is a convention of Adventure Games
. Your next destination will be the closest area that you haven't been able to get to before.
This trope makes sense: it is counterproductive to send players through areas with high level monsters. Similarly, putting the Sword of Plot Advancement
or Infinity Minus
/Plus One Sword
in the town next door kills the game. Long travel times are dull, and they may require creating landscapes that aren't used for anything else in the game. Convenient Questing avoids this and is economical
with design time.
Some games will justify this via the plot. For example a chase for someone who you have always just missed when you reach the next town.
can also be a way to ensure that the player gets all the required plot exposition. In Tabletop RPGs
it can herd players
through areas with no monsters or treasure but packed full of history and epic folk poems.
Accessing the next area may require you to Get on the Boat
or fix the Broken Bridge
. A softer version is the Beef Gate
See also: Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness
, Sorting Algorithm of Evil
, and Law of Cartographical Elegance
- The Final Fantasy series make heavy use of this.
- Final Fantasy XI, however, has a particular aversion: Level 20 characters wanting to continue questing in Jueno can't get there without traveling through several higher-level zones. You could take a Chocobo to avoid the encounters but you need a license to do so.. which you can only get in Jueno.
- Strangely enough, Dragon Quest I averts this trope: you can go anywhere in the world as soon as the game starts, and there are few if any hints on what to do available to you. A newbie can wander all the way to Kol (a level 7-10 area) at level 2.
- Also somewhat averted in Final Fantasy II - though you are always given an idea of where to go next, it is entirely possible to stray from that path and accidentally find yourself in a midst of a group of monsters that will wipe your entire party before you have a chance to flee.
- The Elder Scrolls series plays it differently in different instances.
- Averted when it comes to specific quests. Any given quest can occur on the other side of the game world as easily as it can occur in the same area. For example, the very first mission of the main quest in Morrowind sends the character two towns over on a journey that can take upwards of twenty minutes, and that is if you don't stop along the way to explore the locations in between.
- Played straight in general, when you consider that absolutely anything you may need to do or find as part of the story will be located within the province the game takes place in.
- Subverted by the MMORPG City of Heroes — in many cases low-level zones are directly adjacent and connected to much higher-level zones; likewise, both train lines allow characters to go almost anywhere regardless of whether they can survive there. Characters who don't pay attention to where they're going can easily wander into an area where they are instant dead meat. Worse, the hospitals where heroes revive in some zones are located far away from both train stations and zone exits, effectively trapping low-level characters unless they can get help to leave. They've gotten better about it, but in the game's early years it was annoyingly common to get a mission that was in an area where the door was guarded by enemies 4 or more levels higher than you.
- City of Villains keeps missions in the same zone as the contact who gives them most of the time. Hospitals are also located in areas that are fairly safe as well, often close to exits to adjacent lower level zones.
- The Fallout series averts this one, though the echoes of the trope still linger. You start off being tasked with the major quest (Find replacement water chips, find a GECK) and nearly no clue where to head, and finding clues as to where to go is all up to the player. There is a trail of breadcrumbs leading between each area before finally reaching the end, but the player is by no means required to follow it.
- Fallout 2 Puts the oil derrick that is the final area of the game far away from the only coastal city in the game, in a place likely to be the last location you find.
- Fallout 3 has the setting of the final mission (without the Broken Steel DLC installed) just kinda sitting there, looking inconspicuous. It's possible you'll wander in there, kill all the enemies, loot anything useful, then leave without realizing that you just made a later mission easier by doing so.
- Drakengard follows this pretty much, except the Island Seal is nowhere near the Forest or Desert Seals. The game avoids the need to go there by having it conveniently disappear during the course of the plot after the Desert Seal. Still, you can go back during Arioch's character-specific sidestory, if you want to.
- Planescape: Torment follows this trope for about the first half of the game.
