molag bal

Seven Side Missions That Should Be Standalone Games

It’s an unfortunate truth that side missions in video games often end up being not much more than mere fetch quests or dungeon clear outs with different names and enemies slapped on for each individual encounter. They’re usually an opportunity to boost your XP and level up in a game, all while exploring the world and possibly earning a few new items.

But every once in a while, a truly great side mission comes along that offers better writing, more wit, and interesting concepts than the others, making it one of the more memorable moments in the core game itself. Often, these small missions contain so much by way of substance and potential that they very well could make for their own separate standalone games. Here are seven side missions we’d love to see get that very treatment.

Whodunit?-Oblivion

oblivion

For its intricate lore, fascinating mission mechanics, and awesome rewards, the entire Dark Brotherhood quest line from Oblivion is really what could use its own standalone game. In fact, that’s kind of what I’m pulling for, but making my case through the lens of the Whodunit? side quest.

The quest essentially tasks the player with attending a house party and killing five of its guests without ever being caught or discovered. The fun of it, of course, is coming up with ways to pull off your task and reap the full benefits and rewards afterward. Much like Hitman, most of the Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion offer the player a chance to kill their targets using a variety of different ways. One could take the direct hack-and-slash approach to things, although those who enjoy the finer, more subtle things in life might easily settle for dropping a moose head on an unsuspecting victim in his home. Having the freedom to play as a dark assassin in a medieval setting is an experience begging to be made.

Nytefall – Saints Row IV

nyteblade

Saints Row IV is no stranger to all manner of crazy side missions, but Matt Miller’s simulation starring his favorite vampire-hunter-turned-vampire Nyte Blayde is easily one of the most fun and most ambitious missions that would definitely make for a great title.

After losing his love and turning into the very creatures of the night he once hunted, Nyte Blayde is a vampire/vampire hunter fighting a two-sided war against vampires and The Cyprian Order he was once part of as a hunter. He’s a lone wolf; a tortured soul locked eternally in the middle of a battle between good and evil.

Were it to be handled correctly, coupling sweet, sweet combat with just the right amount of self-aware campiness, playing an entire Nyte Blayde game and fighting The Order and vampires themselves as the dreaded and tortured demon hunter might be a kind of cult awesome in the same vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Gummi Ship Builder – Kingdom Hearts

gummi

It might not be a side quest per se, but the Gummi Ship builder in Kingdom Hearts could make for a seriously addictive mobile or console indie game. Earning parts to build a ship, engaging in combat a la arcade tube shooters of old, and continuing to add on to/upgrade your ship to make it more combat-efficient has the right amount of steady and rewarding gameplay loop written all over it.

Mothership Zeta – Fallout 3

mothershipzeta

It received a fairly lengthy realization in the Fallout 3 DLC, but Mothership Zeta was really on to something special. Being abducted by aliens, working with the other captives to escape, encountering all manner of strange (and funny) occurrences and secrets, and having the chance to fry aliens with shock batons was a unique and fun time to be had.

Prey was one of the few games last generation that really took this idea and ran with it in an interesting way, and it’s about time we had a chance to return to the idea of exploring a UFO and finding a way to escape in a pseudo sci-fi-like action game.

The Last One – Grand Theft Auto V

gtavbigfoot

Grand Theft Auto V has all manner of great side missions and quests that could easily serve as a building block for entire games, but The Last One mission in GTA V has a Scooby-Doo-like feel to it I can’t help but fall in love with.

In the mission, you’re essentially hunting down Bigfoot in the back woods of Los Santos after encountering a crazy monster hunter who’s been tracking Sasquatch. After your brief (and hilarious) encounter, you’ll find yourself wandering the woods, hunting down Bigfoot for yourself. Once you’ve pinned him down, you find out that he’s not actually Bigfoot; just another crazy dude dressed up as the beast and talking about how it gets him excited to dress up like the fabled monster. All that was missing was the titular line “…and I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”

It’s always a fun switch to pull back the curtain and see that your imagination’s expectations can be fooled, finding that the monsters you once thought to be evil and ominous are no more than mere human beings dressed up in suits. A great conspiracy/monster-hunting adventure game using this idea is one that could really be a lot of fun.

Dossier: Archangel – Mass Effect 2

archangel

So many of the side missions in Mass Effect 2 are good enough to warrant their own separate games, but it’s Garrus’ adventures as Archangel during the turmoil on Omega that would really make for a great story.

With different criminal factions vying for power over the underworld of the seedy space Vegas that is Omega, it’s up to one lone vigilante to keep the peace and take down the bad guys. Known as Archangel, this vigilante is the beloved Garrus Vakarian, the very same Turian that wooed many a FemShep and served as a fantastic addition to the ship’s crew. Having the chance to live out Garrus’ time on Omega and see how he became the Archangel has the potential to be an awesome story-driven third-person shooter.

The House of Horrors – Skyrim

molagbal

Survival horror is a genre that is often accused of dying in this day and age, often evolving into a game with all the adrenaline-fueled aciton gamers these days are clamoring for.

The House of Horrors side quest in Skyrim, however, has the right formula to make a decent horror game. Set in the ever-odd city of Markarth, the quest has the player serving the whims of an ancient demon. No, it’s not nearly on the same level as Amnesia or even the classic Silent Hill games in the going-to-soil-one’s-self scares, but the possibility of exploring haunted rooms, buildings, and caverns in a medieval setting while under the influence of a mind-controlling demon is a truly awesome idea that could really go some interesting places narratively. How will you fight the evil influence? What sort of horrors will you be caused to commit? How many baskets will you be forced to place on shopkeeper’s heads?

These are, of course, only seven of a host of great side missions that would make for great standalone games. Tell us about the games you’d like to see be made out of side missions in the comments below!