Choosing between linear and open levels

Lethal Running is a 2D action rogue lite about a deadly game show held in a futuristic dysoptian society.
The main gameplay consists of exploring, looting, fighting hunters in the battle areas as well as surving the outer wastelands.

A level is one procedurally generated battle ground.
Now, how should the player proceed from level to level ?

  1. Only linear. He must play through level n to reach n+1 where the enemies are stronger and meaner, where better loot can be found, etc. In the context of the game one level is one game show.

  2. Free access. Any time he can jump from level n to level n+x where enemies can either be stronger or weaker. Fighting stronger opponents results in better rewards - fighting weaklings in less to nothing. The wasteland will stay the same and be the return point from each battle area. In the context of the game there is only one game show with various battle areas.

I kinda favor #2 but am still not sure if its a good idea.
What do you think ?

I like linear levels more

I’d say only do linear if you have a linear story/reason to. Otherwise, why should the player be “restricted” to those lower areas? In my opinion, the reason for linear levels is to make sure the player experiences crucial story parts in a certain order. Without that, there’s no reason to limit the player IMO.

On the other hand, if your story is more linear than an open world level design would likely leave you with less control over major events or would require some really odd story elements to accomplish.


You’re lazy if that was too long. :stuck_out_tongue: But, it depends on your story. Linear story, demands linear world. Other stories can go with either.

The story does not enforce a linear design.
An argument against free levels is usally to avoid grinding.

My understanding was that you were saying that you would unlock access to level n+1 after playing level n, but that you could then play level 1 through level n+1. But if you were saying that the option was to be more in style with a true linear game (ie, you play a level/world, and then it’s done, no going back) then that really solidifies the need for a really really strong linear story.

As you said, your story doesn’t enforce a linear design. Because of that, I’d be hard pressed to see a reason/benefit from enforcing that kind of linear access.