The concept of side content alongside the main story in games has become a staple over the years, but some side quests/missions in certain titles struggle to be worth the trouble. Both useful and useless, side quests in games arguably pad out a title’s content since open worlds have become more popular. The format paves the way for a variety of activities and events, both engaging and tedious.
Open-world RPGs are prime subjects for this, as the likes of The Witcher 3 are celebrated for their depth in variety. Even so, “collect-athon” quests often lead to exercises in tedium, especially when the result isn’t worth the effort. Preston Garvey’s Settlement-focused quests in Fallout 4 have become infamous for this, further showing how useless some side quests can be regardless of the in-game scope of the task.
10 Deathstroke Mission In Arkham Knight
Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham games are some of the best modern superhero games, and Arkham Knight served as a satisfying close to this DCAU-inspired trilogy. It even featured a handful of solid, memorable side quests, but it also had some noticeably dull ones. One such was the Deathstroke mission, which turns to focus on the villain in the post-game.
While, overall, well-received for bringing this iteration of the Dark Knight’s character arc to a finish and featuring an impressive open-world Gotham City, the Batmobile element was the most divisive. This side mission entirely focuses on it, particularly when in the tank mode, which was critiqued as the least Batman-like feature of the game. And once players finally reach the end of it, it reduces Deathstroke – a martial arts expert – to a tank fight.
9 Preston Garvey’s Settlement Quests In Fallout 4
Fallout 4 received a strong critical reception when it was released in 2016, albeit lacking the outright acclaim of Bethesda’s greatest games. It was partly criticized for shedding too much of its role-playing aspects that 3 and New Vegas excelled out, but one of the most viral negative elements of the game was the story surrounding Preston Garvey.
Garvey is among the last survivors of the Commonwealth Minutemen defense militia, which would normally make for a compelling premise for side quest content. However, his settlement defense quest loop proved to be monotonous and mundane. Once embarking on this quest, players can liberate settlements, but the objective never truly ends. From there, the quest will periodically pop up again to demand the player’s assistance, which doesn’t make it worth it.
8 Hush Mission In Arkham Knight
Ironically enough, Arkham Knight features some quality post-campaign content, especially after the series of villains and the side missions they star in that were added in the Season of Infamy DLC. But, like with the Deathstroke side mission, the event revolving around Hush also seemed underwhelming given the drumroll for it. This mission closes the narrative loop started by the small story started in Arkham City.
Titled “Friend in Need,” Batman is prompted to go to Wayne Tower as Alfred is concerned over Lucius Fox’s silence, with the player not needing to do much legwork to find or complete this. After arriving, players discover that Thomas Elliot is impersonating Bruce Wayne, leading to a simple timed quick-time event to subdue him. In the end, players get three upgrade points, which isn’t particularly satisfying given the anti-climactic way this side story finished.
7 Cup Noodle-Themed Quest In Final Fantasy XV
Asking long-time fans which Final Fantasy game is the best will likely yield different results depending on the group. Among them, though, XV was seen as somewhat divisive in terms of plot and gameplay execution, likely due to the game’s lengthy development cycle before release. But one of the most jarringly out-of-place and pointless additions to it was the Cup Noodle-themed side quest.
A major part of it was how it seemed like egregious product placement, down to the tacky dialogue of the characters about the product itself. What’s more, the quest itself is surprisingly lengthy given the odd premise. And while players do get a chunk of EXP for the troubles, it seems like a pointless venture considering the plenty of other side quests available in the open world that prove to be more engaging.
6 Delivering A Delicate Flower In Hollow Knight
Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight earns its status one of the best modern Metroidvanias, lovingly paying homage to what subgenre namesakes Metroid and Castlevania achieved before it while feeling fresh in its own right. It masterfully blends action, platforming, and exploration into a generational experience, but it also features a side mission that’s perhaps too difficult to feel worthwhile.
