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Sidequest Sidestory

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In a typical RPG videogame, it's basic practice to stuff a few fetch quests and collectable hunts in to beef up the play time. Some games go the extra mile, and make these sidequests string together to tell the backstories and continuing tales of the NPCs around you. For example, a sidequest could be to fetch a poison sword for someone to help them win an upcoming duel, and a follow-up quest deals with everybody calling that person a cheat for using poison and ostracizing them (real example from Xenoblade Chronicles 1). Done well, this can lead to the feeling of playing within a living, breathing game world.

See also Chain of Deals. Closely related to Match Maker Quest, which focuses entirely on love and NPC coupling.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Assassin's Creed III has this with the Homestead missions from recruiting new people to join as well as helping them deal with their own story arcs. Notable arcs involve Warren and Prudence finally having a child of their own, Norris and Myriam's relationship, Ellen dealing with her abusive husband and Big Dave defecting from the Redcoats.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has one involving the characters Anju and Kafei, and indirectly many other characters in Clock Town; it requires performing numerous actions in an interval that makes use of all three available in-game days. Out of the 20 regular masks that can be earned in the game, four are acquired here, and in turn those four masks are required in other circumstances to obtain additional prizes. To a lesser extent, there's also the string of sidequests involving Romani (where Link has to help her protect the ranch's cows from some alien-like ghosts), Cremia (where she and Link and to safely transport the milk obtained from the saved cows to Clock Town), Toto and Gorman (where Link and the former perform a melody from the Indigo-Go's to make the latter feel better).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has multi-quest story arcs distinguished from regular, standalone side quests by being under the "Side Adventures" tab. Some are centered on individual settlements, like the Hateno Village mayoral election and rebuilding Lurelin Village. Others take you across a good chunk of Hyrule, like the Stable Trotters' missions and Penn's investigations into rumored sightings of Princess Zelda.
  • Batman: Arkham City has several side missions which involve plots by the Riddler, Zsasz, Bane, Deadshot, Hush, and Azrael.

  • World of Warcraft used to overuse this trope to the point that it was almost impossible to distinguish main quests from sidequests. They generally have an area-wide story arc, along with many, many smaller story arcs that you could pick up while you are running about. A lot of leveling guides take advantage of this by making you pick up quests that go in the same area.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has planets that each have their own quest chain that usually revolves around the situation going on there at the time the player arrives. Most if not all of the planets in the game have stories that revolve around the war with the Republic or the Empire and, depending on the faction the player is on, will determine what types of quests you can do there.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has several side stories separate from the main story quest, usually referred to collectively as "Chronicles of a New Era". Most broadly, there's Gentleman Inspector Hildibrand's hijinks, which are almost always hilarious and are there to take the edge off of the main story when it gets too dark (most new Hildibrand chapters are added when the Main Story gets at its most heart rending), other than that, there's getting your Relic weapon, and an arc devoted to whatever the 24 man raid is.

