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Open World or Linear, Which Do You Prefer?

Which do you prefer?

  • Total voters

Twilight Shadows

"Monster: A word used to discriminate the unknown"
ZD Legend
Oct 30, 2018
Twilight Realm
Personally I have nothing against Open World games, but there's a 99.9% chance that I will never beat one.

As far as Linear goes, it depends on how Linear the game is and the type of game. Mario games definitely get a Plus on Linearity, but Zelda games should definitely have some wiggle room. *cough* Skyward Sword *cough*.

Then there's the option of Metroidvania's, which I usually think strikes the perfect balance of Exploration and Linearity.

But what are your stances on the matter?
Last edited:
Oct 20, 2008
Generally prefer open world, though execution is a big part of it. A well executed linear game that allows some room for exploration and options about how to complete tasks can be just as fun and satisfying as open world. If the linearity is too forward and that's all you really notice, then I think that's poor design and execution. On the other hand, open world can just feel empty and boring if not done right, but when done well is probably my favorite style of game as I like to just get lost in the world and do things at my own pace.


Oct 24, 2012
Crisis? What Crisis?
Pan-decepticon-transdeliberate-selfidentifying-sodiumbased-extraexistential-temporal anomaly
I prefer a degree of freedom in my video games, whichever the case. I find that the metroidvania structure strikes a nice balance between the two.

Linear games can often feel too stifling while open world games can suffer from not having enough structure. Plus, both designs fall prey to lazy conventions. Enemy camps, collect-a-thons and Ubisoft towers in open world games - and a narrow gauntlet of corridor shooting galleries and QTEs in linear games.

But the metroidvania structure takes players along linear routes through a complex, interlocking environment that gradually becomes more and more open as players progress. This allows designers to guide the experience without inhibiting player freedom and still lets players ultimately crawl all over an increasingly massive game space that opens up more as they clear it. I find the sense of progression more satisfying in metroidvania games than in open world games. In open world games all you usually have to indicate progress are a list of statistics and a bunch of icons on a map. In metroidvania games the whole game world itself is your measure of progress as you chart new courses and become increasingly familiar with the paths that become open to you.

Purely open world games work particularly well as sandboxes where players are free to go anywhere and do anything while freely interacting with the game's various systems (weather, economy, physics, faction standing, farming and crafting, etc.) Games like The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon/Themepark, Fallout 1&2, and New Vegas, Minecraft and BotW are good examples of games that have the best sandbox. Games like Red Dead Redemption (pretty much any Rockstar game), the Batman: Arkham games, Assassins Creed/Far Cry and yes, even Ocarina of Time have open worlds but they're not sandboxes. It's not that these games aren't necessarily as good, it's just that usually once you've done everything there is to do in an area there isn't much reason to do anything else there.


ZD Legend
I like both.

Zelda games befor BotW were mostly linear and I loved those.

I also love metroivania games and a good one is usually non-linear.

I also love aimlessly wandering around the open Hyrule of BotW.

So both good.


passionate open autistic european female
ZD Legend
Apr 7, 2019
Open world I think. I love being in a world in a game. Just being. I've never been bothered too much about the drawbacks of the genre, like cluttering, busywork, filler etc.

Though majority of my favorite games are linear, I prefer open world as a template more. (And I do think some of my favorite games actually would've benefited from being open world.)


Peter Pan
ZD Legend
Aug 16, 2019
I voted for both. LoZ is mostly linear. I've played 3 of it's linear games and loved all of em.
I like Skyrim too, which is an open-world.

Hence we can conclude that the narrative of the game makes decide the fate of the game.


Sal Manella
ZD Legend
May 4, 2012
Donald Dump's America
it doesn't matter as long as I always know where to go, that way I'd feel fine on doing optional stuff if by the end of it, I still know where my destination is

Spiritual Mask Salesman

~ Deus' Pug Smuggler ~
ZD Legend
Forum Volunteer
Site Staff
Oct 18, 2011
The astral plane
I voted both. I think if executed well, I can get the same enjoyment from a game whether it's linear or open-world.

Here's a great example that happened recently; a friend of mine wanted me to try out Spiderman on PS4. I've heard a lot of great things about the game, so I went ahead and played it for about an hour; but by time I was finished, I wasn't very impressed. A part of me thinks it was because I didn't start a new game, I just began to run around in my friend's game where he was about halfway through it. Using webs to swing across the city, and pulling off some cool feats of athleticism that only Spiderman could was fun for awhile, but I grew tired of it after 15 minutes: proof that I didn't get immersed in the world at any point. So then I went down to the streets thinking there would be NPCs there I could interact with to get a sidequest from - I couldn't interact with any of them. Finally, I found a combat mission where I was in a warehouse fighting waves of enemies, but I had no idea what I should be doing really. I'm the type of player that needs to play a game from the start, that way I know how to best use all assets available to me.

