The side quests better that the main game

There is nothing new if we say that the side quests can sometimes be much better or have the same quality as the main game. Some quests are made to enrich the main lore, the others are just a big punchline. They can make you ask yourself some philosophical questions due to the represented dilemma or make you sad.

Each quest, whether it has themes of betrayal, the pursuit of knowledge, or the struggle against darkness offers players more than just a diversion from the main story; they provide a deeper understanding of the game’s world. We’ll list memorable side quests and talk about what makes them so compelling.

Top side quests in games, the best side quests in gaming

In the Eternal Fire's Shadow
(The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)

Choosing the best side quest in The Witcher 3 is like picking THE most diamond diamond in the pile of diamonds. Meaning, it’s difficult. Also, the developer of The Witcher 3 is CD Projekt Red, which is one of the best gaming studios. But we decided to choose something less mainstream and less known. To our surprise, this quest is rarely mentioned in similar top lists. But it is so damn good, you will never regret completing it. The reward is most unique, as well as the atmosphere – this quest is one of very few horror quests in the game, and the only one that is actually scary. 

Side quest In the Eternal Fire's Shadow in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt game

A young Eternal Fire deacon outside Devil’s Pit in Velen gives you a quest. He wants you to clear out an abandoned mine from when it was used to quarantine scarlet fog victims. The outcome of this quest isn’t affected by your actions in a previous quest, Funeral Pyres. The deacon will give you a key to enter the mine but not much information.

Inside the mine, you’ll find notes from Reinald, who is revealed to be a witcher from the school of the Wolf. A voice guides you, asking for help. You can use a magic lamp on the specific points but the ghosts you’ll see won’t do… anything. They’ll just shrug, breathe heavily and all that. So the info you get comes from actually exploring the mine and reading Reinald’s notes. It is also HIGHLY advised to explore everything, especially if you come under-leveled or use the “Auto-Level” option. If you come unprepared, the final boss will pretty much kick the sh*t out of you. You will explore the mine, where you’ll find clues to its past and face a choice to follow the guiding voice or to search around. Your actions determine whether you’ll get extra items like Reinald’s Philter, which will open different dialogs later on. 

But what makes this quest unique? Quite a few things.

  • Firstly, its atmosphere. We can’t tell much about it… one look is worth more than a thousand words.

  • Secondly, the story. It is compelling and interesting.

The victims of the Scarlet Fog, the most deadly illness in The Witcher universe, were sent here to die. Their combined suffering and strong emotions created… something. This “something” is The Red Miasmal. It is a specter that acts similarly to The Plague Maiden but is way more powerful since the Catriona Plague is the most dangerous disease. The Red Miasmal was looking for a vessel. But regular humans were “burning out” too quickly, turning into abominations. What can be the most suitable vessel for a plague specter? And as you may know, witchers are immune to most diseases. 

If you find the notes and think just a bit you’ll be able to make the fight WAY easier and somewhat save Rainold to talk to him later. After talking you’ll understand that Rainold was trapped in this mine for almost THREE hundred years, waiting for his friend who never came. If you’ve read the notes and fought Miasmal successfully, you can help Rainold’s ghost to go with peace. But before that, he asks you to bring that Eternal Fire deacon. He wants to talk to him because it was his “brothers” who sent Rainold to this mine and locked the door behind him. If you agree, Rainold talks to the deacon and after that, he just…goes away. As a hero who saved the world from something that could’ve killed millions. The deacon is obviously shocked after he understands that the Eternal Fire church is scumbags and did all these horrors. He then creates a hospital in the Devil’s Pit to help people. 

If you decline Rainold, he pretty much says something like “Oh well… fine” and goes away. But when you come outside the deacon won’t believe your stories and still be loyal to the church.

The rewards are many: about 6 Great Glyphs of Yrden, tons of loot, a lot of XP, and most importantly – an ability to craft Forgotten Wolf School gear. Similarly to other gear sets, it offers unique set bonuses and can be upgraded to the Grandmaster level.

A unique atmosphere of the Eternal Fire's Shadow The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt side quest, quest rewards

A Daedra's Best Friend
(The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim)

Classic, but it has to be mentioned. You can start the quest at level 10 when a guard or Lod in Falkreath tells you about a lost dog. You can talk to Lod about a reward and then find the dog, Barbas, outside Falkreath. Barbas, who can actually talk, leads you to a cave called Haemar’s Shame to fight vampires. Inside the cave, you’ll see a shrine to Clavicus Vile, a Daedric prince, who is an actual dog owner. Side note for those who don’t know – there are Daedra and Aedra (the “good” gods and the “bad” ones). 

The Clavicus Vile is like Loki from Norse mythology – a god of tricksters. He isn’t really happy about finding the dog but is willing to take him. He asks you to find the Rueful Axe in Rimrock Burrow – home to a mage and a flame atronach guarding the axe. After retrieving the axe, you must decide whether to kill Barbas and keep the axe or spare him and receive a magical mask from Clavicus Vile. The quest ends once you make your choice and receive your reward.

