May 312015

Online games are a great escape from the drudgery of real life. While my main joy will always be tabletop roleplaying, I do enjoy playing mmo games as you can instantly start playing in fantasy (or sci-fi) world at any time and without needing a group of friends to do so. It’s always fun to play as a mighty warrior, spell slinging wizard, or sneaky thief, and there’s the added bonus of racking up astronomical body counts as you decimate virtual nations of orcs and undead. However, there is one aspect of online games that I detest, and that is the dreaded mmo escort quests.

On the surface, mmo escort quests sounds like a winner. There can be an interesting storyline of why the player needs to protect the NPC in their travels, and the rewards for completing them can be quite nice. Then there’s the extra bonus of having additional monsters spawning so you can really up the body count and get some quality looting in as well. Yet most online games really muck up these escort quests to a horrendous degree.

Guild Wars 2 escort quest
The first reason why I have such rage against mmo escort quests is that they take so long to complete. The NPC that you’re escorting usually travels as fast as an arthritic old man suffering from gout and kidney stones. A quest I think will take about ten minutes usually takes much longer. I’m always tempted to let the bad guys murder the person I’m escorting just due to my impatience, especially when the quest background is that the NPC is in fear for their life and wants to escape from a location. Call me crazy, but if a horde of orcs took me prisoner, I wouldn’t waste my time getting out of there. However, mmo AI logic thinks differently: why run for freedom when you can slowly amble your way out of bondage? I will give props to Guild Wars 2 as their NPCs tend to move at a brisk pace when you’re escorting them. I just wish other mmos would allow their denizens to learn the fine art of jogging or even walking fast.

Another facet of mmo escort quests that really enrages me is that the NPC that I’m escorting goes out of their way to aggro anything and everything in the area. Again, if I’m trying to escape from an orc slave pen, I’m not going to walk towards a group of them so they can notice my presence and then whip the tar out of me. From Champions Online to World of Warcraft, utter stupidity on the part of the escorted person seems to be the standard. “I’m a poor farmer who’s being sold into slavery by dark elves. Thank you for offering to escort me away from this horrible cave. What’s that over there? A group of dark elf slavers? Perhaps I should mosey on over there and catch some of their conversation. I’m sure that it’s really interesting.”

It’s for all the above reasons that mmo escort quests tend to drive me insane. I really hope in the future that online games improve the AI of the NPCs and speed up the action. There are some intriguing possibilities with this type of quest, but the standard execution is usually pretty bad.

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