The Highs and Lows of Side Quests

For the past few weeks I have been enjoying digging deep into Final Fantasy XV. I have really hunkered down and made up for lost time from the series. XV is a truly enjoyable experience that has revolutionized character relationships and interaction. But I can’t help feeling as if something is missing from the game. I wanted to touch on a couple points from my experience while making comparisons to The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt. The latter being a game that has usurped my time and attention from Final Fantasy XV.

In Final Fantasy XV you spend a lot of time in this ride looking at a lot of the same scenery. At least you have your bros by your side.

Final Fantasy XV grabs a hold of you from the start and prepares you for what should be a wide world of adventure and possibilities. As you push your broken down car of royalty down the fantasy highway, you can’t help but look around using the right stick and seeing how vast the game world is. Wondering, of course, “Can I basically go wherever my eyes can see?” It is a pretty rad feeling starting a game and anticipating the thrill of unknown adventure. As usual, when playing games that are “open world” and mission based, I made sure to take in a healthy dose of side quests and main story missions. I try to make sure that I break up the grind a bit with some of the other adventures to be had in the game world provided. That’s the way I roll while adventuring. But something I noticed almost immediately is the redundant nature of the side quests. Specific individuals you come into contact with on your journey offer side missions for you to take on for experience and loot. That all sounds great and that is nothing out of the norm. But after your fifth “save this chocobo” mission from the Chocobo Trainer, you get fatigued. Same goes for Cindy, the grand daughter of Final Fantasy XV’s Cid. She works at her grandfather’s auto repair shop and offers missions that helps you score upgrades for the Regalia, the car you use to travel the countryside. There isn’t really any story, intrigue, mystery, or satisfying conclusions after these quests. Just go to this place, kill these things, pick up the part, come back to me. That goes for a lot of the other missions offered as well from the other individuals.

FFXV’s Cindy is a great character but all of her car upgrade missions grow stale.

I have no problems grinding and leveling up doing a lot of the same activities over and over but I expected so much more from the game that baked in the oven for over a decade. I expected to interact with different races and experience different stories in this world. But sadly after 50 hours of play, the world that seemed so big became very small and bland.

Which brings me to a game I have picked up recently, The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt. This is a massive game that, through the past couple of weeks, has continuously kept me on the edge of my couch. The main story is great but one of the key elements to my enjoyment has been the substance of the side missions. Not one of them have felt the same or mundane. Every character has a story to tell. Some stories are short, some have a bit of length, but one common thing they share is the variation. Over my course of playing as the famed Gerald of Rivia I have hunted monsters, delivered justice for the downtrodden, taken part in a play, joined a traveling circus for a night, taken part in a heist, and so, so, so, much more.

The Witcher series has amazing writing and direction and it shows every step of the way. CD Projekt RED created a living, breathing world that makes every play session an exciting adventure. It may be wrong but my expectations are high for games nowadays. I want to feel as if my hard earned $60 was well spent. Final Fanatsy XV shines in a lot of ways and overall it has been enjoyable. But I want and expect more from modern RPGs. I think we are all expecting a little more from every game that is released. There is nothing wrong with having high hopes from games that cost considerable funds to develop. But I try to be reasonable with what to expect from each title I play, realizing there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes. Whatever the case may be, it is always disappointing to play games that are amazing on the outside but very hollow inside. ­