With the Echoes of Doom update, Blizzard has introduced an achievement system to World of Warcraft. I have to admit I think it was a brilliant move. In the month leading up to Wrath of the Lich King, this new system has introduced freshness to a game that was starting to feel a bit stale.
I freely admit, I’m a Girl Scout. I was a scout from Brownies till high school and I always loved earning badges. This new achievement system is just a big badge fest. We don’t get a badge sash, exactly, but we get that nice achievement button on our tool bar. Plus, we can compare our achievements with those of others by right clicking on their name bar and choosing the Compare Achievements link. Pretty cool.
At present there are 750 different achievements with more to be added in the future. Achievements are worth points based on their difficulty. Checking your Achievements button you can see how many of the different achievements you have completed (150/750 for example) or the total number of achievement points you have garnered. Additionally, many achievements come with a title that can be displayed as part of your character’s name. Some achievements even come with an item like a special pet, a mount or a tabard.
Achievements fall into nine categories: General, which includes achievements like owning a vanity pet, catching a fish or sampling 25 different beverages. Then there is the Quest category that follows not only the total number of quests you have completed, but also tracks how many you have completed in the various areas of WoW. It also looks at the number of daily quests completed.
Exploration tallies how much of the map you opened in Outlands, Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms and with Wrath of the Lich King, the new lands of Northrend. Each time you open up a different section of the map, you garner an achievement. Opening up an entire region counts as yet another achievement while exploring all the area of an entire continent is an even bigger achievement, worth many points.
There are a number of PvP achievements, many associated with feats that are accomplished in the various battlegrounds and the Arena. They also encourage home invasions or at least home city invasions as there are special achievements for killing members of the opposing faction in their home city. Even more points can be earned by killing a leader of one of the opposing factions. Should yours be the home city being invaded, there is also an achievement for killing 50 members of the opposing faction while defending a city. I think world PvP just got a shot in the arm.
The dungeon and raid achievements are a source of slight consternation. Players discovered that many of their achievements for the early days of Azeroth and the Burning Crusade were not counted, as no proof of the accomplishment currently exists. Though I helped clear Blackwing Lair many times, I completed no quest in doing so and have no items in my bank to prove I did so. The only Azeroth raid I was credited with was Onyxia. I turned in her head to complete a quest. Of course players can revisit these instances and earn credit for completing them today, but clearing Blackwing Lair with a group of 70s in Tier 4/5/6 armor does not compare with the challenge of taking down Nefarian with a group of level 60 characters clad in their Tier 1 and Tier 2 gear.
Profession achievements are available for mastering differing levels of the primary professions. The secondary skills of Fishing, First Aid and Cooking have achievements as well. As an avid fisherwoman, I must admit I covet the title of Salty. That Achievement requires winning the Stranglethorn Vale fishing contest as well as many other fishy achievements. I may wait a long time before I see that title. Since the fishing contest held once a week and has one winner, the competition is bound to be keen.
Reputation is the seventh category for achievements. Completing quests, killing certain monsters and even donating items such as cloth gives players honor points with the varying factions of World of Warcraft. There were already rewards associated with gaining honor, but now there are achievements as well. Achieving exalted status with all the races of your faction merits the title of Diplomat for example.
One of the aspects I’ve always enjoyed in WoW are the special events they hold for holidays. These events now are associated with a large number of achievements, which should certainly spark interest and participation. I would say most in the past have ignored Noble Garden, the WoW version of the Easter holiday. Hunting for brightly colored eggs which only contained low level candy or the very occasional item of finery just did not garner that much interest from the general population. Now that getting some of these articles of clothing from an egg will be an achievement, well I wouldn’t want to be trying to find those eggs on a PvP server.
I anticipate a great deal of interest in the holiday events that just didn’t exist before. These events have always been popular. Now, however, those that successfully complete the achievements for the Lunar Festival, Love is in the Air, Children’s Week, the Midsummer Festival, Brewfest, Hallow’s End and Winter Veil will receive an awesome prize. The reward for the achievement, What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been, is a Violet Proto-drake. Not only does this mount looks awesome, it is one of a handful of uber fast mounts in the game. It has 100% ground speed and 310% air speed.
Two other super fast mounts are available from achievements: the Plagued proto-drake and the Black proto-drake. These are rewards for the achievements Glory of the Raider and Heroic: Glory of the Raider respectively. Along with the Ashes of Alar and the special PvP reward mounts, these are the only mounts in the game with this kind of speed.
Don’t think it will be easy to get these rewards. The drakes from raiding will require great perseverance to obtain. The titles from the World Events will require both perseverance and a great deal of luck. The Hallows End event, which completed after Halloween required one obtain the Hallowed Helm that sometimes drops from the Headless Horseman and a squashling mini-pet. Many players did the Headless Horseman run every day of this event and were unable to obtain the needed items. Some never saw the item drop, or if it did drop lost the roll to another in their party. Still, what a prize!! If not this year, maybe the next.
Additionally there is a Black War Bear mount as a prize for slaying all the leaders of the opposing faction. This will result from the achievement For the Alliance or For the Horde. Reins of the Black War Bear will arrive in the mail. Mount collectors will receive the reins of the Albino Drake for obtaining the Leading the Cavalry achievement, by obtaining 50 mounts. Pictures of all these new mounts can be seen at Warcraftmounts.com.
Those who collect vanity pets can earn a Reeking Pet Carrier, which holds Stinky, the skunk. He is the reward for collecting 50 mini-pets. Other than the mounts and mini-pet, achievement rewards run heavily to titles with some tabards thrown in to spice things up.
So, all you over achievers of Azeroth, your day is here. Mount up and start exploring the land. Do the quests you skipped back in the day to get honor with the varying factions. Find 25 different kinds of brew to consume. Cook up recipes, buy a mini-pet, hit the battlegrounds. Blizzard has given us a lot to accomplish before Wrath of the Lich King goes live and the grind to 80 begins.