Up For Debate - Radiant Quests Need to Die in The Elder Scrolls VI

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, Jun 23, 2018 2:20 PM
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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!

Do you like the Radiant Quest system?

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20:25 Jun-24-2018

Another settlement needs your help.


I'll mark it on your map.

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17:09 Jun-24-2018

It's especially annoying when it's not clear that it's just never ending random quests. Like when you finish the dark brotherhood and they keep sending you out to kill certain people, I remember doing like 5 of them until I figured I probably beat the entire questline already, similar story with the dawnguard DLC.

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09:45 Jun-26-2018

Yeah it would be nice if they at least made it obvious to the player

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14:05 Jun-24-2018

I more want them to drop building creation. I really hope they don't just take the system from Fallout 4 to ES6, it doesn't need it. All that effort can go towards making the story and quests better. Skyrim never needed or required a house building system, from what I hear they only added Hearthfire because someone liked Minecraft a lot which is the worst reason to add it. Even if that isn't the case we could've had something more substantial than a house builder, like another expansion.

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14:10 Jun-24-2018

As for radiant quests I didn't hate them, but they certainly where repetitive. They need to look at other games like the Witcher 3 where each quest had its own story and could stand up in their own right. The main story also need a lot more work, more than the brief final boss fight for one, they need more than a few voice actors. They keep under hiring VA's compared to other studios so you hear a lot of characters that sound the same talking to each other. Make companions better like in F4.

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14:14 Jun-24-2018

Oh and make the Faction quests more interesting. The best one in Skyrim was the Mage college. The companions were always the same, kill X and come back. There wasn't anything like 'Protect the transport', 'deliver a missive to the general in a battlefield' etc. Also bring back the faction tasks, in oblivion when you became the leader of the guild you could tell the 2nd in command what you wanted to focus on. Recruitment, training or missions. It was cool and you felt in charge.

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14:20 Jun-24-2018

Last few things:



  • DO NOT PUT IN THE CONVERSATION WHEEL (A, B, Y and X). Leave it as a list so you don't have to make the response vague af.

  • More magic spells, there were too many spells that where just upgrades of weaker spells. Spell creation was also missed.

  • A more involved BBEG. One where the threat of their presence is ever present. You saw Alduin a total of 4 times before you fought him and they were so brief he couldn't do a big enough of an impression.

  • NO MORE PADDLE SWORDS.

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15:26 Jun-24-2018

How about NO FAST TRAVEL feature, im sure it will make those quests last longer XD

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16:24 Jun-24-2018

dude, if you don't want to fast travel, then don't, but if you consider walking/riding a horse(not much different) as meaningful gameplay then there are plenty of walking simulators. Until they make it so that while walking you might get some meaningful encounters, then it's pointless. Best thing in Skyrim you find while randomly walking are some bandits or merchants or a generated quest... -_-


I personally only use fast travel/cart when I have to travel between two opposites on the map, but I do understand why people wouldn't want to walk...

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16:37 Jun-24-2018

I was kidding of course XD, but do you know what we all want from the next series? less bugs, MANY MANY MANY LESS BUGS.

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10:59 Jun-24-2018

i dont like repeatative gamewplay

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16:37 Jun-24-2018

Now that's a lie, all games have repetitive gameplay. You hate repetitive context and purpose, with the lack of artificial and abstract meaningfulness.

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07:55 Jun-24-2018

Subjectively speaking: What radiant quests?
Don't bother me but i think those need to be removed.
Kill this bandit leader, steal this item and so on buuuut, it can be a part of a story mission. Kill the same leader in same tower 5 times just to get acknowledged isn't fun. It's just a boring choir.
On a different topic, nah,it's gonna be even worse.
Never expect anything from anybody and you'll never be disappointed.

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16:46 Jun-24-2018

Main quest and side quest will be boring too eventually, once you've done all the quests the game provide, there will be nothing left to do. I've found myself playing Skyrim with all quests are completed and it's boring too.

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16:48 Jun-24-2018

It's the "curse" of a single player game if I can call it. If you want a game that always excite you and make you want to play more and more, Multiplayer game is the answer.

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07:48 Jun-25-2018

Yeah i was telling the same story long time ago. To each it's own but gaming shift happens at some point when you decide to move away from MP games in general. No longer play MMOs or any kind of competitive style games. When you see the comment like "I play single player games to get away from people", you'll see what i was aiming at.
But yes, you can implement it but to be completely avoidable and not to be the endgame material as stated. Radiant quest may not need to die entirely, but maybe take another form. Like being a part of a larger quest line or something similar? Multiplayer isn't always a best choice especially in games huge as Fallout or TES. This is where i turn to F 76. Yeah i'm kinda worried if i buy this game, into what will i throw my money?

