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Coyote's Howling: Quests that Suck

Column By Coyote Sharptongue on October 06, 2011

It goes without saying that quests make up the backbone of every RPG. From the massive multiplayer online games, to the single player ones that remind you of how truly alone you are with every sob-wracked click of the mouse, without the quests you pretty much have nothing to do.

They’re the device used to further the storyline, and the vehicle used to draw you into the game, fueling the storyline with your own emotions and perceptions. They make you feel like you’re not just playing, but actually participating and part of the world itself.

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Unless of course they suck, which they often do.

I’ve found that in my many, many, MANY wasted years of playing video games and losing myself in the world of RPGs, that there are several types of quests that not only suck, but take away from the immersion while slowly driving you insane with frustration and rage. They’re tired, overused mechanics that can make a fun game annoying, and while there are too many examples to list without making this article a novel, here are a few of the most common:

Escort Quests

Nobody likes escort quests. Period.

And while there will be many people claiming to love these quests just to be contrary in the comments and prove me wrong, they forget one tiny little fact: Nobody f**king likes escort quests, you  goddamn liars.

Which is not to say that the potential to like them isn’t there; it absolutely is. These quests would be amazing if they were realistic in any way. Trudging behind enemy lines, fighting hordes of the undead to rescue a P.O.W who is being tortured, and then heroically hacking and slashing your way back out to freedom? That’s the kind of action and adventure we signed up for!

The problem is these are never really heroic rescue missions; they’re “babysit the moron with a death wish” quests in which the person you’ve been sent to save is clinically retarded and seems hell bent on getting themselves killed in the quickest fashion possible.

The quickest fashion possible… while walking. Because they will never, ever run.

It doesn’t matter what living nightmare you’ve just freed them from, they’ll stroll out like it’s a sunny day at the park. Hey Skippy – you were just gangbanged by ogres for like three months straight. You wanna show a little hustle in getting out of here?  Maybe put some pep in your step during the escapey-scapey?

Newp. They always have to walk. 

Of course to be fair, if you just spent a month being passed around an Ogre’s den like the community fleshlight, we should probably be impressed that they CAN walk.

In hindsight this probably explains why they make a bee-line for the first death trap they can instead of taking the least dangerous path home: They’re really are trying to get themselves killed. What do they have to live for?

Sure, you can wash all you want, but you’re never really getting the stink of hot ogre lovin’ off. And after a few months, when they’re reintegrated into society and the past is behind them, all they have to look forward to for the rest of their lives is their friends bringing up the whole “ogre rape” thing whenever they get in Vent, or Xbox live chat.

If you knew that was in your immediate future, I’m sure a quick step into the lava flow that your savior is trying to help you avoid starts to look a lot like a softly glowing “get out of jail free” card of mercy.

Didja get that thing? I sent ya…

Okay, technically this one isn’t a quest, but it is a mechanic that frustrates me to no end.

If you’re like me, you don’t like to “cheat” or “get help” from the all-knowing internet when you find yourself stuck in a game. It cheapens the feel of accomplishment, ruins the immersion, and you admit to the game and its developers that you do indeed have a tiny, tiny penis.

 So when you stumble upon an item while playing that you see no real use for, but you feel that is either rare, or you’ll need it in the future, you latch onto it like the last Twinkie at fat camp.

After that, one of two things will happen. Either:

1.)  You’ll carry it until you are absolutely sure you’ll never use it, finally sell it, and the very next guy you talk to will want it.

Or

2.) You’ll carry it, having it take up your precious and limited inventory space for decades, refusing to part with it because you know it will be of use. You’ll shuffle around your inventory, squeeze it in, and even discard items of proven value that you have in excess just to make room for it. Only after you do all of that will you find out that it is absolutely worthless, a novelty item with no real function or the game tells you that it can’t be used in any combine.

Sadly, the only way to know for sure if these items are of any use is to go to the internet and do a quick search for them to determine their purpose. And while you’re there, you might as well Google up some “male enhancement” creams, because now the game knows.

And it’s going to tell everyone.

Talk to that guy, right there.

Continuation quests lines often have the same basis in common:

“Find Pete!  If you can convince him that everything you’ve proven to me is real, he’ll help!”

Admittedly, this would truly be an intricate part of the storyline, and draw you further into the world of the game… if Pete wasn’t literally five feet away. He’s been in the room the entire time, and has had to have overheard at least some of the details to why you keep visiting. And even if he hasn’t heard a word of it, he’s seen you come in with zombie heads and werewolf nipples and whatever the hell else the quest giver needed for his Crockpot of monster gumbo. Now he needs to be convinced that something is amiss in order to help you?

HE’S FIVE F**KING FEET AWAY!

What? They don’t talk when you’re not there? He doesn’t look over with interest the moment you step out and casually ask “So, hey. Why’d that dude bring you an entire barrel of zombie asses?” It’s like you’ve stepped into the middle of a pissy, passive aggressive argument between two lovers and they’re using you as a third person interpreter in order to continue the fight.

“Ask Pete if he’ll help!”

“Really? He’s right here. You know him better than I do, and...”

“Ask Pete if he’ll help!”

“…fine. Pete, will you help?”

“Tell MIKE that I’ll help if he admits that he was wrong about the zombie plague and that he was being a total ass about it.”

“Mike. Pete wants you to admit that you were wrong about the zo-“

“Tell PETE that I the only thing that I was wrong about was those pants, and speaking of being wrong and asses, they DO make his look fat!”

“YOU SON OF A BITCH YOU SAID YOU LOVED THIS STYLE OF JEANS!”

And of course in these games you can never do what you really want to do at that point, which is kill both Pete and Mike and take their sh*t because they don’t deserve to live in your post-apocalyptic world. You end up mediating between them like they’re a million miles apart, and playing along into their little dramatic “I can’t see or hear him” games because you need the XP, and they have the key to moving onto the next quest.

Which better not be a f**king escort mission, because I’ll lose it.

-Coyote

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