Monday, July 25, 2011

Let's Make Up Achievements: Resident Evil 4 (Part 2)

One of the great things about Resident Evil 4 is the variety of different gameplay features buried within the core game. While most people remember RE4 for it's panic inducing over the shoulder shooter gameplay, the various boss fights and QTE sections actually changes up the ways players attack each section of the game. For me as a designer, highlighting these sections, and perhaps making players first look at those sections, and then suggesting that there are other ways to tackle the same problem would be a fantastic way of setting up achievements. It's interesting to note that outside of of the main game, the developers have ignored all the other modes that are ripe for coming up new achievements. Obviously there is other constraints that limits a developer, such as development time, and the cost of redoing things, but since I'm treating this as a strict design exercise, that isn't an issue.

Also as of note: I'm not going to be super creative with the names. While some of the most creative achievements are based on puns or other inspiration sources, some achievements are rather boiler plate and I rather not come up with them. Deal with it. :P

So how do we setup the categories? Joe had made a very interesting reply/observation in a previous post of mines, which identified 4 major category of achievements: Progression, Completion, Exploration, Skill. In addition to these groups, I also tend to add additional categories like "collection" and "multiplayer" if and when it's applicable. Let's start with those.


Surprisingly, in terms of progression, Capcom's list holds up pretty well in this regard, with fairly even checkpoints at the major intersections of the game:
  • It Begins With a Ring - (Complete first village)
  • Do Not Shoot the Water! - (Defeat the lake monster)
  • A Rock and a Hard Place - (Defeat El Gigante /or take alternate path)
  • Secure the Ballistics - (Rescue the president's daughter)
  • A Bloodline Severed - (Defeat the village chief in battle)
  • A Terrifying Assassin - (Turn the tables on Verdugo, the right hand of Salazar)
  • The Castellan Falls - (Defeat Salazar, and make your escape from the castle.)
  • The Ties That Bind - (Defeat Krauser, your former partner, in battle)
  • We're Going Home - (Defeat Saddler in battle, complete game)
The only concern about this list is that a)It might be too top heavy (First 5 are is for the village setting of the game, whereas each remaining settings only gets 2) and b)9 achievements maybe too many. We'll deal with that later.


With completion, we can address a few more things, most notably, the additional modes within the game.

Various mini games within RE4 that weren't covered.

For Assignment Ada and Separate Ways, let's just tack on a the boiler plate achievement for completing it. Since Separate Ways is considerably longer, let's also give a midway checkpoint
  • Complete Assignment Ada
  • Get Past El Gigante (which IIRC, right at the end of Ch 2)
  • Complete Separate Ways
The Mercenaries, on the other hand, offers a few more of potential completion based achievements.
  • Survive one round of Mercenries
  • Survive as all characters at least once
  • Survive all combinations of characters and stages
Additionally, one thing not included within the Progression set is some sort of marker for a hard difficulty run:
  • Complete game in Professional mode

Collection is a catch all for things that aren't exactly about completing a game, but other smaller features that helps give player feedback. While some people may think that this "type" of achievements are a bit self serving and over-obsessive, I personally don't think they're any different than games that hands out other rewards for completion of tasks. Let's go through a rundown of ideas that can better explain this:

With items:
  • Fully upgrade a gun
  • Purchased all guns - Owned all guns at least once
  • Upgrade the Attache Case (1/2/3 times)
  • Catch a Large Black Bass
  • Own all chicken egg at the same time (Brown/Normal/Gold/Rotten)
  • Medicine Man - Own all combinations of herb mixes at the same time
  • Own all Treasure Map (Main Campaign only)
  • Own a completed Elegant Mask
  • Own a Beerstein with the Cateyes
  • Own the Butterfly Map with Eyes
  • Own the Royal Insignia and Crown Jewel with Corwn
  • Own a Golden Lynx with 3 stones attached.
  • Have collected one of each treasure items
  • Collected 5 Ruby - By defeating the Dr. Salvador (Cainsaw guy)
  • Collect all memos
  • Collect all Yellow Herbs in the game
  • Fully upgrade Ashley's Health
  • Fully upgrade Leon's Health
  • Visit all Merchant locations

With all the boiler plate stuff out of the way, let's get to the fun ones: Exploration and Skill.


