The entire idea behind this column is to give the perspective of a gamer who doesn’t really have the gaming chops to meet her passion. I totally believe that you can be head over heels in love with the industry and still always need to play in easy mode in order to complete anything. In fact, I’ve written before that incorporating an easy mode into a game shouldn’t be considered to take away from the experience, and really can only increase the reach of your gaming experience to the community. Something else I’ve also written about is how trophy hungry I am – which, obviously, is a difficult hunger to have when you have a hard time with straight up gameplay in the first place. One thing I have encountered recently, however, is the trophy-less easy mode. Tears = ensue.
I randomly acquired a code off of Twitter a couple weeks ago for Halo: Reach. I have been following the Halo 4 hype over the past month, and as a newcomer to the franchise I was ecstatic to have a chance to play Reach before the November release of the newest in the series. After firing it up and fiddling with my customization a little bit, I headed towards the campaign. Faced with four difficulty modes, I immediately went for “easy”. I wanted to be able to get through the campaign quickly in order to be prepared for Halo 4. However, to my horror, the game informed me that “achievements cannot be unlocked on easy.”
I was heartbroken. I found myself at the crossroads of my gaming dichotomy: do I play easy mode, or do I choose normal for the achievements?
On the one hand, I could go for easy mode and forgo the achievements. After all, I am playing Halo: Reach as a prep for Halo 4, and so I should aim on getting through it as easily as possible. On the other hand, I could play it on normal (which would be doable, but a lot more frustrating) and collect at least a few achievements to pad my super low gamerscore. In the end I decided to go for the normal difficulty – I may not get a lot of the extra achievements, but I will be able to get the campaign specific ones, as well as some of the easier side ones, like customizing your character (a freebie if I’ve ever seen one).
I wish I could have it both ways, but at the same time I understand why some games might limit the achievements to a normal difficulty or higher. Achievements are supposed to be an extra, a literal achievement to something you accomplished in the game. As much as I adore the ding and the appearance of the little icon, I want it to feel like something I truly earned. The customization trophies and achievements add to my gamerscore, but I don’t get as excited about them as when I earn one for a kill streak, or uncovering all the hidden feathers or vault symbols. Making them available for easy mode takes away from the specialness even more so than some of the simple ones do.
It’s a strange gaming world we live in now with the introduction of trophies and achievements into the mix. We want to play games for the story and the experience, but at the same time the mere existence of the extra rewards can make us focus more on playing for the trophies than unlocking them organically. How many times have you played a game a certain way and made specific decisions just for a certain trophy or achievement? Or played a game you would NEVER otherwise play because you knew it had an easy platinum? Now, I’m not saying that hunting for these is bad – I do it myself – but I am saying that what you find important will guide your gameplay, and defines the type of gamer you are, in part. And my choice to play through Halo: Reach on normal as opposed to easy has shown me which type of gamer I really am.
What about you? Do you play games solely for story, or for trophies, or for both?