For those who love quests like “A Daedra’s Best Friend”, check out our list of the best games like Skyrim. It’s great for players looking for new adventures with deep stories and engaging gameplay.

Side quest A Daedra's Best Friend in The Elder Scrolls 5 Skyrim

Tali: Treason
(Mass Effect 2)

A member of Commander Shepard’s crew is accused of treason against the Quarian fleet. The charges claim she sent active geth to the Quarians, which is a serious offense given the long-standing conflict between the two races. Shepard accompanies Tali to her trial aboard the Quarian Flotilla.

The trial quickly reveals that the situation is complex, involving Tali’s late father and his research on the geth. Shepard can choose to defend Tali through evidence gathering, persuasion, or loyalty, impacting Tali’s status with her people and her journey. The quest can conclude with Tali being exonerated, being exiled (unless Shepard intervenes), or with the truth about her father’s actions coming to light, affecting Tali’s standing within the Quarian society.

The quest highlights themes of loyalty, family, and the consequences of past actions, further deepening Tali’s character and her relationship with Shepard and the crew.

Mass Effect stands out in the RPG genre for its engaging story and the way it lets players make choices that truly affect the game. This blend of narrative depth and player decision-making is a key aspect of RPGs.

Side quest Tali Treason in Mass Effect 2

If you are a role-playing game developer, our RPG game design services are a great place to start.

We offer insights into everything needed to build compelling games, from developing characters to creating entire worlds.

A Bright Bouncing Boy
(Red Dead Redemption 2)

RDR 2 is famous for its weird and horror-ish short side quests that are somehow connected to real live historical events. For example, it may remind someone of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

It starts pretty simple: Professor Marko Dragic is found in Saint-Denis, upset and working on a remote-controlled boat to impress investors. The protagonist assists him in demonstrating the boat, navigating through mines, and sinking model battleships in a pond. Despite an impressive demo, the investors are not convinced to fund Dragic, who reacts by destroying the remote control in frustration.

Later, the protagonist visits Dragic’s workshop at night. Dragic, fearing theft, hides and communicates through a microphone. He tasks the protagonist with setting up metal rods outside to harness electricity from a thunderstorm to power his robot. Although the initial attempt fails, adjusting switches on a tower enables the robot to momentarily walk. Dragic is pleased despite the robot’s quick collapse.

Returning after a few days, the protagonist finds Dragic dead in his lab. Far away in The Grizzlies, Dragic’s robot is discovered sitting in the snow, repeatedly saying “Papa”. The player has the option to destroy the robot or leave it alone.

Side quest A Bright Bouncing Boy in Red Dead Redemption 2

The Silver Shroud
(Fallout 4)

While some may find the main story lacking, the game has some good side quests and fun gameplay. In Fallout 4, the Silver Shroud quest is a fun side mission where you become a comic book hero in the post-apocalyptic world. The story starts when you find the Silver Shroud Radio signal, leading you to Kent Connolly in Goodneighbor. Kent is a huge fan of the Silver Shroud, a pre-war vigilante hero, and he wants to bring the hero to life to inspire the people of Goodneighbor.

Your task is to fetch the Silver Shroud costume from Hubris Comics, fighting off feral ghouls along the way. Once you get the costume and some props, Kent asks you to wear it and act as the Silver Shroud to fight crime in Goodneighbor. You’ll listen to the radio for targets, deal with criminals, and eventually face off against Sinjin, a dangerous gang leader threatening the town and Kent. 

Fallout 4 didn’t really impress anyone with the plot, but if you want just fun gameplay without a story then it’s a good game. It doesn’t mean the Fallout series doesn’t have a great plot, and New Vegas is a great example of that. So why is Fallout so good? Is it because of the gameplay, the story, or the design? The topic is too big to discuss in one sentence, the short answer is – it’s because it combines everything.

Side quest The Silver Shroud in Fallout 4

Mightier Than the Sword
(Kingdom Come: Deliverance)

What is the truth about Medieval that most game developers somehow don’t get? Most of the folk can’t write or read. This makes this quest one of the most unique and interesting, despite the fact the game itself is meh.

Henry, like many people of his time, couldn’t read because most commoners, and even some nobles, weren’t taught how. However, learning to read can be very beneficial for him. To learn, Henry finds a local who directs him to the Scribe of Uzhitz, who offers reading lessons for 50 Prague Groschen and explains it will take a few days to learn.

The scribe first tests Henry with a story called The Golden Egg, but the words look mixed up to Henry. The lesson here is that greed is bad. Then, Henry tries to read a Latin phrase, which he can pronounce but doesn’t understand. It means that every book has something valuable to teach, emphasizing that concise speech is powerful.

After these lessons, Henry earns his first reading skill point. Although reading remains challenging at first and texts appear jumbled, as Henry improves, reading becomes clearer. With this skill, Henry can now read books to improve both his skills and his reading ability.

