Doop Da Doop.
You hear the sound again, you don’t even know what you did, but you got rewarded. And you love it. I, like many people out there, love the feeling of unlocking a new achievement or trophy for whatever game I am playing. The more the merrier. One of the reasons that I bought the Xbox One was because I had already amassed a large collection of achievements and I didn’t want all that work to go to waste by abandoning the Xbox platform, among other more legit reasons.
I’ll never fully understand the appeal of achievements. After all they usually just reward you for playing the game, and the game should be fun in and of itself right? Well usually. I see achievements as a way to expand the way you play a game. For instance, you were already going to complete all the story missions for your favorite game. But now there is an achievement for beating that same game on the hardest difficulty. If you are like me, you wouldn’t even bother playing on the hardest difficulty because its just too damn hard. But with the added reward of getting an achievement that all your friends will be able to see an admire, I might as well try and go for it. And then there’s the achievement for finding all of the hidden easter eggs in the game. THERE ARE EASTER EGGS IN THIS GAME?!!?!??!? Yeah achievements might let you know about them, now go find them.
Crackdown was one of those games that did achievements right. The game had one achievements that tasked the player with climbing to the highest point in the game and then jumping off and surviving. The best part about this achievement was that it wasn’t part of the story, the achievement just gave the player something extra to shoot for. I remember looking around the city and picking out the tallest building I could see, “this must be the highest point in the game!” I exclaimed. I then jumped off! And landed on the streets with a thud and death screen. That wasn’t the tallest building in the game. I needed to go to the center headquarters and jump off into the water in order to survive the fall, no small task and definitely worth the 5 gamerscore.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter did not do achievements right. One of their achievements was to achieve the #1 global ranking in the online multiplayer mode. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT!? You can’t and I didn’t. I’m sure that very few people have that achievement. How disappointed would you be to be stuck at number 2 with no reward to show for it?
In my opinion achievements need to have the right balance of completion based, unique actions, and hidden collectibles. The completion ones are easy, complete level 1! Ding! I’ve done it. They serve as freebies for playing the game and get the player hooked on finding more. Unique actions are something that the player does during that first level. Maybe sneak past 5 enemies. You wouldn’t even know that you are doing it but would get rewarded nonetheless. Or you have the option to grind for it after looking at the achievement list. Finally collectible achievements task the player with finding something within the level. Find the terminal, hidden skull, wall painting, or literal easter egg. I do have problems with online multiplayer achievements though. Often times forums just end up putting together achievement trading lobbies where players create artificial scenarios online in order to unlock achievements, without actually playing the game. These achievements are neither fun nor rewarding.
All in all achievements are like a drug. The first step is admitting you have a problem? Exactly! Wait.. maybe that is a bad analogy. Achievements are fun and while collecting them all might be impossible, (except for Stallion63, seriously go look this guy up) collecting them adds replayability to games. If you are someone who is constantly looking for their next fix, stayed tuned to the Spoon Deep Gaming Blog for more.