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The best exploration games 2024

Delve through dingy dungeons, delightful dreamscapes, and deep dives, in our picks for the best exploration games on Switch and mobile.

Exploration games guide custom header with screenshots from Pokémon Legends: Arceus, A Short Hike, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Who doesn’t love a new frontier to discover? Since the dawn of open-world exploration games, we’ve been walking, running, and flying through exciting landscapes, laden with hidden treasures and scintillating secrets. But, with so many exciting adventures to choose from, how is an intrepid adventurer expected to choose their next expedition?

We’ll tell you how, with our best exploration games on Switch and mobile list. We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking to sail some salty seas, climb the highest mountain, or wander through the wild west. It’s not all sword fighting and boss dodging either, with these titles differing from relaxing retreats in rare locations, to procedurally generated japes on unmappable planets. 

For more grand adventures, be sure to check out our picks for the best games like Skyrim on Switch, or the best games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Or, if you’re looking to tackle a two-player expedition with a friend, see our list of the best games like It Takes Two on mobile and Switch.

Now, let’s get into the good stuff. Here are the best exploration games on Switch and mobile:

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure – Switch and mobile

Join Alba Singh on her Spanish sojourn as she visits her grandparents in the wonderful setting of Valencia. Don’t think you’ll be following the old folks around though, as you’ll be doing your own thing rescuing animals, trying to stop the mayor from turning the sanctuary into a hotel complex, and searching for a glimpse of legendary Iberian lynx. For an eco-friendly experience sure to put a smile on your face, you can’t go wrong with Alba’s Adventure.

Play Alba: A Wildlife Adventure on Apple Arcade.

Exploration games Cat Quest 2 cover art

Cat Quest II – Switch and mobile

Feline like a fresh adventure? Cat Quest II has you sorted, with a massive world map, multiple dungeons and hidden hovels, and a puppy pal to support your purring protagonist. Inspired by Dragon Quest games of years gone by, this top-down quest-a-thon covers a surprisingly large area and just because the kitty is cute, it doesn’t mean it can’t handle itself in the many battles you’ll face in Felingard.

Play Cat Quest II on Apple Arcade.

Exploration games Pokémon Legends Arceus key art

Pokémon Legends: Arceus – Switch

Pokémon has always been an exploratory experience, and with Pokémon Legends: Arceus, there are more hidden corners, caves, and cobalt coastlines than ever before. While it’s not quite an open world, with five massive areas to adventure, there is more scope for riding, flying, and surfing across the wilderness of the Hisui region in search of ancient legends. For those that grew up dreaming of exploring a living, breathing Pokémon world, this is the closest you’re going to get for a while. 

If you’re still finding your feet in the days of Pokémon gone by, be sure to see our guides for Pokémon Legends: Arceus mystery gift codes and Pokémon Legends: Arceus evolution items.

Exploration games: The Trail cover art showing a hiker looking at the logo.

The Trail – mobile

Turn back the clock and take a trip across the old new frontiers of the great west in The Trail. From the mind behind Fable, Peter Molyneux, this adventure has you hunting, crafting, and trading as you look to set up a new life in the game’s scenic setting. To make it even more of a rootin’ tootin’ good time, you can get your own little pup to keep you company in the wide-open west.

Exploration games Hollow Knight cover

Hollow Knight – Switch

A Metroidvania with more than meets the eye, the dark depths and callous caverns of Hollow Knight offer a dingier delve than most. It’s also one of the more challenging titles on this list, with a litany of Hollow Knights bosses to put The Knight through his paces wielding Nail, his trusty short-sword. If you’re having any issues exploring the vast underground, take a peek at our guides to Hollow Knight mask shards and Hollow Knight pale ore.

Exploration games a Short Hike

A Short Hike – Switch

A quaint adventure when compared to others, A Short Hike is a delightful romp through the serene mountainscapes of Hawk Peak Provincial Park. It’s also the most relaxing of our favourite exploration games, with an emphasis on taking your time as you explore each and every corner of the mountain park space. With only a few hours of game time, it’s a perfect treat for a spare afternoon.

Exploration games Terraria cover art

Terraria – Switch and mobile

You didn’t really think we were going to miss our Terraria, did you? One of the most popular exploration games of the last decade, this influential title has you fight, craft, and travel through a procedurally generated world, with an unknown landscape always just a button press away. As far as sandbox exploration games go, Terraria is still one of the biggest and the best. 

If you haven’t yet ventured into the many chasms of Terraria, be sure to check out our guides to Terraria bosses and Terraria armour.

Screenshot of Link riding his horse in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for exploration games guide

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Tears of the Kingdom takes the exploration of Breath of the Wild and dials it up even further, with a map heaving with secrets and hidden areas. There’s no way of explaining just how incredible it feels to explore this land, picking up side quests and taking down Bokoblins. If you want a world you can traverse for more than 100 hours while still finding new things to do, this is the one for you.

To get a start on your grand Hyrulian expedition, check out our guides to Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom koroksZelda: Tears of the Kingdom shrinesZelda: Tears of the Kingdom armorZelda: Tears of the Kingdom geoglyphsZelda: Tears of the Kingdom autobuild, and Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom enemies.

There you have it! Those are our picks for the best exploration games on Switch and mobile. If you’ve already tried Terraria out but like the sound of a procedurally generated adventure, see our list of the best games like Terraria on Switch and mobile to find some more undiscovered adventures or our list of the best Nintendo Switch games for even more suggestions.