The weirdest side quests in open world games

Why would anyone ever want you to do these things?

The arrival of Warhorse Studios’ Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and its relentless pursuit of medieval romance (okay, sex) has reminded us of curious behavior throughout popular open-world adventures in days gone by. Join us as we cautiously revisit those times when we just went along for the ride. WARNING: bizarre like you wouldn’t believe antics ahead.

Fallout 4: Kid in a Fridge

Hard to sneak this behind a spoiler alert when the title says it all – or the part that piques curiosity. So, there’s this kid inside a fridge south of University Point, east of Jamaica Plain. What’s unusual about this kid, Billy, is that he has been locked in there since the Great War, meaning impersonating a midnight snack for 200 years. As a consequence Billy has become a ghoul, but his one and only request is to return home and find his family. This is a dilemma for the Soul Survivor, since the easiest choice is to exchange the ghoul for caps. Helping Billy leads to a dangerous journey, though the emotional pay-off is well worth the risk. There are numerous ways to resolve this quest, which highlights the tremendous depth in Fallout 4.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: spooky toilet hand

© Nintendo

Once Link is in possession of the harp, an unusual turn of events becomes available, starting from a conversation with Dovos at the Skyloft Bazaar. Apparently people are hearing a girl sobbing at night in the Knight Academy. Henya in the kitchen informs Link that the sounds are heard coming from the restrooms, and sure enough a midnight visit results in Link being asked to hand over paper to a mysterious student who refuses to open the door otherwise. During the daytime, a guy called Cawlin asks Link to deliver a love letter to his sweetheart Karane. However, if Link takes this to the restroom, the entity opens the door, and upon approaching the lavatory a pale hand emerges. If you give Cawlin’s letter to the hand, the poor guy suffers nightmares, visited by the hand that strokes him while he sleeps at night.

Dragon Age: Inquisition: ‘The Lord of the Pies’

© BioWare

There are two oddball encounters in Dragon Age: Inquisition worth recounting. First, there is the reward for hopping up and down repeatedly on a tiny rock formation in the Emerald Graves, a trick that bestows a quest to collect 10 flowers called Crystal Grace. By returning these to the rocks, players receive Influence and – allegedly – a chest containing rare items appears elsewhere on the map. Better, though, is a series of hidden locations across Skyhold that the artists at BioWare left players to find. The first requires slipping through a point in the map, usually a glitch but in this case revealing an odd, pastry-like NPC sporting a top hat. BioWare environment artist Graham Kelly named ‘him’ Lord of the Pies.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories: In the Air Tonight

© Rockstar Games

World-renowned muso Phil Collins makes a surprise appearance in GTA: Vice City Stories. That Collins agreed to associate with controversy-courting GTA was one thing, but the final quest for serial sex-changer, and avant-garde movie director, Reni Wassulmaier, was odd even by Rockstar Games standards. A fearful Wassulmaier alerts our hero Victor Vance to an assassination attempt on Collins, already unfolding during a concert at the Hyman Memorial Stadium. While Victor fist-fights Forelli's hitmen, Collins and his band perform the hit single In the Air Tonight in full. Collins gamely acts the part of a celeb being royally messed about.

Far Cry 3: Kick the Hornet’s Nest

© Crytek

The 13th mission in Far Cry 3 sends Jason Brody on the trail of a man in white, whom Brody earlier presumed he had imagined. During this mission, Brody is tasked with burning all the remaining drug crops, taking a flame thrower to fields of marijuana. The event is not entirely unusual given the game’s greater context, but it has become famous owing to the relentless grind of ‘Make It Bun Dem’ by DJ/songwriter Skrillex, looped in a hallucinatory manner until all is laid waste. Some players found the sonic salvo unbearable, but for many it keyed into Brody’s psyche, providing social commentary while showcasing the game’s awesome tech.

Red Dead Redemption: I Know You

John Marston’s trials for the Strange Man keep everybody guessing about the mysterious quest-giver’s identity. Is he God, or the devil? We are never told, although he proclaims himself to be an accountant of sorts. All we can do is respond to the morality challenges that all players encounter, seemingly at random, from very early in the story. In Thieves’ Landing, Marston weighs up persuading or dissuading a drunken man who is considering cheating on his wife. In Mexico, Marston donates $10 to a nun or steals from her instead. The latter quest has far reaching consequences should Marston choose generosity, but is this Strange Man ultimately the guardian of the redemption Marston seeks in the title?

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine: Equine Phantoms

Among the many celebrated quests that The Witcher 3 throws down, chance to explore the secret desires of Geralt’s noble stead, Roach, surely tops the heap. Upon agreeing to help an elderly hermit lady named Pinastri, we follow Geralt’s Witcher sense for a while to solve her phantom mystery. Pinastri suggests that they spur things along by serving Geralt a pungent brew of graytop mushrooms – a hallucinogen. This opens the channel between human and horse minds for the duration of the quest, enriching the bond between man and beast in a way that encouraged players to flood message boards with letters of deep appreciation.

Many of the games mentioned above are rich in similarly bonkers distractions from the main missions at hand. If you’re fond of keeping royalty from the return of their beloved heirs to the throne, or happy to put saving the world on hold, we’d recommend them all. While you’re here, please let us know your personal favorites.

Writer

Paul’s first videogame was Space Invaders in 1978, which gives away his age a bit. We put his encyclopedic knowledge of the beforetimes to good use in our Retro coverage. If you want to reach Paul, you can email or tweet him @FutureKick.

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