TA Top Five: Collectibles

By Jonathan Barnes,
If there's one thing I hate, it's black olives on pizza.

If there's a second thing I hate, it's a game with pointless collectibles.

On the flip side, games with good collectibles are amazing. They push you to search the entire world of the game, hoping to find that golden, little nugget that will unlock something amazing, either a new weapon, a new skill, or possibly some wrinkle to the story that you didn't even know existed. Much as the Yang to the TA Top Five on Pointless Collectibles Yin, this TA Top Five is going to take a look at some of the best collectibles in games. To be considered, the collectible had to has to have an achievement tied to collecting, as well as some reward (be it information, perks, or items) beyond just collecting them for the achievement.

Honorable Mentions

Chrono-Notes - Singularity Achievements

Raven's highly-underrated shooter gave gamers the chance to manipulate time with the... wait for it... "Time Manipulation Device". While running around Katorga-12, you will encounter the faintest of writings scrawled on walls. Throwing some TMD power onto those faded marks will restore them and present a Chrono-Note. The best part of this collectible is that you only need to find fifteen of them to pop the Pen Pal achievement, and there are twenty-five on the island, so missing a few won't sink your run.

Agility Orbs - Crackdown Achievements
You knew these would make the list, right? While many gamers have terrible flashbacks to trying to unlock the Free Runner achievement, the Orbs themselves provided a HUGE boost to Agent mobility and really opened up Pacific City and all of its heights.

Vault-Tec Bobbleheads - Fallout 3 Achievements
With its massive world many gamers might not have found all (or any) of Fallout 3's Vault-Tec Bobbleheads. Each one of these smiling little guys bestowed either a one-point boost to a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat or a ten-point boost to a specific skill level. Scattered throughout the Capital Wasteland, these guys could be proudly displayed in the player's home in either Megaton or Tenpenny Tower. Collecting these bobbleheads will lead to unlocking the Vault-Tec C.E.O. achievement and its high (for Fallout 3) 1.85 ratio.

Top Five

5 - Dreams - Lost Odyssey Achievements
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Living forever can have its drawbacks and forgetting those who were once important has to be one of them. These dreams gave a glimpse into each character's past, the loves they've had, the people they've lost, and the stories that shaped who they've become. While completely text-based, the dreams of Lost Odyssey fill in the lives of Kaim, Seth, and Ming and have a depth of emotion that sticks with the player. Viewing all of the dreams also unlocks the Big Dreamer achievement.

4 - Audio Diaries - BioShock Achievements
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If you haven't guessed, Rapture was/is a pretty amazing place. One of the greatest tricks that Irrational pulled off with BioShock was that it filled Rapture with enough mystery that you wanted to learn more about it, and the best way to do so was to hunt down all of the audio diaries. These recorded snippets let the residents of Rapture tell it like it was and chronicle the city's downfall and give a glimpse into their everyday lives... or what passed for that. Finding all 122 of the recordings will net you the highest-ratio'd achievement in the game, Historian. Future titles in the series carry on the tradition of using these highly-informative collectibles as a way to deepen the understanding of their fantastic worlds.

3 - Manuscript Pages - Alan Wake Achievements
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Let's talk about a tortured writer living out his terrifying, nightmarish novel. Finding manuscript pages not only gave a hint as to what might be coming towards Alan, but also heightened the stakes and made the tension almost worse. Worse yet, many of these pages were off the beaten path and could only be found in the toughest mode, Nightmare. Finding all of the pages does have its reward, though, as you'll pop the high-ratio'd Collector's Edition achievement. On the flip side, Alan Wake also has the unenviable honor of having a terrible collectible-based achievement in chasing down all of the coffee thermoses.

2- Nuggets of Truth - Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Achievements
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Running and gunning in the shoes of Silas Greaves is an amazing time. What makes Gunslinger even better is that you're not quite sure whether to trust his version of the story or the ones that are told by the other saloon patrons. Helping to clear the fog are "Nuggets of Truth", which give the true and historical backstory to many of the games antagonists, locations, characters, events, and weapons. Finding them all (made easier with an in-game perk) will net the Unvarnished Truth achievement.

1 - Daedric Artifacts - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Achievements
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Not only does hunting down these artifacts reward you with a totally amazing piece of kit, but the process of collecting them is possibly one of the most fun things you can do in Skyrim. Each Artifact requires you to take up a task issued by a Daedra (one of the demigods of The Elder Scrolls franchise) and complete it to their satisfaction. Needless to say, these tasks can range from mild to wild and generally benign to downright NASTY. Collecting all fifteen of these bad boys will also net you one of the highest-ratio achievements in the game, Oblivion Walker.

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.