So having finished 100% of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, (until the DLCs come out) I wanted to go over my thoughts on the games Side Quests. They, weren't really all that fun TBH. I mean I get what they were going for, trying to have more relaxing and fun side quests as a way to detract from the oncoming apocalypse but oh my God these were so BORING!!! Now to be clear I'm not against the idea of a more mundane side quests as one of my favorite DLCs of all time, the Citadel DLC from Mass Effect 3 is just Shepard on her vacation and just hanging out with her friends with missions ranging from the silly, (getting Grunt off for causing a shit tone of property damage on his birthday, you know how kids are ) to the Really silly like being asked to star in a cameo in the next Blasto movie.
I'm completely okay with doing silly and mundane things in a game but the thing of it is, they still have to be fun to play and honestly most of the side quests where just so dull and by the numbers that if it weren't for the fact that I was doing this for the achievement I would have just skipped them all together. And I will be doing that on my next playthrough.
Honestly the side quests in Rise of the Tomb Raider were handled better, with simple, Go here and destroy or collect X or Bring Me the Things I need to Build X. These side quests were few and far between and worked with the narrative that was being set up with the games main story which was fighting Trinity. You were asked to do things like destroy Drones that were mapping the area, help get enough wood to help fix the watch towers or gather mushrooms and bore meat for people to eat. They were short and to the point and worked. The side quests in Shadow on the hand are overly long and aren't really all that much fun as most of the time is just you going around and talking to people... That's it. Oh sure there are ones where you're asked to kill a group of enemies but that's about it and what's worse is that most of these side quests don't really over up anything useful.
Sure someone will give you a new weapon but the fact of the matter is if you bought the Croft Edition you'll get weapons that put all other weapons in the game to shame and if you didn't buy the Croft Edition the weapons you get at the start of the game are better then anything you'll get in these side quests.
All this gets worse when you keep the Baba Yaga DLC in mind which was pretty much a side quest and a really good one on top of that. I'll actually be talking a bit about the Baba Yaga DLC more in another article but the short of it is it adds a whole new location that ties into the games main story without detracting from it. Has a nice build up and is only about 1 and a half hours long and two hours with all the collectables. There's also the Blood Ties DLC which can also be seen as a side quests given how little it ties into the main story but still tells it's own story in the game. There's also Cold Darkness but that's really more of a challenge level then a proper side quests and is really stressful to play even on the easiest setting.
Now I know that Shadow will be releasing 7 DLCs in the next 7 months and hopefully they will be on par with Baba Yaga and Blood Ties but the issue here is that side quests as they are now are just so Boring!!! And while I enjoyed Shadow's main story and most of my issues are more to do with the supporting cast and certain plot points that are more directed to the series as a whole the side quests really do drag this game down a lot.
I mean the side quests in Rise aren't going to win any awards but they were still fun due to the fact that you were doing more then just talking to people. And when you take Rise's DLC's into account and the likelihood Shadow's DLC's are also going to be a lot more fun (I mean fans will be paying at least $40 for them so they better be fun) that's going to make Shadow's real side quests a lot less fun on any subsequent playthroughs.
I know at this point that it may seem like I didn't enjoy Shadow, as I'm spending a whole lot of time going over what I didn't enjoy about it, but the truth of the matter is that I did enjoy the game. There are many moments and missions that I would personally rank as some of the best in the series. Lara and Jonah's campfire chat, the Porvenir Oil Field mission, the final boss fight, there's a twist towards the end of the game I didn't see coming but made sense from a narrative standpoint and was set up ahead of time. The story as a whole is really good and Lara, as always, is such a great character and seeing her journey is just fantastic. And on top of that the game did do one or two things I wanted to see and while I felt that most of that could have been done better it wasn't done badly and what it got right it Really got right! And the developers were nice enough to at least mention Sam a few times and imply that her and Lara's relationship might yet be mended.
The reason I'm going over what I didn't enjoy is in the hopes that these issues can be either fixed or removed in the next game. I like that Lara worked with Jonah throughout most of the game as it did add to Lara's character and journey but I still feel that Jonah just isn't all that interesting as we didn't do anything in or out of gameplay and most of what he did could have been done by anyone. I do like that the villain was more nuanced but I felt he lacked the charm of Mathias, Himiko, Cruz, Cortez and Nadija. And while I feel the story is good, the plot hits to many of the same plot points from A Survivor is Born and Rise, (again I'll be covering that in my next article). And, of course, I want Sam back as I feel she is just as good as Lara.
As a finale for Lara's Origins story Trilogy it's good as it does what a finale to any long running story should do, make me want to go over the story again. And it works really well as a stand alone story as I feel that you'll be able to follow Shadow's story just fine without feeling the need to play the other games in the series. However, I still feel that the first game, the tie-in comics and Rise's DLC's are the best stories in the series and I hope that moving forward that the series starts to draw more from them for story inspiration instead of trying to make every game Lara's defining moment. You don't have to sell us on big stories with big stakes all we want is a simple adventure with a great lead character, equally likeable companion characters and charismatic villains along with some fun game play.
You've got the great lead character and gameplay down, you've got a great supporting character with Sam and you could bring in Kaz and Reyes back along with Grim's Twin Brother Cuddy and, bring in Cortez and Nadija as villains. Both Rise and Shadow proved that the developers can tell stories without making people who haven't played the games feel lost so it is entirely possible to do the same for plot points from the comics.
But I've gotten off track here so for the next TR game, just make the side quests in the core game like what we got in Shadow, short and to the point and relies more on the player doing things instead of just going around and talking to people for 10 to 20 minutes.