Achievement Unlocked: 10 Memorable Achievements & Trophies in Video Games

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Achievements on Xbox and trophies on PlayStation are great for recording and showing off accomplishments in games. Before these metrics players would have to either record video of their games as they played or take a picture of the screen as it displayed a high score. Now every gaming feat is tracked and quantified giving players something tangible to collect as they beat their favourite games. These achievements and trophies (we’ll call them badges to make things easy) can also expand the experience by challenging the player to complete bonus objectives as they are playing the main game.

The overwhelming majority of badges are fairly generic, marking the completion of the base game on one of the difficulty settings or by repeating a particular skillset (e.g. headshots) multiple times. These badges are important to include as proof of beating the game but are ultimately uninteresting. They reward basic progress and nothing more. The memorable ones are those that demand something more from the player and reward them for going the extra mile.

While not all of these particular challenges are difficult to complete, they can leave their mark in some way whether that be adding an interesting twist to the game play or presenting a shared goal among friends. The following is a list of badges I’ve collected that are personally memorable and added a bit more depth to the experience:


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Hold My Hair

Game: Watch_Dogs 2
Description: Take a picture of someone vomiting

For a game in which the player takes on the role of a computer hacker and fights to foil the corrupt plans of giant corporations, you wouldn’t expect this kind of task to be featured. That speaks to the level of interactivity that was put into the world which you move around in. Along with hacking security doors, vehicles, and remote control devices, you can also just take your phone out and pose for a selfie with the numerous landmarks all across L.A. Which I did. A lot.

Getting the timing right to snap a pic of someone about to toss their cookies can either come by complete happenstance, or after being patient while standing in the vicinity of a local pub at night as was the case for me when trying to secure this final trophy. What makes it memorable is more to do with how recently I unlocked it, but it’s quirky, random, and makes you appreciate the finer details that an open world game can have.


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Walker defender

Game: Star Wars Battlefront
Description: Destroy a Y-wing in Walker Assault

This trophy is just funny. In walker assault mode the Empire tries to escort an AT-AT walker from one end of the map to another. The Rebels attempt to control uplink centers in order to call Y-wings to disable the walker and make it vulnerable for a short period. If that sounds confusing it’s only because it is. The funny thing about this trophy is that the Y-wings are not active combatants and destroying them doesn’t prevent them from disabling the walker. They make for good target practice though, so it’ll give you something to shoot at if the slow pace of the game doesn’t hold your interest.


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FINE PLAY! Trophies

Game: Mighty No. 9
Description: Achieve all FINE PLAY! technical bonuses in the _________ boss battle.

Mighty No. 9 had a very messy development and after 3 delays we ultimately got a re-imagined Mega Man game that wasn’t very pleasing to the eyes. What I can say for it though is that it still made for a satisfying 2D platform experience that filled the void that the blue bomber has left in recent years. Normally I wouldn’t expect this kind of game to have any other types of trophies than speed runs, but these trophies really made me think about the way I approached boss fights.

They all ask the player to do the same thing which was to get a FINE PLAY bonus during a boss fight. The reason that multiple trophies are listed here is because each boss has a different way to get the bonus. This can be either to hurt them while charging energy, shooting their projectiles from the air, or dodging attacks in a very specific way. It adds an interesting challenge when fighting the boss aside from the boss itself. The only problem is that it takes trial and error to even know what to do for a FINE PLAY in the first place, so it’s more of a test of ingenuity than skill (unless you look it up online).


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Stinking Rebels

Game: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Description: Brand 5 Bodyguards of a Warchief, turning them against him in combat.

While not the most valuable trophy in Shadow of Mordor, it takes a lot of setup and has the same satisfaction one would get from knocking down a line of dominoes. It also completely revolves around the hierarchy system, wherein Uruks can become ranking leaders among their peers and move up the ladder to become a powerful Warchief. They can also be branded to make them loyal to the player, which is ultimately the key to unlocking this trophy. Warchiefs are normally difficult to kill, so it’s fun to take a more creative approach and be the master manipulator under Sauron’s nose and make his armies fight among themselves.


