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In 2008 PlayStation introduced its answer to the Xbox’s ‘Achievements’ system in the form of ‘Trophies’ and in doing so, birthed an obsession. Linking these universally recognised symbols of excellence to a player’s PSN account for all to see brought out a new side in many gamers – a competitive side, a completionist side, a prideful side – these trophies not only encouraged players to delve deeper into their games and make the most of them, but to make sure everyone could see just how skilled they are.
Of course, like all things that invoke passion, ‘Trophy Hunting’ is also subject to the kind of over-analysis and nitpicking that can plague the minds of committed collectors. This might seem like ludicrous mountain out of molehill-ery to the outside observer, but for us trophy hunters, these seven seemingly trivial concerns have caused us more stress than we’d care to admit.
We all have that one friend – you know the one – you've been friends for a long time, you have similar taste in games so your trophy lists are almost mirror images and if there's one thing you can say is absolute fact, it's that you are the better gamer. It's only natural then that your trophy lists should reflect that fact, so if any game appears on both, you need to have the higher completion rate.
It may be that your friend/new sworn enemy likes that game more than you so spent more time playing it, but that's no excuse. A superior trophy hunter will power through that mediocre game ticking off every trophy they can manage until they have indisputable proof of their superiority.
There are extreme cases when a trophy hunter sees all their friends as rivals and will insist on having more platinums than anyone on their Friends List, and if someone else does have more, well they can just be deleted. If you know you're the best, why tolerate some pretender to the throne undermining you with their clearly cheap trophy collection? Who needs friends anyway when you have trophies?
Low Completion Rates on your Trophy List
When you go out in public, you always want to be presentable. Not necessarily immaculate, but tidy enough that people don't keep giving you spare change. The same goes for trophy lists – when people look at yours, you want it to be presentable – not necessarily a wall of platinums, but high percentages all round – something respectable.
This image is thrown into disarray when you face a game with an impossible trophy list or one that you almost immediately dislike and stop playing. They still leave their mark, meaning that within an otherwise respectable list, you'll have 0-20% entries making you look like a chump/chumpette.
The stress caused by this has been greatly mitigated in recent years since players can now delete games with 0% completion off their list and hide other low ones from people who check out their accomplishments. Still, they're not hidden from the player so every time you check your own trophy list, you'll still see those shamefully low numbers staring right back.
Revealing Hidden Trophies
Somewhere among the many system updates that PS4 has received over the years, a helpful new feature was added whereby you could reveal the details of a hidden trophy by selecting the trophy from the list and pressing the square button.
The problem with this is that there's a reason that these trophies are hidden and it's often to prevent people scrolling through the list from reading story spoilers or secrets that they would usually want to avoid.
This creates a Catch-22 situation for trophy hunters who just got their hands on a brand new game – Either make sure that you don't ruin your chance at a platinum by reading the requirements of all hidden trophies and being forewarned about anything missable but risk ruining the story or keep the mystery alive, avoiding any story spoilers but risk failing to capture easily missed hidden trophies.
That temptation to look can be overpowering, but nine times out of ten it's the wrong decision. You'd probably be better off if you didn't know about this feature at all. In fact, if this is your first time hearing about this, you should probably just skip ahead to the next entry... Probably should have mentioned that sooner.
Online Multiplayer Trophies
Probably the most widely agreed troublemaker on our list and not just because it's more difficult to beat a baying pack of trophy hounds in online matches who are seeking to rack up wins than to beat the AI, but because some games include trophies for online play that are just ludicrous – 'Reach the rank of Elite Almighty Mecha-Sergeant', 'Win a million matches', 'Defeat a flobadyjillion enemies'. These trophies are impossible for all but those willing to abandon their real lives and sign a 1,000 year contract with the Cult of FPS.
Woe betide anyone who chooses to pick up one of these titles a year or more after release and hopes to get the platinum because chances are that by then it will either be a chore to find a match at all or the only people that can be found are the most dedicated cultists who are sitting at home in full camo gear, face smeared in war paint celebrating a 23 kill streak while the poor, lost newbie stumbles their way off the edge off a cliff for the eighth time this round.
That One Trophy Blocking your Platinum
You're deep into a game, you've torn through it with clinical precision and there's only one trophy standing between you and that glorious platinum, you check the trophy requirement, you check how close you are to obtaining it, you lose the will to go on and throw the disc in the bin.
We're talking about Final Fantasy XIII's (2009) infamous Treasure Hunter trophy, or Shadow of the Colossus (2018) asking you to defeat every colossus on hard with bare stats inside of a fiendishly tight time limit.
These are trophies that ask you to do so much more than the rest of the list that you'd spend twice as long obtaining this one trophy as you would for every other one combined – it's like if you've just eaten to bursting at a buffet, you bask in pride at your staying power only for a waiter to come along and say “I see you've enjoyed our starter table, would you like to move on to your main course?”
Only the most committed of trophy hunters will endure this final ordeal, for the rest of us lowly wannabes, it's curtains.
The trophy system isn't perfect and sometimes a game will be released with at least one trophy that doesn't pop when you've met its requirements. This can be absolutely maddening for players who swear they should have unlocked this trophy and can't figure out where they went wrong.
The worst incarnation of this phenomenon is when it's combined with our previous entry, so you're one trophy away from the platinum, you've fulfilled its requirements but can't get your reward because that trophy is glitched.
This happened to me when playing Indivisible (2019). The only trophy I was missing was for using a special move 108 times. The game took 20+ hours to complete so it felt like I'd met that requirement ten times over.
I grinded in the post-game, staring hopefully at the corner of the screen waiting for the trophy to appear after every special move, but nothing. I uninstalled the game, reinstalled, started a new save file, played far enough in until I was sure I'd met the requirement again, but still nothing.
What makes this even worse is that Indivisible isn't just guilty of causing the second and third biggest frustrations for trophy hunters, it's also guilty of...
DLC Trophies Belittling your Efforts
...Yes, Indivisible not only added insult to injury, but billed for its time afterwards by denying a platinum due to a glitched trophy and then adding new trophies in a paid DLC expansion that lowered my overall completion percentage. Not that I'm still sour or anything.
Of course, Indivisible is far from the worst offender when it comes to DLC trophies. Anyone who's platinumed Final Fantasy XV (2016) or Rocket League (2015) and has since seen their once impressive 100% completion reduced to a measly 40%-ish due to DLC has felt this frustration. It's even worse for those who were one or two trophies away so don't even have the platinum to show context to any trophy snoops scrolling through their list.
It just makes you wonder why the DLC can't have its own separate trophy list that only shows if you buy it.
There's been a lot of griping in this list, so let's end on a positive, or more specifically, a positive for anyone who's one glitched trophy away from a platinum in Indivisible: The problem has now been patched and you can unlock that trophy. You seem to need to delete your save, uninstall and reinstall the game then start fresh but then you should unlock it in two hours or so, not only nabbing you a platinum but verifying that you're not crazy – you really should have unlocked that trophy ten times over.
That's our list, let us know in the discussion below whether you share our frustration, or if you have your own gripes that didn't make our list – you're probably not alone!