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The List: The 5 Worst Types of MMO Quests

By David Jagneaux on September 29, 2014 | Columns | Comments

The 5 Worst Types of MMO Quests

It’s hard to really define what makes an MMO so fun and addicting. Maybe it’s the gear grind, maybe it’s the gameplay, maybe it’s the social aspects, and maybe it’s just the world you’re playing in. One thing that it’s usually not, is the questing in and of itself. Sure, there can be some fun boss fights or cool missions every now and then, but by and large most MMOs suffer from the same generic cookie-cutter experiences that every other MMO has at some point.

For this week’s List, we’ll be exploring the 5 worst types of MMO quests, what makes them so tedious, and maybe even how they could be improved. There will undoubtedly be plenty that I’ve failed to mention, or maybe you actually like some of the ones on this list, so either way we’d love to hear your thoughts down below after checking out the List!

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5) Escort Missions

This would be higher on the list if it were more common, but thankfully, it doesn’t happen all of the time. Arguments can be made for why escort missions work sometimes (look at Resident Evil 4 and Ico, for example) but for some reason they never pan out well in MMOs. Being forced to protect an NPC that doesn’t have the competence or ability to protect his or herself is immensely frustrating.

And to add on top of that, most of them move more quickly than your walk, but more slowly than your run. This frustrating dilemma forces you to stutter step your way alongside them to the destination. Most of the time enemies will just suddenly appear out of seemingly thin-air to try and challenge you to no avail. It could always be worse though, like the Hydra head escort mission in Dragon’s Dogma… *shivers*

4) Group Quests

We get it, the second M in MMO does in fact stand for multiplayer – an internet connection is required to even play an MMO at all. But there is a fine line between letting me live and play in a world full of other people, meeting and socializing at my own pace, and forcing me to group up with others just to get past a specific quest.

Maybe you only like to play with friends and no one is online at that time or maybe you just don’t like grouping up for quests – you’d rather do it solo. Whatever the case may be, mandatory group quests are frustrating for everyone. There’s always that one character that struggles to grasp basic concepts and you end up having to pick up the slack.

3) Go Talk to This Person

If you don’t like quests that have an NPC simply direct you to another NPC, then the opening moments of Final Fantasy XIV is literally your worst nightmare. For all the things that game does really well, its intro could use some serious work. While I do understand the need for showing a new player around a town and introducing NPCs to them, a flood of new information like that isn’t the right approach.

Instead, how about make the NPC you turn quests into be different characters around the town. Upon turning in the quest, they’d get another quest to go do something, and then turn that quest into a new NPC. This way you’re guiding the player around an area and teaching them things without the monotony of running around a city for the first hour of your game.

2) Kill X of Thing

While it may make me look like a hypocrite to call a list of things a terrible quest (given that I am the primary writer of our List column here at MMORPG), I have to say it anyways. There is nothing lazier and less entertaining than “Kill X of Thing” quests. I don’t care if the Thing you’re killing is a magical unicorn that shoots rainbows, these quests are always tedious.

Developers should try harder, especially during the opening areas of your game. Take Guild Wars 2 for example – the opening for each race is incredibly immersive and engaging right from the start. Or The Elder Scrolls Online as another example – almost every quest in that game feels like a real story that deserves to be told. If I’m doing little more than population control via involuntary genocide, that’s just plain old bad game design.

1) Collect X of Thing

But this is where the truly largest sin of MMO quest design takes place. Often times you find these “Collect X of Thing” quests bundled up with the Kill quests, but they’re the same either way. Sometimes you just have to go collect something at a crafting or collection node. Other times it involves having to travel deep into a special dungeon to retrieve some items. But most of the time, you’re stuck killing monsters, just like a Kill quest, except with a mere percentage chance of an item dropping.

Do you see the problem here? At least with a Kill quest you’re guaranteed that every time you kill one, that does in fact count towards your quest completion. With Collection quests on the other hand, that may not always be the case. Let’s say you’re tasked with collecting 10 wolf pelts from the forest. Theoretically that should mean kill 10 wolves and grab their pelts – but it doesn’t. What it actually means is, go kill wolves until your random drop chance is kind enough to give you 10 pelts. It’s a cheap and dirty trick to artificially inflate the length of time spent playing and it sucks.

Conclusion

Now that all of that’s out of the way, what are some of your least favorite types of MMO quests? Chances are, it could be a combination of the above. Alternatively, which games do you think have some of the best quest to offer? Why is that? All feedback is welcome and who knows, one of your recommendations could be included in whatever List we decide to publish next!

David Jagneaux / David is a freelance writer and full-time nerd. He loves to play, write about, talk about and think about all things gaming. You can find his work all across the interwebs. It's dangerous to go alone, so follow him on Twitter!