There’s nothing better in an open-world game than a setting that truly feels alive. You could swear that the location of the game is a living, breathing place where people go about their lives even when you turn the Xbox console off. Yet, this is a difficult thing for games’ designers to achieve, and only, very rarely, does it happen.
One way for the designers to capture this feeling though, is by installing lots of side-quests into the game. It’s great if a world feels fleshed out by non-playable characters, who have their own problems in the world that you, a true protagonist, can solve. Not all side-quests are created equally though, and there have been some truly awful ones that seemed designed to do nothing but frustrate the player. However, having to play through the many rubbish ones that there have been littered throughout video game history, does make you all the more appreciative when a great one comes along.
Here, then, is a quick look at some of the greatest side-quests that have appeared in open-world games on Xbox consoles.
The Epsilon Program – GTA 5
If there’s one games company that knows how to do open-world games, then that company is Rockstar. They’ve mastered the formula since the original Grand Theft Auto was released way back in 1997. One of the best examples of their mastery is GTA 5, which was first released for the Xbox 360 in 2013. The city of Los Santos (which is a satire of Los Angeles) is filled to the brim with freaks and strangers, that will relay your character with mad activities to undertake.
The pick of the bunch is when you play as Michael, and fill out a quick survey online and then a question mark appears on the map. Go there and you will soon find yourself being dragged head-first into a crazed cult. Worry not though, because if you complete all the hilarious missions you get an opportunity for a massive pay-day at the end. It’s fantastical fun like this that makes us so excited for future Rockstar games, with Grand Theft Auto 6 reveals planned soon.
The Father’s Burden – Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 was released by Ubisoft on Xbox 360 in 2012, and next November it will (somehow) be a decade old. The beloved first-person shooter was truly ahead of its time though, as the islands where the narrative takes place, are truly teeming with life. There are numerous wild animals that hunt you down and try to make you their next meal, as well as a whole legion of human allies and enemies living on the land. As the game develops, and you try to take down the tyrannical madman and pirate overlord Vaas Montenegro, you will befriend numerous people, who will aid your adventure.
One of these is a shady man stood beside a hut in Thurston Town, where if you talk to him you will begin a treasure hunt, called The Father’s Burden, for his belongings that were robbed from him. It’s an exciting side-quest that sends you all across the islands, gathering items using your learnt combat and stealth skills, but the best part of the journey is when you have to play a high-stakes poker game, in a smoke-filled room that oozes with atmosphere. The only way to complete the quest is to win the pot, and get the three unscrupulous looking gentlemen to bust out. It’s a tricky task to complete, and takes some real poker expertise, but when you do manage it, it is oh so satisfying.
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The Secret of Cabot House – Fallout 4
It might seem like a post-apocalyptic world would be a barren and glib setting for a full and animated world, but hats off to game developers, Bethesda, as their magnum opus Fallout 4 is a work of art of the open-world genre. It was released on Xbox One in 2015 and garnered sweeping critical acclaim.
One of the most interesting side-quests in the game is when you chance across a Ghoul named Edward Deegan in one of the bars. He’ll give you details about a man named Jack Cabot, and suddenly, a marker for the Cabot house will appear on your map. It’s fascinating seeing the house, as the patrons inside seem to be living in a state of luxury, that you will never see anywhere else in the game.
If you talk to Jack Cabot, you will kickstart a series of events that will get to the bottom of why the war seems to have skipped their house. It is a mesmerising piece of storytelling, which highlights why Fallout games are so brilliant to play. That’s why we’re so excited that a new Fallout game may have just been accidentally leaked.