We had hoped that the backlash to Tomb Raider’s undercooked (and unnecessary) multiplayer mode would have strong-armed adamant creator Crystal Dynamics into reconsidering the upcoming PlayStation 4 port’s Trophy roster, but a leaked list detailed late last week has confirmed that the studio paid less attention to the feedback than Lara Croft in a common courtesy class. Unfortunately, it’s not the only offender. Despite the constant cries of console gamers on forums and in articles just like this, developers continue to attempt to bolster the lifespan of box-checking competitive components by locking a significant portion of digital trinkets behind stagnant online sub-sections. Isn’t it time that it stopped, though?

According to popular walkthrough website PS3Trophies.org, it takes approximately 40 hours to earn the Platinum Trophy in Britain’s bustiest export’s revival romp on the PlayStation 3. The site estimates that you’ll spend more than half of that time attempting to blast your makeshift buddies in the face, as you’ll need to reach Level 60 in the title’s shoot-a-thon to snag the silvery blue prize at the end of your grave robbing pursuit. But the intrepid site has more words of wisdom for wannabe gold diggers: make some likeminded mates, as the multiplayer mode is deader than Tutankhamen, and its online awards are subsequently impossible to attain through organic means.

Given the smaller install base, we fully expect the next-gen iteration’s deathmatch arenas to be more deserted than an East End snooker emporium within a month of the adventure’s re-release, so why do studios insist on defacing the already dishevelled features of those addicted to the pursuit of petite PNG pictures? One could argue that those arranging tedious boosting sessions are the architects of their own demise, and it’s a comment that’s difficult to counter, but shouldn’t it be the developer’s responsibility to ensure that those aiming to 100 per cent complete a title have the most enjoyable experience possible? Interactive entertainment is apparently escapism, after all – it’s not supposed to be the type of torture that would curl the lips of Grand Theft Auto V protagonist Trevor Phillips towards the sky.

Interactive entertainment is apparently escapism, after all – it’s not supposed to be a type of torture

It’s perhaps telling that the most popular online property on the planet doesn’t feel the need to saddle its single player component with killstreaks and prestige. You can Platinum the majority of the Call of Duty titles without ever needing to connect to the Internet, though recent entries have required you to buddy up in additional co-operative components. Nevertheless, this speaks to the quality of the core competitive action itself, as the slew of perks and weapon unlocks available in these online options offer enough incentive to keep players engaged. Considering the non-existent communities of neglected multiplayer modes such as the one in BioShock 2, it’s clear that adding unachievable Trophies to a title’s roster doesn’t result in the type of staying power that some studios expect.

And yet these companies continue to repeat the same old mistakes, saddling solo centric escapades with system-wide rewards that no one wants to earn. It’s understandable if a multiplayer exclusive experience such as 256-player first-person shooter MAG attaches its trinkets to kill-death ratios and commander ranks, as it’s unlikely that anyone without a penchant for server-side matchmaking would invest in such software anyway. However, we fully expect those fond of sailing the seven seas in solitude to feel more disgruntled than Black Beard without a bottle of Captain Morgan when the next inevitable instalment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise forces you to earn an outrageous quota of experience points rather than search for shanties in serene silence.

There are ways to encourage the adoption of online components without making an entire fanbase rage. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves included a couple of copper cups for those that played a single match of its various multiplayer modes, while oft-criticised (but still outstanding) successor Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception incorporated an entire roster of DLC awards for those addicted to its online experience. But critically acclaimed developer Naughty Dog is not infallible, as survival horror successor The Last of Us’ tense SOCOM-inspired competitive extra encouraged you to reach the conclusion of two complete Factions campaigns in order to unlock the top undead trinket. That’s a sizeable investment for a game all about its single player campaign.

Trophies and achievements are still in their infancy, so it will take time for developers to learn the optimal way to employ them in their games. However, they’ve existed long enough on consoles for studios to understand what people actually enjoy. Given the tears and tantrums regarding the abovementioned Tomb Raider reveal, we suspect that we’re not alone with our complaint. And while we can appreciate that ignoring trinkets in their entirety would eradicate any issues with online-based awards, we really shouldn’t have to overlook an otherwise enjoyable completionist experience just because developers are terrified that we’ll disregard their unwanted multiplayer modes.


Are you frustrated with the repeated emphasis on online Trophies, or do you just not care? Is there a better way for developers to extend the longevity of their competitive components, or do you think that we’re consigned to a future of multiplayer awards? Earn one million experience points in the comments section below.

What are your thoughts on Trophies that can only be earned in multiplayer? (65 votes)

There are few things worse than a Platinum that makes me play online

82%

I don’t really care whether developers include them or not

17%

I actually like multiplayer trinkets as they encourage me to keep playing

2%

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