What Makes A Good Sidequest, Anyway?

Character Development: The Beating Heart of Every Story

When it comes to storytelling, character development is what truly captivates me. I find that individual character stories often overshadow the overall plot. This is why sidequests in video games hold a special place in my heart. Games like The Witcher 3 and Chrono Trigger are prime examples of how sidequests can enhance character development and create unforgettable experiences.

The Witcher 3: The Bloody Baron Questline

One of the standout sidequests in The Witcher 3 is the Bloody Baron questline. In this quest, players help the Baron search for his missing wife and daughter in exchange for information on Ciri’s whereabouts. What unfolds is a complex and compelling story that delves into the Baron’s troubled past. Players are given the choice to either condemn or empathize with the Baron, showcasing the moral complexity of the game.

Chrono Trigger: Lucca’s Time Travel

Another game that explores character development through sidequests is Chrono Trigger. While the game doesn’t have many sidequests, there’s one in particular that stands out. Lucca’s time-traveling adventure to save her mother’s ability to walk is a poignant and emotional moment. By finding a hidden password, players have the power to change the course of history and create a hopeful future for Lucca’s family.

Tough Enemies and Superbosses: The Ultimate Challenge

No RPG sidequest list is complete without mentioning tough enemies and superbosses. These challenges not only test a player’s skills but also provide a sense of accomplishment. From Final Fantasy XII’s hunt boards to Pokémon Gold & Silver’s iconic battle against Red atop Mt. Silver, these battles push players to their limits. Recently, Octopath Traveler II introduced a secret boss that surpasses the difficulty of its predecessor, rewarding players for their meticulous party composition and strategic thinking.

Tying Into the Main Story: Non-Essential Yet Essential

Although sidequests are considered non-essential, many of them enrich the main story and offer additional depth to the game world. Take Disco Elysium, for example. The game features several sidequests that add layers of emotion and intrigue to the narrative. The quest involving the Cryptozoologist Morell is a perfect example of how sidequests can seamlessly tie into the endgame, leaving players shocked and fulfilled.

Additionally, sidequests that align with a character’s occupation or personal journey, such as Geralt’s quests in The Witcher 3 or Lloyd and the SSS’s responsibilities in Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure, give players a sense of purpose and immersion within the game world.

The Essence of a Good Sidequest: Good Writing

Ultimately, what makes a sidequest truly impactful is good writing. It’s not just about the tasks or objectives; it’s about the characters, the secrets, and the immersive world-building. While some players may prefer challenging battles or rewards, as long as a sidequest respects players’ time and offers meaningful storytelling, it can be considered a success.

What do you value in your sidequests? Vote in our poll and share your thoughts in the comments!