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 is filled with sidequests that involve named NPCs. Completing these sidequests affects relationships between these characters, something shown in the global affinity chart; and there are many that connect with each other, further evolving these relationships. Furthermore, there are some overarching sidequest arcs that progress alongside the main plot, and whose connection between individual quests becomes apparent as they are completed; one of them in particular ending with a rather special Optional Boss.
  • A lot of them in Dragon Age II: Completing a sidequest in one act will make you deal with its consequences in the next or even until the end of the game, such as the Bone Pit quests. Word of God is, this was the whole reasoning behind the three-acts-and-time-skips plot structure.
  • Initially in The Elder Scrolls series, with Arena, this trope was not used. Side quests there are completely random and infinite, existing only to provide the player with extra experience and money. After seeing how much time players spent on the sidequests in Arena, they were given some additional story development in Daggerfall. Every game since has seen the use of this trope grow exponentially. In addition to the game's main quest, there are faction questlines (Fighters' Guild, Mages' Guild, Thieves' Guild, etc.) with their own story arcs (some nearly as expansive as the main quest), as well as standalone sidequests with their own story arcs. Daedric quests are another prime example, growing from, initially, simple quests to kill a specific person or retrieve a specific item, to having full blown stories in their own right.
  • Skies of Arcadia
    • One sidequest has the player act as a go-between to reunite a mother and daughter, helping the daughter acquire the right ingredients to properly make her mother's "Kabal Skewer" recipe. At the end of the quest, they reconcile their differences with her mother agreeing to start visiting her daughter again.
    • The Updated Re-release, Skies of Arcadia: Legends, has the exclusive Piastol / Moonfish sidequest, which runs alongside almost the entire game and requires you to fight Piastol three times, while collecting Moonfish for Maria, who's found on Doc's ship. During which, you learn that she's Piastol's missing sister and eventually reunite them.
  • The Deus Ex series.
    • You can hack computers and read emails on them. A lot of times if you have enough time and patience to do this on every PC you find in the game, you'll notice that a lot of them are tied together in complex stories that don't even have anything to do with the game plot - they're just there because the developers wanted them to be.
    • A more standard example can be seen in Deus Ex: Invisible War with a series of sidequests for rival coffee chains, with the various proprietors trying to get a leg up on their competition through increasingly underhanded and illegal means. Ultimately, the player discovers that both chains are owned by the same parent company, a secret that can result in the (off screen) death of a quest giver if the player chooses to reveal the secret to them.
    • A series of side missions in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided delves into the politics of the Dvali crime family; choices by the player can have dramatic consequences in the syndicate's power structure.
  • Tales of Symphonia features many of these. They'll nearly always give you backstory on party members, like why Zelos is putting up such a happy front, or Yuan's connection to Mithos.
  • Baldur's Gate 2 had a number of different examples of quests that linked to one another separate to the main storyline- each class had their stronghold quests, while any class could do the main quest line for each stronghold.
  • In Wild ARMs 3, a series of sidequests involve investigating UFO sightings. Not only these don't have anything to do with the main plot, it eventually results in the discovery of a separate menace to the whole world: an alien invasion! This quest also finally explains what those bizarre orchid-shaped monsters unique to the Wild Arms series are: aliens!
  • Nearly all sidequests in The Last Remnant have their own backstory and characters. The sidequests cover a wide range os stories that really flesh out the world, and are often necessary to unlock extra characters and boost their stats.
  • A few sidequests in The Witcher do this. Most notably, allowing the Scoia'tael to take the shipment of weapons in Act I results in an NPC being murdered in Act II.
  • All the quests labeled with 'Story' in Dragon Quest IX, which are available through DLC. A lot of backstory is only available through these.
  • Golden Sun hits this up a few times, mostly between the first two games. Opting to save an imprisoned merchant or rescue a man trapped in a land slide has it's own immediate rewards, but then in Golden Sun: The Lost Age many of these people track your party down to give you helpful items for helping them out.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has a developing side story in over 30 missions involving a criminal organization. You start off in apprehending a chicken thief and then snowball it from there to reach the head of the faction himself as he tries to take over Ivalice with his power.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has several of them with varying length, but there are two that play the biggest impact in the game:
    • One side story involves a non-hostile zombie who seems to have retained some human intelligence and is trying to find out what changed her into a monster. As you investigate through a series of missions, you uncover a sordid tale of jealousy and betrayal, and eventually discover the cure that changes her back into Frimelda Lotice, a legendary swordswoman who joins your party.
    • Another side story has you clashing with "Duelhorn", a foreign criminal organisation who is laying groundwork for an invasion into Ivalice. As the story progresses, the four leaders develop in character and eventually turn on each other when it becomes apparent that some are way more malicious than others, and that they are being manipulated from within.
  • Fantasy Life has a main story whose main purpose is Opening the Sandbox as new areas won't become available before the portion of the story that will require the player to travel there. All tutorial quests for the jobs the character can take have a small plot involving the other characters with the same job. When the player gains higher rank in their job, it unlocks new dialogue from colleagues that sometimes calls back to what happened in the tutorial quest and gives them a little development.
  • A number of quest chains in DragonFable are technically optional and mostly irrelevant to the main arc of whichever Book you're playing, but they serve as interesting diversions that explore the lives and pasts of the NPCs you're likely to encounter. Some of them later become instrumental to understanding some of these NPCs, who often go on to have an impact on the main plot, e.g. playing through Alexander's diary to really understand what makes Xan tick the way he does.
  • Monster Hunter: Sequential quests became common from the fourth generation onwards (starting from Monster Hunter 4), thanks to them being more story-minded than previous installments in the series. In 4 and 4 Ultimate, as you play certain single-player quests, you'll learn about optional developments or events related to the quests' clients; however, you won't get to see how their stories go until you raise your Hunter Rank (for high-rank quests) or hunting license (for G Rank ones) so you can unlock the subsequent quests. For example, there's a coward Palico in Cheeko Sands who is afraid of monsters, so he'll ask you to deal with various monsters via quests. His last quest in Low Rank is about hunting a Iodrome and a Gore Magala; when you reach HR 4 (the first tier in High Rank), he'll ask you to deal with a Nerscylla; when you reach HR 5, he'll ask you to take down a Najarala; finally, when you reach HR 7 (nothing happens when you unlock HR 6), he'll reveal that his lack of courage is the result of the death of his human companion due to an Akantor, so his last quest has you slay that monster (which is as powerful as an Elder Dragon). Completing this final quest will give the Palico newborn courage and will make him eligible to be one of your recruited Palicoes.note  This modus operandi also applies for many other quest chains, and a few of them don't even require raising your rank during multiplayer quests, only advancing through single-player quests.

    Simulation Game 
  • In Growing Up, there are non-academic skills that you can learn, and going through their Skill Trees unlocks a side story for each of the adults that guide you in mastering those skills.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • The Mass Effect games have a few examples where sidequests are chained together- Mass Effect has the Cerberus quest line from Admiral Kahoku, while Mass Effect 2 has you tracking back the source of infected mech VIs in order to prevent further outbreaks or the Blue Suns quest line in which you shut down a piracy operation.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series features this. In some cases they are required to achieve 100% Completion. The most prominent example is in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, where Tommy can purchase several assets. Many of these assets unlock sidequests not directly relevant to the main story.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • The Yakuza series has plenty of substories that have follow-up substories, some even getting referenced in sequels. The more extensive minigames, like the ones that involve business management, feature the protagonists facing off against a rival business Quirky Miniboss Squad and forming bonds with their employees.

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