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15:57 Jun-25-2018

I quite like finishing all the quests and just knowing it's done though. tbf I usually get bored long before the end of a lot of games anyway

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18:41 Jun-25-2018

same i like to complete all side quests and similar, that almos made me drop witcher 3 after 40+h, and i did for few months then i returned and continue

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08:08 Jun-26-2018

Yep Jon I know what you mean.
David, i have 600+ hours in TW3. Currently playing Reaperzz TW3 EE mod from Nexus. Try it :D
Side quests are 1 thing, radiant quests are just a choir to extend your gameplay for a couple of hours, if even that.
TW3 didn't have radiant quests as i recall.

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22:14 Jun-23-2018

Radiant quests are kind of like, they could have purpose, but Bethesda just isn't using them in a right way, TES is not MMO and therefore infinity repeatable random quests just won't work. But they could work. They just need to tweak formula, give them purpose and use them in smart way.

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22:16 Jun-23-2018

First change I would do is to clearly mark them. There is no reason dialog option for them couldn't start with "[Radiant quest] Do you have another job for me?". This would clearly let you know this isn't story mission and you could have clear choice whether you feel like doing them or not.

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22:18 Jun-23-2018

Second change is giving them purpose. Radiant quests could be used to towards progression. Lets say you want to help Thieves Guild, you take radiant quests and more you do them, more result you see in your guild prospering and maybe opening some more story, expansion, better rewards,...

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22:20 Jun-23-2018

And if you work towards it, maybe even eventually become guild leader, which would open more options towards advancing guild. This could work for any guild. And could be also used to get harder quests with better rewards, giving you even more reason to do them.

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22:21 Jun-23-2018

Also it should reflect in guild, making guild more famous, people talking about it more, making headquarters visually different, when you are leader, perhaps giving you customization options to the guild. I mean there are ways to use it. Of course TES is not MMO, so it shouldn't be too hardcore grind.

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22:23 Jun-23-2018

But maybe towards certain optional rewards, it maybe wouldn't be a bad thing. If you would have to grind to top rank to get some truly unique item, maybe visually only, so no one could really complain about how they need it. So yeah, I feel they could make it work, but not in its current state.

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03:09 Jun-24-2018

That's more or less how the guild quest system worked in Daggerfall. Though almost every quest in that game was randomized so it's not quite the same thing.

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21:30 Jun-23-2018

es6 needs to drop a lot from skyrim to be any good. like the poor writing, quest design, voice acting, linear dungeons etc.

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02:17 Jun-24-2018

Couldn't agree more. There was so much wrong with Skyrim.

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19:06 Jun-23-2018

It's there if you want to do them, if you don't want, then you don't do them... simple.
elder scrolls always been of choices so you are not obliged to do anything.
but i don't think it should be removed, let them stay to the ones that just want to do another quest...

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18:57 Jun-23-2018

Bethesda just can't write stories hence the radiant quests. Fallout 3 was good, but everything since that has been pretty rubbish in my opinion. Especially since the Witcher 3 which plays like an interactive movie.

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20:17 Jun-23-2018

interactive movie?
what do y mean by that?

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02:52 Jun-24-2018

It's like a movie you can interact with...

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08:08 Jun-24-2018

Bethesda was never known for writing stories, except for Morrowind which had a huge impact on gaming community ever since of 2003. In 2015,2 games emerged that were noticeable. One that changed the gaming world, and other that was a "sweet little lies" flunky game. Bad story writing, so buggy, so bad. Played Fallout 4 but many have learned their lesson with it. Same reason goes for Fallout 76 and how it's gonna deliver. They are gonna cuck up bigtime. CDPR on the other hand has had a couple of innovations ever since 2007.Let that sink in.


Edit. I almost forgot Oblivion. It had a far better story that Skyrim. CDPR has raised a high bar, no matter how much you loved Bethesda games, they are getting stale.

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12:58 Jun-24-2018

I mean the story was so good it was like a movie. Your decisions mattered and you cared about the characters involved. I couldn't give two hoots about the characters in Skyrim/Fallout 4, they all irritated me, the interaction was poor.

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07:58 Jun-25-2018

There was a mod on Nexus which you could install to silence NPCs when you walked by. Ludicrous? Not even remotely :D
As for Fallout...wow you could be a ginarmous d"ck and it wouldn't have any kind of impact on anything. Well maybe in story quest endgame but the rest, nothing. I was the 1st to call it a bull"hit. No wonder i ended playing with Ada (robot) or with Dogmeat. Of course depending on the build i was using but people were so bland. So crappy character design, buggy and repetitive gameplay i haven't encountered in a while.

