Xbox Game Studios needs to sort out achievements going forwards

Heidi Nicholas - April 4th 2020

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is, by all accounts, a fantastic sequel. It continues and builds upon the parts that fans loved from the first game, introduces new aspects which have also proved popular, and shows, all round, how five years of development have paid off in making a sequel which is just as beloved as the first game. Yet Will of the Wisps is still, over three weeks later, having major achievement issues. Unfortunately, it's only one of several Xbox Game Studios titles that can't get the achievements right - despite working so closely with the Xbox ecosystem.

In Ori 2, there’s a range of difficult end-game achievements for speedrunning, not dying, playing without Shards or without spending Spirit Light, and for completing the game on the hardest difficulty — all of which aren’t unlocking properly. Some players have managed to do several of these feats in one playthrough without getting any of the related achievements. Even the achievements for maxing out Life and Energy are causing issues. Our recent Ori 2 Stats article, which compared the opening weeks of Ori 1 and Ori 2, showed that although Ori 2 had a far higher player count during that period than Ori 1, there were also less completions.

The developers are aware of the issue, and have said that the next patch should fix it, but there’s no update yet as to when that patch will release. Yet these achievement issues are a significant drawback and seem to be causing a lot of frustration with a game which is otherwise a superb sequel. It’s an unexpected drain for players who had picked it up expecting a polished experience, and who had put in the hours specifically for those achievements which then didn’t appear. And Ori 2 is such a great game — it’s unfair that an issue with that one aspect should detract from its appeal to players, and it’s one example of how Xbox Game Studios could improve upon achievements.

Bleeding Edge is another recent release which has quickly run into issues, although this time it seems to be with one achievement in particular. The Fiddy achievement, which is worth a pretty sizeable 120 Gamerscore, is still bugged for some players despite Ninja Theory’s recent patch. Some players are finding the progress tracker stuck at a specific percentage even if they then go and make more killing blows, and although the patch seems to have sorted it for some, others are still waiting for a fix. Ninja Theory clarified the requirements for the achievement, saying that it’s for killing blows, not kills — killing blows plus assists — and say they’re working on a fix.

Fiddy in Bleeding Edge
When Sea of Thieves launched, there were significant issues with delayed achievements, although to be fair, these issues were due to overloaded servers as the game ended up attracting even three times as many players as they’d expected. This is obviously proof of how popular it was, but it ended up causing the devs to temporarily disable achievements to keep the servers from being entirely overloaded. There were issues with unobtainable achievements, achievements which were viewed as too hard or too unachievable, and the resulting confusion from delayed achievements then being delayed as to which ones would unlock retroactively or which would need to be redone, or even when they were to be fixed, lasted for several months.

Crackdown 3 seemingly had several issues with buggy, unobtainable and poorly signposted achievements when it released last year. The early access launch of Gears 5, one of the most anticipated titles of 2019, had issues with achievements failing to track properly or unlock at all. Even recently, The Coalition apologised to achievement hunters about the Operation 3: Gridiron achievements, saying, "We know that some of these achievements, and the final Gamerscore value of 290, are not necessarily in the right place… If you are an achievement hunter, we apologize for some of the missteps here, and we plan to do so something about it."

There seems to be a history of Xbox Game Studio games with achievement issues, and it seems bizarre that these issues keep persisting, especially with the core fan base that Xbox Game Studios seem to be aiming for. One of the constant arguments between players discussing the next-gen consoles is the strength of Sony’s PlayStation exclusives. Although the most effective response to this would be if Xbox produced some strong AAA exclusives of their own, it would also be extremely beneficial to ensure that all of the games coming from their Xbox Game Studios were already sorted when it came to achievements, so that titles such as Ori and the Will of the Wisps, which is otherwise seen as near-perfect, could continue to strengthen the Xbox brand. Dedicated achievement hunters are a small but vocal part of the Xbox community, so making sure that games release with a clear, fun and obtainable set of achievements would be beneficial to everyone.