I’m a bit of an achievement hunter. I won’t often go majorly out of my way to do something just to get an achievement, though. For instance, I’m not so achievement crazed that I’d go for 100% game completion on GTA – I just don’t have that kind of time, or effort. It also takes a ‘special’ game for me to want to get every achievement for it. For instance, Dying Light inspired me quite recently to go for the 100% achievement completion – and I wouldn’t say that it’s the best game I’ve played on the Xbox One so far. I think that it just has a good set of achievements, which fit well with the game, and make me want to both keep playing and keep achieving. However, I am occasionally guilty of getting what I like to call “Achievement fever”.
Like a wolf that can smell blood, I seem to lose control of my better judgment and go a little mad for gaining pointless Achievements at times. I’m talking about the sorts of achievements that you’d probably never naturally gain through regular game-play – like walking in the wrong direction on Limbo at the very start of the game. Yet, for some reason, I feel an uncontrollable urge to hunt down those achievements and get that Gamerscore, even if I’m not overly enjoying the game.
Now, I’m not one of those people that will buy and play a crap game, just because I’ve been told that there are easy achievements. I’m not that addicted to the little guys. However, I will go out of my way to earn them when I’m on a roll. Take Strike Suit Zero, for example. I quite enjoyed playing that game for a while, but eventually it got a little tiresome. Once I’d completed it, I felt as though there wasn’t much else to do. After that, I decided to have a quick peruse around the remaining Achievements, just to see what I hadn’t yet completed. That was, however, a mistake; because I found myself re-playing a game that I didn’t necessarily feel like playing, just to get my Achievement fix. And, just like any slight addiction I guess, when I was done I felt pretty rubbish about myself.
I think that my problem with Achievements is that, on occasion, I don’t feel encouraged to play the game to see how it ends. Rather, I feel more encouragement to gain the Achievements than I do to see out the story. With some games, the Achievements seem to flow naturally with the game, and you’ll get a fair few for just exploring and experiencing the game in general. I found that with Dragon Age: Inquisition, for example. I never felt like I was going out of my way to gain the Achievements, because I wanted to complete as much of the game, explore as much of the world, and interact with as many characters as possible, simply because I loved the game. Because of that, the achievements just seemed to flow quite naturally. But take a game like Crimson Dragon, for me at least, and the story is quite different. I actually kind of enjoyed that game, but I found that my enjoyment was hindered by the fact that I had a taste for Achievements on the day. I found myself directing my play depending on the Achievements that I wanted to gain. I couldn’t tell you much about the game, but I could tell you about the game’s Achievements. Personally, I don’t think that that’s what the developers were hoping we’d take away from the experience.
In that sense, I think that Achievements and Trophies do have the potential to ruin a game. In my own personal experience, whenever I get in ‘Achievement mode’ I seem to get a bit of tunnel vision and I feel as though I’m oblivious to the game around them. The other day, Alex (ThinkBad Monkey), was talking about The Order. He said to me, “The Order isn’t as short as people are saying. I mean, I’d Platinumed the game in eight hours, so that’s a few hours more than the five that people are talking about”. In that moment I thought to myself “how pointless is that Platinum”. I mean, I’m not an expert on the PS Trophy system, but as far as I can tell to ‘Platinum’ something means that you’ve completed the game and its trophies, 100%. To be able to do that in eight hours makes a bit of a mockery of the whole process really. What’s the point? It doesn’t sound like it was hard, or it was challenging. It makes the Trophy system seem a little pointless, because it takes away the prestige of earning ‘Platinums’. The same can be said for some Xbox games too, and I’ve gained 100% of achievements on a number of Xbox One games, when it only took me a few hours. I felt as though these games were struggling to fit the Achievement system into their title – it was as though they didn’t want the Achievements to be in there and, instead of trying to include some Easter Eggs to find, you just ended up getting 200G for ‘Completing Level 1’. Still, not every PS or Xbox game makes a bit of a mockery of the Trophy/Achievement process.
For me, my favourite kind of Achievement is the surprise Achievement. I love getting that unexpected Achievement pop, because you feel as though you’ve earned it as a natural part of the game, rather than forcing it. I find that, when I go out of my way to earn an Achievement, I don’t enjoy gaining it. Rather, I think to myself along the lines of “one down, (X) amount to go”. When I get the surprise pop, I enjoy looking through the Achievement list to see what I did to earn it, but when I go out of my way to get it, it just feels more like a means to an end.
I feel as though I can always tell when Achievements have been an afterthought in a game. It makes them feel forced, and it makes earning them feel a little rotten. There’s no sense of achievement in those Achievements, for me at least, and that’s a shame. How do you feel about Achievements and Trophies? Do you relish the opportunity to earn that G? Or do you prefer to just play the game and enjoy the experience? Let me know in the comments below!