Games consist of many small, moving parts, and (as the cliché goes) the best games often feel greater than the sum of those parts. On the other hand, sometimes those little parts are pretty great, too. Today the USgamer team celebrates the small storylines and quests that stood out to us in a year packed with excellence.
We'll be publishing a different category each day through the end of the year, leading up to our final vote for best game of 2015. This has been a strong year for games, so anything's possible!
Best Quest: The Nominees
Sorry that this entry has gone up so late—we had a server issue that kept this piece from being completed. We're back, though! So brace yourself for the rest of our best-of-2015 list. Today, the team weighs in on the best quests of the year. As always, each team member nominated a single game per category, and the group voted on those selections anonymously by weighting each entry to their personal opinion, which allowed us to determine the final tally.
Bill: Family Matters [The Witcher III]
This was tough, because I also really enjoyed the Isle of the Mists due to the plot payoff. Family Matters, however, was an amazing quest that combined rewarding game play with incredible dialog. It’s a quest that made me care about the characters involved, and it had a serious emotional impact on me as I slowly worked my way through it.
Bob: Taxicab Confessions [Yakuza 5]
When Yakuza 5 offered me a series of taxi missions, I assumed I'd just be driving people from Point A to Point B. And while I did plenty of this, a good deal of these quests entail conversation only as protagonist Kiryu Kazuma plays a makeshift psychiatrist who eases the woes of his troubled passengers. Turning driving missions into a series of dialogue puzzles is exactly the kind of out-there choice that makes the Yakuza series so special.
Jaz: Daily Quests [Hearthstone]
Yeah, I know that Hearthstone is a game from 2014, but since I've played it more this year than pretty much anything from 2015, I'm including it in this list. It's plain old greed that drives me to nominate the game's Daily Quests as my favorite: they reward gold that you can use to buy more cards. And the more cards you have, the more interesting decks you can build. And the more interesting decks you can build, the more fun you have. It's an endless cycle that just keeps on giving. If you haven't tried Hearthstone yet, you really should give it a go - it's fantastic.
Jeremy: Challenge tombs [Rise of the Tomb Raider]
I frequently find myself frustrated by Crystal Dynamics' creative direction with the new Tomb Raider games. But for all that Rise of the Tomb Raider's narrative misses the mark, I sure do love the optional bonus areas. They hearken back to the best moments of classic PlayStation Tomb Raider games, with massive, complex environmental puzzles to be solved. The challenge tombs aren't mandatory, but they're the best part of the game by far—the only part of the game that can't be solved with guns or Lara's magical detective vision.
Kat: The Silver Shroud [Fallout 4]
Fallout 4's "The Silver Shroud" quest in in many ways reminiscent of Batman: The Animated Series' terrific episode "The Gray Ghost," in which Batman helps an actor revive a fictional superhero and fight crime for real. If you listen to the Silver Shroud radio show, you can find the broadcaster, who will send you on a quest for the costume from the Silver Shroud movie that was in production when the bombs fell. Once you find it, you don it and fight crime, with the broadcaster sending you to various hotspots in a manner befitting a classic 1930s superhero show. The best part: the female hero putting on the Batman voice in dialogue as the Silver Shroud, which is every bit as hilarious and awful as you'd expect. Oh, and you get to keep the costume.
Return to Crookback Bog [The Witcher III]
This is the final quest in this chain, but honestly, I think the entire quest line is just amazing from start to finish. One man tries be a baron and a father, ultimately failing at both and tearing his family apart. You're given a chance to put them back together, but it's seeing how they got to this point is realistic and heartbreaking. Great writing by CD Projekt Red.
Nadia: Anju and Kafei [Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D]
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is a game that you complete in bits and pieces. You have no choice, seeing as there’s a three-day time limit before everything gets squashed under the moon. But the game’s most challenging quest, which puts you to work re-uniting two lovers broken apart by a curse, spans the entirety of the game’s three days. It sees you perform detective work, fight monsters, and even work through a unique dungeon. It’s an epic quest that’s conducted for the most epic of reasons: Love, man.
The Winner: The Silver Shroud [Fallout 4] and Family Matters [The Witcher III] (TIE)
Honestly, we can probably consider The Witcher III the overall winner here, since Return to Crookback Bog and Family Matters are part of the same quest line. But of the two individual quests, we enjoyed the conclusive events of Family Matters more—and Fallout 4's inventive Silver Shroud storyline just as much. Either way, both quests demonstrate brilliant writing, alternately making us chuckle or leaving us verklempt.
Runner-up: (3) Taxicab Confessions [Yakuza 5] and Anju & Kafei [The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D]
Coming in a few days: 2015's Best Surprise