Open-world games often spoil us with intricate and engaging main stories, however the genre has a tendency to undo its good work by way of lacking sidequests. BioWare's Dragon Age: Inquisition is particularly guilty of this, which is something the developer is addressing in its incoming Mass Effect: Andromeda—taking its lead from CD Projekt Red's The Witcher series.
For me, Fallout: New Vegas, is a big offender on this front. It's one of my own all-time favourite open-world games, yet I wasted a sizeable chunk of my first playthrough undertaking tedious handiwork for the game's minor factions to the point where the central narrative ultimately became less effective. Writing in PC Gamer's recently released March magazine issue, our Samuel dubs this concept in relation to Inquisition the "Hinterlands problem"—where players get stuck in one location and are forced to gratuitously grind through less important side ventures.
Andromeda's producer Fabrice Condominas tells Sam that while he and his team aren't necessarily discouraging players from adopting this approach, they are tackling sidequests with more thought than before.
"We are approaching the completionist aspect very differently, because we've done and learned a lot from Inquisition," Condominas says. "But we've also observed what other games have been doing, like The Witcher."
Condominas continues, stressing that bigger isn't always better in that sidequests must be "meaningful" in order to be impactful—something The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in particular carried off particularly well. "And it was very important for us that the quantity of scope doesn't downgrade the quality of whatever your are doing there."
Mass Effect: Andromeda is due March 21. Samuel's full interview with BioWare can be read in this month's issue of PC Gamer magazine.