The Fetch Quests Are the BEST Quests

“A fetch quest is a term to describe a tedious gameplay cliche that involves getting an item and delivering it. These are usually a bad thing. They are seen by most gamers as boring and needless” –Wikia Gaming

“Unapologetic fetch quests like these [found in The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest] have not been seen in a while, and with good reason. Not only are they boring, they broadcast the fact that the designers are padding the game.” -Matt London, Realms of Fantasy

“It’s equally bad that such a meager plot is told [in Megaman Battle Network 2] primarily through the use of the evil ‘fetch quest’ syndrome where you must wander the game periodically just to collect useless items” -Zachary Lewis, RPGamer

The truth is that I love fetch quests, whether they’re straightforward “collect that item over there,” or their more complex variants, “…and deliver it to that person/place/thing over there.” I’m not ashamed of it.

Despite all the hate, fetch quests have been a part of gaming from the very beginning. Pac Man fetched power pellets. Mario collected his girlfriend from an ill-tempered monkey at the top of construction site. Even when you face off against aliens in Space Invaders, you’re supposed to bring them to a world of pain.

When people gripe about fetch quests, they’re really complaining about bad writing or terrible game design. After all, every game has you move your character to point Z, possibly stopping at points X and Y on the way, in order to advance the plot. It’s entertaining if the trip is entertaining — you can overlook that it’s a fetch quest if the game can support itself with a great story, amazing visuals, or an engaging challenge. It’s really just a matter of how the fetch quests are framed.

Story: The original Fallout was a fetch quest — get a water purification chip and bring it back to your vault. The engaging part was learning more about what had happened to turn the world into an atomic wasteland of the future, and finding out what sinister forces were at work in the most distant reaches of the radioactive desert.

Visuals: Shadow of the Colossus has almost no story to speak of, and yet it is hailed as a masterpiece. You’re supposed to deliver a sword to each colossus, placing it in clearly marked areas. Simple, but very entertaining.

Challenge: The Metal Gear games are usually a series of connected fetch quests. (“Get the key from over there. Pick up the special weapon in that other place. Collect a disguise from somewhere else. Go and get the latest iteration of Metal Gear plans/secret documents.”) What makes it fun is the people who are trying to kill you.

In fact, I’m hard-pressed (that’s what she said) to think of a game that isn’t a fetch quest. Max Payne has you fetching a lot of bullets, and delivering them to a bunch of enemy torsos. Legend of Zelda had you fetching the Triforce. Madden Football has you fetching the ball and carrying it to the endzone.

The next time you hear someone complaining about a game by saying it has too many fetch quests, it might be worth digging a little deeper to see what’s really the matter.

(Image credits: Feature, Space Invader)

About B. Indifferent

Bitterly Indifferent is a belligerent hillbilly with a substandard internet connection. He is also a fan of retro gaming who has previously written about the state of games journalism and the intersection of games and family.