Since it's such a large game, lets go through it from start and sample some interesting ideas from each section. I'll add comments to them if they need explaining/or have cleverly worded description text.

Chapter 1.1
  • A Sign of things to come - Jump out of the first house's second floor window
  • Temporary relief - Lock yourself in both "safehouse" by boarding up the door and windows. It'll buy some time.
  • Camper's Refuge - Climb up the bell tower. You can be a pansy, we won't blame you.
  • Disarm Specialist - Disarm all dynamite within the Village
Chapter 1.2 - Nothing memorable

Chapter 1.3
  • Fully Complete the Blue Medallion challenge - Earn the gun by shooting all 15 medals
Chapter 2.1
  • Have the Dog assist you in fighting the first El Gigante
Chapter 2.2
  • Defend the Cabin with outthe villagers reaching into the second floor
Chapter 2.3
  • Pick your Poison 1: Choose the Left Route and get to the end (Village Route)
  • Pick your Poison 2: Choose the Right Route and get to the end (El Gigante Route)
  • Complete the Left route without sending Ashley hiding
  • Defeat the El Gigante before it reaches the end of the route.
  • Take out a village who are trying to jump onto the cable car mid-jump
Chapter 3.1
  • Defeat El Garrador with both bells destroyed
Chapter 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 - Can't remember if there was anything really memorable

Chapter 4.1
  • Clear the Lava Hall without getting burned.
  • Sheet Shooting - Take out at least three Novistador in the Novistador Dome
Chapter 4.2
  • Take out one El Gigante with the trap door
Chapter 4.3 - Nothing too memorable.

...(I've sort of run out of steam at this point, so I'm going to call it quits for now)


In regards to "skill" based rewards, there's quite a lot of examples in terms of item usage crossed with the environments, here's a few examples:

  • Boom goes the dynamite - Shoot a village who's holding a dynamite, taking out two other villagers
  • Off you go - shoot a village off a plank falling to their death
  • GET OFF MY ROOF - kick a ladder off with a village onboard.
  • Bait and switch - Lure a villager into a bomb trap
  • Take down the El Gigante by stabbing it
  • Flashbang three Plagas at the same time
  • Defeat El Garrador with both bells intact
  • Defeat Verdugo without the Magnum or Rocket Launcher
  • Defeat both El Gigante in the Molten Room without firing a single shot

  • ...
    A staple of Resident Evil fans had be "special runs" - basically gameplay restrictions for the game. These would make very difficult challenges (not impossible) that would make these achievements a badge of merit, such as:
    • Knife Run - Knife only (except for when a knife is unavailable)
    • Pistol Run - Only Pistol type weapons can be used
    • No Health Upgrade Run - Cannot upgrade health for either characters
    • No death run - No deaths allowed
    • No Health Kit Run - Cannot heal either character for the entire game
    • All in a day's work - Finish the game within 8 hours (the timespan of the other game)
    As you can see, there's plenty of room to be creative with such achievements, and there's definitely plenty of new ways to create additional replay interest in the game.


    A few games have featured two other minor categories of "achievements": Viral - a type of achievement that relies on players "infecting" others by communicating/competing against each other; and "Mark of Shame" - an achievement for something that players did that deserves shaming.

    Fortunately in Resident Evil 4, we do have a perfect "Mark of Shame":
    • At the lake, shoot into it and have to lake monster eat you before the fight even begin.


    Well that about wraps it up on this long post. I believe this list barely scratches the surface of what can be achieved (I had realized I haven't played the game in a long time, and the last third of the game has been completely lost on me now), but I think this goes to show that a) Capcom really didn't try that hard at all with this, b) some achievements come fairly naturally from just playing the game, and c) being creative with the achievement process can potentially increase player's incentive try out and replay the game.

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