Adventure Games and RPGs. 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.
Convenient questing 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Strangely enough, Dragon Quest 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.
- 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.
- Taken to extremes in EarthBound (1994), where the towns are literally numbered (Onett, Twoson, Threed, Fourside...)
- The Elder Scrolls series plays it differently in different instances. To note:
- 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 real-time minutes, and that is if you don't stop along the way to explore the locations in between.
- Played straight in most early faction quests. They rarely take place very far from the quest giver. Justified for groups like the Fighters Guild, who are generally going to be contracted by locals for their services. As you advance in the ranks, however, quests can be given which will require you to travel quite far.
- 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. A particularly noteworthy example occurs in a quest in Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC where you need to find a Moth Priest, a member of a group with special training that allows them to (relatively) safely read an Elder Scroll. Their order is based out of the Imperial City in Cyrodiil, but as luck has it, one just happens to be doing some traveling in Skyrim.
- Skyrim further plays with this, as while all of the quests take place within Skyrim, they might not necessarily take place within the same local region within the province. Radiant quests, in particular, will pick a random location for the task you're assigned to, and these can potentially send you from one side of the province to the other. Since most radiant quests are associated with factions like the Thieves Guild or Companions, and they are province-wide organizations, they will send you where the work is. Other radiant quests which involve jobs posted by the leaders of a particular hold will instead target a location somewhere in that particular hold. The Jarl of Whiterun won't be sending you to the hold of Riften to clear out any bandits, for example.
- 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.
- The Final Fantasy series make heavy use of this.
- 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.
- 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.
- Final Fantasy XII averts this pretty hard during roughly the middle third of the game. You have to trek across half a dozen map areas to get from Rabanastre to Mt. Bur-Omisace, only to find that your next objective is in Archades, at the opposite end of the map, meaning you have to go back to Rabanastre and trek across another half dozen map areas in the opposite direction. The backtracking is limited by airship travel, but you're still schlepping all over the world map.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Averted 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.
- 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.
- 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 Legend of Zelda:
- Mildly averted 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.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild averts this entirely: you can go anywhere after completing the tutorial area and can complete the four major dungeons in any order (or just go straight to the Final Boss, but you'll miss out on most of the game). The game does push you towards completing the Zora dungeon first, which is the closest one to your starting position, but you aren't forced 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Super Mario RPG. The next Star Piece will be the closest one. The monsters and items are sorted in the same order.
- 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.
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning uses this with the early quests and the main questline. Your character will start out on the far western end of the map, and each quest they pick up will point them toward nearby unexplored regions at different corners of each geographic area of the world map, giving them a reason to go to these areas. Local quests in each area will generally target places in that geographic region, though some quests are more far-ranging or will even send you to optional areas. Each part of the main quest will also gradually lead the player character to the major cities on the world map.