Top 10: Trophy Sins

I am a trophy addict. In my search for platinums, I have encountered frustrating minigames, glitched collectables and server instability. Not all trophies are created equal. I am not referring to the bronze/silver/gold distinction, but the fact that some enhance the experience for hunters and others detract from the game. Playing through a campaign once can be exhilarating; playing through four times can be a chore.

The below detail trophy implementation which is less than an ideal. This is not a reflection on the games themselves, which are reviewed on their own merits, but how they choose to reward players for progression.

Trophy 1010. Unnecessarily Hidden
Uncharted – Expert Dyno-Might
Kill 3 enemies with a single explosion 5 times

Hidden trophies don’t display any information until the player earns them. This is a good tool to protect fans from spoilers. On the other end of the spectrum are creators hiding trophies for no obvious reason. Sometimes, such as Final Fantasy XIII, the platinum is hidden…which doesn’t reveal anything except for the fact there is a platinum. In Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, there are 13 trophies hidden for killing X enemies with Y gun and then Expert Dyno-Might. Without independent research, players wouldn’t know how to earn this trophy and it would remain in shadows forever. Nothing was gained, except for player-frustration, by keeping this trophy a secret.

Trophy 99. Multiple Characters
Borderlands 2 – So Much Blood!
Gunzerked continuously for 90 seconds

This can go either way. Sometimes a game forcing players to utilize multiple play styles can enhance the experience by taking a fan outside their comfort zone. Othertimes, it can be an adventure in grinding. The difference is, how much backtracking and duplication of effort is required? For fighting games beating arcade mode or the combo-trials is proving mastery of the game and feels like a fair reward system. For Borderlands 2, trophy hunters must use the Gunzerker skill for 90 seconds and Assassin skill for ten. Each of these feats require level 30. Players can go through the entire campaign and still be short of level 30. This requires unnecessary grinding (or using a dummy Player 2 through half the game).

Trophy 88. Earn Others
Sleeping Dogs – Chief Inspector
Complete 100% of all missions, cases, favors, events, jobs and races.

There is already a trophy for earning other trophies, it is called the platinum. To double-down on the same series of tasks lacks creativity; which is important to making the journey important. While going through Sleeping Dogs, I reach a point where I only needed to complete one event but that was keeping four separate trophies from appearing. Instead of having multiple rewards gated from the same task, designers should try to encourage a varied playstyle approach.

Trophy 77. Zero Effort
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus – Sucker Punched!
Enter the world of Sly Cooper!

If everyone had a million dollars, being a millionaire would be worthless. The same can apply to trophies. I would love to have a platinum in every game I play, but some are either too difficult or boring. When trophies are handed out for doing nothing, all you need to do is watch the opening scene in Sly Cooper, then they quickly lose all meaning.

Trophy 66. Grind Out
Mass Effect 3 – Veteran
Kill 5,000 enemies

As a trophy hunter, I have to ask myself, “Do I enjoy playing the game, or enjoy watching the progress bar fill up?” Trophies which require grinding require fans to reevaluate their situation. I completed the campaign and every multiplayer trophy with 2,000+ kills, I was less than halfway to the 5,000 mark. I took to to find if others were in a similiar situation. They were. Fortunately, an exploit revolving infinitely respawning enemies was discovered. Unfortunately, it still took 3 hours to kill the remaining enemies. This was a moment when I enjoyed the trophy, but not the game.

Trophy 55. Lack Tracking
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time – Navigate like Drake
Take a look at every map in every episode.

If a trophy requires a series of task to be completed, the game is keeping a log of that information. It is helpful if that could be shared with the player. It doesn’t necessarily have to display what is possible, but at least layout what was already accomplished. In Thieves in Time, players must open the map (a simple task) in every segment of the game. If you reach the game’s finale and don’t have the trophy there is no way to determine where you need to backtrack to. This causes players to guess what they missed. A potentially simple activity becomes an exercise in repetition.

Trophy 44. No Difficulty Stacking
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix HD – Novice Player
Clear the Final Mix on Beginner.

If you have the skills to beat a game on hard, then you can obviously do the same task on easy. Most games offer difficulty stacking trophies. This makes it increasingly frustrating when games don’t. I recognize that they are separate trophies but this is like making an award winning chef cook at McDonald’s to prove that they can create a burger.

Trophy 33. Mini-games
Watch_Dogs – Social Lubricant
Complete level 10 against all 3 Drinking Game opponents.

I buy games for the primary mechanic associated with the gameplay, not the extras tacked on. FFVII is an amazing game. The snowboarding simulator, paper/rock/scissors game and chocobo racing…not so much. In the age of trophies sometimes developers want to ensure that their pet projects receive attention still. In Watch_Dogs 99% of the game revolves driving, shooting and puzzle solving but 1% is mini-games. Not only is social lubricant an odd mini-game, it is time consuming and hard. I would much rather see a difficult trophy regarding the core gameplay than a random mechanic tacked on.

Trophy 22. Single Sitting
Max Payne 3 – The Shadows Rushed Me
Unlock And Complete New York Minute Hardcore

No saves. Just you and the game from start to finish. Trophies should be challenging, no deaths might seem ridiculous but it is a fair challenge…but no saves feels like rubbish. At least throw players a soft-save which is overridden the second the character dies. Not everyone can commit a solid two hours to play through a game.

Trophy 11. Multiplayer
The Last of Us – Firefly
Complete the Firefly Journey.

Online gaming is a renaissance of opportunities for designers and fans. Call of Duty, Madden, Magic: The Gathering and others benefit from the ease of access players have to an online community. Designers decided to incorporate multiplayer mechanics into their single player games. Many of these are great additions and options such as Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect and Uncharted. The problem becomes when the multiplayer trophies are a requirement to completing the Platinum. The Last of Us has an amazing multiplayer selection. The levels, balancing and teamplay elements capture the single player perfectly. The problem is the trophy requires players to complete 168 matches. This means that trophy hunters will spend more time playing multiplayer than single…which isn’t what one expects when playing a primarily single player game.


Level Up, Friends!