Backtracking Levels

From gdp3
Jump to: navigation, search

Levels that need to be travel through first one way and then back again the same way again.

While most levels in games require players to move from their initial starting point to the end point of the level, there are some exceptions. Backtracking Levels are similar to ordinary levels, but when players have reached the end, they need to go back to the beginning.

Note: This pattern does not discuss the partial backtracking that can occur in Game World Exploration or Game World Navigation, focusing only on levels where players need to go through them first in one direction and then go completely back.


The Hard Rain campaigns in Left 4 Dead 2 requires the players to first go through several levels to retrieve gas tanks, and then go back the same way to be picked up by a boat that can take them to safety.

At some points, Halo: Combat Evolved had players move through one level in one direction but after a couple of additional missions have the players move back through the already explored levels.

Using the pattern

Backtracking Levels is basically a way of designing Transport Routes so players need to go through the entire Level or Game Board and then go back. To make this Movement necessary, a Check Points, Controller or something similar is needed so the game has a way of detecting that players have reach the furthermost point. Alternatively, going back through the level can be postponed by having Cutscenes or even other Levels interjected between them (as Halo: Combat Evolved does between the missions Assault on the Control Room and Two Betrayals, which both take place on the same Level).


Backtracking Levels is a way to make more use of Transport Routes and thereby Levels in games. By making players have in effect two Traverse goals instead of one it can be seen as a way of modifying Traverse goals. Depending on the specifics of environment that have to be traveled to, Backtracking Levels can provide Varied Gameplay. However, unless other Rewards are provided when reaching the furthest point the pattern may work against players' Value of Effort.

Quite naturally, Quick Returns are not compatible with Backtracking Levels.


Can Instantiate

Varied Gameplay

Can Modulate

Game Boards, Levels, Transport Routes, Traverse

Can Be Instantiated By

Check Points

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Quick Returns, Value of Effort


New pattern for this wiki.