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5 open-world games with the best side quests

Side missions are the bread and butter of modern video games (Image via Square Enix)
Side missions are the bread and butter of modern video games (Image via Square Enix)

Side quests are now a staple of video games. They allow players to engage further with the world, learn a bit more about that charming character or the background of the last place players visited. Sometimes they can even do the weightlifting for a title after the main story fails to hold its own.

While nearly any kind of game can have side quests, they fare best in narrative-driven experiences. This allows side missions to further supplement the storytrelling in their own ways. We've seen many names, both big and small, come by and deliver some amazingly written quests across vast landscapes. So here are five open-world titles with some of the best side missions out there.

Note: This article contains spoilers for the respective games listed within.


5 open-world games that boast some well-written and meaningful side content

1) Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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Eidos-Montreal's latest entry in the Deus Ex stealth RPG series was blasted for its half-baked story, one that also paled in comparison to its predecessor, Human Revolution.

However, one of the few areas it did surpass its older brother in the narrative department were the side stories. Human Revolution had them too, and while they were good, Mankind Divided's are far better executed.

The side quests are where the game truly shines, with set pieces and ideas that the main narrative does not go dare anywhere close to. From sleuthing around crime scenes to masquerading as a stranger, it tests the player's wit in a variety of ways across different levels and interactions.

Protagonist Adam Jensen turns into a detective, one who is part of the game's world on a smaller, more relatable level. In a nutshell, while the main plot may feature a grand conspiracy, it doesn't offer the soul that Mankind Divided's tucked-away side quests do. Especially when they have consequences that can be felt and seen in the world.


2) Yakuza 0

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SEGA's popular beat-em-up game series has risen to fame this past decade. The Yakuza franchise is renowned for its absurd humor and scenarios which often clash with the serious, gang-fueled action of its main story. Let's consider Yakuza 0, the 2015 prequel entry. While the signature combat-driven set pieces are present there, its the substories that make the experience a must-play.

These could see protagonist Majima have to end up pretending to be a stranger's boyfriend, so her father doesn't throw her into an arranged marriage. Or the other protagonist Kiryu ending up in an awkward situation with teaching a shy dominatrix to be more demanding of her clients. Just when players think it can't get crazier, Yakuza is there to prove them wrong by turning the wackiness up a notch.


3) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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CD Projekt's 2015 open-world action RPG is renowned for its stellar writing and characters. So, the game boasting a plethora of memorable quests is no surprise. While the main plot about saving Ciri is frankly generic and passable, the world of The Witcher 3 truly feels alive in its optional content.

Whether it is helping a grieving Baron put his (un)dead infant child to rest, dealing with the antics of an invincible werewolf or entering a painting world to track down a restless spirit - the game and its DLC's offer some of the most gripping content in all of gaming. During these trials, Geralt will have to make decisions that may make or break the lives or others, some even literally.

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Relive Geralt's monster hunting adventure and these iconic quests with the upcoming next-gen upgrade.


4) Fallout: New Vegas

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Despite a tight budget and short development window from Bethesda, Obsidian Entertainment delivered one of the best RPGs ever made - Fallout: New Vegas. It is still widely regarded as the best 3D entry in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi series. The Courier will meet many intriguing characters over their journey to track down their killer across Mojave.

Some will be hostile, others not - but changing that is up to the player. The side quests enforce this level of freedom even further with branching paths and approaches.

One will see the player clearing out a basement filled with a dozen Nightkin, leading to the launch of a deluded cult to their doom in a malfunctioning rocket. While another will have the player sneaking around to find a hidden killer who must be brought to justice with a sniper round to the head. The Mojave Desert is filled with the weird and the bizzare, but that's what makes it so great.


5) Red Dead Redemption 2

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Rockstar's 2017 prequel to their PS3/360 era open-world wild-west adventure is an unforgettable journey to say the least. The developers' flair for cinematography and rich storytelling pervades not just the writing and the world, but also the quests that are hiding in plain sight. Red Dead Redemption 2 encourages exploration and rewards players with pockets of interesting stories.

There is a lot of variety in this game, some fairly wild and wacky for the grounded, realistic world. These could see Arthur Morgan chase down a circus caravan's missing "exotic" animals, or help an over-enthusiastic photographer in his wildlife image-capturing endeavors.

Or they can take a dark turn, like trying to help a poor old man only to find dirt on him, revealing he's an evil slaver. The latter in particular ends on a vague note with the game leaving it up to the player as to what needs to be done with the guy, even though it isn't directly mentioned. This sense of openness that pervades RDR2 as a whole makes its quests shine all the more.

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Edited by Abu Amjad Khan
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