E3 Week: The Next Generation of Achievements Adds Challenges

The Xbox One will see an expansion to the achievement system with the addition of new ‘challenges’.

Confirming that your current gamerscore will also carry over to the Xbox One via a blog post on Major Nelson, program manager Cierra McDonald defined the differences between the two kinds of achievements you’ll be able to get on the next generation console.

Achievements sound like they’re going to be exactly the same as they were on the Xbox 360. They’re a number of different tasks the game asks you to complete and your reward is a certain number of gamerscore based on the difficulty of the achievement. Achievements won’t just be limited to games now, though. They can also be earned in other Xbox One applications such as music or television services. How? We’re not sure yet. Maybe you get achievements for watching a full season of Glee? Would anyone watch that show if they got achievements for it?

In the past, some achievements would also earn you exclusive Xbox Live avatar gear, if you’re into that sort of stuff. So basically, more hats! The Xbox One achievements are looking to amp up the rewards here with access to more content like artwork, maps, and even new characters and abilities. Remember how achievements in the original Mass Effect would earn you in-game bonuses like extra biotic strength? We could be seeing more of that in a wider variety of games.

Guys I really liked Alan Wake okay? Also look at how handsome I am.

Challenges, on the other hand, won’t net you any gamerscore. They’re described as ‘time-bound’, that is, limited opportunities. Think of it like the daily/weekly challenges in games like Halo Reach. Those ranged from relatively simple things like ‘get X amount of headshots in a Team Slayer game’ to ‘complete campaign level X with these incredibly crazy hard skull difficulties added’. It was like a weekly update of generally similar extra achievements, but it’s a good way of extending life in the game. So the fun in challenges comes from completing something that is limited. If achievements are bragging rights, challenges are even bigger bragging rights. Hooray for bragging!

There will also be community challenges, which appear to require co-operation from players across the world to achieve. These could be like the community unlocks that featured in multiplayer events in Assassin’s Creed III. Players were asked to achieve a certain number of global kills in order to unlock map variations and other in-game bonuses. Hopefully they’ll have more scope than that, but it’s a good start.

It also sounds like games are going to see post-release achievement support. X used an example that I’m particularly intrigued by:

‘For example, let’s say a certain game is known on community forums to have a fun little sub-game of kicking chickens. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the game developers noticed the community enjoying an unintended aspect of the game and creating a challenge around it, with a reward to boot?’

This has happened in different ways before. In Assassin’s Creed II, killing guards with a broom was an unexpected hit and became a sort of in-joke among fans. Flashforward to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, and killing a guard with a broom is an achievement. Now we could see things like that implemented in the same game. I think that’s pretty cool. I like seeing additional support for games past their release. Whether or not this feature is used a lot remains to be seen, of course, but I’ve always liked little details like this.

It sounds like most of this is simply looking at what’s been working in the current generation and adding it in more official avenues to the next generation, which is still a good thing. I liked all of these things in the current gen. Seeing more of them in the future would be fun.

Some of my teenage years were lost to achievement hunting. Not in a particularly unhealthy way, but enough that I look back on my gamerscore now and think ‘man, what was the point of all that?’. But achievements are a pretty big thing these days, and while I don’t hunt for 100% completion anymore, if an achievement is within reasonable boundaries to accomplish I might get sidetracked looking to complete it.

I’ve had a lot of fun with achievements in the past. I haven’t necessarily treated them as bragging rights, but there’s a satisfaction to accomplishing certain difficult tasks there. The idea of added in-game rewards is a compelling point for me. Bragging rights AND extra content? Yes please. Challenges, though? I imagine they’re going to be a lot more multiplayer intensive. If that means less multiplayer achievements in the future, then good, bring on these challenges, I say!

4 comments

  1. This I like, a good way to go back and revisit old games

  2. Batguy · · Reply

    One interesting point is: “Other Xbox One applications such as video and music apps can now use Achievements to bring you awesome sneak peek content, early access, or subscription extensions. Only games will give you Gamerscore.”

    So it sounds like achievements for watching TV, etc, will give you a little icon and maybe something else like an avatar hat, but be worth 0G. Is that how you understand it too?

    1. Yep, but then it makes you wonder what the point of those achievements is anyway. We’ve had 0G cheevos in the past but they’ve always been jokes or things added post-release and adhering to Microsoft’s gamerscore guidelines.

      Why have TV achievements with no reward at all?

  3. […] of consoles did away with achievements entirely? I know we’re already hearing a bit about the Xbone’s achievement system, but if you had total control would you keep them or throw […]

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