Sunday, October 19, 2008

WoW Achievements vs WAR Tome of Knowledge

Patch 3.0.2 brought Achievements to WoW, and so far they're proving to be a lot of fun. I've explored and finished a few low level quests in Eastern Kingdoms to unlock the exploring and questing achievements. I went on a raid to kill Hakkar and Ragnaros (getting people who could douse runes was harder than the bosses). I've done several of the Hollow's End achievements. I even joined a large raid that attempted to kill the Horde bosses for the Black Bear mount. Unfortunately, it turns out that 120 Alliance attacking Cairne Bloodhoof crashes the server, so that Achievement will have to be tabled for later.

Judging by the flurry of activity, many other people are enjoying Achievements. Blizzard has done a really good job with them, I think. There's a really nice mix of Achievements of various difficulties.

WAR has a similar mechanic, Tome of Knowledge Unlocks, and it's interesting to compare the two systems. There's one huge philosophical difference. WoW shows you all the Achievements available, while WAR hides them.

I find this completely changes how one approaches Achievements or Unlocks. In WoW, Achievements are something you work towards, while in WAR, I found that Unlocks happened as I was playing. I never sought out any Unlocks. If you are seeking Unlocks, you generally have to do random things because you never know what will trigger an Unlock.

Of course, I'm sure that eventually someone will come up with an Internet database listing all the Unlocks that people have found.

In a weird way, how the two games handle quests is the inverse of how they handle Achievements. WAR goes out of their way to provide you with directions for the quest. I've noted before that I really like the quest and map integration. But WAR provides you with zero indication about Tome Unlocks. You can guess at a few of the obvious ones, but others are not obvious at all.

You could say that WAR is more Explorer-oriented, but I'm not sure that's the case. In some ways, it's more of a "guess what hoops the designer wants you to jump through" rather than really exploring.

I found it really interesting how the two games have very similar systems, but one single design decision--hidden Unlocks vs known Achievements--completely changes how you approach the system.


  1. I haven't played WAR, but I don't think I would get real into the Tome thing. It just seems like its there to record various things that you do. It does not give you something to do. I think WAR's designers might find that giving people something to do results in a lot more /played then being mysterious about things. Of course, more /played means more money for them.

    Blizzard hit it out of the park on the Achievements, IMHO. I love getting achievements! I am a bit of a completionist like that. But, I have also seen things that I have never seen before. I have explored places I never thought to look in. I even run into Org on my Draenei Paladin to go get RFC done. It was a rush being chased by half of Org's guard and a bunch of players who were just waiting for me to flag PvP while riding a broomstick. It was fun. I would have never done it either if there was no achievement for it.

  2. Agreed, Blizzard just had to look at how much of a achievement whore people were becoming on Xbox Live to know they were a good idea ;)

    I also love completing stuff like this, the only problem is it also annoys me aswell.

    As for known/un-known I think you should meet in the middle (like the 360 does). Majority of the achievements are told to you but there are a few random ones which are un-known and rare. Doesn't really work with sites like wowhead etc tho :(

  3. Great post, Rohan. I was just thinking about this issue myself (as I was clearing up a couple outstanding quests to complete the Outland quest achievements).

    You're right that it's interesting that Mythic goes out of its way to let you know where quest objectives are but then is tight-lipped about tome unlocks.

    Yes, eventually they'll all be on some online database, but I still think Mythic would be better served to make an explicit in-game list.

    Here's why: achievements always give you an alternate set of goals to work towards. MMOs cater to completionists who can't walk away from an uncompleted "to do" list.
    The two things work together perfectly.

    So on a quiet RvR night, you'll always have something to keep you busy. Sure, it could be another distraction from the core PvP aspect of the game, but it would be one that keep you playing WAR instead of another game.

    WOW's Achievements -- most of which give you nothing, not even a throwaway title -- are ridiculously compelling for a lot of people. I was very ho hum about the whole idea, but found myself travelling to Blade's Edge to do two more quests just so I could fufill an achievement. I felt kind of silly for being so easily sucked in, but just couldn't ignore it -- and this is something I never would have done if hadn't been staring me in the face.

    I just feel a lot more disconnected from WAR's tome unlocks. With a few exceptions, they tend to be things that just randomly happpen to me rather than things I'm actively seeking out.

  4. Feats of Strength are not revealed (least on mine), thats WoWs hidden version, and the others you really need to know else someone would post it anyway. Its different from giving quest coords (which shouldn't be in the game but can be 3rd party) vs good directions because its a meta achievement, its not something your character would know (or if it is the achievements should be like rep, and you can spend rep/achievements with the factions to gain stuff (titles, mounts etc)).

    What I would like to see is the old fashioned PvP ranks come back in some form (either PvP or PvE) such that you can by "Field Marshal {name} of the Shattered Sun".

  5. I do agree that Blizzard pretty much hit the ball out of the park with this one, there's no denying people love this stuff and will stay hooked into the game trying to complete as many achievements as they can. Most of the stuff we spend time on in this game can be rightly called a waste of time, but achievements sorta seem like the ultimate waste of time to me.

    Which is why it's funny to me that I approach WoW's achievements as if they were like WAR's. I won't deny that I enjoy getting achievements (especially when it's unexpected, like in WSG this weekend when I capped three flags without dying and got the Ironman achievement; I wouldn't have even noticed that I did that). But I'm never going to go out of my way to get them, I'm just not interested, even though I'm very much a completionist in other senses.

