Should SWTOR do away with side quests entirely?

Reader Pedge sent me a question about SWTOR on Twitter last night:

You really need to make an article calling for the end of side quests. Star Wars The Old Republic’s massive story XP boost is letting me skip everything but the plot. And it feels great.

I mean, who would have wanted to see Luke Skywalker actually go into town and pickup those power converters??

I feel like it’s a film moving along at a great pace. I just wish they would keep the idea and just have the story line. No more kill these or fetch these. (Although SWTOR does have a “kill so many ” quest system as you go into the area that your doing your story in. But that I don’t mind.”

It’s funny because I was just talking to guildies the other day about how much better the game feels with this 12x story mode versus the old do-every-quest method. For starters, it’s so much easier to track your character’s story when it’s not being broken up by hours of filler. I used to praise the loading screen summaries just because they’d remind me what my character was supposed to be doing.

I’ve long since become an advocate of MMOs having fewer but more involved quests. I think we’re past the days where “hundreds of quests” is a compelling feature bullet point on the back of a box. It’s why I love The Secret World’s dedication to making you focus on only one main quest at a time with more narrative and steps than an average MMO mission.

We know that while BioWare will be turning off 12x this October, the studio has also said that it will be streamlining the 1-60 leveling process somewhat. I’d probably guess that means they’ll keep in the character and world storylines and perhaps the bonus series with increased XP and rewards for those while ditching most of the side quests.

In some cases, it would be a shame to lose those side quests. Lots of voice acting went into them and a few are pretty decent. Not to mention that side quests do offer more opportunity to get to know and influence your companions and rack up those light/dark side points. But for the most part I’d agree that now that SWTOR has grown, it has more than enough meaty story content to hold it up that it doesn’t need the crutch of the side quest any longer.

You can see BioWare’s already leaning in this direction anyway with Yavin, etc., as the side missions are just quick tasks you can pick up that don’t have any spoken dialogue or cutscenes associated. They’re tasks if you want the rewards and to grind out rep, but skippable otherwise.

Join our SWTOR guild!

On a different note, our guild — Nefarious Intent, Imperial side on the Ebon Hawk server — has opened up recruitment and become a sort of unofficial/official Massively OP guild. We’ve had tons of recruits in the past few days, and if you’re looking for a home, the easiest way is to “/cjoin massivelyop” and ask in that channel for a guild invite.

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17 thoughts on “Should SWTOR do away with side quests entirely?

  1. bhagpuss August 20, 2015 / 9:54 am

    Couldn’t really disagree more. I don’t like long, involved quest chains. I much prefer many, short, unlinked discrete quests. It offers far more variety that way and allows the player to set the pace of play much more easily. I’d be more than happy to have no multiple stage quests at all.

    As for focusing on what amounts to one massive storyline, well that’s moving away from anything I’d recognize as an MMO at all. Might be great game but its a different genre.

  2. HarbingerZero August 20, 2015 / 10:51 am

    Condense quests to fewer more involved narratives?! Are you mad?! That would take us back to the golden age of MMO’s?! Who would want to do such a thing?

    Joking aside, I do agree with this article and disagree with bhagpuss – this move would bring questing back in line with the way it should be in MMO’s. Lots of smaller unlinked quests is hard to do and even harder to do well. Project Gorgon is probably the best example I’ve seen, and EVE Online is probably the worst, though SWTOR’s menagerie is a close second.

  3. Tanek August 20, 2015 / 11:00 am

    I do enjoy side quests when they are done well. Almost all of RIFT can be seen as side quests, but each zone has its own story for those quests, so it becomes less of a distraction from the main and more of an enhanced exploration of the world.

    I only tried SWTOR for the first time this past month and almost right away the questing felt too generic. Even when faced with a choice, it was just a stark light/dark without the nuances I’d been hoping for. (Giving medication to the Republic to heal people is dark, but going back on my promise and giving it to the refugees is light? I had no indication that the Republic did not have people in need as well. Where is my option to split the medication or help the two sides work together?)

    When I asked other players about the side questing, the advice I was given was subscribe and skip it. I’ve said this before, but when one of the main selling points for a subscription is the ability to skip most of the questing content, maybe there is something wrong with your content.

  4. ChaosConstant August 20, 2015 / 11:10 am

    I would be ok with expansions going forward having less fluff to them (especially since the side quests Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan were a little light on story anyway), but it would be really sad to see all of the old quests go away. Especially some of the more developed quest lines (who can forget the Black Bisector quests on Coruscant?). Also that doesn’t sound like BioWare; I’m playing through the Mass Effect series right now (I’m a little late I know) and there are tons of side quests. Maybe not as many as your average MMO, but still significant as compared to many other games. I feel like it goes a long way toward making the world feel more alive, and not just populated by the handful of people you meet during the main quest and a bunch of cardboard cutouts.
    I feel like a better solution is to significantly increase the XP handed out for each quest, that way players can choose which ones they want to do. They can pick and choose a few quests per zone that sound fun to them and then move on, or they can do everything if they’re completionists (for diminished returns as they outlevel everything, of course). This would also make leveling alts more fun, since you could choose different quests for each character.

