To Side Quest Or Not To Side Quest: When Playing The Main Story Becomes The Number One Priority

Let’s face it—being an adult sometimes sucks. Not only do you have more obligations and serious concerns to think about, but your time becomes far more precious. You’re lucky if you can spare 20 minutes for yourself. One of the downsides of developing an interest in video games later in life is not being able to spend as much time as you want on it. You either have to take care of more pressing issues going on in your own life, or you want to be able to play another game you have been meaning to play from your backlog. I’m coming to terms with probably not being able to get to every game I currently own, but at the same time, I’m thinking maybe the workaround to getting close to playing everything is cutting out most side quests from my gaming time.

In between my Animal Crossing: New Horizons obsession I’m also fitting in time to play more of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Considering it’s a fairly large RPG type video game to play, one that will take time to get to the ending, I’ve been pretty sparse in exploring the side quests Witcher 2 has to offer.

Before playing any of the Witcher games I have heard how the side quests are actually worth playing, and aren’t the usual tedious and sometimes boring fetch quests you would find in Dragon Age or Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The Witcher’s side quests actually contribute something to either enhance the main story or enrich the world itself. I did manage to do at least one or two of the side quests in Witcher 2, which I found to be a lot of fun to play, but then I remember how much I don’t want to get sidetracked by doing what is considered optional and not required to advance the story in any way. One of the main reasons I became more interested in gaming was the surprisingly deep stories and characters that can come out of them.

But with my time and responsibilities being what they are these days, I’m making the calculated decision to largely skip or trim down my engagement with side quests. Will I be missing on some really great experiences and moments? Possibly, but as an avid reader and aspiring storyteller I always have to know how something will end. If there’s one thing I hate about starting any game, movie, TV show, or book is not knowing how it ends. There are some exceptions, of course, but most of the time I want to see something through to the very end.

RPG video games are my number one favorite type of games to play, and it’s a shame I have to cut out certain parts in favor of completing them a little more quickly. But if I can at least focus on finishing the main story, then it becomes more of an attainable goal for me than pushing to finish everything down to unlocking every single achievement. I admire those who are still able to do that. As for me—who the hell has got the time for that?

How has your gaming habits changed? Do you forego all side quests to concentrate on the main story? Or do you manage to finish every single thing the video game comes packaged with?


8 thoughts on “To Side Quest Or Not To Side Quest: When Playing The Main Story Becomes The Number One Priority

  1. Like you, I don’t have a whole of free time to just play video games anymore, so I’m not an achievement hunter or a completionist; but I do like to finish the side quests, especially if they are unique quests that add a bit more world building to the game. If a game has really hooked me, I may go for all the collectibles, if they aren’t difficult to collect.

    1. Yeah, it becomes really difficult to do every single thing in a game the older you get. I used to be able to do a good chunk of the side quests, along with the main story, but now I find that I never actually get to finishing any of the game I want to experience the ending of. Now I’m content with just ignoring most of the side quests to move the main story along.

  2. These days, I definitely aim to finish a game’s main story over completing side quests. And if I have picked up side quests along the way, I’ll usually tell myself that I’ll go back and finish them later…but I hardly ever do. 😅 If I find the game compelling enough, however, I’ll usually make a point to replay it with doing side quests in mind. Though, I don’t think I’ve 100%-ed a game in ages!

    1. Haha, adulting, am I right? 😉 I think the last time I nearly came close to finishing almost everything in a video game was Final Fantasy XV. Even then I haven’t unlocked everything that’s still contained in that game. But you’re right about probably feeling more compelled to doing almost everything in a video game if it’s really good. I think depending on how good Cyberpunk 2077 turns out that may be my new and now rare exception to playing video games these days. If the world is as good as the beloved BioWare games, I’m prepared to sink several months in that game! 😀

  3. For me it’s a take ’em or leave ’em kind of thing. I don’t seek out sidequests, but I’ll do one if I happen across it and it sounds interesting. One thing I won’t do though is busy work. When I played through Witcher 3, I went in with a hard policy of not playing Gwent, not doing stuff on the town job boards, and ignoring map markers that were out of my way. Did I get to see everything that Witcher 3 had to offer, no. It was still a great time though, and I can’t wait to play Cyberpunk 2077 in basically the same way.

    1. I’m sort of applying the same approach with Witcher 2 right now, ignore most sidequests unless there’s one in particular that sounds really amazing. I used to want to try and do most sidequests in addition to the main story, but it’s just not realistic with everything else you need to prioritize above gaming these days. Now I just concentrate on the main story. However, I think Cyberpunk 2077 will be the exception game when it comes to doing sidequests. I may try to do all of that plus the main story. We’ll see though!

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