6 Memorable Video Game Side Quests
What’s the best part of an open-world game or an expansive RPG? You may love the ability to explore or craft your own story – but what about the little nuggets that developers work into their lively worlds? Side quests may not be crucial to the primary narrative, but they can work wonders to draw our attention away from what really matters.
Whether it’s a unique take on a fetch quest, an intricate story woven from outlying civilizations, or a secret level of pure zaniness, gamers love a good side quest. To honor the best and most memorable video game side quests, we’ve laid a selection out below. Some may be familiar, others may have escaped you completely. All of them are absolutely worth playing.
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Red Dead Redemption – “I Know You”
When you talk about expansive story-driven experiences, it’s hard not to bring up Red Dead Redemption. The western third-person adventure from Rockstar sent players all over the south as John Marston, an ex-outlaw trying to outrun his past. Unfortunately, as they say, the past always catches up, and in this side quest, an unexpected encounter with a strange traveler has Marston reliving his time with the Van der Linde gang.
After completing the “A Tempest Looms” mission, Marston can locate the man between MacFarlane’s Ranch and Armadillo. He’s then given two quests, all revolving around moral quandaries. “I Know You” offers an opportunity for players to get to know themselves better as they’re tasked with confronting a man cheating on his wife and deciding whether to rob a nun or donate to her cause.
The overall side quest has no impact on the main game and sets up an intriguing supernatural twist that, surprisingly, the game never touches on again.
Mass Effect 2 – “A House Divided”
In Mass Effect 2, players have the opportunity to get to know Legion, a collection of more than 1,100 Geth programs compiled into one physical body. The Geth consciousness can become a crucial member of Commander Shepherd’s team and even lends one of the game’s more memorable side missions. “A House Divided” puts Legion in the spotlight after learning that Geth heretics have obtained a means of converting passive Geth into warriors against human life.
Not only is “A House Divided” ripe with firefights, but the mission is a rare look into Geth lore, which is incredibly fascinating. Players guide Shepherd and Legion through a Heretic Station on a quest to stop the modified Reaper virus from spreading, but it’s no easy feat. After navigating Geth-filled hallways, Shepherd and company face several waves of Geth warriors, with each wave getting increasingly more difficult.
“A House Divided” is a must-play side quest for players that want to know more about the Geth, one of Mass Effect’s more interesting races. By completing the mission, you’ll have the option to earn Legion’s loyalty – though it may be at the expense of another’s trust.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – “The Last Wish”
To say that The Witcher 3 is full of extra content players absolutely will want to play through would be an understatement. There are many side quests outlining Geralt’s quest to locate his adopted daughter, Ciri. While most of them flesh out the stories of denizens scattered throughout the Continent, a few touch on the titular character’s own past. One of those is “The Last Wish,” a relatively quick quest that delves a bit into the relationship between Geralt and Yennefer.
The crux of the side quest is to help Yennefer locate and dispatch a djinn. Along the way, Geralt and his potential love interest discuss their history together, dishing out some details on their relationship, past, and a wish that bound them together. The quest itself is fairly straightforward as you follow Yennefer’s lead, kill whatever monstrosities impede your path to the djinn, and ultimately square off against the supernatural fiend.
However, not only are the set pieces of Ard Skellig and the desolate longship perfect for this quest, the emotional connection between Geralt and Yennefer takes center stage at one point. Players are forced to make a potentially damning decision that actually feels important enough to have warranted being part of the main game.
Final Fantasy VII – “Ultimate Weapon”
A mysterious location of great importance, the Northern Cave is where all of Final Fantasy VII’s deadliest monsters lie. Among them are Weapons, the most powerful of them all created initially to defeat the alien lifeform, Jenova. Though not meant to be a threat to humanity, Cloud and company come face-to-face with these behemoths on several occasions – especially if players decide to score Cloud’s Ultimate Weapon.
The aptly named “Ultimate Weapon” is a notable side quest that players painstakingly try to complete on their Final Fantasy VII playthrough. Unfortunately, they’re often met with a crushing defeat as the flying monster is backed by 100,000 HP and a host of devastating attacks. Cloud can square off against the Ultimate Weapon at several locations around the overworld. Defeat Ultimate Weapon, and Cloud will receive Ultima Weapon, his Ultimate Weapon in the game.
If the confusing names aren’t enough to embed this side quest in your brain, the high difficulty level and frequent deaths most certainly will.
Borderlands 2 – “Shoot This Guy in the Face”
Though likely the shortest side quest you’ll ever embark on, “Shoot This Guy in the Face” is equally unforgettable. The Borderlands series is primed for ridiculousness, and it doesn’t get any more ridiculous than a quest revolving around shooting a character in the face.
Face McShooty is a one-and-done character in Borderlands 2 that initiates the “Shoot This Guy in the Face” side quest. When you interact with him, you have one mission – shoot him in the face. There is no way to lose, and the only way to end the quest is to fire a round into his masked face.
Upon completion of this unusual quest, you’ll receive the “Well That Was Easy” trophy/achievement and a hilarious story to tell your friends.
Diablo II – “The Secret Cow Level”
If you’ve played Diablo, chances are you know about the infamous post-game “Secret Cow Level.” By combining the young Wirt’s Leg and a Tome of Town Portal within the Horadric Cube during a second playthrough, players summon a rift that transports them to a region full of murderous cows. The bipedal Hell Bovine swarms the players, just like any monstrosity encountered on the quest to stop the Wanderer.
Diablo II’s “Secret Cow Level” was a developer joke in response to fan rumors of a hidden cow level in the original Diablo. Though just a quirky Easter egg, the cow-infested level became a popular goal for Diablo II players and, for a short spell, the ideal location for players to level up due to the high number of cows and high experience gain. As if the polearm-equipped bovine weren’t bad enough, blended into the horde was the powerful Cow King.
While players loved the cow level, Blizzard opted not to revisit the land of the bovine for Diablo III.
Developers may sink ample time and effort into their game’s main story, but it’s in some side quests where the true treasures lie. When you’re playing expansive adventures, be sure to make time to see what world-building awaits in the optional missions. You never know what memorable thrills have been finely crafted for your entertainment.
So, what are the side quests that you have stuck in your head? Whether it’s because of how ridiculous they were or how insanely hard they were to get through, do let us know down in the comments below!