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Achievement Unlocked: Second Opinion


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Achievements need to be more about challenge and variety than repetition and frustration!

By now you’ve all read KotBT’s wonderful piece on boring achievements in games, and if you haven’t, click the blue lines! If you have, you probably agree with all the points, especially about the Assassin’s Creed flags, which was just plain irritating to get.

I’m going to take it a step further. I’m going to say that developers aren’t taking advantage of a system, whether it’s trophies or achievements (same thing, really), that could make their games more interesting or increase their replay value. And unlike that guy who wants a Greener world or the girl at Starbucks angry about corporations, I’m going to suggest plausible and successful ways to make it happen (better achievements, not environmental homeostasis, that’s too hard).

Here’s how we make Achievements and Trophies good again.

Reward Game Progress with Less

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If I’m playing Modern Warfare 3, chances are I’ve played through both 1 and 2 and I want to see the end of the story. And a good game should do that anyway. Why, then, do I get as many Achievement points for beating the campaign on Recruit as I do for finishing the toughest Spec Op on Veteran? It takes about the same amount of time, and the Spec Op at least required skill.

I want to earn my achievements, not step over them.

LIMIT THE DAMN COLLECTIBLES!

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Why was that in all caps? Because I just screamed it. Collectibles have long been the bane of video gamers. Whether it’s the unappreciated concept art, the statues that serve no purpose or those infamous Assassin’s Creed flags (and later feathers) that take forever to find, they are all irritating. The hunt isn’t worth an extra twenty Achievement points unless they give me something I actually want; extra costumes, new stages, fresh abilities and fan service extra costumes. Wait, did I say that already?

I’d rather get points and unlock things I enjoy/play with/use along the way and not for crap I will never look at again.

More Reasons to Play Again

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How many times have you played Mass Effect? A whole lot, right? How about Skyrim? Too many times to count, huh? Borderlands? At least once per character, I’m sure. Fortunately, these games reward additional playthroughs with trophies; Mass Effect has the Long Service Medal, Skyrim lets you choose the Stormcloaks or the Imperial Army and Borderlands 2 has four “100 kills with your single action skill” Achievements.

If you can get everything on the first pass, chances are a ten-hour game will stay just that. Which, considering your many gaming hours, might give you a happy opportunity to go outside. For an hour, at least.

No More 100% (Conditional)

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We’re not talking about anything made by Rockstar. Though at times tedious, there is a boatload of things to do in GTA, Bully and Red Dead. We mean the Platinum Trophy and the 100% Game Completion Achievements, which are pretty much just complete the list and get this one for free.

Until the prerequisites get better, the 100% Completion is basically a boring checklist with some exceptions.

Make Me Laugh

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Fallout 3 has a lot of options, but eventually you hit a point of doing the same things and using the same weapons. I did much the same, before seeing the Psychotic Prankster on my list. I discovered a newfound love for explosives I never used. Also, for being very, very evil, apparently.

If more Trophies made me laugh the way blowing up pelvises does in Fallout, we’d all be happier hunters.

Expand Players’ Options

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Both Bioshock Infinite and Spec Ops: The Line (among other games) have Achievements requiring X kills with certain weapons. And while most of us aren’t master snipers and SMG virtuosos like I am, we all have our comfort zones these achievements get us away from. While I still suck with shotguns, I at least learned the proper distance the fire them from. Also, grenades rank number three in my killing arsenal now.

Basically, when achievements open your eyes to new strategies, you’re not only getting more out of the game, you’re changing how you play the next one.

Challenge Me but Don’t Kill Me

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Finally, a Trophy/Achievement should be a challenge, but a fair one. Pressing Start in the Simpsons game in not an achievement, it’s Gaming 101. Then again, Seriously 3.0 from Gears 3 is vicious, 7-Day Survivor from Dead Rising is unhealthy in consecutive length and don’t even get me started on how ridiculous GRAW’s World Champion is. If I wanted to do a marathon session, I’d set up my own.

Test my skill, not my endurance.

What do you think of our suggestions? Did we miss anything important? Drop a comment below and let us know!

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About RedGuinness

Andrew Shortall (RedGuinness) is the Writer, Editor, Administrator and founder of Stay-At-Home Gaming. He also suffers from sleepless nights, summer new release withdrawals and trying to behave himself in front of his new nephew.

5 comments on “Achievement Unlocked: Second Opinion

  1. Pingback: Around the Web – 5/11/14 | The Credible Hulk

  2. Job Duanan
    May 11, 2014

    I absolutely agree with “Make Me Laugh” and how it sometimes mitigates the “stumbling upon” quality of story-related achievements. Case in point, Portal 2 Chapter 9: The Part Where He Kills You. The repetition was already so funny, but when you got the achievement with the description, “This is that part.” my sides shot into orbit.

    • RedGuinness
      May 12, 2014

      It’s those small details that make the difference between getting points and enjoying the achievement. Granted, Portal 2 is set up much better for humor, but when achievements aren’t just an afterthought, they can be memorable.

      I wish I had thought of this one when writing the article!

  3. Astro Adam
    May 15, 2014

    All very good suggestions. I especially agree with your points on collectibles and challenges.

    Collectibles could be more rewarding or developers could, perhaps, replace them with a handful of “Easter Egg” moments in a game. By Easter Egg moments, I mean funny or unusual scripted events or objects that are off the beaten path and are entertaining. If they do focus on a handful, they can probably make something entertaining (i.e. funny, or shocking, or poignant, etc. Whatever fits the mood of the game). These kinds of moments are great for gamers to discover, and, when people share these moments online, these moments help publicize a game.

    Also, frustrating achievements make me lose interest in the game. Instead of pulling out my hair, I’ll calmly put the controller down, exit the game, and shut off the PC/console. Except I shouldn’t be doing when I sit down to play!

    But these are random thoughts that popped into my head while reading your great post.

    • RedGuinness
      May 15, 2014

      I completely agree with the Easter Egg idea. Moments like the Romantic Achievement from The Darkness or the Special Dialogue Grunts in Halo are already loved by fans. If they scattered a few around a single game and made seeing all of them an Achievement, I could get on board with it.

      As for frustrating Achievements, I also tend to walk away, but that need to just finish it brings me back. Not good for overall happiness…

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This entry was posted on May 7, 2014 by in Editorial, Gaming Non-Fiction and tagged , , , .

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