On my old phone I used Google Maps a lot. One thing I found useful is the dot that indicated where you were had a little flashlight affect to show you the direction you were facing. Does this only work with phones with compasses? I ask because I'm considering getting the motrola g4 plus which doesn't have a compass.
Yes, it requires compass or magnetometer sensor to show the direction
Specific to Moto G4 plus, maps will work but you will not be able to see direction as you guessed. See Alpha Dog Senior Moderator remarks on the device forum
Google maps uses gps, so it will work fine. The actual direction your phone is facing is the only thing unknown. So if you are standing still it can't tell what direction you are facing.
Google maps has been on phones since before a compass was a sensor.
Also see Pokemon Go without compass?