- Mostly played straight in World of Warcraft, but mid-to-high-level questing might require you to travel through several zones, and some high level zones are dangerously close to newbie zones. For example, the Plaguelands border on both the Undead and Blood Elf starting zones, and nothing keeps you from entering the zone... although you won't get far. note Subverted in the case of Badlands. Horde players have two routes to the zone. One involves going through a narrow mountain path guarded by opposite faction NPCs. Attack one and every opposite faction player knows where you are. After that you need to go around an enemy city and avoid invisible cheetahs to reach a friendly outpost. The other route is worse. note
- Several of the aversions have been fixed over the years. Horde warlocks no longer have to journey through a level 40 zone at level 20 to quest for their succubus minion. Night Elf characters once had to go through a level 30 zone if they wanted to visit the other capital cities. Now the boat goes right there. On one PVP server - where player-killing between factions is automatically on and can't be disabled in contested zones - an enterprising PVP nut called Angwe camped the port and enjoyed ganking lowbies (read: killing players many levels lower than himself). The responses to his antics were lovingly detailed on a website when Angwe then made an Alliance character on the same server to listen to the howls of rage. This was all totally within the game's rules, though.
- Since Cataclysm redid and streamlined the entire old world, the questing is now very linear and following the entire zone-wide chain will make sure you go to every inch of an area, and each surrounding zone (with the sole exception of the plaguelands) is now built to be able to enter and quest as soon as you finish the current area..
- The new zones in Cataclysm themselves kind of present an aversion, being spread all over the two main continents (and one in the middle, and one in another dimension entirely), especially since every other expansion has introduced a new, smaller area that did this. However, both of the Capitals have portals to these zones for easy travel that generally only require you to complete the introductory questline to the zone (which often teleported you there as well).
- Taken to extremes in Puzzle Quest, where areas on the map only open up after you take a quest located there (or you need to pass there to get to the quest-location). There are also temporary locations that eventually disappear from the map again after you completed the quest.
- Also taken to extremes in EarthBound, where the towns are literally numbered (Onett, Twoson, Threed...)
- Subverted in Hellgate: London where the NPC's would ask the player to enter areas far too dangerous without level grinding first and send you off to play in areas where nothing would be a challenge. Mind, the less said about the game, the better.
- Subverted in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The plot drops you off in enemy territory and you have to bike like heck to get back home before being filled full of holes.
- Super Mario RPG. The next Star Piece will be the closest one. The monsters and items are sorted in the same order.
- The Legend of Zelda mildly averts this in most games. The dungeons typically won't be in order from the closest to your starting point, but scattered around the game world. Often, you must return to an area you've already visited to reach the once-inaccessible dungeon.
- Played very straight in Wizard101, where you're simply not allowed to enter an area you don't have a quest in, and will be allowed to only when sent there with one pending — whereupon you'll get an official letter telling the guard at the gate that you have to be let through because of it.
- The first Baldur's Gate game featured a lot of pointless trekking across mostly empty maps, although you didn't have to cross the same map more than once. The second game did away with the empty maps but as a result the map felt less like a contiguous area to explore and more like a selection of randomly scattered questing locations.
- Averted in Kingdom of Loathing: most quests open up more areas to explore (or require you to find them yourself), but where they open has no bearing to your previous location. This might not apply, however, since there's practically no travel time between even the extremes of the map, beyond simply loading the appropriate page.
- The Gothic series averts this. Dangerous enemies who can one-shot a low-level character are just as likely to be present 30 seconds from the starting area as they are on the other side of the world.
- The first Golden Sun does this, and uses the justification of chasing someone across the gameworld; any detours or sidetracks you go through are specifically because the baddies are trying to sabotage you. The Lost Age plays it straight in the early sections... before Opening the Sandbox when you get the Cool Boat.
- More plot-related than anything; in Puyo Puyo Fever 2, the Big Bad has three "artifacts" ; a bookmark, a "moon rock" AKA three day moisturizing cream, and a lamp that could negate magic(apparently) that are used to fuel his transformed state. Enter the three heroes, looking for those exact three items, and thus avert a disaster that would've happened if they didn't need those items.
- Final Fantasy XIV starts out limiting the players to the areas around their starting city, but starting around level 15 the main story sends you all over the place. It narrows its focus once again in the Heavensward expansion however, with all the new zones in the same general area.