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Hoard the Horde

Game: Gears of Wars 2
Description: Survive all 50 waves of Horde (any difficulty, any map)

This can technically be regarded as a completion achievement, but I include it here as a fond memory of some of my friends and I linking two Xboxs together and fending off the horde of enemies trying to kill us into the early hours of the morning. The second Gears game did not offer much in terms of defense (a problem addressed in its sequel) but we got clever using the shields dropped by larger foes and blockading ourselves in a closed up building with just enough of a vantage point to pick off wave after wave of enemies. We almost didn’t finish when the system link malfunctioned, stopping our progress, but we trekked on like troopers until victory was ours. Good times.


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Shoot First

Game: LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Description: Shoot First

Simple description right? But what does it mean? To the more savvy fans of Star Wars this reference is obvious but even with that it doesn’t say much of what to do. Luckily there are achievements throughout that tell the player to destroy character X with character Y. That can range from Vader destroying Anakin, Qui-Gon destroying Darth Maul, or Kit Fisto destroying The Emperor. In this case it is Han Solo shooting first at Greedo as it was always meant to be before George Lucas started changing things in the special edition. Spotting this pattern of achievements and putting it together with the Han shot first reference makes this something like a meta achievement (metachievement?) which is very cool and exactly why I love this one so much.


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Little Rocket Man

Game: The Orange Box
Description: Send the garden gnome into space.

This was honestly a toss up between this and The One Free Bullet since they both ask the player to play through the entirety of the game with a specific handicap. Where there are plenty of alternatives to using guns in Half Life 2, this achievement was more of a challenge as it had you carrying around a useless object everywhere you went.

The premise of this achievement is to place a garden gnome in a rocket that is launched towards the end of the game. The gnome itself can be found at a much earlier part of the game and thus the player must travel from location to location carrying the little guy, occasionally putting it down to fight some monsters and checking to make sure it didn’t fall off of your car. That was the challenging part: the fact that the gnome adhered to physics like everything else. So the player really has to make sure it’s secure so that a stray explosion doesn’t shoot it out of your reach, effectively ruining the progress you’ve made so far.

After placing it in that rocket though, it makes you reflect on your journey with the little guy, and you’re happy to see it reaching the stars. Also I have to mention that I forgot to close the hatch to the rocket and lost a couple hours because I didn’t save often enough. That certainly made it memorable.


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Flawless Raider

Game: Destiny
Description: Complete a Raid without anyone in your fireteam dying.

Destiny is a solid shooter with simple and fun RPG elements to make your character feel like your own. Each player has a different experience, but the best experience one can have is gathering a group of 5 friends to tackle a raid together. Normally raids are a real test of patience and coordination between your group (or fireteam in this case) and its essentially guaranteed that you will all die at some point because the margin of error is so small even if the team is overpowered. So it may come to a surprise to some that I unlocked this trophy completely solo.

That’s not a reflection of my skill or anything, I die in raids with my friends all the time. It speaks more to a specific raid and the number of exploits one can take advantage of in order to bypass entire portions that normally require 6 members. Crota’s End is the raid in question and if a player can make it through the right hoops while using the right gear, they can solo the whole thing without dying once. What is presented as the ultimate test of coordination and careful planning instead becomes a clever way of technically achieving the same result by taking an unorthodox approach, which is something great about games in general.


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Vidmaster Challenge: Annual

Game: Halo 3
Description: After 9/25/08, complete Halo on 4-player Legendary LIVE co-op, with Iron, and everyone in Ghosts.

The term “oddly specific” comes to mind when reading the description to this achievement. Around the written date, Bungie had released an update on Halo 3 which added achievements with various odd criteria. This one was amusing because it required 4 players to finish a tough vehicle level and dying meant the whole team started over from the last checkpoint. You were only as good as your worst player and ours was constantly failing and sending us back a few paces (I swear it wasn’t me!). It made for a fun memory in the end since we were a close bunch who played together a lot. It was also a huge test of friendship and it’s amazing we still talked to one another after finishing.


