Almost two years ago, I wrote a series of articles for OverAchiever that turned out to be one of the most popular themes the column's ever visited: evil achievements. It turns out that a lot of folks care deeply about achievements that have been -- allow me to quote myself -- "milked from the angry teat of Satan himself."
Now, it has to be said that all achievements are technically optional. No one is forcing you to do anything, why do you play this game anyway if you aren't having fun, yadda yadda ... all true. But I assume you're reading The OverAchiever because you really like achievements and you think they add something to the game. (Either that, or you're just reading because you're bored, but that's fine too.) Personally, I don't think players really mind difficult achievements or even achievements that they have to peck away at over an extended period of time. But there's a line between an achievement that is genuinely difficult on its own merits and one that makes you privately think the developers want you dead.
So with that in mind, how would we reconstruct a list of evil achievements in 2012 during the Cataclysm era?
You can find the original series here if you're interested in a trip down Memory Lane, although I'll give you a quick rundown on them past the cut:
- Evil Achievements: Spotlight on Justicar/Conqueror, The Immortal, and Accomplished Angler
- Evil Achievements: The 25 most evil achievements, #25-16
- Evil Achievements: The 25 most evil achievements, #15-6
- Evil Achievements: The 25 most evil achievements, #5-1
When the series was initially written two years ago during the latter portion of Wrath of the Lich King (and wow, it feels weird saying it's been that long), this was the list I eventually settled on as the most evil achievements in the game. I've included a quick gloss on how they landed in the top 25 as a means of explaining how and why the list was assembled, which I think will be valuable as we turn our attention to their Cataclysm counterparts.
- The Insane I started writing an explanation here and then realized it was superfluous. Everyone knows why this made #1. Your dog knows why this made #1. The developers have all but publicly said it's absolutely horrible, because it's supposed to be a horrible experience and you're crazy even to consider doing it.
- School of Hard Knocks Hands down the meanest holiday-related achievement and one that exposes you to bullying from both enemy and allied players.
- Five Battleground-related achievements, e.g. Alterac Valley All-Star and Save the Day It's not so much that these aren't achievements in the truest sense of the word, but they will drive you into screaming collapse trying to get them.
- Raiding realm-first achievements Mostly because the game has no real way to distinguish who put the most work into an encounter and who just happened to be in the raid the night a guild landed them. I loved these as achievements, and I really loved the oft-inventive titles that came with them. I was not sure they were worth the often guild-destroying drama I so frequently saw them cause.
- Bane of the Fallen King/The Light of Dawn Heroic Arthas was the most murderous encounter of Wrath of the Lich King and one that no one in the world actually managed until Blizzard implemented a zone-wide buff in Icecrown Citadel.
- Less-rabi Whenever you have to depend on split-second timing and That Guy from your guild, you're in for a long night.
- Accomplished Angler "Accomplished Angler is so stuffed with RNG that you could theoretically get the whole meta-achievement in the space of a single day -- or, like me, you could be slogging away at it more than a year into Wrath." Or two years later.
- Hero of Shattrath Have you made the long, difficult grind to exalted with one of the Shattrath factions? Turn around and do it again for the faction that now hates your guts.
- Higher Learning One night in Dalaran makes the hard man humble. Or, more likely, many nights.
- Alone in the Darkness It took the world's best guilds the better part of -- what was it, three or four months? -- to do a zero-keeper Yogg-Saron. Enough said.
- Justicar/Conqueror Does anyone out there actually enjoy grinding rep in Warsong Gulch? I have yet to meet them, if so.
- Bloody Rare/Frostbitten Rare mobs are a lot of fun when you encounter them randomly. They're not as much fun when you're tasked with specifically hunting them down.
- Earth, Wind, and Fire Vault of Archavon too easy for you? Here's how to make it "interesting"! Yeah, we'll go with "interesting."
- Chef de Cuisine Getting 160 cooking recipes was an expensive and brutal process -- particularly as a Horde player, due a lingering quirk from the classic game.
- Firefighter It's interesting that two Ulduar heroic raid encounters made the list, but anyone who did heroic Mimiron back in the day can tell you that both are well deserved.
- A Tribute to Immortality "All of the lighthearted fun of Immortal, shoved into a much more difficult raid!"
