GamerSushi Asks: Lost in Sidequests?


I’ve got a problem. It’s been well documented on this site and in our podcasts, but I should reiterate: I’m an RPG completionist. I’m OCD in a way that is truly tough to convey to people who can’t open up my head and take a peek inside. From the largest weapon to the smallest task, I’m trying to do everything, see every nook and cranny of even the hugest open RPG world until its boundaries feel like shackles and I’ve got nowhere left to go.

Such is the case with Skyrim. You see, I’ve put about 50 hours into the game so far, and I’m sitting pretty at about Level 43. And I’ve only recently just gone to High Hrothgar for the first time. If you’ve been playing the game, you know that most people go do this just south of Level 10, but not me. I’m an overpowered badass that’s been running all over the place doing the bidding of every peasant and lowlife that needed ferrying or dungeoneering.

It’s really hard to pinpoint the root cause of this obsession, and even harder to curtail it once it sets in. Something about the way my personality works just causes me to get lost in side quests.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask how you guys handle side quests versus main quests. While side quests are really meant to help you level between the main or perhaps give you something to do once you’ve beaten the game, I tend to use them to make the main ludicrously easy for myself. How do you guys approach them? Go!

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

12 thoughts on “GamerSushi Asks: Lost in Sidequests?”

  1. I’ve actually handled Skyrim quite differently. In Oblivion and Morrowind, I would follow the main quest for a little bit until enough of the world opened up, then I would finish the main quest last, after I got all the sidequests done. In Skyrim, I’ve been sticking kind of close to the main quest, rarely branching off for sidequests unless I need to work on honing my skills. I’ve found that the main quest is interesting enough to hold my attention while still letting me wander around.

    It may also have to do with my computer. I’m running Skyrim on a laptop that handles it somewhat well, but the load times are atrocious, so I need to plan out what I’m doing, and since the main quest is always handy, I tend to just go for that rather than try to look around for new quests. The main exception is dungeons. They’re SO much better in this game than in Oblivion, and I get a fit ADD when I’m traveling and a nearby dungeon pops up on the compass.

  2. Im lost in side quests. At some point I will just burn through the story, but probably after I reach high level. I just go around doing what sounds fun. The game is so big it makes it very easy. Honestly I usually try and go around and explore before going through the main quest.

  3. I suffer from a similar disorder. Usually, I traipse across the countryside, exploring and doing whatever sidequests strike my fancy, fully ignoring the main plot until I realize I’m getting unbelievably bored, at which point I can’t muster enough interest to get back to the main quest. Hence, I never did finish Oblivion. I’ve told myself that I’m sticking closer to the plot this time…but so far I’ve mostly been wandering around.

  4. Right now I’m level 25 and I’m at the same point of the main story. Met the Greybeards but no further. What’s got my attention for the most point are the faction questlines – Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood and the College of Winterhold. In particular, the randomly generated quest from the Thieves/Brotherhood. The other day I spent some 4-5 hours simply stealing whatever I was told and warping back to Riften, over and over again. At this point the only reason I’m going to go back to the main story is when I finish the faction’s main quest line and/or I’m in need of some new shouts.

  5. I’m fascinated by Skyrim’s openness. My brother and I have had totally different experiences, mainly because of the many sidequests, which can even take place in different areas. It’s a small addition, but it helps spice up dungeoncrawling.

    At the same time, I feel like the game might be a bit TOO open, especially at first. I feel like ascending High Hrothgar should be the mission that opens up the world to you, since take upon yourself the destiny of the Dovahkiin is pretty much the impetus for your actions. Narratively, it feels out-of-place for a game to have so much content before setting up the main story.

    Skyrim is a lot less structured than Fallout 3; or at least there are more quests that are as prominent as the main quest. This is a good way to keep an open-world game constantly moving since the player can choose which quest saga will dominate their experience, whether it’s joining the Thief’s Guild or doing all the Dovahkiin business. At the same time, I liked Fallout 3’s sense of direction because it kept the world feeling a bit more composed.

