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Many games employ a scheme where the player (or the character/s controlled by the player) is given special assignments with specific objectives that need to be carried out. These assignments usually take place under pre-scripted conditions and are ordered by some greater authority within the game. The can take place in locations that are unique to that certain mission (as in, not connected or reachable from the gameworld in general) or sequentially. For example, the player might control a soldier in WWII. He is part of an amphibious landing and his mission is to neutralize an enemy cannon. Once the cannon has been neutralized, the player is congratulated and informed of his new mission. This time he is to help secure a bridge from enemy forces.

Segmenting a game into missions is quite common in games with a strong military theme. For example, games where players control soldiers or military vehicles. However, they are also commonly used in games with other themes. For example, many fantasy role-playing games have the player receive quests that are effectively missions with a different name.

While most games employ a one mission at a time structure, newer games featuring more open ended environments allow a player to have several missions available at the same time. Some of these missions might be central to the development of the game while others


Strong Examples

"Fallout II"

Fallout II is a strong example for mission based gameplay, since these quests are the backbone of the story. In order to progress through the narrative of the gameworld, the player must complete main story quests. By completing these missions, the story progresses, and the player becomes further immersed within the virtual diegesis. A strong example in the game itself, is when you first create your character. After changing your stats and picking all of your special abilities, the player is immediately thrown into a dungeon. Upon checking your journal, you realize exactly what you are supposed to do. In order to achieve escape, you must face another tribe member in battle. By defeating the local tribemen, you achieve freedom from the dungeon and this allows the player to move on within the narrative. It also helps to develop the narrative, since some games would not pit you against one of your own allies.

Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy is full of side quests and missions one must accomplish to trigger specifice events or recieve special items. Specifically, there is a feature in the game called Hunts. Hunts are the key to unlocking side events and optional bosses. One also earns extra gil, exp., and items. These hunts usually require a few steps till the mission is complete. One must find the flyer displaying the hunt, then locate the person who petioned the hunt. After this you must locate the monster and kill it. Finally you must go to the clan centurio to collect your prize.

Pokemon: Leaf Green

In Pokemon: Leaf Green you are dominated by missions and in order to advance anywhere in the game you either figure out the fastest route or go through a mission. The mission may range from anything as simple as taking an item to a person or going through a gauntlet of battles, retrieving an iten, and cutting a path. Missions are what makes this game not only addicting, but give it great depth and presents challenges to any kind of player.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you gain missions by talking to different NPCs or by being at the right place at the right time. This is a strong example because the missions are the only driving force in the game (besides wandering and leveling up) and it is the only way to progress the story. This is a game that does not force you to do any mission (except a small tutorial mission at the beginning of the game) therefore it is truly open-ended. While their are mission branches that begin by joining a Guild, such as The Dark Brotherhood, you can have multiple missions in your log at once, and their is nothing that forces you to do a specific one next.

Advance Wars

In Advance Wars, the player controls a military commander who must defeat the enemies of the country he represents. The game is structured as a series of missions that must be tackled one at a time. Each mission presents the player with a map where enemy forces are present. The player usually has to plan, build and manage his army and maneuvers it to defeat the enemy. Each mission has special victory conditions (such as a time limit or restrictions on available resources) and unsuccessful missions must be played again.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

In Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories the player must complete missions within the gameworld to unlock other missions as well as to further develop the narrative. The player often has a choice between many possible missions which they may play. Some missions are trial and error, but some take some planning and skill within the game to succeed.


The Starcraft Campaign is a series of missions, usually involving destroying your enemy, defending your base, or retrieving an item. Completing a mission unlocks the next one. Starcraft is a military themed game.

Katamari Damacy

While it couldn't be further from military organization, Katamari Damacy provides a great example of mission-based gameplay. On the world map, the player selects a level and enters the world specific to it. In each level, the player is faced with a specific mission. In many, the player must gather as much mass as possible in an alloted time, while in others the player must avoid certain items until he is large enough to roll up a specific, and large, item. Not until the player maxes out his gamesave is he given the option to just play. This feature is mission-related, as one must achieve a certain size before missionless play can be reached. (Davehansen)

"Goldeneye 007"

In this game, the player gets to be James Bond and complete a number of spy-related missions. This game works especially well within the "mission" format because of the nature of spying. Spying involves sending an agent on secret missions to perform or achieve a set of certain and specific objectives. While this is not a military based game, the levels are broken into "missions" for the same reason a war game might be.

Spy Hunter

In Spy Hunter the player is given a clear set of objectives for each mission. One objective is usually a primary objective while the others are secondary objectives. A point is given to the layer once a primary objective is achieved and for secondary objectives given the primary objective is also completed in the same level as well. The player advances through missions by reaching certain point levels and unlocking them. Missions can range from firing tracker bugs onto moving vehicles to destroying radio towers.

"NHL 2003"

This is a good example of strong mission game play because the mission in the individual games is to win but the ultimate goal is to win the championship. The first mission the player faces is each game. To defeat the team and to get a good enough record at the end of the season to be in the playoffs. Then the mission is to win each series in the playoffs and to make it to the finals. Then the ultimate goal or mission is to win the finals. This is an ultimate feeling of accomplishment because it is a lot of work to win enough games to make the playoffs, beat the very hard teams you meet in the playoffs, and defeat the other best team in the league for the finals.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

This is a strong example of mission gameplay, because there are numerous objectives in the game that you must complete through missions that are assigned to you by random characters in the game. After you complete a mission, there are many other missions that await you. ALl the missions assigned to you are pretty straightfoward. You gain more respect and numerous other beneficial attributes from other charactes in the game every time you complete a mission.

Weak Example

King's Quest 7

King's Quest 7 is a weak example of mission gameplay. It is the player has several objectives within each section of the game but there is no clear mission that must be completed. Each task that the character completes, leads to another task and when those series of tasks are completed, the character enters a new land to complete another series of tasks. Each task is completed in order to learn more about the story. There also is no main mission to save anything but to simply reunite with the other main character.


In Everquest, there are various missions that can be acquired by talking to non-player characters throughout the world, but their purpose is more to help you along in your journeys rather than be the backbone of the gameplay. It is entirely possible to get to the highest level without completing any quests (missions), but it would take a lot longer.


This is a very weak example of mission gameplay, because the only rules of this game are to kill all the players on the opposing team, defuse the bomb, or plant the bomb and wait for it to explode. Each round, you carry out the same mission objective, and every round is pretty much repetitive. There's also no storyline for this game, because it's a multi-player first-person shooter game, which doesn't have any complex gameplay or missions to carry out. You can get more money when you complete a mission, in which you can buy more weapons, ammo, kevlar, etc., but your character is still unable to advance or gain any skill.

Burnout 3: Takedown

In one aspect of single player mode you complete a world tour where you race and crash in locations all over the world. These races are poor examples of missions because they are not made unique. There is no story or background given before as to why you want or must win the race. No explanations are given as to why you take the actions you do.