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Are account-wide achievements a blessing or a curse?

Anne Stickney

I remember the day achievements went live. I spent a good portion of that first day just before Wrath's release hunting down and completing the few achievements I could definitely complete. Well Read? Done. To All the Squirrels I've Loved Before? Well, I couldn't quite complete that, but I did dutifully go /love every animal I could, aside from the few in Northrend I couldn't get to yet. When Wrath was in its waning days and I was bored, I'd work on obscure achievements I didn't have. Bloody Rare and Frostbitten were both completed during this time.

I haven't really focused so much on achievements this expansion. However, my guild is on the brink of finishing heroic content, which means from that point out, we'll just be farming various content, I'm guessing. And that sounds like it's just about time for my achievement obsession to kick in again -- as well as finishing off tracking down and nabbing those few pesky mounts and pets in game that I haven't gotten yet.

In Mists, all these achievements I've got on my main will automatically be granted to my alts, which I was pretty pleased about. But then I started to think about it.

Harpy's Nest has encountered account-wide achievements on the beta, and she's got a few concerns about them. And honestly, I hadn't really thought about any of these things until I read her post. First off, there's the matter of being able to have your alts traced just by merit of what achievements they've got. I'm not so sure this is such a major concern myself -- it would take a lot (and I mean a lot) for someone to go out of their way and trace individual achievements to one person, even more so when said person has a boatload of achievements under their belt.

The account-bound achievements will be granted to your alts, yes, but they won't be granted until those alts reach appropriate level for them. So a random low-level alt isn't going to ding with every achievement you have in your stable all at once. Once they hit 70, 80, 85 -- that's when the achievements are going to start dinging in excess. But even then, with millions of players playing this game, it is almost a certainty that somewhere on the armory there is at least one person if not two that have the exact same achievements you do. There are a limited number of achievements out there to gather, after all.

But it's Harpynest's second point that made my brow furrow with concern: All of these alts will automatically be granted achievements. This means that any time I spend on an alt will be spent -- well, leveling. And once I reach appropriate level, all achievements I have (and there are many of them) will be had by that alt as well. The same goes with pets and mounts -- I'll have all my obscure mounts, including my Zhevra from the original Recruit-A-Friend program, on all my characters. (Or at least I hope I have my Zhevra on all of them, because I love that mount a lot.)

Here's the issue, however: What exactly does one do with an alt if the alt has already technically done everything in the game? No pets or mounts to farm. No raid achievements to complete. No exploration to finish. I have three -- yes, three characters with Loremaster under their belts. I completed them prior to Cataclysm's release. Was there a point to it? Not really, I suppose. It was just something to do, something to complete, an objective to finish. And I'm still pretty pleased about that accomplishment, because it wasn't the easiest thing to do.

But when Mists comes out, will all of my characters be Loremasters? Right now in beta, account-wide achievements seem to be in place. My level 11 pandaren has Seeker completed. It says she's done 3,000 quests. She has World Explorer, even though she hasn't set foot outside of Stormwind. She hasn't been to any of these areas or done any of these quests, but as far as the game is concerned, she sure has.

There's something a little off about that. For me, part of the fun of playing an alt is hunting down all those achievements and getting things done. And maybe I'm a little weird because I enjoy doing these kinds of things. But I'm still concerned, because achievements represent a lot of reason to go do all that content between levels 1 and 85, soon to be 90. If a character is simply granted all of these things by virtue of having another character on the account that's done them, then I have to ask what the point is of leveling another character at all?

Again, I may be the odd one out here. Once I get an alt to 85, I almost always inevitably stop playing it. The joy with alts, for me, is running out, experiencing new content, and chasing down all those silly achievements along the way. Being granted those achievements automatically just sucks some of the fun out of it. For me, it almost makes leveling an alt not really worth the time.

So when it all boils down to it, I'm torn by this subject. On the one hand, I'm excited that the achievements earned on my first main will be had by the main I have now. I no longer have to look at things like The Fifth Element and wistfully wish I could have them on the character I play now, because I will. At the same time, however, I've got this wary sense of unease that's beginning to make me wonder if perhaps this move may sound far more amazing in theory than it is in reality.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

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