Achievements, Gamerscores, Gamercards - to a player who stopped gaming before the last generation of consoles, these terms probably wouldn’t mean a whole lot. To players of last generation and this generation, however, they are a regular part of gaming. The concept behind achievements is a simple one. Players do something in a game, whether it’s performing a specific action, reaching a certain point, finding a location, overcoming a challenge, or one of the many other things achievements can be awarded for, and they get an achievement. Games come with a set amount of achievements with set criteria, and players can choose to pursue them as many as they wish. For diehard completionists, that means taking as much time and as many playthroughs as are necessary to get every last achievement. For other players, achievements provide a way to get additional replay value out of a game, extra incentive to seek out secrets, and a ready-made list of challenges.
On the Xbox 360, which was the first console to introduce a structured achievement system, as well as the Xbox One, achievements are worth points. Point values vary based on the difficulty or significance of the achievement, and all the points players earn are added together to form their Gamerscore. The Gamerscore doesn’t do anything except stand as a mark of pride and accomplishment. It is displayed on the user’s profile so that other players can see it as well. Check out a list of example achievements for Halo 3 here.
Online trackers are another way players can display their achievements. There are many sites that people can link their accounts to in order to track achievements, and many have other benefits as well—some trackers work across all consoles and systems, some provide guides and hints, some focus on social and competitive aspects, and so on. Raptr, Exophase, TrueAchievements, and Gamertag Nation are all examples of achievement tracking sites, and each has its own style. Different players prefer different sites, and there are many more besides these to choose from.
Now that the Xbox One is out, there is a new Achievement system, which consists of both achievements and challenges (a list of Achievements for Ryse: Son of Rome on Xbox One is here). The sub-category of achievements is exactly what fans are familiar with from the previous generation. The only difference is that, while in the past a game had a set achievement list, with additions made only through downloadable content, Xbox One games can have new achievements added to them without the need for a new download. Through use of the cloud, companies can add new achievements to give players reasons to return to their games, although limitations will be in place to make sure players aren’t bombarded with constant achievements to unlock. Game achievements are the only part of the new Achievement system that will affect Gamerscores, and players’ existing Gamerscores from their Xbox 360 games will remain tied to their accounts when they start playing on the Xbox One. When more than one person is playing a game on the same console, they all can earn achievements, and the achievement alert will be color-coded to distinguish between players.
Challenges, the new addition to the system, are not restricted to a single game. They will work with games, apps, and more, and will only be around for a set amount of time. For example, there may be weekly challenges or weekend challenges. Some will be for an individual to perform, while others will be unlocked when numerous gamers collectively reach a specific goal.
Players will be able to see their Achievement statistics from the Xbox One dashboard, and from devices running the SmartGlass app. For those who wish to instantly share their accomplishments, they can capture the moment they earn an achievement and upload a recording for their friends to see.
The basic elements of the old achievement system are still there, but there are enough changes to make Xbox One Achievements feel fresh. Players should find the transition easy and comfortable.