Top 10: Trophy Virtues Trophies are great, when implemented properly they enhance gameplay and reward players for ingenuity, exploring every facet of the world or proving complete mastery of the game mechanics. The trophy is a digital token; the actual act of accomplishment is the player’s true prize. The best designed trophies recognize this and reward gamers with a *ding* (or *bleep bloop* for my Xbox friends) by constructing goals around tasks players want to complete. The below detail trophy implementation which makes the game more enjoyable for a trophy hunter. This is not a reflection on the games themselves, which are reviewed on their own merits. If you want to see where trophy design falters, check out the Top 10: Trophy Sins. 10. Multiple Ways Unit 13 – Finish Him! Eliminate SCROPION. Choices matter. Gamers choose to play a game and then decide if they will attempt to earn every trophy (and thus, the platinum) or not. Allowing players to decide how to earn a trophy can be the difference between an enjoyable experience or a grind. In Unit 13, players need to eliminate high value targets. These can be earned either through Near (an underutilized sharing feature on the Vita) or by receiving a high rank on missions. Completing all missions with 5-stars will require multiple playthroughs. By streamlining the process, players have the choice to either grind out rankings or use their friend list to gain access to these missions (players still need to complete them on their own merit for the trophy). Choice can solve the debate of including single player trophies in a multiplayer game and vice versa. Mass Effect 3 contained a series of trophies which were unlocked if players completed a feat in multiplayer or the single player campaign. This rewarded gamers for playing the game in the way they found most enjoyable. Can you imagine earning a platinum in CoD without having to touch the campaign? What about finishing Assassin’s Creed with all trophies and never jumping into multiplayer? That is a choice I wish more developers would invest in. 9. Clever Name Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi – OVER 9000!!!! Obtain all the trophies. When earning a trophy, the icon and name appear on screen. It is always nice when these include an interesting piece of artwork and naming convention. If you are going to earn a trophy, and show it off to other hunters, it makes more sense for it to be something worth displaying. The best utilization of this will be a reference to the game itself or a pop-culture meme that anyone can potentially know. 8. Spoofing and Goofing Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando – You can Break a Snow Dan Blow up the snowman on Siberius. Video games are supposed to be enjoyable. Earning trophies should be as well and not everyone needs to take itself seriously. Game like Ratchet & Clank include a series of trophies for completing oddball tasks. These have nothing to do with the standard campaign but are optional objectives to players who want to explore a little more or push themselves further by beating an enemy with only the wrench or turning every tank into a duck… 7. Multiplayer Tryouts Uncharted 2: Honor Among Thieves – Buddy System Complete one Cooperative Multiplayer game. The lone gamer hates having to play online. The lone trophy hunter hates having to earn multiplayer trophies, but they will to earn a platinum. Recently, Pixel Junk Shooters Ultimate changed a trophy from “Win 5 consecutive matches” to “Win 5 matches.” The original trophy was causing players to use a PS4 and Vita to search for themselves and beat themself!? This undermined the entire concept of a multiplayer trophy. There are threads in Last of Us, where people discovered the maximum amount of MP games you can quit to continue the MP campaign and earn the trophies. Forcing MP trophies on primarily SP gamers makes for a weakened online community. This is why trophies which encourage gamers to try MP are important. It doesn’t force consecutive matches on those who don’t want to (I recognize that no one has to earn trophies) but still encourages people to try. Anything that can potentially bring a player out of their comfort zone and try new things is a good idea. Who knows? After a few rounds the lone gamer might not be as lonely as they thought and enjoy a brand new online community, but it would be their choice. 6. Power Up Infamous: Second Son – Shardcore Collect all the Blast Shards. Most games include the protagonist leveling up; it’s great to see trophies which mirror this journey. In Second Son, Delsin needs more power to protect his loved ones and set the world’s wrongs. This theme is constantly reiterated throughout the narrative and is a driving force for the player. Gamers consistently are trying to find the most powerful equipment or maxed out stats within a game. Rewarding players for going the extra mile is what trophies were intended to do. 5. Mission Accomplished The Last of Us – No Matter What – Survivor Complete the game on Survivor. Every game should include a trophy for beating the main narrative (unless it’s a MP game, then…choices!). This is the adventure the developers intended players to take, this is what the majority of gamers set out to accomplish. When the credits roll, there is a sense of accomplishment and closure. It seems appropriate that a new trophy should be part of the collection to match this feeling. 4. Easter Eggs Borderlands 2 – What does it mean? I can’t even capture it on my camera. Games don’t need to hold players hands and trophies shouldn’t either. There are some trophies which are only earned if you look throughout the world. Within Borderlands 2, players must reach a specific point within the environment and see a double-rainbow (all the way). This means absolutely nothing within the context of the game but is a reference to a YouTube video. Gamers will only encounter this if they are willing to explore the world and don’t bee line through the campaign (or if they consult a trophy guide). This type of trophy encourages exploration and players to see every section of the game. 3. Vary Gameplay Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Expert Ninja Defeat five enemies in a row using stealth attacks. Trophies should enhance the gameplay experience, not detract away from it. Sometimes that adjustment can come in the form of challenging players to go a different style than what they are used to. In UC3, the gameplay is primarily cover based shooting and these segments work out great. But it is possible to complete large chunks of the game by taking down enemies with stealth tactics. This isn’t the traditional Drake-way, but is an option available. Players are encouraged to try new things and explore the game in a way that might not be their ideal situation. This can help them discover new useful tactics or help reinforce their knowledge that their way is the best. Either way, a trophy and victory are earned. 2. Discover Mechanics Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – You enjoy all the killing, that’s why. Killed many enemies in one area, then vomited. Have you ever looked at a trophy list and thought, huh…I didn’t know that could happen? In an age where tutorials pop up every second, but manuals don’t exist, it sometimes takes additional research to discover everything a game has to offer. Trophies help flush out these options and set the player down a potential path. MGS4 is filled with quirky Easter eggs and interesting trophies that gamers might have missed out on unless they knew what they were looking for. Reviewing the trophy list in this situation becomes part of the gameplay. 1. Game Mastery Mega Man 10 – MR. PERFECT Clear the game without getting damaged. I want to platinum every game I play, but there are some (mostly fighting or stealth based) that I don’t have the skills. That’s okay. Not every trophy should come naturally and there are some games that push players to their limits. There are a ton of gruelingly difficult trophies out there which only the top tiered players can earn. This helps separate those who are dedicated to every facet of the game from those who run through the campaign (those guys deserve a trophy still, see above). Trophies should mean something to those who hunt them and by creating a challenging scenario, developers provide the opportunity to players. I find more worth in an ultra rare bronze trophy that proves mastery over a game than an easy platinum that everyone owns. Level Up, Friends!