, gunfire, and general bloodshed, we will be laying down some ground rules. Here are the criteria that we used to help create this list:
- Fighting can be present within the games listed, provided the player can largely avoid it
- We will also consider games where there is combat, but you can handle it as a pacifist
- All games listed must be RPGs or at least have plenty of RPG Elements
- All Games listed must have an aggregate Metacritic score of 65% or over
- One entry per franchise
Okay, get those guns holstered; it’s time to settle our differences with words.
#1 – Disco Elysium
Metacritic Score: 93%
A lot of the games that pop up on this list have combat systems included for more trigger-happy gamers out there, but we begin with a monumental CRPG classic where there is absolutely no combat present at all.
Disco Elysium is a title where you play as Harry Dubois, a down-on-his-luck cop with amnesia who will need to overcome many obstacles, mainly caused by his dangerous mix of hubris and incompetence, to solve a murder case in the region of Revachol.
You would think that this would lead to a game where shooting and asking questions later is a valid option, but Disco Elysium is a game that is deeply entrenched in DND mechanics, having players use dice rolls, skill checks, and decision-making to progress the story.
Sure, you might punch a drugged-up child, or the man mountain that is measurehead, but when all is said and done, you’ll only land a killer blow if you pass the necessary check. So it doesn’t matter if you’re the toughest brute in the room; you’ll need lady luck on your side too.
The absence of combat allows Disco Elysium’s incredible writing to take center stage, and results in an experience that is straight out of the RPG top drawer. So if you fancy yourself a maverick detective, this is the game for you.
#2 – Dishonored
Developer: Arkane Studios
Metacritic Score: 88%
You know how most Stealth games tend to go. You begin with the best of intentions and aim to get through each mission without arousing any suspicion whatsoever. But before long, you stand atop a mountain of corpses with the searchlights fixed on your position, and you begin to wonder where it all went wrong.
Well, Dishonored is a game that facilitates this ruthless and aggressive approach, but equally, gives you all the tools necessary to ghost through the entire game without harming anyone.
Dishonored is a wonderfully designed stealth game with plenty of RPG elements, allowing players to explore the world of Dunwall, experiment with multiple paths of progression, and also gives Corvo the Outsider’s Mark, allowing him to use superhuman powers to remain one with the shadows.
Thanks to a cavalcade of abilities, non-lethal weapons, and methods of traversal, the game acts as a sleuth sandbox where pacifism is encouraged. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not easy by any means, but if you consider yourself the sneaky sort, then Dishonored is a wonderful stealth RPG to check out.
#3 – Fallout New Vegas
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Metacritic Score: 84%
You may have noticed that Bethesda Fallout titles can be a little predictable in terms of quest design, usually offering a good or bad ending, and sometimes you don’t even get that.
This is probably why so many Fallout fans adore Fallout New Vegas, as this game allows you to role-play as a smooth-talking savant with the ability to complete any quest, talk down any rival, or turn combat to comradery with their command of the spoken word.
Many may think that getting through the entirety of FNV without killing a soul would be damn near impossible, but with a high Speech stat, you can talk yourself out of pretty much every single ounce of trouble you find yourself in. Not to mention, you can enlist the help of companions who will happily do your dirty work for you.
Whether you need to use your charm to take the Lucky 38 and oust Mr. House, or you need to convince Legate Lanius to back down at the Battle of Hoover Dam, as long as your character has the gift of the gab, you can watch the credits roll without firing a single bullet. So if you were looking for a new excuse to return to this RPG gem, this is motivation enough, I’m sure.
#4 – Planescape: Torment
Metacritic Score: 91%
When you hear that a game is based in the Dungeons and Dragons universe, you assume that with enough lucky dice rolls, you can avoid pretty much any combat encounter. But as has been shown by games like Baldurs Gate 3, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter, and many more, combat is often inevitable.
However, aside from about four non-negotiable fights, you can play through the 1999 DND classic Planescape Torment without engaging with the combat system at all.
With a high charisma and intelligence build, careful decisions when dealing with dialogue, and a lot of running from mob enemy battles, you can make your way through this rich narrative without casting an offensive spell or bloodying your blade.
This frees you up to get to know the cast of characters in Planescape, use creative workarounds to progress quests without igniting any feuds, and of course, choose your own destiny in this DND campaign.
Despite its age, Planescape Torment remains one of the strongest DND video games on the market, so if you fancy a new campaign, this old relic could be just the thing you are looking for.
#5 – The Outer Worlds
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Metacritic Score: 85%
After creating a Fallout game that arguably outdid anything Bethesda has managed with the franchise even to this day, it was only a matter of time before Obsidian decided to take a crack at a Fallout-adjacent open-world adventure of their own, which would eventually come in the form of The Outer Worlds.
This open-world title would swap the apocalyptic setting of New Vegas for something outside of Earth’s atmosphere, but the quirky writing, abundance of player choice, and excellent world-building are clear to see in this one once again.
And speaking of that player choice, if you want to take the diplomatic route and solve problems with your words rather than your fists, you can do so. As this game allows for a complete pacificist run.
The Outer World’s biggest issue, in my eyes, was that there was a lack of content when compared to rich open worlds on the market. However, what is present in this game is remarkable, so if you passed on this one on release, I would urge you to go back to this one now. You won’t regret it.
