It’s time for RPGs to offer immersive and compelling side quests, and I truly hope The Division has great side quests to help set a new standard in the industry.
Everything I’ve seen about Tom Clancy’s The Division looks fantastic, and overall I’m very excited to play the game. In fact, as an Xbox One gamer, I’m especially looking forward to playing The Division beta later this month.
However, there is one aspect of the game I’m worried about: the side quests. In my experience, Ubisoft hasn’t been the most reliable when it comes to quality side-quest storytelling, and for me, that’s where a lot of the magic in RPGs can be found. It’s partly why I enjoyed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt so much. That game had immersive, compelling side quests that were just as interesting and engaging as the main story.
I’m definitely a fan of the Ubisoft’s games, and feel the folks they have writing the stories for their games are very good. But sadly, it seem Ubisoft’s best storytelling usually happens in the main storyline, with side quests often becoming repetitive and dull.
Considering how long Ubisoft has been working on The Division, and how much hype is surrounding the game, I’m truly hoping the development team took the time to craft riveting side quests that beg to be played. I would love so much to be drawn into side quests that are as rewarding as the main storyline, and offer their own injections of emotion, intrigue, and significance.
As mentioned above, a prime example of this kind of storytelling is CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. After spending dozens of hours exploring the game’s expansive landscape filled with frightful monsters and fascinating characters, it’s no wonder to me that the game was awarded Game of the Year. Countless times I was so engrossed in side quests I was truly sad when they ended and I had to go back to the main story. In my opinion, that is how every RPG should be.
So naturally, after that experience, my expectations are high for immersive, compelling side quests storylines in The Division that hold their own in the larger context of the full game. In fact, I’ll be sorely disappointed if Ubisoft chooses to make side quests quick in-and-out missions that don’t offer any expansion to the story other than as a means to level up characters before continuing on with the main plot.
Side quests in many RPGs have become like the single-player campaigns of current shooter games. They’re included as a means to give a false sense of depth to the game, but ultimately fall short of offering any real meat to the title. My worry with The Division is that Ubisoft has been so focused on other aspects of the game, that the side quests will fall short and end up being the run-of-the-mill brand of tacked-on fluff.
Ultimately, I’m hoping the team at Ubisoft has learned from the likes of CD Projekt Red and have built interesting and engaging side quests for The Division. If they have, I can see The Division capturing Game of the Year for 2016. And while it may be a bit early to make that prediction, I believe The Division winning Game of the Year due, in part, to rich and worthwhile side quests could help set a new standard in the gaming industry.
The fact that The Witcher 3 had abnormally good optional missions shows the value of the CD Projekt Red team. But on it’s own, it’s simply a one-off that will serve that developer well when it releases games in the future. But if Ubisoft follows suit with The Division and also offers better-than-average side quests (potentially winning Game of the Year in the process), it’ll help to raise the bar in the industry. Gamers will get to a point where they expect immersive, compelling side stories in games from all studios, and that’s an outcome I think we can all agree on.
What are your predictions for The Division? Do you think Ubisoft will come through with high-quality, immersive side quests, or will we get the status quo content we so often receive? Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.
Tom Clancy’s The Division is set to release March 8, 2016 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.