Side quest Mightier Than the Sword in Kingdom Come Deliverance

Something Wicked
(Dragon Age Origins)

Dragon Age: Origins isn’t quite known for side quests. All the sweet stuff is in the Main story. But despite that, it still has a few side quests to offer, and this one shows the game’s essence – the pervasive doom, human cruelty, and the potential for losing loved ones. Origins is a game similar to Valheim: both have their mythology, lore, and aesthetic which you can immediately recognize. 

Ser Otto informs the Warden about an evil lurking in the Alienage, urging them to investigate odd occurrences. They discover alarming signs: a pool of blood, a deceased rabid dog, a wild dog, and a distressed beggar near the orphanage. After examining at least two signs and reporting back, Otto guides the Warden to the eerie, abandoned orphanage, where they confront rabid Mabari dogs and shadowy figures. A battle with a demon ensues, and upon its defeat, they believe the threat is neutralized. However, a stronger demon emerges, tragically killing Otto before being vanquished by the Warden, thereby ending the menace.

Should Ser Otto perish before facing the ultimate demon, the mission updates to indicate failure, yet the Warden can still proceed to eliminate the demon, albeit without the cinematic sequences. To avoid Otto’s premature death, one strategy involves isolating him from the fight by closing a door, allowing the party to safely deploy area-of-effect attacks. Before departing the orphanage, a search in the last room’s chest yields an amulet crucial for the “Hearing Voices” side quest. 

Side quest Something Wicked in Dragon Age Origins

Solaire of Astora quest
(Dark Souls 1)

Quite unexpected, right? The Dark Souls series isn’t about quests, yes. But developers still managed to make a few! But only the most curious of people can complete those without reading guides. As there are no maps, no hints, nothing. One wrong step and the whole quest line fails since DS doesn’t have a traditional Save system – all your actions are saved in real-time, so if you fail – you fail for good.

Unexpected side quest in Dragon Age Origins

Solaire of Astora is a beloved character in Dark Souls, famous for his positive attitude and “Praise the Sun” gesture which became the most popular meme in the community. He’s on a mission to find his own “sun”, symbolizing his search for meaning in the game’s dark world. Solaire helps players in several fights, showing the importance of allies in overcoming challenges. His journey has two possible endings, depending on the player’s actions.

You first meet Solaire near the Undead Parish, where he helps you fight the Bell Gargoyles (god bless whoever made this boss) and the Gaping Dragon. He then assists in Anor Londo against Ornstein and Smough (even more blessings to the creator of these folks) and offers a chance to join the Warrior of Sunlight Covenant at the Sunlight Altar. Solaire can also help in the fight against the Centipede Demon. I have to say that the fighting animation scenes were pretty darn good in this quest.

Later, in Lost Izalith, Solaire’s fate depends on the player’s actions. If the Centipede Demon approached directly, Solaire turned hostile. He got attacked by a Sunlight Maggot – a parasite that attached to his head and drove him mad, making him scream that he finally found his sun. One popular theory suggests that he was looking for these maggots in the first place. However, by taking a shortcut and defeating these maggots, Solaire avoids a tragic end and can help fight Gwyn. This path allows Solaire to fulfill his mission in his world.

Solaire’s strength isn’t from his gear, which is quite ordinary, but from his determination and will. When you get his gear (after killing him or completing his storyline), it will say that this gear is actually trash, that the helmet is basically a bucket with eye holes, and that the strength of Solaire comes from training and will. 

It is somewhat difficult to craft a quest without a traditional RPG system, but kudos to devs here – they did a great job. When you finally understand what is going on, you get shocked by the level of depth and tragedy of this quest.

The Dark Souls is also a great example of a game where you can customize your character and the series continues to have this trait up to Dark Souls 3.

Side quest Solaire of Astora in Dragon Age Origins

Lucatiel of Mirrah quest
(Dark Souls 2)

An unexpected plot twist number two! Dark Souls 2 has the same “quest system” as DS 1, so finding and actually completing quests may be a quest itself. Regarding NPCs in this game, their quests are pretty much the same – you need to find them at specific points in locations, talk to them, and summon them for specific boss fights. If you do all that successfully – you get a reward (usually NPC’s armor and weapon). The same is here, with Lucatiel – another beloved character in the Dark Souls universe. 

Lucatiel came from Mirrah (duh), “the land of knights”, as she calls it. She was a low-born, but despite that, she quickly became a knight, as her skills on the battlefield were unmatched. But shortly after, she found a cursed sign on her body. The sign that shows that she’s an Undead, bearer of the curse, similar to the main character. This basically means that she’s slowly losing her soul and memories, to become an empty shell full of rage and hatred and attack everyone on sight. That’s the destiny that awaits all Undead.

Side quest Lucatiel of Mirrah in Dark Souls 2

Her quest is to find a cure and find her brother, Aslatiel of Mirrah. During 5 encounters you uncover her story. But you also understand that the curse is slowly taking on her. She says that she’s forgetting her brother, herself, and the main character, who became sort of a very close friend. When you see her for the last time, she gives you her armor and sword, to never be seen again. This all may seem like nothing important. But it actually shows the regular people’s fate in Dark Souls 2.

You slowly lose yourself, to become an abomination, aimlessly wandering and attacking everyone who has a soul on sight…