My take on how the Achievement and Trophy Systems have affected the way games are played (Last Generation Consoles).
What are they there for?
To get the player to fully explore what the game can do as well as give a challenge. Well, I like to think so anyway.
I like to think that developers put achievements/trophies into the game to make the player explore parts of the game that they may miss, or don’t really care about. Sure, you get achievements for completing individual missions or a group of levels, but it’s achievements like in Assassin’s Creed II to ‘Spend 5000 florins on Courtesans.’ and ‘Pickpocket 1000 florins‘. It’s achievements/trophies like that that encourage the player to do stuff in game that they wouldn’t normally do, but would add to the experience of the game if they were to.
Something else I like to see from achievements/trophies are challenges that the developer gives to the player. May not be something that would affect the game if they were to complete this challenge, but the player would gain the achievement/trophy from it, along with its relevant award and when it comes to challenges and achievements/trophies, one springs to mind instantly.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare:
- Mile High Club – Sky dive to safety on Veteran difficulty (20gs (No equivalent trophy)
Basically, complete the bonus post-story mission on the hardest difficulty, and for anyone that’s tried it and got it… I salute you. It’s challenges like this that can give the player the satisfaction of completing such a task, and that brings us on to the next point.
What are the rewards?
Well, as stated above:
- Xbox 360 – Gamerscore
- PlayStation 3 – Trophy and ‘Experience’
Doesn’t seem like a lot does it? Well it’s not, really. Some games may have these achievements/trophies built into the game that give additional content when completed, such as Diablo 3. Even still, Mile High Club… On Veteran difficulty… Just for 20 gamerscore… Surely it’s not worth it; but wait, even though you may get the achievement and 20 gamerscore added to your total, you get something else.
What a feeling it is when you get rewarded for completing such a challenge. If there was no achievement linked to this challenge, I wouldn’t see the point in trying it. Hell, I don’t think I would even attempt it, but going with the theme of Mile High Club…
It can make you frustrated, angry enough to throw a controller or two, but when you get that victory screen and the achievement pop, like above, the rush you get is incredible. You completed the task, and you got rewarded for it, and get something to show for it, rather than just seeing the victory screen; even though that can give the same level as satisfaction, but when going back through achievements/trophies and see that you have that specific achievement/trophy unlocked, it can trigger the memory of it popping and reliving that satisfaction you felt back when you accomplished it.
Has it changed the way we play games?
Yes, No… There is no right answer.
Speaking as someone who enjoys the satisfaction of earning achievements, they changed the way that I engage in games. Before I set off play through a game for the first time, I glance through the achievement list and then play through the game.
Then if, at some point, I remember details about an achievement and now I’m at a point I could obtain that achievement, I will try for it, but only if I remember what needs doing. Other than that, my first time run through consists of completing the game with going through non-story material if I feel like it.
If the game has a free roam element, such as Final Fantasy or Fallout 3, I will go back through the game world and ‘mop up’ on achievements to achieve what I can. If the game is mission orientated, like Battlefield or Call of Duty, I would mission select and do the mission specific achievements or aim to get achievements that would be easier obtained in one level other another. Following on from this, I look to achievement guides on YouTube or other websites such as:
These websites give user-provided guides on how to obtain specific achievements. They also normally contain an achievement walkthrough, which will give brief, spoiler free details on story progression with the relevant achievement guides separating the story walkthrough. Once I have ‘100%ed’ a game, it goes away and I won’t play it again, unless I want to play it multiplayer or it has DLC release.
Before the introduction of achievements/trophies, I would just play the game for the fun that should come with playing any game. I still do play it for the fun, but I have a more achievement-centered attitude when it comes to gaming now, which can be annoying and takes the fun away, but adds in feelings of satisfaction you get and knowing that there is something there to show for it.
On the other side, I have friends who don’t care about achievements/trophies and just play the way they want to. They wouldn’t go out of their way to complete a non-story related task just for an achievement/trophy like I would. If they earn the achievement, it’s just a ‘happy coincidence’ as they put it, or story related and can’t be missed.
This is how I started out when I started playing on the Xbox 360, but as I started earning more and more achievements and seeing my gamerscore rising, I began to experience the thrill and satisfaction more and more. It was when I had completed my first game to 1,000 gamerscore and a strange feeling came over me. It was just like ‘I’ve completed this game. Done everything the developer wanted me to do. Now what?‘ It was then when going through my achievement list that I seen 1000/1000 and 50/50 that I got that thrill of satisfaction. That game, by the way, was Assassin’s Creed II.
My list now consists of 15 Xbox 360 titles and continues to rise. My gamerscore sits at just above 80,000 and, yet again, continues to rise. Even with the release of the Xbox One, I still find myself going back to the old console, and even buying games for it, in order to boost my gamerscore from easily obtainable achievements, as can be seen in the image below with Just Cause making an appearance.
Has it changed the way we play games?
So back to the question.
For me? Yes it has, but no, in the same breath. I go specifically for the achievements nowadays, but would I do non-story related tasks anyway? More than likely.
For other people? Maybe. Everyone’s play style is different. There is no definite answer to the question.
There is still one question that I haven’t answered from the title.
Are They Needed?
No, of course they’re not, but they are nice to have.
They offer the playing an incentive to play the game a different way then they normally would. Does the player have to play the game different? No, it’s solely their choice.