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The Bladder of Steel Award

Game: Rock Band 2
Description: Complete the Endless Setlist 2 without pausing or failing.

Rock Band 2 has 84 songs in its library. That amounts to over 6 hours of music when played back-to-back. The Endless Setlist is a daunting challenge where a band of players must play every song on the disc in a progressively difficult order. Normally breaks can be taken to refresh and rest those fingers, but not if you want to prove your (bladder’s) mettle as there is no pausing and no failing allowed. 6 hours of non-stop Rock Band (Heaven? Hell? The line gets blurry a few hours in).

This is the most memorable because it’s such a large undertaking and it also has a story attached to it. One weekend I was out to play video games with a group of friends, when I mentioned that another friend was going to try to get this achievement before I did (it was the only one in the game I was missing). This caused us to leap into motion, grab any snacks we could, and start our musical marathon. We actually taped bottle caps to the start buttons on the guitar controllers so we couldn’t accidentally pause. The rest of the night was spent rocking our way towards glory, and glorious it was (ignoring the sleep deprivation, which was nothing new to us).

The achievement name is apt, but somewhat a misnomer. It isn’t about not using the bathroom, rather knowing when you can use the bathroom. It wasn’t the first time we completed the Endless Setlist and we knew where the gaps were.


That’s my list of memorable badges. If you’d like to compare further you can browse every badge I’ve earned using the following links:

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What memorable badges have you earned? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

@Cowanch

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For Honor: A Shooter with Swords or a Shooter without Guns?

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I was excited to play Ubisoft’s new historic war game, For Honor, when I got an invitation to participate in the open beta on Jan 26-29, 2017. The concept of participating in large scale sword battles as a viking, knight, or samurai (let’s be honest, samurai) was something out of an overgrown child’s imagination. However, despite having a decent discount on Amazon, I found myself cancelling my pre-order by the end of the weekend.

The game answers the age old question of which of these marketable deadly warriors would win in a fight: vikings, knights, or samurai, in what must have been pitched as Deadliest Warrior: The Game (even though that was already done). In For Honor, the player takes control of a combatant in one of these factions and does combat with other players in 1 vs. 1 duels, 2 vs. 2 brawls, or 4 vs. 4 battles where opposing armies of AI cannon fodder charge into battle in order to overtake the map.

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It all sounds very similar to a standard multiplayer shooter in terms of scale and objectives but what makes For Honor so special is that it sports an innovative combat system that makes melee fights more interesting than its gun toting counterparts. That is to say, For Honor does not feature guns as primary weaponry like you would see in Call of Duty or Battlefield. For Honor‘s system adds complexity to its melee combat instead.

Players lock themselves in one-on-one duels with a single enemy. While you aren’t attacking, you are defending one of three sides: up, left, and right. Attacking is done using the same directions, and a player must land a blow in a direction differing to that of the defending player’s guard, otherwise the attack is blocked. It really makes you slow down, read your opponent for openings, and time your attacks to quickly dispatch your opponent. On top of that, you can dodge, grapple, throw, and strike quickly or heavily. There is so much depth to the combat that Ubisoft could have designed the rest of the game around it. However that is not what we got.

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A combat tutorial. Your guard direction is indicated by the three arrows over your avatar.

What we get with the 4 vs. 4 battles was the setup of a shooter – teams of 4 players fighting each other while trying to control objectives on a map – with the ranged combat replaced with the new melee combat. The result is a watered down experience as the new combat system does not adequately compensate for the removal of gun play. The objectives and goals stay the same but now the player only has one option to complete them, which is to engage your opponents up close, one at a time. It almost doesn’t matter how unique each encounter can be since the player is forced to play according a certain play style.

What makes shooters really fun is variety. Variety in weapons, map designs, and gameplay objectives. It supports the idea that every player plays the game differently, leading to more dynamic games and keeping players engaged in the action. Restricting the player takes away any lasting power that the game might have because each match starts feeling the same after a while. When a game starts feeling repetitive the player will look elsewhere for something more exciting, and that’s a problem when dealing with games focusing more on a multiplayer experience.

