The Daily Goat Show

Video Game Culture, Reviews and Media

Are side quests getting out of hand? Dragon Age, I’m looking at you!

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy side quests and they go a long way in adding to the overall experience of the game itself. However Dragon Age Inquisition got me thinking about them since they are unavoidable in that game. So let’s start off by talking about my experience so far.

I am three missions away from completing the main story and, as far as I’m concerned, the game. I’m the type that once I complete the main quest line in a game and the credits role I’m done. If I wanted to complete certain quests I would have. Dragon Age is no different in that respect. However it forces you to complete side quests to earn “Power Points” to use as currency to “buy” the main quests. I saved up a lot of points and marathoned through some main quests and got wrapped up in the new plot line and could not wait to see what was next! Except I needed to grind out 50 more power points to get the next missions.

I get it, it helps make sure you are at the right level for that mission. As you progress in any RPG you will need to be a higher level to complete the later, harder missions or quests. My issue is that it took me a good two hours to grind it out. What’s two hours when I’ve already played 40? Well to me that’s two hours too much. I was engaged, I was ready to take on the next challenge.

After playing the game for 40 hours I’m ready to see the end of it. I’ve loved the game, it’s been great but I’m ready to complete it and move on to another adventure. So in order for me to not have to do this again I pulled up a walkthrough and saw I need at least 90 more points to unlock the rest of the missions I need for the main plot. So I’m going to spend another few hours grinding out all those points so I can just run the last few missions uninterrupted.

I realize that all my griping is due to how I like to take in and enjoy my games. I don’t need to search every nook and cranny, I don’t need to exhaust every line of dialogue or find every last item. I realize I may miss out on a lot by not doing that but as long as I enjoy MY experience and time with the game then I don’t see the difference. Games are very personal and ten people playing the exact same game will have ten completely different experiences.

I enjoy Dragon Age but I wish the balancing of the missions was different and not reliant on the point system that requires grinding out. I think back to PSX Final Fantasy titles, for example, where if you could make it to an area or boss then you could give it a shot and THEN decide if you needed to grind it out to level up. Technically you can grind out a lot of points and unlock missions and attempt them under-levelled in Inquisition but it still requires grinding, by default, to get the points.

I think at the end of the day it just feels like the system artificially inflates the play time of the game. The side quests themselves are hit and miss. Some I really enjoy, others feel like a waste of time. But I find I almost have to complete most of them to grind out points. I much prefer when side quests are exactly that, a side quest. Something you can do if you want to get deeper into the lore and story of the universe. But collecting scraps of cloth so I can progress just seems more like work than fun.

I’m excited to finish my chores with Inquisition and get back to the game, the main story definitely has me excited to see how it ends and the core gameplay has been good enough to keep me going. I admit that I did put it down for a few days because I was tired of scavenger hunts. But that did allow me to play South Park: Stick of Truth which was a huge breath of fresh air in terms of a short, fun and engaging “RPG Lite”. So in that regard I guess I should say thank you to all that grinding. 🙂

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