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12:53 Jun-24-2018

Yeah I agree. Morrowind was a true RPG with a very good story. I had to take notes about quests as it didn't point you in the right direction you had to think for yourself. Oblivion did have a decent story too, I loved the end of oblivion.

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17:18 Jun-24-2018

and true to that.

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18:03 Jun-23-2018

Oh yeah one more thing, if there will be a filthy groups of parasite NPCs like The Thieves Guild in the Sixth Elder Scrolls, Please! give us the option to OPPOSE them just like i did to Dark Brotherhood back in Skyrim, it's a RPG after all.

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18:07 Jun-23-2018

I really wish your choices mattered more, like only being able to join one guild instead being able to become leader of them all, or close to it. I also those choices had more of an impact on the world. It really annoyed me that you could become leader of the Dark Brotherhood, but nobody ever really cares except the odd guard that mentions it.

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18:14 Jun-23-2018

Yeah, that's good option too, excellent one! I mean for example like if we join the Winterhold College doing mission and so on, and suddenly at the end of the quest we become the Archmage! like what the hell.

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17:58 Jun-23-2018

I really don't mind with those radiant quests as I'v experienced my self back in TES V Skyrim as long as they also make several variations for those radiant quests or simply make them a bit longer or more complicated.

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17:54 Jun-23-2018

The Witcher 3 didn't have them. Every side quest was handcrafted to perfection. That's why it's a gem. And that's how other games should be like.

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18:15 Jun-23-2018

I've spent a lot more time in The Witcher 3 than Skyrim because of that, and I've spent several hundred hours in Skyrim.

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17:32 Jun-23-2018

I don't mind them, but there should just be more hand-crafted quests.


The reason they've been going for radiant quests is, because content is expensive to hard make, so generated content is there as a much, much cheaper substitute and both Skyrim and FO4 were developed in a time when Bethesda was not as big, I mean Skyrim sure, FO4 had extra 2 years after Skyrim's success, but that was too late. Bethesda games take a long time to develop, after all, be it due to their vastness and complexion or poor management and poor efficiency and I'd say all of the above.

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16:58 Jun-23-2018

It's cool. I think the dev's should do what they want to, I mean us players can choose to play or not to play but that doesn't matter cuz some of us can keep playing others might quit but heck do dev's care and its not a bad addition or anything :)

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16:32 Jun-23-2018

Do you mean like in skyrim when you are in the thieves guild, kill this guy, kill that guy?

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16:17 Jun-23-2018

i dont mind them as i dont remember them form skyrim and fallout 4 for some reason

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15:28 Jun-23-2018

In my opinion, bethesda needs to really up their work both in terms of game engine and design. I want tes 6 to surprise me, to feel like something new. I don't want to play tes 6 and think "hey feels like skyrim" or "hey its fallout 4 but medieval". So yeah they need to change alot of their old overused assets.

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14:47 Jun-23-2018

This is a fantastic way to split opinions. With that said, there are obvious goals to this system that a gamer like you ignores, it's only purpose is indeed to lengthen the game by adding artificial and repetitive things to do but the catch is that you don't have to do them if you don't want to, just like going to the gym or shopping mall.

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14:47 Jun-23-2018

I believe having the option is better than not having it at all. Being obsessed about completing all the quests is a personal issue. You could go out and ask people if they have tasks you could do for them and by the end of the day you still have tons of people that need something done.

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14:48 Jun-23-2018

It isn't inherintly bad to come up with a system that generates the false sense of such if no handplaced quests like that exist (ref. the hand crafted quest system in the Witcher).

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18:13 Jun-23-2018

The problem is that the system for Skyrm so often left you with uncompletable quests because the system was so flawed. They really could have spent the time spent working on radiant quests on making the game better, imo.

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14:48 Jun-23-2018

Obviously if a human spesifically made every quest they would obviously be a lot better than generated ones but if the option for such in a massive game just ain't there, I'll gladly take the worse of the two options than none at all, I want the game to be long and rewarding experience that I can come back to numerous times, I'm not scared by being bored once or twice along the way.

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14:49 Jun-23-2018

I'd hate to see TES6 come around like the Witcher3 where I just play it through one time and never boot it up again, execpt for a few lackluster DLC's.. Radiant quests can also serve as a stepping stone for exploring the world. It's quite clear that the experience you would choose is the short and honeyd tale over the epic that isn't always in it's climax, there's little to argue over' really..

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18:10 Jun-23-2018

There's so much to do in The Witcher 3 besides quests. The world is filled with places to explore and loot to find. There might not be a quest that takes you there, but there's always a chance you'll find some nice gear or materials. It's also really cool to discover quests on accident, for instance I didn't have a quest for the area in The Witcher 3 where Letho was hiding.

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