Side missions in games have almost always been a bit of a laugh, contextually speaking. It’s very odd when, you, as the protagonist, tasked with saving the world, or preventing a calamity, suddenly have to go collecting five pink flowers for someone so they can make tea. Some games contextualize side missions very well, but on the whole there are more misses than hits on this front.
This is something that Remedy, the developers of the upcoming Control, seem to be cognizant of, because they’re trying to tackle the problem with an interesting narrative split of duties in the title. The main story, according Remedy’s Mikael Kasurinen, who is directing the game, will follow Jesse and her personal arc—while the side-missions are meant more to build up the world and contextualize it for players who are interested in learning more about the backdrop to Jesse’s story.
“The side missions are some of my favorite because they color the world in a different way because you actually get to see some of that,” narrative lead Brooke Maggs told Game Informer. “They fold into the narrative by introducing you more to the NPCs you discover along the way. So when you meet Helen Marshall [in the main story missions], you do later get to do a side mission that’s a personal favor for her, and then you find out more about her role at the Bureau and what she does and how she heads up specialist teams that takes care of a lot of these paranatural events as they happen.”
But it’s not just about narrative- they will also offer gameplay perks and rewards to players who choose to engage with them—including some that are among the most “important” abilities in the game.
“Many of the Objects of Power that are really fundamental and important parts of the game are actually in the side missions,” Kasurinen said. “If the player, for instance, doesn’t get the Shield then what does that mean for combat? It might make certain fights really tough later on because it’s optional. You don’t have to go and get the Shield if you don’t want to.”
On the whole, it sounds like players will have enough reason to try and engage with this content, then, and that when they do, they will find it narratively justified and mechanically rewarding. Which, of course, is ideal—let’s hope Control actually executes well on that vision.