TA Top 5: Achievement Types That Ruin Good Lists

By Michelle Balsan,
As we enjoy the Memorial Day weekend here in the States, there are some of us that will be dedicating a little bit of our extra free time to the pursuit of Gamerscore (so long as we’re not in a food coma after consuming all that barbecued deliciousness). As we sit down and consider these projects, many will take some time to look at games’ achievement list before deciding what to plunge into. While there are some fantastic lists out there, there are those that are spoiled by one or two simply awful achievements. These achievements fall into one of several categories and today we’re bringing a list of our Top Five achievement types that ruin an otherwise good list.

Thanks to Vermin360 for his Top 5 suggestion, "Achievements Not Worth the Effort", that was the basis for this list,

(Dis)Honorable Mentions

Multiple replays
That's at least four plays... if you don't intend to bother at all with co-op

Y'all gotta do it again.

And again.

And again.

Look, we love a good game, and playing a game twice is not really an issue most of the time. It may be annoying to play again to pick up that one missable achievement, but some people like to do a run through of a game without looking at a list or a walkthrough to see what they can get naturally. Playing on a lower difficulty to open the most extreme difficulty is also allowable. Then you take a game like Deadly Premonition or Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock where you have multiple achievements for multiple difficulties that don't stack and you wonder why you bothered starting the game in the first place.

Achievements where the GamerScore doesn't end in 5 and 0
June 11th screen 4

For some people, having a GamerScore ending in 5 or 0 is a must, so lists that feature other GS values are to be avoided. Sometimes, the off value is in good fun, as is the case in Double Dragon Neon, where the achievement for finishing the first level is worth a measly 1G, but is then balanced out by the 19G you get for completing the game. The problem is when you get an off numbered achievement that's balanced out by having to do something ridiculous, like drive a limo for eight hours or defeating the hardest boss in a game that we are left wondering why some developers seem to dislike us so much.

Achievements requiring peripherals
Vision Camera

Let’s be clear here – there’s a place for these achievements. It’s not fair to hate on Guitar Hero because the whole point of the game is to use plastic instruments. The same goes for any game that is completely developed with Kinect as its main source of input. We *can*, however, look down at the likes of Forza Motorsport 4 and Rainbow Six Vegas and their unnecessary use of peripherals. It’s not that we’re against the use of new tech in innovative ways that may extend the gaming experience, but when it’s a single achievement requiring it, this can be infuriating. Similarly, those achievements that require multiple local players, and thus multiple controllers, can be frustrating to those who don’t game with others locally, thus ruining an otherwise solid list.

Top 5

5. Time based
Remember to pay several visits.

There are three basic categories of time-based achievements.

1) Finish a game in x time
2) Earn an achievement on a specific day
3) Play a game for x number of hours.

These aren't always bad. Sometimes, the finish a game in x hours achievement is a welcome challenge to a player who has perfected the game. Specific day achievements are often circumvented by date shifting. Playing a certain number of hours is fine so long as it's in the natural course of gameplay.

Problems arise, however, when the time based guidelines become too stringent, turning a game that should be about exploration into an unenjoyable race against the clock. There is a certain fun to date based achievements, but requiring a multitude of them (looking at you Calendar Man) is cumbersome. When a game has a play x numbers of hours achievement that well exceeds the number of hours needed to complete the game, it's simply mind numbing. For example, look at Beautiful Katamari, a game that is probably completed in twenty or so hours that has an achievement for playing 100 hours. ONE HUNDRED HOURS. The game is fun, but not over -four-solid-days-of-only-playing-that fun.