- Gotta Go! Extremely easy after Blizzard raised the deadline from 2 to 4 minutes. Before that -- and especially in tier 7-era gear -- no one managed it without a lot of creativity, luck, and a stacked group.
- All You Can Eat I have not seen Sindragosa since Wrath ended, and with any luck, I never will again. The memories from this achievement and her heroic version are why.
- 40 Exalted Reputations I think the fracas over The Exalted title is a pretty good gloss on why this made the list.
- The Immortal While nothing in tier 7 had an encounter comparable to the later difficulty of heroic Yogg-Saron, Mimiron, Anub'arak, or Arthas, it did have an achievement that was the stuff of nightmares.
- King of the Fire Festival/Elders of the Alliance/Elders of the Horde Anyone currently doing the two latter achievements during the Lunar Festival will have had a recent education on why crowded city centers and enemy players are a poor mix at best.
- A Mask for All Occasions This is probably the achievement that has changed the most from its 2010 incarnation, but it was a doozy back then.
- BB King (Alliance) or BB King (Horde) Shooting opposite faction leaders often leads to ugly death. Who knew?
- The Cake Is Not a Lie All hail RNG, supreme overlord of our in-game lives!
- We Had It All Along *cough* I made a mistake while writing this up for the initial article. I'd wound up getting the achievement not on my main but on an alt that had an entered an Arathi Basin just for the fun of it and then got the achievement without even trying. Two years later, I still do not have it on my main, and I have never seen another 10-point AB victory.
I think we can eliminate the raid-related achievements right off the bat, as heroic Arthas, Anub'arak, Mimiron, and Yogg-Saron are all considerably easier than they used to be, assuming you're doing them at level 85. Earth, Wind, and Fire, Gotta Go!, All You Can Eat, and Less-rabi can all be axed too. (Almost by definition, if you can pug an achievement, it does not belong on an evil achievements list.) Ditto A Mask for All Occasions, which is now easily doable now that Blizzard's changed Hallow's End as of 2011. I would also boot 40 Exalted Reputations and Chef de Cuisine, as Cataclysm has raised the requirements for the top-most reputation and cooking-related achievements. That's not to say that either is actively easy, but they won't drive you nuts the way they used to.
There are a few consistent features with the achievements that remain:
- RNG, RNG, more RNG, and pure dumb luck A certain amount of RNG should reasonably be expected from many achievements, but there are some where it's a central feature (e.g., Accomplished Angler and Frostbitten).
- A soul-destroying grind Stuff like The Insane and Hero of Shattrath are almost certainly going to stay, although they may move up or down the list.
- Being shat into existence by a malevolent god That's my story regarding School of Hard Knocks, and I'm sticking to it.
What makes the reconstructed list from Cataclysm?
2011 was a difficult year for me personally, and for the first time in my five years of playing, I did not raid extensively. As a result, it's tough for me to evaluate the difficulty of Cataclysm-era raiding achievements, and I'll be honest and admit I need some help here from our readers. While there are achievements like Stay Chill that could (should?) probably make the list, I would love to get some feedback from Cataclysm raiders on other options from subsequent tiers.
Here are a few of my current picks outside of raids, to give you an idea of where my own thoughts are running:
- Moon Guard In theory, this is simple, even for a PUG. In theory.
- Headed South This was universally believed the most difficult 5-man achievement in the game when Cataclysm started, and I tend to place it into the same category as the once-upon-a-time Gotta Go! -- so tough when it started that it might deserve to make the list even if it's considerably easier now.
- Scourer of the Eternal Sands This bears the distinction of being one of WoW's best and yet most frustrating achievements, combining a really cool idea with a giant wallop of grinding and RNG.
- Have ... Have We Met? and Death From Above I confess -- I love the Molten Front daily sending you to Sethria's Roost with a legion of druid helpers and a random "famous" NPC, but trying to get all of them is time and a half. Death From Above is RNG piled on RNG and may very well take you weeks or months to get even if you're doing dailies pretty regularly.
Enjoy working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! Count on us for advice on patch 4.3 achievements, our guide to Mountain O' Mounts, and a good, hard look at what's wrong with archaeology and how Blizzard could fix it.