That is the question! (Don't blame me for the cheesy quote. I'm currently studying Shakespeare.)
ANYWAY...To the point. Are side quests worth doing?
I have multiple answers to the question. In Wizard101, the answer is YES if...
1. You want to be a high level and prepared for everything
2. You want to access certain areas
3. You're a badge collector
4. You need lots of gold (Halfang, the gold farming hotspot, is located in Vestrilund, a side quest area)
5. You're a crowns player
The answer is NO if...
1. You want to challenge yourself
2. You only enjoy the main storyline
3. You want to progress as fast as possible
4. You'd like to see the higher level worlds
5. You play with a membership (though not necessarily)
Some side quests are necessary if you want higher level spells. For example, many spell quests level 58+ require access to Grizzleheim and Wintertusk. It's a good idea to complete these worlds, if not the side quests within them. Also, Wysteria is quite fun, even though it's not really necessary to progress. (I may be slightly biased on this matter because it was released on my birthday.)
However, in Pirate101, the matter is more straightforward. A single level can make a huge difference when beating bosses. I say, do all the side quests you can. Pirate101 is harder than Wizard101, so this really helps. Also, side quest give you a significant amount of nautical XP that isn't listed in the quest thumbnail. If I'd known, I wouldn't have bothered XP farming for ship parts. Definitely do the side quests. They make a difference. They also give you the most benefit out of premium areas if you're a crowns player like me.
- Sophia E