Just Cause 4 is almost upon us, and whilst we are all incredibly excited for the pure carnage, let’s face it; not one of us is playing Just Cause for the story at this point… But what other games do we absolutely love and just ignore the main quest-line, because frankly we just couldn’t care less?
There is only one answer for this. My favourite game for a long time, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This game was held so high for me because if you wanted to ignore the story (Which is a good thing to do) then it’s fine – There is more than enough within the game to enable an awesome gameplay experience without any of the other story lines. Want to be a commander in a civil war? Want to be a thief and make lots of money? Want to just buy a plot of land and build a house? It’s all there, and more with the inclusion of mods. The PC community of modders is incredible, with massive storylines and worlds that haven’t been seen before. This is the only correct answer and everyone else in Respawning is wrong (Sorry guys). This game is a masterpiece. Just make sure that you don’t kill the chicken…
It’s very rare I ignore a games story; I’m such a story-driven gamer. There are a few games however that make this list for me – The Saint’s Row games, GTA V, Final fantasy XV, TLOZ: Breath of the Wmeild… But the winning entry for has to be Fable II, I mean… Was there even a story?! I love Fable – I love the freedom, you wanna have wives in every town? You can do that! Wanna be gay? Sure no problem. Sex with prostitutes… All fine but make sure you wear a condom or you may get an STI. Money earning is fun too, you can be a blacksmith or an assassin or a bounty hunter, even a bartender, from the mundane to the extraordinary there aren’t too many limits. One of my favourite mechanics though, is character morphing; eat too much and become fat, practise Magick (Will) and get beautiful blue will lines on your body. If you’re bad you start to look horrifying, and if you’re good you may even earn a halo! I love it!
Like Ben, I too tend to leave the main quests in the Elder Scrolls franchise a little later than usual – I do this in the Fallout franchise too, but perhaps no where more excessively so that Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4. It’s interesting how it can feel different for both games though.
See, with Fallout: New Vegas, there’s the excuse of your pursuit of Benny and the plot itself taking a while. That game allows you to take your time with the Mojave, so you don’t feel pressured to rush through things – you explore, you learn, and the plot will wait for you in its own time. It feels very natural and immersive, which is great. In regards to Fallout 4, though, I’ll be honest: It’s not so much as the plot giving me time to do my own thing so much as me not really giving a shit about the search for Shauuuuuuuun and the narrative Bethesda tries to ram down your throat. It’s poorly handled, and pretty uninteresting – they did this with Fallout 3 and James too. You can’t make us feel really connected to blink-and-you’ll-miss-them characters like that.
It’s confusing, really – In the Elder Scrolls, leaving things for a bit feels ok. There’s some pressure, sure, but then there’s natural downtime where it feels like things can wait a bit. Bethesda’s Fallouts just don’t have that. They written in such a way that it doesn’t make sense to ignore the main plot – Your character absolutely wouldn’t. Maybe they expect you to tackle the side stuff after or something, but who would ever play like that..? The Fallout franchise – yes, even the East Coast setting – does have a lot of interesting stuff to it, though. The worlds feel desolate yet alive, dangerous, and it’s worth taking time and talking to people, exploring, and tackling side quests… Even if it makes you feel like a crappy offspring / parent to do so.
I’m a massive fan of RPGs, Sci-Fi, and Sci-Fi RPGs, especially ones with strong characters – It comes as no surprise, then, that I’m a big fan of Mass Effect 2!
It’s not a game where you can avoid the main quest forever, mind you – this is a linear RPG after all – but there are all variety of optional side-quests… And these aren’t mere time-wasters, but optional extra parts of the main plot which weave back into the narrative and effect the ending you receive. Even on playthrough 1, you’d best bet I completed every single one before heading to the final showdown.
…And you know what? I still got a bad ending!