Why Fetch Quests Must Go

Games.on.net published the first of their "Community Soapbox" articles, featuring opinions from the website's community, and it's focused on fetch quests and the writer's extremely low opinion of them, with a particular focus put on two of the games that most annoyed the writer in this regard: Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur.

Here's a snip:
Kingdoms of Fetchquestalur

A perfect example in recent memory was Kingdoms of Amalur. The fact that it was once an MMO is painfully obvious, as within minutes, you are not so much encountering fetch quests as much as being actively assaulted by them. In the face. With a spiky club marked '˜FTCH KWESTZ HEAR'. The game has so much of it, in fact, that despite its huge size it never feels anything more than purely exhaustive. Run here, do this, get paltry reward, just to get one step closer to doing things that actually matter, while the BBEG waits patiently waving a hand saying '˜don't worry, no rush'.

And that right there, is the problem I have with fetch quests, much, much more so than the fact that they tend to be horribly boring. They don't matter. They don't feel important, usually because they are precisely that. And by doing them, you lower yourself. You are degrading your character. If you want your character to feel like the big goddamn hero that they are, you are going to have trouble achieving that by making them go and catch butterflies.

An RPG, more than anything else, is (usually) supposed to do one thing: make you feel like a big damn hero, and make your character an engine of destruction that makes bad guys wet their pants and go running back to mummy. So why do they insist, over and over again, to make you a little errand boy in order to be rewarded?

I can understand that the spirit of altruism and general kindness is important, and teaches humility, which is good in a hero, but honestly, would you have the temerity to walk up to the most powerful individual you've ever seen and say, '˜Hey, you. Get out there and do some task I'm too lazy or inept to do for me. Kthnxbai?' I don't believe you would. I know I wouldn't say much more except '˜Oh god, please don't hurt me' while trying to run.

Kingdoms of Amalur was a prime example of this. So is every single MMO since they first began, but they are also a game where you are just a face in the crowd, never a person in charge (except nominally through a guild). Knights of The Old Republic did a good job of making them sound more important than they actually were the wording was shifted to make it sound less like a fetch quest, and more like you were the ultimate last resort to getting the solution fixed. After a few hundred of these scenarios the effect wore a little thin, but the effort was there.