I walked away feeling like I would probably get bored with the game if I bought it for myself: it was a huge miss for me, and after this experience I don't know if I'll ever buy the game for myself.

Later that day, I started to play Metroid: Samus Returns and I enjoyed every minute of playing it.

On the otherhand, earlier this year I started a playthrough of The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, and I managed to get immersed into the game. Every aspect of it that I've played I have enjoyed, whether it's doing a side quest, tackling the main quest, or aimlessly exploring the world - I've loved every bit of it so far.

To conclude, there are many factors that go into how I recieve any type of game. Perhaps if I started a new game of Spiderman I would have gotten involved with some aspect of the game, but because I didn't, I never managed to get that hooked feeling that I've gotten with other games.


The Rising Sun
ZD Champion
Sep 9, 2019
Both definitely have their merits, but in general I prefer open world games over more linear games. There's just something about being able to explore an open world, interact with it, discover its little secrets and in general just goof around in the middle of nowhere on the map that really speaks to me.
Jul 14, 2019
Open world is usually the direction I'll go when given the choice between two games. I recognise that a bad open world game is usually much worse than a bad linear one, but by the same token if I have a phenomenal experience with an open world it usually blows anything linear out of the water.

It's a risk/reward system that sits well with me for a few reasons. The biggest is the sheer adrenaline and excitement that can be garnered from a cool moment in-game. If I'm playing a linear game and a heavily scripted set piece unfolds that is masterfully executed I can absolutely enjoy it. I'll marvel and I'll recommend to friends and I'll remember it for a long time. However, what really sticks with me, far more so than any scripted set piece, is when a high stakes, challenging moment happens organically in an open world game.

The two events could be worlds apart in terms of actual levels of dynamic action. The scripted set piece will of course feature cooler explosions, or better dialogue, and sometimes even a greater challenge. However it's been planned and that reduces it's potential impact on me from the get go. An open world counterpart to the same scene likely wouldn't be as explosive or tightly woven. Yet it has happened naturally. A few pieces of the world have collided together in such a way that this neat little moment is going on, and that will have a greater impact on me.

I'll draw a comparison between Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild. Despite whatever hate may be thrown my way for saying this here, I really enjoyed the final battle of Skyward Sword. I found it challenging due to not having the hindsight of internet guides to tell me how broken it really was, the stakes felt high, the arena was grand and the enemy I was facing looked truly intimidating. Lightning strikes put me on edge, the music gave me a surge of heroic defiance and landing blows on Demise felt truly satisfying. Despite this, I still count the first time I took on a Guardian in BotW as a greater gaming moment for me. I had seen the guardians before and knew nothing about them. I didn't know if they were something I could face yet or needed a particular item for. As such I avoided them whenever I could. However, I eventually found myself in a situation whereby I had wandered too far into Hyrule Field trying to escape some other threat and caught the attention of a guardian. Without time to think I was shot by its first laser, and then another was to come which was going to kill me. Without anywhere to hide or enough time to run away, I was forced to face it.

I felt the same adrenaline, the same sense of grandeur and intimidation as I did when facing Demise but on a smaller scale. Yet, because the event was unscripted and existed as a side product of the world rather than the whims of a director, I gained a greater sense of accomplishment and pride in walking away from that situation victorious. I didn't know I was even going to win, and that's a feeling that linear games can't emulate for me knowing that each encounter has been specifically designed to ensure I win eventually.

There's definitely still a place for linear games and rightly so given how many people prefer them. My personal tastes always pulls me towards open world of possible.


Eater of Worlds
Dec 9, 2019
A Korok in disguise...
Now this may sound cheesy, but I’m more of an independent individual, so Open World is amazing to me. I think my first open world game was OOT, second being Minecraft. But yeah, I’m a kinetic learner, I like being able to make my own decisions.
Feb 7, 2014
As long I know where I'm supposed to go, it doesn't really matter.

Open world games are a very delicate art; I think I can count the good ones on two hands. Linearity however, is what it is; as far as I can tell, there's no way to either fail or succeed at it. The game always able to speak for itself.


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