  5. wolfyseyes August 20, 2015 / 11:28 am

    The 12x has only hardened the reality of the fact that the class storylines are where the Star Wars stuff begins and ends. Using your weapon to kill a bunch of people isn’t the point of the narrative, and piling on quest after quest after quest after quest which involve using your weapon to slag everything in your field of vision is just…it’s disjointed. It’s wrong.

    I hope they sell the 12x separately.

  6. C. T. Murphy August 20, 2015 / 11:29 am

    Side quests are almost always terrible. SWTOR shouldn’t even have quests. There should just be story mode and freeplay. Maybe I’d play it for reals then.

  7. Shintar August 20, 2015 / 1:38 pm

    Sidequests = options. I like them.

    They also give you the opportunity to develop your character’s personality. I’ve levelled a couple of characters while skipping most quests, and they always feel quite undefined compared to those who actually did lots of different things on the way.

  8. Tyler F.M. Edwards August 20, 2015 / 2:03 pm

    On principle, I definitely agree that fewer, better quests is the way to go. I don’t know SW:TOR well enough to judge whether a mass pruning is a good idea for that game. I do recall that I loved the class storyline for my agent but hated getting bogged down in the stupid, fiddly kill ten rats quests that didn’t have much to do with anything.

    On the other hand, there were some side storylines that were somewhat interesting and helped to illuminate things for someone like me who doesn’t have a lot of familiarity with the Star Wars universe.

    It’s a tricky proposition.

  9. Vagrant Zero August 20, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    I like the current iteration where I can choose to do them or not. Also I may take you up on that guild offer Syp!

  10. Rowan August 20, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    Like Vagrant Zero, I like that the option is there. Just last night I stepped onto Alderaan on my story-only Jedi Knight. However, it’s my first time on the Republic side, and I realized that I have no idea what is going on around me (other than seeing it from the other side). Quite frankly, it was disorienting. Going through the full planet stuff is cool at least one time, but I appreciate the ability to just run the main quests if I want to, due to 12x XP.

  11. Rowan August 20, 2015 / 4:02 pm

    Oh! @Tanek: Giving the medicine back to the Republic was giving it to the soldiers instead of the refugees, hence why it was the Dark choice. Not that I agree; being a veteran myself, I found it offensive. But one might ask where the Republic version of the Red Cross was, whose absence necessitated the refugees setting themselves up just outside the Fort. Frankly, there’s a lot of evidence in SWTOR that the Republic isn’t any better for “the common being” than the Empire is.

  12. ScytheNoire August 20, 2015 / 4:03 pm

    I recently came back to SWTOR because I was feeling like a game with story and have this Star Wars itch (blame KotFE and Force Awakens hype). I have a goal to play through all the class stories before that October deadline and have been absolutely loving the game at 12x Class Quests.

    At launch, I only made it through one class quest, got one to chapter 3 and another to chapter 2, but the leveling up and the worlds felt like such a slog through the mud. It just wasn’t enjoyable, I wanted the stories.

    There is some value in the other quests, as each planet has an over-arching story, and each planet hub has a story, but upon completing these once, you just didn’t want to do them over and over for each class.

    So really enjoying 12x Class Questing, makes the game really enjoyable. A lot has changed with SWTOR, and it’s a much better game, but it still has some major flaws: too many currencies/tokens, forced group quests, static theme-park. But there is a lot of content for me to explore now, and a lot more coming soon.

  13. Missy August 20, 2015 / 4:29 pm

    Could not agree more. Espesially in swtor. I would level a hell of a lot more if there was only story and no sidequests. I always take to long between the mainquests i forget and fall out of the story.

  14. Dolnor August 21, 2015 / 2:18 am

    I believe in side quests helping give players choices. When a game starts removing choices, then excuses for removing most everything starts creeping in. How would you like a book store only carry the main-stream magazines or award-winning books ONLY….and all those extra subjects that are not mainstream disappear? “They don’t belong here….we cater only to the right/left/middle and everything on the fringe is a waste of ink! >.<"

    Keep the side quests…they add diversion! -)

    TQQdles™

  15. Telwyn August 21, 2015 / 3:43 am

    Having recently levelled a new character the 12x way I think it was fine as a “rush to 55” method so I have an alternative main character for the future, but as a levelling/gameplay experience I felt it lacked immersion. Sure I can follow the class story easily but I felt no connection to the worlds in which my character was developing that story. I actually like the way the class and world stories intertwine in the game. I haven’t levelled enough alts to be bored with the side quests yet and I think in future I’d forgoe the 12x or similar if possible.

  16. Pedge August 21, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    The point I am making in the tweet was just when I am really getting excited to move on to the next story section, I go to a village with 10 quest markers and my heart sinks. And I play Imperial so it’s always some jackass pantaloons wearing trimmed mustached imperial going “Over here boy, I have a task for you…” If he only knew how easy it would be to kill him without a blink. It breaks the inertia of the story. Maybe 1 or 2 Heroic quests per zone with a good story would be OK, like the “Man with the Steel Voice”. But as it stands in normal play after doing so many side quests I head to bed and then have to refresh where the story was going.

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