There is no question that RPGs are an immersive gaming experience and are particularly great for exploring the detailed worlds created by the game developers who carefully crafted them in the first place. The best kind of RPGs are the ones where you have a ton of exploration and you have a choice between diving straight into the main story or doing the side quests scattered throughout the game.
My favorite kind of side quests are the subplot quests that aren’t important to the main storyline, but enhances the backstory of the character you are playing as or adds to the overall lore of the world you are playing in. Mass Effect and Dragon Age are great examples of games that have these kinds of quests.
You also have the other end of the spectrum where you have something called fetch quests. These quests involve finding lost objects and returning them to their owner, or finding ingredients for a potion or spell. The reward after doing these fetch quests is usually money or a useful item to use on your character. The fetch quests, depending on how much more items or money you want to gather, is a bit boring and annoying for me. The only time I would do them is if I needed more money or the quests aren’t as numerous to complete.
I always believed doing side quests are a fun way to explore a world/character further until I discovered there is such a thing as, what I like to call, “side quest fatigue.” Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has stretched my limitations and patience with side quests like no other RPG has ever done before.
Amalur is a great RPG to play so far. I can’t give a full opinion on it just yet because I’m still working on finishing it. Regardless, I’m having a blast just exploring the gorgeous world with my character Lyra, who is a battle mage in my current playthrough. The downside of playing this game, as I have discovered really early on, is there are just too many side quests!
As soon as I played through the intro, I took the time to explore the place my character found herself in. I immediately clicked on the exclamation point markers over the heads of random villagers Lyra met just to get a feel of the kind of side quests I would be getting throughout the game. At times they were fun. There were quests that were side story based, which I enjoyed. Once I kept taking, completing, and then taking on more side quests I found myself in the position of doing more side quests than getting into the actual main story itself.
In all the time I have played RPGs, Amalur has proven to be the game where I felt completely drained from doing side quests. There are just too many to take on and complete. It’s incredibly overwhelming when I think about the amount of side quests I have yet to accept. I’m also the kind of gamer who wants to complete whatever quest is in my game log just so I won’t feel guilty for not doing them. I guess I’m sort of a completionist, but not to the extent of wanting to unlock all the Xbox achievements in a game.
Aside from side quest fatigue, I really wanted to move on with the story. Out of the RPGs I have played so far, I at least got further into the main storyline while still being able to do the side quests. With Amalur, the more I kept helping everyone who had a problem in the game, it just delayed Lyra from continuing with her main quest as the “fateless one.”
I’m all for being able to play a game that allows free exploration and the option to choose to continue with the main story, but not to the extent where the side quests have now become too much of a distraction to be able to really dive into the main story. I do wish to somehow get a 100% completion with Amalur, but it has become way more overwhelming to do than when I played Dragon Age or Mass Effect. I feel Dragon Age and Mass Effect had the right amount of side quests in their games and I was able to get back on track with the main story.
To answer the question I have posed in the topic of my post, I think side quests can become too much when the number of side quests just outnumber the main quests to become more of a distraction. I know side quests are optional, but if you are like me, you want to try and do everything if you can. When the side quests just start getting tiresome to take on, they don’t really become fun anymore. I think when this happens, you just abandon trying to get every ounce of the game completed and just plow through the main story. If I do take this route, and it is looking very likely with Amalur, I do feel as if I’m missing something and I’m not getting the full experience of a game like I should. It’s a terrible feeling to be saddled with.
What are your feelings about side quests? Is there such a thing as having too many side quests in a game?