Traveling Thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Side Quests)

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A few disclaimers before we move forward:

  • Traveling Thoughts is a means of putting down my thoughts in a bit-by-bit process that will eventually lead up to a formal review of the overall subject. These posts will be more personal than objective, though one should expect a good amount of both as is my personality of habit.
  • These posts will absolutely contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

If one is familiar at all with open world RPGs, they’re likely familiar with the whole “I would’ve done the main quest faster if I didn’t do all the side quests first” mindset. Breath of the Wild gives every opportunity to incorporate this mindset with plenty of side quests in each area, and outside of general areas. Whether it be important locations, stables, or random characters out and about, Link gets to do things that range from fetch quests to stealth quests to… more fetch quests.

Some of my favorite side quests in this game involve a serious chain of events that require Link to do an assortment of different things, whether serious or not. Unfortunately, most side quests don’t do this, as the essence of the “side” in “side quests” implies that the goal will not be all that difficult to achieve. They will have the player do a single thing.

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I make the joke above that all that’s available for side quests involves fetching things, but in reality it’s a lot more diverse than one Paper Mario. One is tasked with fetching particular items, taking pictures of things, making things through outside means, clearing an area of enemies, and playing the middle man between a nervous dude and a pretty lady. Again, some serious and some not so. The tone isn’t particularly important, though if there’s one thing I would’ve wished for more of, it’s a heavier importance.

Side quests are supposed to be side distractions, sure, but a lot of them are just one-off puzzles that don’t require a lot of effort on the part of the player. On top of this, many don’t provide adequate results. Many reward the player with some quantity of rupees, and if one’s familiar with this game at all, rupees aren’t exactly hard to farm for. I wish side quests has more world-impacting results. For example, one side quest requires Link to clear out horse-riding Bokoblins in an area near a stable. I think it’d be a nice touch to have them never respawn again upon completing the quest—perhaps show this with some lighting details such as brightening up the area or putting a lantern up somewhere. It’s nice and all to have something to do during a game as big as this, I just want it to feel like I did it for a reason other than short-term pleasure.

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Not to look forward to future events while indulging in the current, but shrine-related quests tend to be a lot more intriguing and overall fun than simple side quests. With shrine quests, the set-up is a lot more building, and there’s a lot more mystery and narrative twisting to it that I really enjoy. With side quests, all one can do is see it as a reminder that there are other things to do than shrines and the main quest line.

This was a somewhat shorter piece to what will inevitably be a much longer piece for the next post, which will focus on a lot more content to the game. Though that isn’t to just say side quests are that insignificant to the game; it’s also a sign of how little I make of side quests. Part of me wondered if I should even focus an entire post to them, but I felt they were prevalent enough to make for a quick post, even if I found them pretty bland. Some dialogue from the quest-givers make them a little more cheery (see: Kakariko Village denizens), but it’s an overall non-impressive addition to Breath of the Wild‘s already gargantuan stature.

(All screenshots courtesy of Caticulated.)

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