1) switch off the pawn subtitles in the options, the clutter those create on the screen is half the problem I found. I just took my time looking around and figuring out how to do certain attacks etc.
2) There are quests in the first village? I seriously didn't notice that. I went straight for the encampment and had fights with 2 giant monsters and went straight further to the capital city. There are fetch-quests but I've been happily ignoring them so far and just accepted them all if I happen to accidentally run over any of them. You can read my first steps in the posting above, do I mention anything about picking flowers in a village? No, instead: giant Monsters! Explosions! Ancient prophecies! Goblin ambushes!
p.s.: on what system do you have it? If you have it on PS3 add me to your friendslist, then you can use my pawn for free. The game is difficult enough at the start, a little help from a higher level pawn isn't all that wrong there