Games with impractical optional quests

I’m finally getting around to playing Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC. There are 3 optional quests I’ve taken on - find 30 dinosaur bones, find 10 rock carvings, find 20 dream catchers - that are completely impractical. The bones can be hidden anywhere, in a forest, on the ground, at the bottom of a hole (that’s actually the easy one). The rock carvings are on the sides of rock faces, but unless you’re closely examining every rock you ride past (and there are lots), you’ll never find them. And the dream catchers are randomly hanging from trees.

So what’s the point of these quests? They give minor rewards at best, they don’t give you any clues how to solve them, so like everyone else I just look up the map on one of the gaming websites if I actually have any interest in solving them. Do you bother with these types of quests at all?

I still have not finished all the optional quests in The Witness, and I’m not even sure you get anything for 100% completion. It’s just for fun. (If a game is good, playing it for longer is fun.)

Padding. Make people feel like there’s 100 hours of game play in a game with a fifteen hour story. Ubisoft is notorious for this sort of thing: Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, etc all have a bajillion little map points to visit or minor parkour puzzles to solve to collect all the tchotchkes, take all the photos, tickle all the donkeys or whatever.

I personally don’t bother with those though I’ll collect anything I wander across. But I won’t dedicate myself to getting fifty little letters scattered across the state. I find them to be mostly harmless but some people with more obsessive personalities than mine get hung up on them. I know a lot of people complained about the number of shit to do/collect in the first region of Dragon Age: Inquisition instead of just leaving the damn zone once you outlevelled it. But no, they just resentfully picked every stupid flower and found every pointless rock instead of moving on and fighting dragons.

In some mild defense, I’ll say that sometimes you come across a game world that’s just nice to hang around in and these quests can extend the experience. If you enjoy riding your horse through the Five States of RDR2 then collecting fossils or hunting legendary animals gives you a purpose to keep doing so after the game has ended or as a break from the main story.

When these quests are done well, they encourage you to explore areas of the map you might not otherwise visit. Mostly, though, they’re just easily added fluff to extend the theoretical playtime and make completionists feel really accomplished when they get 100% of all achievements.

For most players, they’re best ignored. I’ve burned out more than once because I spent too much time doing sidequests and got bored with the core gameplay of a title. I’m actually taking an extended break from Horizon: Forbidden West (a stupdendous game) for just this reason.

Ubisoft has actually taken a bit of fire lately for the bloat they keep putting in their open-world games. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a ludicrous amount of unnecessary content.

Thanks. I guess I know that they’re there for padding, but the difficulty has gotten to the point where it’s essentially impossible to finish some of them without just reading a guide or watching a video. For example, the stone carving quest in RDR2 I mentioned - there’s literally no way to find the carvings short of walking past every rock face in the huge open world. There’s no in game map you can find, they don’t glow when you’re in dead-eye mode like other quests do. And many of them are near inaccessible anyway - you have to walk along narrow paths to find them. And there are plenty of rock faces that are completely inaccessible, so you would probably waste hours just trying to get to a rock face that you simply can’t get to, dying many times.

Or you can look up a guide, fast travel to a few locations, and knock it out in 2-3 real time hours.

And this quest does in fact give some cool content and a pretty useful reward (needed for 100% completion), so it’s worth doing.

So my question is more why do game companies add quests they know everyone will just look up online, because they’re far too difficult/time consuming to do otherwise.

Not everyone. Some players genuinely do enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of an open world. These quests create a framework for them to operate in while they do it.

It could also help create a sense of community with people sharing information via Reddit or creating Wikis and guides. Gotta give the players something to talk about besides complaining.

Speaking of which, there is absolutely no way I’ll get Just Cause 2 100% complete. Too damned many unmarked destructibles.

I’ve covered this before.

I didn’t mind optional tasks for the most part, but if they were extremely poorly done they could take me right out of the game. The “Desmond’s History” first person levels in AC Revelations were another prime example.

I agree that the dinosaur bone thing in RDR2 was bullshit. They should have at least provided some in-game CLUES for each of the bones, like (just to name one possible mechanism) you have to encounter a certain NPC in the vicinity of the area and he will say something like, “I remember spotting something weird in the rocks to the east of here…oh…I can’t remember exactly where it was, but there was a pack of [some kind of animal] nearby, and I could hear a train in the distance…” and you have to kind of piece together the location from these clues. They could have done this and still had it be challenging to examine the area for the bones, but without giving you even a hint of where the area is, it just seems like a pointless afterthought.

Yep. Am currently in H:FW making sure I get every last damn radio beacon… having just gotten every last damn survey drone. And loving every minute of it.

Heh. I’m still playing Minecraft, and last night i went wandering around for the sole purpose of filling a weird hole in the map I’ve created. It was difficult terrain, steep hills with mostly jungle on them. So at least as i did it, i realized why i had skipped it initially.

