Why RPGs Should Balance Urgency and Side Quests

Role-playing games (RPGs) are some of the most beloved video game genres, allowing players to embark on epic adventures, explore vast worlds, and interact with a diverse cast of characters. However, one common issue that plagues many RPGs is the imbalance between the main story’s urgency and the abundance of side quests available throughout the game.

The Imbalance Between Urgency and Side Quests in RPGs

In many RPGs, the main story creates a sense of urgency that drives the player to progress as quickly as possible, but at the same time, the game also offers a plethora of side quests and activities that can distract from the main plotline. While these side quests can be enjoyable and add depth to the game world, they can also disrupt the sense of urgency that the main story is trying to convey, leading to a disjointed and unsatisfying experience.

Fallout 4: A Case Study in Imbalanced Urgency and Side Quests

One example of this issue is Fallout 4, where the player’s child is taken, and the parent would realistically act immediately to find them. However, the game allows players to spend hours building settlements and completing side quests, creating a disconnect between the player’s motivations and the urgency of the main story. The same goes for Cyberpunk 2077, where the protagonist V is dying and needs to find a cure as soon as possible, but players can spend time tracking down cabs and engaging in other side quests.

Fallout 4 is an excellent example of how the imbalance between urgency and side quests can negatively impact the game’s overall experience.

The sense of urgency in the main story is completely disconnected from the ability to engage in time-consuming side quests. While these side quests can be entertaining, they ultimately detract from the game’s narrative and sense of purpose.

This problem is further compounded by the fact that some side quests can’t be completed after the game’s final mission, meaning that players are forced to choose between progressing through the main story or completing side content. As a result, players may feel unsatisfied with the game’s conclusion and disconnected from the world they’ve spent so much time exploring.

Finding a Balance: Mass Effect 2’s Approach to Urgency and Side Quests

One solution to this issue is to balance the urgency of the main story with the availability and relevance of side quests. For example, Mass Effect 2 offers a system where the protagonist, Shepard, waits for the Illusive Man to provide information on the Collectors while engaging in side quests for squadmates and fetch quests. This approach allows players to experience side content while still maintaining a sense of urgency and relevance to the main story.

Side Quests That Add to the Main Story: Creating a Cohesive Game World

Another solution is to offer side quests that are directly tied to the main story, providing additional information or support for the main questline. By doing so, players can engage in side content while still feeling like they are making progress towards the game’s ultimate goal. This approach also helps to avoid the issue of players feeling like they are taking a break from the main story and instead adds depth and nuance to the game’s world and characters.

When side quests are directly tied to the main story, players can feel like their time spent engaging in side content is more worthwhile. These types of side quests can provide additional information about the game’s world and characters, allowing players to gain a better understanding of the game’s overarching narrative.

Moreover, this approach can also create a more cohesive and immersive gaming experience by integrating the side quests into the main story. When done correctly, side quests can provide a greater sense of purpose and motivation, keeping players invested in the game’s world and narrative.

Overall, balancing urgency and side quests is crucial for RPGs to provide a satisfying and immersive experience for players.

A More Satisfying and Engaging RPG Experience

In conclusion, RPGs have the potential to create some of the most immersive and enjoyable gaming experiences, but the imbalance between urgency and side quests can disrupt the player’s sense of engagement and investment in the game world. By finding a balance between the two, RPGs can offer a more satisfying and cohesive experience that allows players to engage with the game world fully.

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