#6 – Undertale
Developer: Toby Fox
Metacritic Score: 92%
Speaking of games that are jam-packed with outlandish irreverent humor, we have Undertale, an RPG Maker game from the mind of Toby Fox, which has you play as Frisk as they aim to escape The Underground and avoid succumbing to the monsters that reside in this forgotten realm.
It sounds pretty sinister, but the game pretty much breaks every rule in the game developer’s playbook, offering a satirical and silly adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The game has a rather creative bullet-hell combat system where players will control a heart on screen and try to avoid projectiles, and you will need to engage with this aspect of the system.
However, you can make your way through the entire game, using clever workarounds, dialogue options, and more to avoid killing any monster you come across.
Is the Pacifist Route more difficult and time-consuming than a standard playthrough? You bet it is. But it’s a walk in the park compared to a complete genocide route, which is emotionally devastating. So next time you play Undertale, swap attacks for compliments, actions, and hugs.
#7 – Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Metacritic Score: 76%
Unless you are aware of the Merciful achievement, the fact that you don’t really need to engage in combat can be a bit of a shock to those familiar with the authentic Slavic RPG, Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
But it’s true, outside of one scripted and unavoidable encounter in the main ques, you can get through the whole campaign without killing anyone. This is a bit of a blessing in disguise, as the combat system in KCD is a tough nut to crack.
You’ll need to ensure that Henry has high Speech and Lockpicking skills so that you can avoid fights, and you’ll also need to have decent Unarmed stats just in case things go south, but through careful planning, and a keen understanding of the world around you, getting through this one without killing a soul is actually pretty manageable, albeit very time-consuming.
It is a rather interesting role-playing experience within a game that is already brutally realistic, allowing you to be a morally good guy in a time where killing and bloodshed are just par for the course. So if you want an authentic roleplaying experience, KCD is a great option.
#8 – Deux Ex: Human Revolution
Developer: Eidos Monreal
Metacritic Score: 89%
Are you in the market for a Stoic and reluctant antihero archetype? Well, then, you need to become familiar with Adam Jensen, your augmented player-character in Deux Ex: Human Revolution.
You would expect the original Deux Ex to have more pacifist options than its eventual sequel, but despite Human Revolution’s more FPS action-focused approach, you can actually get through the entire game without killing anyone, excluding the bosses.
Through a blend of stunning enemies with weapons, making use of your augments to bypass certain situations, and using stealth takedowns, players can make their way through the entire game, and, indeed, all of the side content as a pacifist. This means that if you took Adam’s recurring line ‘I didn’t ask for this’ to heart, you can do him a solid and keep any blood off his hands.
Is it the best Deux Ex game? No, not even close, but if you take the time to watch HBBomber’s long-form review of this title, you’ll come to know that it’s perfectly fine, and worth giving a shot if you like cyberpunk-themed RPGS.
#9 – The Age of Decadence
Developer: Iron Tower Studios
Metacritic Score: 81%
Our penultimate entry sees us move back into the realm of CRPG adventures, and this time we have The Age of Decadence, a game that admittedly takes loads of liberties with established RPG design principles in the hope of creating a game that offers something fresh and new. A goal that was well and truly met.
This game isn’t about being a grand wizard and slaying the great evil threatening the world, nor is it about obtaining grand amulets and armor to give you a leg up on those around you.
Instead, it’s about making clever decisions, working against the systems and powers that be, and overcoming adversity through cunning and risk-taking.
So with this in mind, if you play your cards right by selecting a particular type of character type, like a Merchant or a Loremaster, and build this character accordingly, you can make it through the entire game and thrive in this RPG world without ever engaging in battle at all. Which is great because the combat in this game is very punishing indeed.
Essentially, you are an average joe, and if you want to carve out the protagonist’s role in this universe, you’re going to have to work for it. But if I know you guys, you’ll ace this challenge without breaking a sweat.
#10 – Watch Dogs 2
Metacritic Score: 82%
Then lastly, we have Watchdogs 2, which is our pick of the bunch, as realistically, we could have chosen any of the Watchdog games. You may be puzzled by this as, on the surface, it seems pretty unlikely that you could get through certain missions without killing enemies.
However, if you master the hacking and gadget mechanics in this game, you may be surprised just how much you can do without ever being at the scene of the crime.
Plus, even if you can’t get the job done without being at the scene, there is a wide range of non-lethal weapons and items that will help you flank around enemies and get through areas in a pinch. You will need to use a little bit of headcanon to justify the Spider Tank segment, but all in all, a non-murderous run is very possible.
It’s a series that has always prided itself on offering many different ways to deal with situations without ever having to engage in combat in a traditional manner. So it only makes sense that players try and roleplay as Marcus Holloway and let their hacking ability carry you through.
While Watchdogs has never been able to rival GTA for the open-world RPG sandbox crown, Watchdogs 2 is criminally underrated, and it’s about time you played it and found out why.
The Path of Least Resistance
As you can see, going in guns blazing to every single encounter in an RPG isn’t always the best option. As shown by the games listed, you can make your way through entire RPG campaigns without killing or harming a soul, and in some cases, you can avoid combat entirely.
If you are someone who has always thought that fighting was unavoidable within video games, I urge you to try out a few of these titles, and as always, thank you for reading RPG Informer!