Platinum works like a spell on some gamers, luring them to grind and play their favorite games again and again. You don’t get anything in return for this venture, except to be immersed in every facet of a creative endeavor. I rarely platinum a game due to the exhaustive and sometimes boring nature of the feat. After rolling credits on The Last of Us Part 2, for example, I scrolled through the trophy list and grimaced at the number of collectible hunting trophies.
This requirement isn’t too bothersome in comparison to other trophies, but the work of playing through missions again in search of useless trinkets was not enticing. Besides, collectible hunting often takes away from the action and overall enjoyment of an experience. It’s rare for me to platinum a game, but there are two games that have risen above the tedious grind: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
These titles are developed by Insomniac Games, demonstrating their skill at crafting trophy lists that enhance player enjoyment. They don’t add mundane tasks, but instead, guide the player through a full exploration of the game’s greatest assets. This works in conjunction with a side content system that never feels overbearing, while also valuing the player’s efforts. To fully explore Insomniac’s gratifying trophy lists we’ll first evaluate some of gaming’s more ridiculous trophies. Then we’ll have a point of comparison when exploring specific Insomniac trophies and what makes them so enjoyable.
The first major repellent is any trophy that requires multiple playthroughs, especially for longer games. As for The Last of Us, the first game requires completion of the campaign on all difficulty settings. These aren’t unlocked at the start but rather after completing a subsequent level, thus requiring three playthroughs. Naughty Dog also has a tendency of requiring multiplayer trophies for campaign-centric games. I actually finished The Last of Us on the hardest difficulty, but the two multiplayer trophies kept the platinum slightly out of arm’s reach. Completing each of the faction storylines by reaching the level cap twice was not worth the platinum.
Some of the other most annoying trophy requirements are those that need an absurd amount of grind. A number of Reddit users expressed their pain by suggesting the worst trophies in this sphere. Battlefield Hardline requisites 1000 kills with each class, which one user estimates will take 500 hours. Another one was the 50 crossbow headshots in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The infamous crossbow lacks damage output and aim sensitivity making this trophy a significant grind. Some of the most annoying for me was the Assassin’s Creed full synchronization trophies. These requested that the player complete specific objectives for every mission.
In Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood players must escape the Vatican with the Apple of Eden without losing any health. Taking into consideration the sheer number of guards chasing Ezio, this objective is ridiculous. Also, Apple of Eden usage depletes health. Suffice it to say, trophy objectives can be absurdly difficult, essentially sucking the fun out of my favorite games. Insomniac Games, on the other hand, doesn’t see trophies as an aggressive challenge, but an enjoyment guide.
Insomniac Games is the MVP of the PlayStation 5 launch, releasing two spectacular games. Each of them is good in its own right, but they also come with a fun, approachable trophy list.
One of those games, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales proves that short games often produce the best experiences. They don’t overwhelm the player with redundant tasks and hundreds of collectibles. Insomniac’s first foray into Spider-Man suffered from its format as a full game, making the trophies a tedious endeavor. The collectible heavy nature transferred to Miles Morales, but in lesser quantity. Several of the trophies require 100 percent collection but the smaller map of Miles Moralis made this feat attainable.
There are 16-time capsules, for instance, that serve as an exploration guide for the beautifully crafted city. In addition, each one offers an in-depth look at Miles and Phin’s relationship, strengthening the story. Essentially, completing these trophies is not a useless hassle, but a direct modifier to the campaign itself. Along those same lines, the side quests, which the trophy list guides the player along, amplifies the game’s main theme.
Miles struggles with being his own Spider-Man, constantly in the shadow of his red and blue friend. Throughout the storyline, he realizes that he is Harlem’s Spider-Man – the hero that understands his city at a personal level. The side quests where Miles gets to know several Harlem citizens amplify the impact of this realization. The storyline is better when viewed through the lens of side quests, an objective that the trophy list practically demands.
While there are several other trophies that require grinding, the threshold is low enough that it never becomes an issue. In fact, it’s at the perfect level to explore everything the combat has to offer. Defeating 50 enemies while camouflaged forces action-based players to experience stealth. The “From the Rafters” trophy actually introduced me to ceiling takedowns, a strategy I wasn’t using before. Thanks to this, I added a new tool to my arsenal.
The only trophy that may cause some to grimace is the “Plus Plus,” which requires a New Game Plus playthrough. Even though this doesn’t seem necessary, it can be completed faster than you may think. The story is short and challenges are a breeze thanks to a fully upgraded Miles. Overall, the trophy list helped me enjoy the game more, which almost never happens.
Insomniac’s first true PS5 exclusive, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has a rather simple trophy list that can be completed in one thorough playthrough. In truth, the majority of the trophies will pop without any extra effort at all. The few trophies that need attention include, as we’ve come to expect, collectibles. Collecting these trinkets, which involves gear, Spybots, and gold bolts, are not extraneous but fun excursions. These are so fun that I’d collect them outside of any trophy requirement.
First of all, they are closely intertwined with the main path and never call for a substantial detour. The gold bolts are blocked by small environmental puzzles and reward the player with various cheat codes. For instance, one bolt grants unlimited ammo while another unlocks big head mode. Efforts are more than compensated by rewards. The gear is unlocked using pocket dimensions, which are among the most effective platform segments in Rift Apart. In summary, the trophies point you to Rift Apart’s best qualities. Beyond this, they also teach you the best way to play.
Some trophies have players combine weapons such as the “Extreme Gardening” objective. This trophy tasks players with destroying enemies once they are “Topiary’d.” After this, I realized that Rift Apart combat is most fun when you switch guns often. Essentially, the trophy list is like reading a story headlined – how to get the most enjoyment out of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
This is what trophies should be: a fun exploration through a game’s greatest hits. Challenges are welcome too, as we’ve seen through Miles Morales, as long as the requirements are not too outlandish. Games going forward should take a look at Insomniac and see how trophy lists can complement an experience. In this case, we’ll never have to collect 100 useless features or get 50 headshots again.