With the announcement of not one, not two, but three all-new Bethesda Game Studios titles last, I’ve been busy riding the hype by diving back into Fallout 4. Despite all the criticisms that get thrown its way, Fallout 4 ain’t a bad game. But there’s a big sticking point and one that’s been with me since their introduction in Skyrim - the dreaded Radiant Quests.
If you’re not familiar with the term, they’re the quests in Fallout 4 and Skyrim which randomly assign a goal or target location and then grant a generic reward. They’re usually repeatable and offer little in the way of quest dialogue. From Bethesda’s point of view, they’re a cheap ticket to an endless game. Long after the credits of the main story roll, players can keep questing in perpetuity, handed an infinite string of fetch quests to provide them the thinnest of reasons to continue around their worlds.
My issues with the design of Radiant Quests are many, but the crux of it hinges around one thing - keep playing until you’re bored. This is the antithesis of good design in just about any entertainment medium. It should exist to entertain, not to invite boredom. It’s the same reason the cutting room floor exists for movies. They are meant to be entertaining, which is why the director will cut, snip and rearrange the footage into what they hope is the most entertaining package possible. If the greatest movie in the world ended with a three-hour monologue about knitting patterns it would ruin a perfectly good movie. I want to get to the end and enjoy it for what it was. To close the book, turn off the movie, or finish the game, and then set aside without the overriding feeling that I ended it as I was thoroughly bored.
It’s frustrating because content for content's sake just isn’t a worthwhile use of anyone’s time. The Witcher 3 got by just fine without randomised quest generation and I don’t see many people queuing up to say there was a lack of content there. Likewise, Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3 were absolutely packed with things to do.
The very concept of Radiant Quests has so many downsides that it’s bewildering Bethesda opted to use them for a second game. They’re not clearly marked, for starters, and it’s never overly obvious whether there’s an actual end to these quests that are being handed out or you’ve actually become trapped in Bethesda’s maniacal hamster wheel. For those looking to clear out a quest log, particularly completionists like me, it quickly becomes an impossible task. Even when you’re fully aware it’s the generic text of a Radiant Quest, just having it say there in the quest log is annoying.
Secondary to this, they completely take the player out of the experience. These RPG’s are designed to be immersive. Having some wastelander dole out identical lines of dialogue to accompany the copy + paste quests is the antithesis of this.
Which is why, I hope, Bethesda does the right thing and puts a bullet in the head of Radiant Quests for the upcoming Elder Scrolls VI. Heck, do the same for Fallout 76 and Starfield should they happen to follow the same open-world design as Bethesda’s previous games. At the very least I ask Bethesda to provide an option to turn off Radiant Quests for those who aren't interested. Screw it, the bare minimum should be to tag them as such, preventing them from cluttering up the list of quests that actually matter and can provide a meaningful narrative.
What are your thoughts, should Bethesda abandon the Radiant Quest design for The Elder Scrolls VI? Or are you happy with the endless questing this feature can provide? What could be done to make Radiant Quests better? Get voting and let us know below!