Herding Missions are a type of Fetch Quest in video games where the objective is to locate a group of animals and corral them into a pen or other contained area, either all in one group or one-by-one. The quest is always given by the caretaker of the animals, generally a farmer or shepherd figure.
The quests usually take place in a fairly large, open area — such as a Hub World or a stage with multiple connected sub-areas — to give the animals lots of places to hide. Occasionally, once you find all the animals you were originally charged with locating, you will immediately be asked to find a few more. In some missions, you don't have any way to directly control them, so you have to goad them in the desired direction repeatedly. In others, you can pick them up and carry them, but this encumbers you — and when obstacles force you to set the animals down temporarily, they'll attempt to run away from you.
In contrast to Escort Missions, where your charge must be protected from injury or damage at all costs, the animals in Herding Missions are usually immune to damage, and often require the player to attack them in order to launch them into the pen, which is where a lot of the challenge can come from: not only finding them but being careful not to overshoot and fling them over a cliff.
Video Game Examples:
- Eastward: In Chapter 2, John is requested to herd several blimpigs into their pen after they got spooked and broken the fence.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: At Kakariko Village during the daytime, there's a sidequest where Link has to return seven loose Cuccos back to their pen. Upon completing this, the Cucco Lady will reward Link with an empty bottle. Leaving the village will reset the sidequest, but repeating it will net Link a Purple Rupee.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap: In what is probably the most elaborate version in the series, Link has to help Anju gather up her Cuccos scattered across Hyrule Town within a time limit a total of ten times. It isn't even possible to complete the higher levels without some later game equipment.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has a Goat Herding mini-game available at Ordon Ranch where Link must corral goats into a barn. It must be completed twice in the campaign but can be played multiple times after that. Completing it once after the required times gets you a Piece of Heart.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The "Flown the Coop" sidequest tasks Link with returning seven escaped Cuccos back to their pen.
- Red Dead Redemption: The fifth mission, "Women and Cattle", requires Marston to herd a group of cattle out of a pen and out to pasture. Herding cattle shows up in a few other missions as well.
- Red Dead Redemption II: In the mission "The Sheep and The Goats", John Marston and Arthur Morgan rustle a flock of sheep from Emerald Ranch and must herd them to the animal market in Valentine without letting the sheep injure themselves or wander away from the flock.
- Mario Party:
- Mario Party 6: The minigame Boonanza has two dueling characters lure several small Pink Boos into designated grassy corrals. Though the corrals remain open, the Pink Boss taken there won't escape, so the job isn't as complicated as it sounds. After 20 seconds, or if no Pink Boos remain in the central area, whoever has the most in their corral wins. If both players have the same amount, the minigame ends in a tie.
- Mario Party 7: Landing on a certain Event Space in Windmillville gives you the task to herd a group of sheep from their corral to the stable at the left. If the player manages to herd all of them in 10 seconds, they'll win a lot of coins.
- Donkey Kong 64: The Bonus Game "Beaver Bother" involves taking control of a Klaptrap to snap at beavers and frighten enough of them into a hole in the center of the room before time runs out.
- Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy: A townsperson in Sandover Village tasks you with herding his goats back into their pen in exchange for a Power Cell.
- Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!: The "Zephyr" stage features an NPC Land Blubber named "Bo Peep", whose "Cowleks" (small cow-like creatures) have gone missing. She asks Spyro to find them and return them to their pen and will reward Spyro with two orbs once he is finished.
- Super Mario Odyssey: In the Sand, Wooded, and Mushroom Kingdoms, there are a Tostarenan, a Steam Gardener, and a Toad whose sheep have wandered away from them. Mario can find them and return them to their owners for Power Moons.
- Age of Empires II: The first mission of the Genghis Khan campaign involves a number of different steppe tribes asking favors of Temüjin's band of warriors in exchange for pledges of service. One of these tribes asks Temüjin to gather 20 sheep into a flock for them. It could be a real pain to complete (as some sheep had managed to get themselves into hard-to-reach areas, and the sheep could be killed both by hostile tribesmen and by wild wolves), but not as much of a pain as some of the other quests in that mission (since the sheep were easy to find).