    I also worry a bit about people trying to get achievements in PvP situations, to the point where they start doing stuff that's detrimental to the team effort. I'm being alarmist, but I can envision someone, say, letting a node be assaulted in AB just so they can try to take it back and unlock an achievement.

  6. 2ndnin, Feats of Strength are not shown because they are not obtainable in the same manner. For example, I have Knight-Captain as one of my Feats of Strength, but you can't get that rank anymore. As I understand it, similar things like Scarab Lord, or server-first boss kills, will be Feats of Strength. Stuff that really isn't repeatable for everyone.

  7. Most of the people in my guild have been busying themselves with these, I'm nonplussed myself (massive understatement).
    In fact I see it as an enormous waste of time, running around the whole of the eastern kingdoms and kalimdor just to get the exploration acknowledgement seems a little silly (read: a HUGE waste of time.

    We did go and do ZG, AQ20 and Onyxia achievements last night, but for me it was simply to see new content as I came into WoW after TBC.

    It's really quite a brilliant strategy by Blizzard you have to admit, achievements are the stop-gap between the patch and the expansion to keep people interested in the game and away for WAR. This is also why WoW has visible achievements and WAR doesn't: WoW is trying to keep its player base hanging around.

  8. Playstation 3 has certain games with Trophies. How you unlock the trophies is sometimes posted (like megaman 9) but on other games it happens once the action happens (like warhawk, using a tank to shoot a plane down = trophy one in a million).

    Im not sure which system I like better, as you can compare achievements with others very easily and see what they unlocked and compare it to your own. It would be more social to be spending that time looking at others unlockables versus having your own readily available list which you see which of them you beat, like a checklist.

    For a game that isnt something you beat in a day or two, I think its better to have a achievement/trophy system that is hidden specifically for replayability/social strengthening/ and because its easier to add on more trophies when its less transparent of the current ones.

    One of the many things I grew sick of when I played WoW is how everything is way too transparent. Infact the armory has ruined many battles for arena, because of data farming for arenas. If you know their resto druid stacked up on +heal and lacked +stam and can go ahead and spike him down versus wear him out.

    I always found it backwards that WoW's questing system was soo bad you would check out a wiki to get through the chains. The exploring you spent outside of WoW on a quest-strategy site, which is a poor experience at best. Not to mention the effect that has on grouping on the 1-60 content. PQ's were a great solution to that problem, same for pvp-lving system.

    Interestingly, WoW is changing some of these things in response to War and vice versa it will ultimately lead to something better than whats currently available. I wouldnt be terribly surprised if War began improving its PvE experience to better match WoW's offernig.


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  10. Lets hit this out of the park....never knock a game until you try it! I've been amazed so many times at games I thought would be less than trash, like GTA.
    The Tomes are unlockable through playing you gain clues towards an unlock that actually gives you possible abilities to strategize against your enemies, or with your allies. I would HATE the idea of everyone being able to take my title or ability simply do to the fact they wanted it. I played WoW for far to long as multiple classes, I made it as far as the arena with multiple toons. Tomes are for the experienced player tired of swag games and an unintelligent environment! Yes, you may have to think for yourself or kill a few more creatures to figure it therefore it is leading you towards a goal, just not as simple. I like a challenge other than facing Hakkar 60 times to run back and try again, PvE is old, and you can PvE on tons of games, RvR is great. It brings the world together in trying to accomplish something. I know in WoW out of 5 characters and several real life friends I played with, I solod almost all of fun is that, I could play Oblivion instead! Can I get a run through a dungeon.....NOT, another great reason War can be great. If you are a certain level you cannot interact with lowbies as well, so you won't be seeing a lvl 40 kill you a lvl 1 near as often. WAR is for people who like to take gaming a bit further and achieve. The guilds in WAR also have ranks and achievments to bring you and your crew together and stronger, in any ways you see fit! Finally look at the environments in wow, and the gear, ever wonder why your tanks weapon is purple,pink,blue,and green? In my opinion, WoW is targeted to a much younger and less intelligent crowd. You can beat Hakkar, cause you trained and learned what to do. PvP is not like that you have to live the moment and thrive on it. So overall WAR is to kick other players butts and WoW is for killing Hakkar in an effortless battle once you know the tricks of the boss! Another thing is you forgot to mention the Pq's in WAR, a great way to bring people together for an environment like a dungeon but many different choices to be had. If you like to think freely and be yourself in every aspect of gaming, WAR is for you!!
    Just wondering how many nerfs have been laid since I left...WoW has evolved through time so realize that WAR has been out a month almost....LOL!

  11. The difference is
    WAR - Tome Unlocks are a reward you get for playing the game. So I got a unlock for killing 1000 Chaos minions whilst doing my normal PvE questing.

    WOW - Achievements just another way to make you grind. Displaying this would have people mindlessly grinding away killing critters to get the unlock.

  12. As usual make achievement in WOW is a job, in WAR happens to make an achievement, feel the difference?

  13. Do the Achievements in WoW give anything other than titles and a mount? I don't know cuz I kinda quit following WoW a month after BC.

    I do know that in WAR you get items, tactics, titles, and XP.

    I was wanting to know what the difference is in that respect.

  14. Achievements in WoW only have cosmetic rewards. Titles, mounts, non-combat pets, etc.