Valhalla had so much unnecessary content that I couldn’t find the main storyline. Literally. I had no idea what I was supposed to do to move the story forward, so I quit. But there sure were plenty of identical villages to raid.

I didn’t have any problem following the thread of the story, but I got to a point where I looked at the map and said, “hold up, I have to do the same gameplay loop for how many more areas?” and it took the wind right out of my sails.

The game is gorgeous, the voice acting is great, the mechanics feel good. But not good enough for the amount of time it demands.

Later, I picked up a copy of AC: Odyssey (essentially the same game but in a toga instead of a horned helmet) and enjoyed it more. I did complete the main storyline there and a fair chunk of the DLC before losing interest. Still way too bloated, and I’m sure there’s dozens of hours of ‘content’ still available if I ever decided to go back to it.

I never finished RDR2 for similar reasons. I think I was nearing the end (Arthur had gotten sick and was coughing a lot), but I just spent too much time hunting for upgrades* and wandering the west. The game is a masterpiece, but eventually it just stopped holding my interest.

*I’d love to see upgrading-via-resource-grinding go the way of the dodo, at least for baseline upgrades like “more room for consumables/ammo/etc.” They’re the main culprit in terms of time-consuming activities that regular players feel obligated to perform. My brain seems to have a “total minutes Johnny will play any given game before getting bored” countdown timer, and it ticks down whether I’m killing bad guys for the main quest or stalking squirrels for a pouch upgrade.

I beat RDR2 without doing any of the fetch-quests (except for ones I happened to stumble upon). No dinosaur bones, no legendary animals, etc. Didn’t seem to make a difference.

I’ve pretty much given up on any minor side-tasks in video games. I just don’t have the time for it anymore.

I think one way to do it that I like is the Koroks in Breath of the Wild. There’s 900 in all but you need less than half for every upgrade (and really, I don’t think ever upgraded shield storage completely). You’ll stumble upon enough just playing the game.

Do achievements count as optional quests? The Fallout 4 DLC, NukaWorld, has one of the worst.

NukeWorld takes place in a bombed-out theme park. One of the buildings is an old-style arcade, with skeeball, a shooting gallery, whack-a-mole, etc. Play the games, get tickets, redeem tickets for guns and ammo. The games are all in-engine, not custom minigames, which makes them janky as hell to play. Which is fine - it’s a goofy little side room, clearly just the level designers playing with the physics engine.

Except for the Eye on the Prize achievement. The Eye on the Prize achievement requires that you redeem one hundred thousand tickets. Performing perfectly at one of the game gives you less than 1,000. You can find some scattered around the park, but only a few thousand. You’re left playing a around a hundred sessions of these boring, unfun games. Each session of which takes about 90 seconds or so to finish. Oh, and you also need to get tokens to play the game, which involved finding pre-war money and buying game tokens from a vending machine. “Easiest” way to beat is to play the shooting gallery with a rocket launcher, and just click the button every two seconds to blow up all the targets on the screen. For like an hour and a half.

Or use console cheats to give you 100,000 tickets, which is what I did, because fuck that.

Traditionally, in Rock Star games, when you complete those tedious missions they give you a set of toys to break their sandbox. Usually it is a tank or attack helicopter, but I’m not sure which one you get an RDR2.

I’ve been trying to decide how City of Heroes’ exploration and history badges fit into this… Most zones in the game have eight spots in them with badges (achievements) associated with them, and if you go to that spot (within about 10’), you get the badge. Some of them are really obvious (like, in the starting area, there’s a giant statue of Atlas holding up the globe, and there’s one on the top of the globe), or in high-traffic areas that you’re likely to stumble upon anyway. But some of them are just “This is the spot where the first officially-sanctioned arrest was made by a superhero”, at some random point in the middle of a park.

History badges are similar, but are based on plaques scattered throughout the city, the sort of thing you see in real cities commemorating historical events and the like. Each history badge has a set of plaques relating to some topic, and if you read all of the plaques on that topic, you get a badge.

The game is sandboxy enough that none of these are “required” (unless you want to earn all 1582 badges in the game), but some of them are required for some rather nice buffs you can earn (like a permanent 20% increase to your max HP). And for those, people do indeed look up the coordinates online, or use map mods that mark them on the minimap.

At least for the bones, they showed up with a bright indicator when you went into eagle eye mode - I found one or two while looking for herbs. For the stone carvings, you didn’t even get that - you literally have to look at every stone wall close up in normal vision to see a carving. Or just read a guide, like I did.

In the MMORPG Star Wars: the Old Republic, you can gain titles by performing various tasks, like exploring the entire map of a particular planet, or collecting a certain number of wins in PVP mode. But there’s also a title, on the planet Tatooine, that reads “Worm Food.”

In order to gain this title, you must commit suicide by jumping into the Sarlaac Pit.