    That said, the Elder Scrolls is already an established series, whereas Fallout 3 was an introduction into the Fallout universe for most players, including myself. Fallout 3’s main quest had to set the tone of the Fallout universe while giving the player a reason to explore the Capital Wasteland, and I think it pulled this off brilliantly. I never played any other Elder Scrolls, not even Oblivion, so I felt like I was left out of the loop when characters referenced lore and history. It’s not a bad thing to throw the player into an open-world game and let them explore of their own volition, whether or not the game’s series is established and well-known, but I feel that without a clear driving questline, Skyrim feels a bit too unrestricted. The only consistent thing in Skyrim is collecting, selling, and storing loot. In Fallout 3, the main questline provided consistence in tone, plot, and gameplay throughout the whole game.

    I like games that have sidequests, especially when those sidequests enhance the main questline and breathe life into the game’s universe, but too many sidequests and extraneous distractions can get in the way of a game’s consistency in tone, narrative flow, and gameplay.

  6. Yeah Eddy hit the nail right on the head, I love the side quests and find myself more interested in many of the side quests almost completely forgetting about the main storyline (something about dragons right?)

    On a side note, I was wondering if any of you guys had bought Skyrim on the PS3, it seems like everyone here didn’t because they seem to have no major complaints with the game. Apparently Skyrim on the PS3 becomes UNPLAYABLE after a certain point.

    Here’s some articles

    Patch 1.2 has apparently helped fix some of it. I bought the PS3 version, I haven’t hit the lag yet but it shouldn’t be too long now 🙁

    If you guys read this comment I think it’d be cool to throw up an article about game companies and customers, I think it’s a really important topic that’s raging right now due to this massive PS3 Skyrim problem.

  7. Patch 1.2 for PC broke my magic protection ):

    On-topic: I’m lvl 27 and still haven’t talk to the Jarl in Whiterun. I’m thane in almost every major city but not Whiterun. I got a lot of dragon words an can’t even unlock them. Guess I’ll have to continue the main quest ):

  8. See, I’ve got 8 or 9 dragon souls but no words to unlock =/. So many random dragon encounters. I’m definitely stuck in side quests. However, I got to a point where I thought I was stuck, so did a bunch of the Main quest hoping to move on. Turns out I was just stupid and didn’t have some basic items. Im level 39 right now, kicking butt.

  9. Just to change tack a little I have a question (minor spoilers for thieves guild quest line). How does everyone feel about the NPC’s? While I didn’t get to spend much time in Oblivion, even I could understand some of the complaints regarding the voices and animation with the NPC’s. But with Skyrim, Bethesda has done a much better job of making them more believable. Not perfect of course, but certainly a vast improvement. One in particular that stood out for me was Karliah. Voice actor Moira Quirk really put a lot of emotion into the character, and she is one of the few that I have felt a strong connection too. As strange as it sounds I almost wish she was available for my character to marry. But at the same time I feel that even were it possible, she wouldn’t go for it because of her feelings for Gallus.

    Am I strange? Reading too much into a minor character from a relatively small faction? Has anyone else had a similar experience?

  10. I don’t know how many arrows I have taken in the knee, but I’m still no Guard.

    I have grown feelings towards Ulfric Stormcloak.
    I hate him. Long live the Empire.

  11. This is pretty much how my head works with these kinds of games (using Skyrim as a template):
    “Okay, my quest has begun. Let’s go get some story to this bad boy. Hmm, Riverwood/Whiterun you say? Let’s go. What? The world is in peril? And I’m the only one who can save it? If it is my destiny then I shall not relent until the last Dragon lies slain at my feet. What’s that random villager? Bandits stole your heirloom? Of course I’ll retrieve it for you, FOR JUSTICE! What? This dungeon has loot in addition to another quest? I suppose I DO need money to fund my quest to smite evil… *7 dungeons, 4 sidequest and a couple of guild-missions here-or-there later*. Well I’ll just head up to High Hrothgar and continue my quest. What’s that? I now have new powers like shouting? Excellent. I can upgrade them through exploring you say? I suppose I COULD get one or two new shouts before dragon hunting… although, the inkeep DOES mention a child performing the Black Sacrament…” Lather, rinse, repeat. Oblivion and Fallout were JUST as bad.

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