(There are no spoilers in this article.)
Even as ignored as they are, achievements have had a substantial impact on gaming over the last decade. They can serve a myriad of functions, from keeping players invested for longer than usual with a steady drip of accolades to encouraging exploration and self-induced difficulty settings like Dishonored’s ‘Mostly Flesh and Steel’. Yet for some reason even the most practiced and highly regarded developers don’t seem to understand how to utilize achievements effectively.
Final Fantasy XV is a great example of how achievements can be overlooked and misused. Most of the achievements are story-based and many others are “do X for the first time.” Very few require any bit of end game content or even mild exploration, making it fairly easy to stumble your way into getting all of the achievements shortly after you see the end credits. You can get all of the achievements in about 50 – 60 hours, which is incredibly short for an RPG that has Final Fantasy in the title.
“What’s so wrong with that? 50 – 60 hours is still a long time!”
If you’re even a mild fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, or simply keep your ear to the ground on all things gaming related, then you’re probably aware the series is notorious for post-game content. Final Fantasy XV is no exception. There’s a massive amount of post-game content, some of which is incredibly unique and takes advantage of the game’s new approach to movement and combat.
Unfortunately, none of it is characterized in the achievements. If you stop playing after 100%ing the achievement list you’ll miss out on a lot of great content the game has to offer, something that could’ve easily been rectified by adding the completion of the post-game content to the achievement list. Adding just a few more hidden achievements focused on post-game content could have encouraged players to explore the post-game world a bit more and discovered some of the content that the developers poured weeks, if not months, of their heart and soul into.
Sure, in today’s media obsessed world it’s virtually impossible to check out a gaming website and not see something like, “You Won’t Believe This FFXV Secret Dungeon!” But that shouldn’t be the way most gamers are told about unique end game content. It’s the responsibility of the developer to drop hints and clues in-game, and achievements are a very easy non-invasive way to do just that.
Achievements have been a mainstay in gaming for over a decade now and aren’t looking to go away any time soon. Instead of ignoring their existence or just throwing together an obligatory list, more developers need to start looking at how they can make achievements work for them. Every function and feature, big or small, can be used to enhance a game’s overall experience – especially achievements.