Admittedly, there’s a touching piece of story and lore behind the Delicate Flower that the Grey Mourner asks the titular protagonist to deliver, but the journey to completing this is brutal. Players have to travel to the depths of the land carrying the flower, but without fast traveling, resting, or taking so much as a single hit. The Knight is given a Mask Shard for this, which does contribute to raising health, but considering players need to collect three at a time before doing so, there are far more reasonable ways to upgrade elsewhere.
Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid franchise makes up some of the most acclaimed stealth games ever developed, with The Phantom Pain taking the stealth-action formula to bold new directions. The game adapted into an open-world setting, letting players outfit Venom Snake as they saw fit to tackle unique covert missions, but the endgame side missions ended up suffering from monotony as well. Namely, this affected how to unlock the story’s true ending.
The game’s task is a collection of side missions, which largely recycles missions players have likely done before. Its only real twist is that the missions are now harder than before, arguably making for a worse final experience than unlocking Arkham Knight‘s true ending by completing all side missions — including Riddler’s trophies. This proposition feels even less worthwhile since The Phantom Pain‘s story famously felt unfinished.
4 Dampe’s Dungeons In The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
The Legend of Zelda franchise proudly stands as a pillar of the gaming industry. The Link’s Awakening remake for the Switch deserves an honorable mention for being among the best Legend of Zelda games but did feature an almost comically pointless side mission. Dampe offers helpful tips on the new dungeon-building feature but also gives Link the arduous task of completing his dungeons.
As far as hardcore fans of the series go, Dampe’s side mission could debatably be seen as a tense test of players’ puzzle-solving and mechanical skills over the game’s features. However, in the long run, it offers a rather paltry reward for the effort that goes into completing them. Link’s rewarded with 300 Rupees, but by then, there will have been far more lucrative ways to earn much more money.
3 Collecting Every Gwent Card In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
When it comes to the genre, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is praised for – among other reasons – for being one of the most substantive RPGs for side quests. Many quests can vary from colorfully whimsical to darkly dramatic, with most doing wonderfully to flesh out the worldbuilding of the Continent, and Geralt of Rivia’s adventures in it. Even so, the popular Gwent minigame leads to one of the game’s most grueling side quests.
As the quest title suggests, “Collect ‘Em All” tasks players with collecting every Gwent card in the game. These can be bought, gained as rewards, etc., but it’s often cited as The Witcher 3‘s hardest side quest. There aren’t any quest markers to indicate where any of the cards are and, considering cards can be lost, can be extremely easy to fail. As popular as Gwent is, the rewards aren’t worth the effort since the minigame isn’t a requirement for any portion of the main game.
2 Collecting King Richard’s Flags In Assassin’s Creed
Ubisoft’s original Assassin’s Creed game was a game-changer for its time, but it’s admittedly also a contender for being among the most poorly-aged games. The game is hard to revisit on a mechanical level, as this generation of games was still working out the open sandbox formula, and its collectibles don’t make things any easier. Specifically, it’s the side mission involving collecting King Richard’s Flags.
Even in the series’ best games, there’s been at least occasionally clunky parkour controls. It can be frustrating as the game doesn’t recognize an input well and results in Altaïr launching himself off a building, and the reward – or arguably lack thereof – makes this feel like a useless exercise. All players get in return is a simple Achievement/Trophy added to their profile, which serves no functional in-game use.
1 Collecting All Korok Seeds In The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
The Legend of Zelda franchise has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to its mainline titles, and Breath of the Wild benefits from having one of the most lively open-worlds in video games. It lives up to its name, making this iteration of Hyrule feel alive through a stunning naturalistic lens, but it doesn’t escape having one pointless side quest. The task in particular involves Hyrule’s Korok Seeds.
In another “collect-athon” akin to the Arkham series’ Riddler trophies, Link can take on the daunting challenge of collecting a staggering 900 Korok Seeds. Admittedly, these items do have a functional use in Breath of the Wild, as they let players upgrade the Hero of Time’s health or stamina bar. However, it’s by no means necessary to collect all of them to finish the story, especially when all Link gets for his time is Hestu’s golden waste as a reward – and it’s as useless as it sounds.