4. Collectibles
I think I see a flag from here... or not... should have written that stuff down.

Collectibles, collectibles everywhere and barely an achievement to be had. Most of the problem with collectible achievements is that going through the pain of finding everything has no reward other than GamerScore. See, back in the day, collecting everything would give you some neat thing in-game that would actually have a utility. Now, it's often just GS. The other problem with these is when a game offers absolutely zero tracking for what collectibles you've acquired, meaning you have to either rely on your memory to determine which ones you're missing or dedicate a playthrough to the pursuit of collectibles so that you don't miss anything along the way. The pain of collectibles is mitigated some when good tracking is present, but then you might get the problem of a game simply having too many achievements tied to collectibles that then leaves you with the sense that they were included only to pad out the list and the amount of time spent playing the game. Some Collectible culprits? Well, there's only one that really needs mentioning, and that's Assassin's Creed and those stupid flags. Honorable mention to Crackdown (Xbox 360)'s orbs and the sound they make that will haunt your sleep.

3. Level or Kill Grinds
Seriously... yes... Seriously

Many of you have probably encountered the following situation before.

You've played a game you love until you've done everything. Played the campaign multiple times, found the collectibles, played the multiplayer and mastered that... everything. You look at the list to find you're at 49/50 and realize you have to play for an amount of time equal to the amount of time you've already put in and more to earn the completion.

This is ridiculous though and as a result, whether you're a fan of the practice or not, this is largely where boosting comes in for most people. Trying to get all those kills naturally when a game's MP is long-since dead is just not feasible. After all, earning Gears of War' infamous Seriously achievement is practically impossible in natural play anymore, and was almost as much so when the MP was actually active. Speaking of Gears, no game takes this to a greater extreme than Gears of War 3, where Seriously 3.0 includes kill AND level grinds and then you're expected to re-up multiple times.

2. Leaderboard
Climbing these leaderboards won't come easy

These are great in theory. Achievements should be about achieving something, after all, and climbing to the top of a leaderboard is something that should surely be awarded in some ways. There are, however, a couple of issues with leaderboard achievements. First off, by their nature, they immediately limit the pool of people who will ever have a chance to get them. One can argue that high difficulty modes do that, but with dedication and practice, those can fall. See, when it comes to leaderboard achievements, there are some people who have this nasty habit of blocking them so that no one else has a chance to obtain them. Sometimes, developers will work around this by resetting said leaderboards, but those same leaderboard blockers will often rush to do so again. It's a frustrating thing outside of developers hands, but it does happen, meaning these types of achievements should be avoided on achievement lists. These kinds of achievements are why many people avoid games such as Quake 4 and Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. While these are practically unobtainable, they actually are if the proper conditions are met, unlike those that fall in our Number 1 entry...

1. Discontinued/Unobtainable/Glitched Achievements
He swings for the fences and does nothing because the servers are down.

It's likely the case that most developers don't put their game together and intend for an achievement to be discontinued or unobtainable, but these have to be the biggest offender in the "I won't play this game because this type of achievement is present" list. All of the other entries are annoying, but doable. In the case of the discontinued/unobtainable/glitched, there's literally nothing you can do to get that GamerScore on your tag. Discontinued achievements related to servers are annoying, though gamers usually have sufficient time to earn them (take, for example, most sports titles). Any achievement that requires an external site is dicey as they have this upsetting tendency to shut down, as is the case for creating a mask in Army of Two: The 40th Day. Then you have achievements that are straight-up glitched, like Greatest Rayman Ever in Rayman Raving Rabbids, that will never be fixed, forever ruining any interest some people might have in even trying the game. Nothing ruins a list more than not even having the opportunity to collect them all.

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!
Michelle Balsan
Written by Michelle Balsan
Michelle is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueAchievements and has been a member of staff since 2010. When not contributing to gaming websites, she makes her living as a mild-mannered librarian. She can be compelled to play just about anything if there's a co-op component, and has been playing games with friends and siblings since the Atari 2600. As it's reportedly healthy to have hobbies outside of gaming, she also roots for some of the most difficult sporting franchises to root for, the New York Mets and New York Jets, but offsets that by rooting for the New Jersey Devils. She's also seen pretty much none of the movies you have, but she's working on that.