MGS5 leak suggests it’s time to rethink Trophies and Achievements

A complete list of Achievements for Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes has appeared online. According to CVG, these virtual rewards give away some significant plot points--click through to the story at your own discretion, but there are spoilers within. And that’s something of a problem for a story-lead game like Metal Gear Solid. The last thing you want, as a developer, is to give away key plot details in something as publicly available as an Achievement or Trophy list.

This type of leak is nothing new, and--as the more sensible among you will point out--you don’t have to read these stories online. If you want to dodge spoilers, it’s possible. However, with many sites distributing the information via social media and RSS feeds, it’s easier than ever to have the story of a game you’ve been waiting to play for years spoiled months before release. 

Even if the leak only gives away character names or vague scenarios, the more dedicated fans (and these are the people who are hurt most by spoilers) will usually work out the wider plot implications. It’s like having a major plot-point printed on the back-of-book blurb, or included in a teaser trailer for a film--it’s insanely irritating.

As such, Achievements and Trophies need to evolve to reflect the way gamers absorb information. There’s already an option to set them as ‘Hidden’ or ‘Secret’, but developers often shy away from including too many of these because one major reason virtual rewards exist is to guide players through the game. Trophies can often point towards techniques and in-game challenges that players may not have otherwise considered: and it’s here where they’re best used.

Achievements and Trophies that unlock purely based on completing story beats should always be hidden. There’s no reason to sign-post narrative moments if they happen regardless of player actions. However, what I’d advocate for the future is a half-way solution for all other Trophies, which allows the player to toggle the visibility of their descriptions. So, all you’d see when you start the game is a long list of hidden Trophies, and you’d have the option to ‘view description’ for individual awards, or to ‘reveal all descriptions’ if you want an overview.

The critical point here is that--when you actually have the game in your possession--you’d have control over how much information the Achievements or Trophies are giving away. It’d need to work when you’re comparing virtual rewards with your friends, and perhaps runs contrary to the philosophy behind PS4’s ‘What’s New’ stream (and the current obsession with over-sharing on social media), where you’re told about friends’ achievements in games. But surely if it’s all optional, it’s something for MS and Sony to consider.

And what about gaming news stories giving away plot-points months in advance? It’s insanely difficult to stop leaks, but surely setting all virtual rewards to ‘secret’ (or disabling them entirely) until the game actually ships would be a step in the right direction. The very least that should happen is that console makers should insist that story-based Trophies / Achievements are all set to secret. How tough would this be from a technical perspective? Honestly, I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t want my games spoiled weeks before I’ve even had the chance to buy them… 


  • db1331 - January 22, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    I can't imagine caring enough about trophies\achievements to look at them at all, let alone before a game is even out. I was actually pleasantly surprised when I finished The Last of Us recently. At the end some stupid trophies popped up, and I realized I hadn't seen a single one while playing. It would have really cheapened such a fantastic game to have a "SPOREGASM- Kill 10 Infected" trophy pop up while playing. Kudos for them to having what was probably the bare limit of trophies required by Sony. I had to turn off Steam in-game for BioShock Infinite, because literally just about anything I did was popping up with an achievement tracker, from looting containers to picking up money. God that shit is annoying.
  • cJinL - January 21, 2014 5:42 p.m.

    What exactly is the point of story-based achievements anyway? We don't need to be rewarded for playing through the game. Leave the trophies to actual achievements
  • P0ck3tC1am - January 20, 2014 8:01 p.m.

    There is a simple fix for this....a fix that some games have implemented and that is, "Secret Achievements/Trophies" Some games just have the story achievements/trophies secret-ified, some have the ENTIRE list of achievements/trophies secret-ified. Not rocket science guys.
  • EmiyaLightbringer - January 16, 2014 4:46 p.m.

    A simple solution is don't clic the link. If you can avoid it then there's nothing to be worried about... :)
  • GR_AndyHartup - January 17, 2014 1:11 a.m.

    I make that point in the feature. However, a lot of sites will include the spoiler in the headline (to try and get people to click on it), and you can't avoid seeing that - especially if you follow the site on Twitter / Facebook etc. Better to cut the spoilers off at source, IMO.
  • archnite - January 17, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    Have it ever been an issue enough for some Journos to ask developers why they don't just write in "Complete Act 1" instead of "Rosebud is a sled?" Your going to earn them anyway playing through. I find hidden points obnoxious because you have no choice but to google them.
  • shawksta - January 16, 2014 2:59 p.m.

  • Sjoeki - January 16, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    I'm not even going close to that link, but usually in the MGS series the story related trophies are hidden until you unlock them and the fun/optional ones are out in the open, I'm hoping that's the case with this game. Either way I'm not checking them out till I finished the game, flip it over, and go back in for second.
  • Doctor_Pancakes - January 16, 2014 11:51 a.m.

    I still think the sniper girl is going to be revealed as a female clone of Snake. The look to similar for coincidence.
  • profile0000 - January 16, 2014 12:23 p.m.

    A clone?!? In Metal Gear!?! Come on now, that's just crazy talk. Not like there's any precedence for cloning in the Metal Gear series or anything.
  • Doctor_Pancakes - January 16, 2014 2:51 p.m.

    Oh wait that was some other site I sort of argued with some people about this over Lol Anyway I was confident she is going to end up being a Snake Clone and a few other people just wouldn't entertain the idea at all Lol
  • archnite - January 17, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    I have some crazy theories about the revelations that will be in this game but I cannot image how you jumped to that X-22 nonsense for Solid Snake. And if it matters, Quiet is based off a real person that isn't related to Keiffer or Hayter:
  • RayPaw - January 16, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    Not a fan of achievements. Nothing breaks immersion quite like a little pop up to remind you that you're playing a game.
  • slimjim441 - January 16, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    I totally agree. I turn off the notifications whenever I'm playing a story-driven game at least for the first time. If I feel like trophy hunting, I'll turn them back on, but having them off soils the moment more often than not.
  • Arobadope - January 16, 2014 9:25 a.m.

    Can we just do away with this? I'd personally like that, but I know I'll be living in a fantasy.
  • Cyberninja - January 16, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    or the playing the WiiU.
  • Arobadope - January 16, 2014 1:41 p.m.

    I have a Wii U and I enjoy that when I play game I don't get annoying bloops when I do something. TW101 has achievements in it though so meh :\ but it's all good since the game is freaking awesome.
  • Shnubby - January 16, 2014 6:52 a.m.

    Unrelated but why is the handle missing on that bronze PS trophy?
  • GR_AndyHartup - January 16, 2014 6:56 a.m.

    Good question. I'll fix it. With some virtual glue.

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