For comparison, we’ll be looking at a shooter that has a lot of variety in weapons, maps, and objectives: Halo 3. This game is structured much like For Honor with the teams of players fighting for objectives on a map. The key difference is what Halo 3 is able to do with ranged combat that cannot be done in For Honor‘s restrictive melee combat.

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Halo 3 sports many options for the player, as illustrated with the multitude of weapons in this image.

Weapons

The first and most obvious difference is in what weapons are at the player’s disposal. As already established, For Honor deals exclusively in melee weapons and while the range of melee weapons is decently varied (multiple swords, axes, polearms, etc.) the way they control is similar enough that the player is still restricted in their strategy. On the other hand, Halo 3 has a very diverse selection of weapons that change the way the game is played. The battle rifle is good for mid to long range targets, shotguns and energy swords for close range. The player can employ powerful one-hit weapons that can be easy to use like rocket launchers or ones that require some more dexterity like the Spartan laser. For Honor doesn’t have as much to offer so in regards to weapons (and their associated play styles) it’s actually removing choice from the player.

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Halo 3’s weapon selection.

Maps

Having only melee weaponry means that maps don’t need to be as complex and probably benefit from not having obstacles or structures scattered about, which would encumber the player’s movement and make it more difficult to fight their opponents. This results in simple, uninteresting landscapes with only one way to maneuver from one end to the other. Complicated maps with interior and exterior areas, multi-storied platforms, and gaps for jumping over would prove too difficult to traverse. That speaks volumes about the limitations of For Honor, since maps like this fit right at home with Halo 3.

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A featured map in the Beta. Beautiful but simple and mostly an open field.

In Halo 3 combat can be done at any angle, incorporating the field for cover or positioning, and the game allows the player to traverse the map by either jumping or using the map’s features like gravity lifts or teleporters.The map plays a part in fights just as much as the weapons do whereas For Honor‘s maps serve more as an interchangeable aesthetic theme. The map plays no role in a fight unless you count the edges of the map where you can (hilariously) knock opponents off. A match played on one map is no different than another because the limitations of the game don’t allow it to.

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Ramps, platforms, and gravity lifts in this Halo 3 map. This isn’t even the whole map in its entirety.

Gameplay Objectives

Another disconnection that For Honor has with the player is what game play objective they should be invested in. The Beta featured a game mode called Dominion that played like a three pronged king of the hill where players fight for control of three capture points for their team. The confusion with this is that holding these points on the map seems to be the only thing that was important in winning the game. Directly speaking from experience: no matter how many kills I got I was always on the losing end of the battle. I soon realized that staying in a captured zone actually increased your score faster. Since the game doesn’t end until the last player on either team is killed during sudden death, it was actually a viable strategy to stay completely still. If that sounds unbelievable, watch this match that I recorded where my team wins with the lower score (skip to 8:30, my team is orange):

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The problem with this mode is how much the player has to run around keeping tabs on each capture point to stay ahead. Combat almost feels optional unless two opposing players find themselves in the same capture zone. It feels like fighting gets in the way of completing the objective if you have to stop for a few seconds to dispatch an opponent. There isn’t a whole lot of flow between objectives and combat unlike in Halo 3, where given the same setup the objectives can be fought for across the map from one another, using the variety of short to long range weaponry. Moving in to capture these points can also be approached in multiple ways with the versatile design of the maps, and since combat doesn’t slow you down it never strays from your objective just to fight another player.

A game that goes against the grain like this is deserving of praise for trying something new and a shooter game that puts its focus into swordplay is definitely innovative. The problem is not what it adds to the genre however it’s what it takes away that is more evident. That makes For Honor feel less like a shooter with swords as advertised and just a shooter without guns instead.

@Cowanch


For Honor is developed and published by Ubisoft Montreal and is available for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

Halo 3 is developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft.