GamerSushi Asks: Achievements Hurting The Experience?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m an achievement whore. I get the biggest kick out of earning new rewards, trophies, unlockables, points, you name it. I’m not really sure what bone in my brown body makes me this way, but some primal and awful thing is triggered in my core when I see that “achievement unlocked” bumper accompanied with that sweet melodious noise. While I’m not as into trophies on the PS3, the principle is the same and I love accomplishing these goals.

However, lately I’ve been noticing the way developers are handling the doling out of these rewards, and it’s been a curious study. While early games of this generation were heavy on rewarding players with achievements based on a certain kind of behavior (be it in a solo or multiplayer setting), I’m noticing a new trend. Take Mass Effect 2, for example. The first game rewarded players for reaching certain good/evil (paragon and renegade, to be more precise) levels, while the sequel does not. Honestly, I’m finding that this makes for a better experience the second time around, as I’m not feeling like I have to always lean in one direction to be sure I don’t miss out on the achievement.

Likewise, multiplayer games are dropping the focus on weapon-based achievements (with the occasional ludicrous exception), and are leaning more towards gameplay and gametype exploits. I think one of the worst offenders of this early on was Gears of War, which offered achievements based on what weapons you killed with. This lead to irritating matches with people doing nothing but using one kind of weapon like the torque bow or the pistol, and lead to lots of grumbling when players couldn’t find the weapon they wanted. This is different than say, Left 4 Dead 2’s achievements which rewards playing as a team (spitting on somebody that is being smoked, etc).

So what about you guys? Do you find that this kind of design lends itself to better gameplay styles? Do you even care? Or am I just that much of an achievement nut?

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

18 thoughts on “GamerSushi Asks: Achievements Hurting The Experience?”

  1. I have owned a PS3 for a couple years now, and I just purchased my first 360. The trophies in the ps3 don’t have as much of an effect for me I guess because my friends don’t really see my score as easily. It may sound shallow, but I feel like I need to increase my gamer score on my 360 because every one else is so high. So I find my self achievement whoring a bit more on the 360.
    I would say it takes away from the fun of some games, however at the same time, it may help you get more moneys worth from the game. I have a tendency once I have beat a game, to just drop it, and never play it again, this encourages replaying it, to get those extra rewards.

  2. I’m a bit of an achievement whore myself, although you wouldn’t know it from looking at my score. To be truthful, i have looked at some of my friends gamerscores while playing Mass Effect 2 just to see if i have more than them. And Mass Effect 2’s achievements seem way more gettable(?) than ME1, i agree.

  3. I too am a whore. Trophies for me. As the highest of all my friends I feel good knowing I’ve accomplished feats they have not in certain games.
    I don’t feel that Trophies/Achievements spoil a game experience. Take Uncharted 1 & 2 as examples. They reward you at the end for story completion and throughout for tasks like headshots, weapon/melee kills. Not once do I go out of my way to plat’ my game on the 1st run. I get 40% of Trophies on the 1st run, great! I’ll get the rest on my subsequent playthroughs, thus increasing my replay value which is why I collect them.

  4. Achievements give people something extra to do in the game without adding bonus modes or things like that. I don’t mind achievements, unless of course they spoil stories or invade multiplayer and make people whores, but even then MP achievement whores don’t bother me. Being rewarded with a “tangible” achievement instead of nothing is not only valid bragging rights but also guides players to explore more of the game and challenge themselves and get a simple but at least somewhat fulfilling reward. People say achievements are worthless, but that’s like saying it’s worthless to save someone’s life without wanting gifts and wealth. Also, they’re bitches who don’t understand. 😀

  5. I find that achievements are only harmful to the player base when they are used to unlock things, like TF2. I dont really care other times for them at all. If a player only uses a certain gun to get an achievement, but sucks with it, that’s just his problem. I like the outrageous ones, like the a million kills or the ones that are wierd and funny. Cause it feels like an accomplishment when you get them during regular gameplay. Achievement servers take away the sense of accomplishment, but I will admit to using them for the unlocks, until the random drop system came about. I don’t know if the achievement system is any different on the consoles, but this is what I think of them.

  6. [quote comment=”10112″]Yeah, I find it interesting that I love getting achievements but couldn’t give two shits about trophies.[/quote]

    I find that sad.

    I honestly don’t care about either b/c they are meaningless. They aren’t indicative of anything. They are not like a high score. People play Barbie Goes to Hollywood just to get more Gamer points. Sad.

  7. Getting 100% of achievements for L4D2 was very fun, granted I got them in an unusual but still enjoyable way.

    But I think mentioning another one of Valve’s games would’ve been a good example of just using one gun to get an achievement; that being TF2. I mean, the class updates to the game, while fun, make people change what class they play instead of what new unlockable gun they use. Anyone remember the Pyro update? Holy hell.

  8. Eddy, weren’t you thinking about renting Avatar for Achievements? I think i remember that from the podcast on SFF.

  9. [quote comment=”10115″][quote comment=”10112″]Yeah, I find it interesting that I love getting achievements but couldn’t give two shits about trophies.[/quote]

    I find that sad.

    I honestly don’t care about either b/c they are meaningless. They aren’t indicative of anything. They are not like a high score. People play Barbie Goes to Hollywood just to get more Gamer points. Sad.[/quote]

    I think it might just be that achievements are implemented better than trophies. Most of my friends with 360s love getting achievement points. Honestly, I don’t really care about trophies. And why does it makes you sad that someone else loves doing something in a video game? People can spend their time doing what they want as long as they’re having fun.

  10. At the risk of insulting everyone, I think that both achievements and trophies are stupid. In most cases, they’re an artificial means of getting you to replay a game that otherwise might not have a lot of inherent replay value. While I like being able to refer to a trophy list for a game like Fallout 3 because it gives me a gauge of how many quests and objectives remain to be completed, I think they’re wholly unnecessary most of the time because doing well at a game is reward enough for me. I have no interest in building up a high achievement score or amassing a huge trophy case just to show off to everyone online. I’m totally with Miyamoto on this one; I don’t understand why gamers are so wrapped up in these things. It just seems so base and juvenile to me.

    Again, I’m not trying to insult anyone. If you like trophies and achievements, it makes no difference to me. More power to you. Personally, I just don’t get it.

  11. Eddy,

    My point was they are IDENTICAL.

    Perception vs reality and perception wins again.

    They are both meaningless. If you found one better than the other, good for you, but there is not a real difference other than presentation.

    And the “sad” comment was obviously being facetious. Would have thought you would know me enough to know that.

    And people can do whatever they want, but if you play a shitty game just to get some stupid points that don’t amount to anything in the end, feel free, but I get to have an opinion about it and that opinion is it’s waste of time. Trophies and achievements both.

    It is nothing like getting a high score. Oh, so you have 106 trophies, great, maybe that means you can afford more games or have more time to play them. So they can’t even be used for bragging rights. If it makes you happy, that’s fine, but they are just not for me.

    And of course people prefer Achievements, it started the whole stupid thing. But Trophies are identical and when people say they care about one and not the other, it justs shows a lack of attention to reality. That is their preference, but it’s like saying you prefer milk to cow juice. The difference is all in your head.

  12. As an owner of both systems, I can say that they are not the exact same thing. It’s all about the presentation, and how each score is associated with your avatar/online identity. It’s not the difference between milk and cow juice, but milk and say, cheese. Same substance, different stages.

    On the 360, the score is displayed prominently nearly every time your gamertag is displayed. It’s a quantitative summation of your entire experience on that system, for the entire 360 library, whereas trophies are only available on something like 100-150 games. You have to dig through the profile to find trophies, making it a clear after thought for the whole experience. To me, that right there alone shows that the implementation is different enough. Trophies are a kind of cool thing to get. Achievements are tied to your name/online persona and tell everybody what you’ve done for any game on the 360.

    Sure, people can say that’s not much of a difference, but to me it embodies one of the fundamental differences in the design philosophy between XBL and PSN. And that’s an important thing. Yes, they are both providing the same thing: meaningless rewards for things you do in games. But one can be implemented better than the other, and make me enjoy collecting them more.

  13. I will concede part of your point, but you don’t have to dig for the trophies, they are displayed on your profile name in the friends list. It doesn’t come up when you get a message or something, but just go to your friends list and it’s right there.

  14. Yeah, in the end, it’s just dumb points/rewards. I won’t defend my unhealthy achievement whoring ways, but I will defend the implementation, haha.

  15. Yes every tf2 pack i get all 15 achivements on the class i play as, why? well i like the option to use the gun, i play pyro oftern on certian maps like a payload i will use back burner but for a capture point map normal flamer has an advantage.

    The worst game which has achivements is wow, which made me quit it thankfully such a waste of time, on that game its a killer for new players. Because everything becomes a catch 22, cant get in raid because i dont have achivement, cant get achivement because i cant get a raid, repeat.

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