- Empire Earth II has a level where a Maasai tribe is moving its herds to different grazing grounds. The cows follow the workers, so the main danger is not them wandering around but armed conflict (at 20 Minutes into the Future levels of technology) with another tribe.
- Warcraft III: Averted in the very first Undead mission: Your goal is to find all the acolytes hiding as villagers, but not only are they a different color than normal villagers, they teleport away once you reach them.
- Late in Breath of Fire IV, you have to chase a large number of chickens into a pen. There's a brown chicken among the flock, and it's both the Golden Snitch of the minigame as well as the objective overall to advance the plot.
- Etrian Odyssey IV: There's a sidequest of this type taking place the Mini-Dungeon Golden Deer Keep. The player's character party is asked to lure a F.O.E., the eponymous Golden Deer, into a special jail installed by some guards from Tharsis at the entrance. The Golden Deer spends its time galloping around a pit bordered by small fences, but as soon as it sees the party it'll begin chasing them. The biggest caveat here is that the Deer is fast enough to gallop two tiles per turn while the party can only move one, so it's recommended to first explore the area in full to draw it in the map and devise a route to draw the monster's attention without getting caught. The reason is because, if the Deer catches the party, a battle will begin and the party will the need to attempt to flee from it, as defeating the monster will kill it and force the party to wait until it revives. Once the Deer is lured into the entrance where the jail is, it'll get trapped there and the mission will be a success.
- Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has a mission in Twinsy Tropics Dungeon called Lost Toad Corral. Scared Toads run away from Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario on sight. Mario has to clear an exit path and break the rocks that the Toads are sometimes hiding behind, then chase them all to the exit platform.
- Mount & Blade: Some quests can involve transporting a herd of cattle with your army for various reason; villagers elders might want you to bring them new animals to restock a depleted herd, guild masters might ask you to transport a herd to another town to sell, and war marshals might ask for cattle to slaughter to restock their army's rations.
- Pokémon Gold and Silver: In the Ilex Forest, you have to corner a charcoal maker's two Farfetch'd by some trees.
- Pokémon Sword and Shield: The first Gym Leader, Milo, challenges the player to wrangle some Wooloo into pens, hampered slightly by obstacles and low-level Pokémon blocking your path. Completing Milo's challenge lets you fight him for real.
- Black & White: One quest on the first Island requires you to locate 10 sheep that have wandered away from their shepherd and return them to him. Downplayed in that your character is a god, so the act of carrying them to the shepherd is rather trivial, and the real difficulty is in locating them all.
- MySims Kingdom: Most islands have some form of herding minigame. One of the first quests the player has in the game is herding pigs.
- Club Penguin: The Pet Shop minigame "Puffle Roundup" had the player guide puffles, the choice fluffy pets of penguins, into a pen. Different color puffles have different speeds, and it's possible to accidentally herd them outside the area.
- Adobe Flash game Hanna In A Choppa has one level titled "Like Herding Cats, Erm, But With Sheep." The player must find the sheep wandering the area and use the winch to drop them into their pen, unlocking the goal flag.
- One of the site's mini-games, "Ultimate Herder", has the player character as a shepherd herding several Petpets (pets for Neopets) and trying to get all of them into a pen located in the middle of the level, while Balthazar the Petpet Eater tries to swallow as many of the Petpets before the player character can save them. Lose too many Petpets and it's Game Over.
- Another game, "Whirlpool", has you move whirlpools around to guide some Petpets into an enclosure to protect them.
- The game "Feed Florg" is a slight variant of this in that its premise is a twisted variation on the usual "keep them safe" one. You control a robotic hand that can circle around a table to prevent fleeing Petpets from falling off it so that Florg can eat them. Florg will randomly eat one every ten or so seconds, and a new one appears at random intervals. If five fall off the table, it's Game Over.
- In Poptropica, on Wild West Island, you get to ride your horse around a top-down map. One citizen needs you to help herd their lost cow, and you have to follow the footprints, use a lasso to grab the cow, and then bring it back to the pen. Herding more cows will get you an optional bonus item.