Ever since the Xbox 360 launched, unlocking achievements has been a hobby of mine. The concept of achievements was so fresh to me that earning them became my primary focus. Before Microsoft introduced this feature, I would only play games until the credits rolled. With achievements, this habit changed. I no longer traded in or put the box on my shelf when the game ended. Instead, I decided to start “New Game +” or play on a higher difficulty. Achievements not only allowed me to experience great games again, but they also gave me the incentive to try new things.
My skills in stealth games are lacking. In the brilliant Splinter Cell: Conviction, shooting down enemies was my play style of choice. This meant that I would not earn many of the achievements because using stealth was suggested. Although I couldn’t unlock the full 1000 Gamerscore via my style of gameplay, achievements gave me an incentive to play Ubisoft’s espionage masterpiece all over again. Games such as Dishonored, Mass Effect, and Dark Souls encouraged multiple playthroughs because of achievements.
Mass Effect and Dishonored both had achievements that required the player to complete the game with a certain alignment. Dishonored even tasked players to not only finish the game with no casualties but also without using powers. This makes the game a lot harder. In Dark Souls there are achievements for joining certain guilds and mastering specific weapons. It’s impossible to earn every achievement the first time around. As a huge fan of the franchise, these tasks provide more longevity to the title.
Achievements changed my outlook on many games in my collection. For example, I haven’t touched Sunset Overdrive in years. Developer, Insomniac Games, created the most unappreciated game (in my opinion) on Xbox One. When it launched in 2014, the over-the-top third-person action game took over my life. The fluid controls, excellent soundtrack, humor, nd tone made it a personal favorite. Since Chaos Squad (the multiplayer mode) didn’t have many players, I quickly moved on from the game. Since abandoning Sunset Overdrive, two downloadable campaigns were added. After buying them last week, it’s been great to traverse around the vibrant Sunset City once again.
With my favorite Xbox One feature, Looking For Groups, I’ve found people to play Chaos Squad with. Finally, I can be on my way to unlock every achievement in Sunset Overdrive. This past week, Mike Ybarra, Xbox Platform Corporate Vice President discussed a change for achievements on Windows Central.
“Those are all small things that we can do to the system, and the team looks at them. They’re in our backlog of things that we want to get done, but there’s actually bigger, more bolder changes that we have in mind. Nothing that I can talk about now, but something that fundamentally changes the concept … we are working towards a bigger, more meaningful change about somebody’s gaming accomplishments in history, as a gamer on Xbox.
[W]e can do a lot more to reflect and let people show their gaming history and their status. Whether it’s somebody who only plays multiplayer in Halo 5 at a professional level, maybe they only have 2,000 Gmerscore, you want to be able to celebrate that person. You want people to be in the know. This person doesn’t play a lot of games, but they’re world top ten at Halo 5. All the way to people [with over a million Gamerscore]. It’s that range that we really need to look at and celebrate … we’re going to go big in the area of letting people show off and represent their gaming history and the type of gamer that they are, far more than we do with Gamerscore.”
In the same article, the writer says that these changes will “compliment (not replace) the Gamerscore system.” I must admit, reading the quote for the first time worried me. As someone who has been using achievements since day one, they shaped the gamer I’ve become. It’s evident when looking at my Xbox Live profile. Currently, I amassed over 310,000 Gamerscore. I’m proud of the achievements attached to my profile and would be sad for my accomplishments to be ignored. Upon thinking about these quotes for a couple of days, I’m no longer concerned. In fact, until the next update rolls out, everything I’m saying is pure speculation.
Actually, the changes that Ybarra talks about makes me excited. Think about games like The Culling, which is part of the Game Preview program. As of now, it doesn’t have an achievement list. The proposed changes could potentially highlight an excellent player. What if, instead of Gamerscore based achievements, the new update gives medals that Xbox Live Gold members can pin to their account? Something like that would be fantastic. While I do love showing off my Gamerscore to friends and family, having a medal attached to my profile page seems more prestigious. Look at Major Nelson’s account. He has emblems that say “360 Launch Team”, “Kinect Launch Team”, “Xbox One Launch Team,” etc. Imagine earning similar pins linked to your favorite games. A medal for Call of Duty that says “Top 10 Leaderboard Player” or “Tournament Winner” in Madden 18 sound great.
The fact that the new update will not affect achievement hunters and their Gamerscore is a fantastic thing. Whatever Xbox has planned, it looks like Mike Ybarra and the team have the community’s best interest in mind. I won’t stop hunting down achievements, and I can’t wait to see what the update will bring. In the end, anything that helps enrich a game’s experience is okay in my book. If the new update helps to highlight some awesome gamers subscribed to Xbox Live, the company will reach a new level of inclusiveness that will further solidify the fact that Microsoft is thinking about the fans.
Are you a fan of achievements? How do you feel about the upcoming update? What changes do you think will happen to the achievement system? What do you want to see the team change? Leave a comment below.