Sidequestless

My early-level experience in FF14 has not been as painful as it felt previously. There are all manner of reasons why this might be the case – psychological, emotional, a more fun class, etc – but I suspect that a large part of it has to do with the increase in Main Story Quest (MSQ) XP. Which is weird, because I’m pretty sure that was already active the first time I played.

The difference is that I’m actually taking advantage of it.

I’m sure this will change down the road, but essentially I am skipping everything but the MSQ quests and still hitting the necessary milestones to continue adventuring. It feels a bit off to stroll into a new town filled with exclamation marks and roll out with just one quest on the log, but it also feels… liberating? “Oh, you want me to kill 6 whatevers on the ass end of the Earth? No thanks.” At my level (which has jumped up to 15 now), those sidequests reward around 1100 XP whereas the MSQ will dump 6500 XP on your head for walking 10 feet and talking with another NPC. Plus, the story feels a lot more coherent without all the narrative breaks.

The downside is… well, not experiencing any sidequests. Which I am both happy and sad about.

Sidequests are an interesting game design mechanic. Pretty much every RPG has them, and they are almost entirely used as pacing. Filler, in other words. Of course, if you actually find the combat/exploration/etc in the RPG engaging, then sidequests are actual, legit content. Plus, if the designers go the extra mile, sidequests might become more interesting than the actual storyline. A good example of that would be the Mass Effect or Witcher series, wherein the supporting characters and their interaction with the main character is most of the appeal.

In MMOs, sidequests are almost always chores to be completed. “Kill 10 whatevers.” “Talk to these NPCs.” “Go here and click on the shiny thing.” Some are more memorable than others, some engage in world-building, others sew the seeds of interaction with new story characters. But the vast majority are pointless busywork. And that’s the rub, right? Skipping the busywork means skipping the few gems out there.

Of the FF14 sidequests I did before focusing exclusively on the MSQ, 99% of them were filler. At the same time, I would have been sad to miss the ole “cold as a dead whore’s crotch” exchange:

The above is why I typically complete all the sidequests in MMOs: for those brief slices of amusement, in the middle of so much bland white bread.

Alas, I no longer have eight hours of uninterrupted gaming time a day, so decisions have to be made. And that decision is to largely skip sidequests. I have long heard that SW:TOR has made a similar move regarding deprecating sidequests to streamline their “fourth pillar,” and I wonder if there has been a similar loss in incidental storytelling. It is not even as though they can keep the “good ones,” because sometimes it’s the weird throwaway sidequests that end up being the best.

I’m not sure there is a real solution here. I suppose FF14 deserves some credit for at least having the possibility of people clearing these sidequests later, via leveling up other classes (which changes your level back to 1). Although with all the XP bonuses and such you get now, I’m not sure if that’s enough.

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Posted on May 11, 2017, in FFXIV and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Even for alt classes, side quests are probably not a very efficient way to level. Pretty much the only reason to bother with them is the “story”, such as it is. Very, very few side quests in FFXIV are more than just “kill 10 X” or “find 15 moogles, then do it again”.

    There are some side quests that unlock stuff, so they should be done at some point, but the good news is that they are clearly marked with a + sign next to the quest icon, so you don’t have to guess or use external resources to find them.

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  2. As you mentioned, the alt class mechanic makes it easy to go back and do side quests at the right level if you choose to do so. And you can jump around if your character has multiple classes at multiple levels, and if you ever hit a level range where you don’t feel like doing side quests but want to progress that class, just do the dozen or so other things you can do for XP in the game until you get past that point.

    I think that flexibility, all under one character, is one of the biggest strengths of FFXIV.

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    • This is very true. In other themepark MMOs, deprecated side quests are well and truly lost for the vast majority of players. It is at least feasible in FF14 for someone to pick them up later on.

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