Achieving: A Lot with Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption may prove to be a landmark title in Achievement design when we look back on this crazy social scoring meme in ten years. Perfectly metered story Achievements unlock as you progress but the ancillary stuff — the X number of kills with a weapon, the well played hand of Poker, the horse breaking — are all things you could easily unlock by just playing around. Then there are the classic Wild West moments to be recreated (tying a woman to the train tracks), endurance challenges like clearing out all gang hideouts in one 24-hour day, and cheeky pop culuture references like ‘Bearly Legal’ and ‘Heading South on a White Bronco’. Those are all specific things to accomplish but with a little focus they’re not overly frustrating or even terribly challenging. But, of course, there are the really tough multiplayer Achievements which I’m mostly incapable of , or too antisocial, to ever get.

One of my proudest moments is what’s pictured above. Rockstar’s Social Club is a whole other realm of meta-gaming layered on top of Achievements and PlayStation 3 Trophies. Connect your account there with your Xbox Live or PSN credentials and it pulls in an incredible amount of data about how you play. Those numbers filter into the page you see here that visually tracks your progress towards 100%-ing the game. It also offers tips and helps keep your head in the game even when you’re just sitting at your computer. The 100% ‘Redeemed’ Achievement was almost simply a matter of playing the game for me making the following accomplishments a little more rewarding:

Most Wanted: Become a Public Enemy for 10 minutes and escape alive in a Public Free Roam Game

I’ve never sought out a Public Enemy in a Free Roam game myself but it seems like the longer you’re the most wanted the more Experience your hide is worth. At least, that’s how it felt as I’d hole up in a good camping spot to abuse the A.I. cops for 9 minutes only to have a real person come gun me down in the 10th. After two days of serious effort (the whole process took me about 35 minutes each time) I finally managed to outlast other players and the cops to get this sweet 10 points.

Unnatural Selection: Kill one of every animal species in the game in any game mode.

Killing and skinning animals was a surprising experience for me. I wasn’t appalled by the act but it definitely gave me pause every time it happened. Then I got desensitized and the elongated skinning animations were more offensive than the gore. I waited as long as possible to go on an animal killing spree, hoping no one would spot me knifing a pig or sniping a cow from the outskirts of town. Turns out, the Achievement is for wild animals so I apologize to the domestic dogs, chickens and cattle I pointlessly slaughtered. I feel somewhat proud, then, that the last animal I needed for the unlock was a wild horse. Of all the stray bullets I sent fly throughout the game not a single one (or any of my deliberate shots for that matter) ever hit a wild stallion… until it was at the top of my hit list.

Hit the Trail: Get from Blackwater to Escalera before sundown in a public Free Roam session.

This one isn’t terribly hard, you basically ride from one distant point on the map to another, but waiting around for sunrise to set out on this particular session proved hair-raising. Just as the day broke on the town of Blackwater another online player decided to make it his mission to gun me down repeatedly. He set me back by several minutes but eventually I respawned far enough away that I could call on my horse and tear off out of town. I don’t know if he was set on following me but his dot on the map kept pace for a while, making my hands shake as I managed my horse’s stamina. As I rode across the border into Mexico he disappeared but then he began fast traveling to destinations ahead of me. At one point he was almost back on me but I was speeding by on a trail while he plodded through the brush. Finally I coasted into Escalera with loads of time before sundown, feeling more accomplished than I rightly should have thanks to my improptu pursuer. *BA~GOINK* Another nerve-wracking 10 points… and then he caught up and gunned me down again.

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