The PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
However you feel about earning achievements, you've probably got a few rare or weird ones in your collection. Maybe you did something by accident and only realized it was significant when the notification popped up. Maybe you participated in an event years ago that earned you an achievement it isn't possible to unlock anymore. Maybe you're just a god at Ratz Instagib, and if so, we salute you.
For this PCG Q&A, we're talking about the weirdest and hardest achievements we have. (Strictly speaking, our 'rarest' achievements come from games very few others played, but that isn't necessarily interesting, so we're not speaking strictly here.)
We've included non-Steam achievements, too, and feel free to also do that if you want to share your favorite achievements in the comments. (We've just used 'Steam achievements' as shorthand for 'an award you unlock for doing something in a game,' since everyone knows what they are.)
Here are the rare achievements we're most proud of:
Jody Macgregor: Weary Warriors
Steam tells me only 0.7 percent of XCOM 2: War of the Chosen players have Weary Warriors, an achievement for setting out on a mission with a squad of soldiers all suffering from the Tired debuff and not losing any of them. I only had two Tired soldiers at the time, Mainframe and The Baroness (I was using cosmetic mods to turn everyone into characters from G.I. Joe), so I deliberately sent them out together to earn the achievement. They stealthed their way into an enemy base but then got spotted and had to go loud. They barely survived. One of them had to throw a grenade to blow a hole through a wall between them and the evac zone so they could escape with slivers of health left. It was actually pretty neat.
Now I try to avoid looking at achievements because it alters the way I play—I'll see something dumb like this and then go out of my way to get it—but at the time it was thrilling.
Evan Lahti: Dance Party
I am one of the 7.6 percent of Team Fortress 2 players who have performed a conga line with 10 or more players at the same time. This isn't the Achievement I'm proudest of, but it represents a flavor of multiplayer FPS that I'm quickly becoming nostalgic for as games change and my life changes: nightly server hangouts.
Apart from cool mutations like Fortnite's creative mode, competitive games are almost wholly driven by anonymous matchmaking, and one of the consequences of that is that our time spent playing them is mostly defined by how many wins, frags, and XP we can accumulate. There's a bunch of advantages to queued matchmaking systems—speed, skill matching, ping filtering—but the move away from servers as fixed, public or private spaces that you can frequent, inhabit, and develop a relationship with means there's less of an opportunity for moments like this, when half the server drops everything and dances.
Tyler Wilde: Perfect
Most of my rarer achievements are in Red Orchestra 2/Rising Storm. I've got Whack A Mole, in which I tallied two kills from the same stationary machine gun in a span of 15 seconds. I don't remember doing it at all, but I'm sure it felt nice. Only .6 percent of players have that one.
In Red Orchestra 2, I also have an achievement that isn't obtainable anymore: In B4 Reset, which was given to players who had their stats reset due to post-release bug fixing. I barely remember it happening, but my Steam account will forever honor the memory of that one day in 2011 when I was kind of bummed out about losing my RO2 progress.
More recent and even rarer than that, though, is PERFECT in Ape Out. I completed one of its chapters without taking any damage, and if you've played Ape Out, you know that ain't easy. That one's another .6 percenter, but given that far fewer people have played Ape Out than Red Orchestra 2 and Rising Storm, I have to imagine that very few people share the honor. Say hello. Maybe we should hang out.
Andy Chalk: Still Alive
This isn't really a point of pride, but I am one of the 2.2 percent of Battletech players who have picked up the Still Alive cheevo: I lost three out of four mechs in a fight but still managed to complete the contract, and none of my pilots died.
More often than not when a mech goes down, it takes the pilot with it—between ammo explosions, autocannon fire to the face, and hand-to-hand brawls between 80-ton war machines from the future, there are a lot of ways for the squishy little people inside the cockpits to get hurt. Killing the metal and saving the meat three times in a row, in a single action? That's unusual. It helps to have high-level pilots, who are tougher than rookies, which may be why I just picked that one up on April 5.
A close second, at 2.7 percent of players, is You Can't Kill Me!, acquired way back in February: One of my mechs was knocked down, overheated and shut down, and ate a headshot, all in the same battle, but still managed to come through the fight intact. Yeah, I suck at Battletech, but I'm good at getting achievements for sucking.
Jarred Walton: Unobtainium Chain
According to TrueSteamAchievements, my 'best' achievement is in A Virus Named TOM, and it's called Unobtainium Chain. I don't even remember the game, probably because I played it in 2013. In fact, my top three 'rare' Steam achievements all come from the same game—Stack Overflow and Tomorrow is History being the next two on my list. Maybe these are only uncommon achievements because I'm one of the few people to finish A Virus Named TOM? But I do have PUBG's Fast and Furious achievement as my fourth best achievement, for running over 10 people with a vehicle. Clearly my license should be revoked.
It's too bad there are no achievements from when I was a teenager. I maintain that finishing Shadow of the Beast on an Amiga has to be one of the most difficult accomplishments I can recall.
Joanna Nelius: Jedi Initiate
During pre-NGE Star Wars: Galaxies, I made it to Jedi Initiate. If you played Star Wars: Galaxies during that time, then you know just how long it took to get there.
Tim Clark: Rivensbane
It's not a Steam achievement, but my most impressive in-game commendation is the Rivensbane title in Destiny 2. As with all the D2 titles, it requires collecting a swathe of specific items (some of which are gated behind brutally-low RNG drops) and completing a bunch of Raid challenges. Of these, by far the most tricky is Petra's Run.
Petra's Run requires you to finish The Last Wish raid in its entirety, without anyone in your fireteam of six players dying. As soon as someone does, the game black screens and boots you all to orbit. The first time that happened, the immediate response was laughter and relief. None of us had wanted to be the first to fuck up, and the tension was becoming unreal. More wipes followed, and it took my group two nights to nail the perfect run.
The biggest butt-clench moment was during the jumping puzzle before Morgeth the ogre. Everyone knew who the weakest jumpers on the team were (in short: me) and we pretty much all held our breath until it was over. Adding stress in the final strait, a bug called the 'Guitar Error' was causing disconnects if teams created too many orbs of light. We got lucky, and one-shot the Queen's Walk race to the finish with military precision. I see other players saying Rivensbane doesn't matter because of the RNG element to collecting the items, but the camaraderie and gallows humor made Petra's Run my most enjoyable session. I wear the title with pride.
Bo Moore: Amani War Bear
Mine also isn't a Steam achievement, but in World of Warcraft (which I haven't played for nearly 10 years) I have an extremely rare mount: the Amani War Bear.
Back in 2007, during the Burning Crusade expansion, there was a raid called Zul'Aman. It was a 10-player raid that—normally—was relatively easy to complete. You needed a bit of raiding experience and some mildly decent gear, but nothing crazy. However, the raid had an optional timed challenge: defeat the first four bosses within 45 minutes and you'd receive an extra reward: the Amani War Bear mount. (Just one. Your 10-player party would then have to decide or roll for who got to ride the bear.)
The timed challenge wasn't impossible, but it required being wildly over-geared for the raid, so basically only top-tier raiders at the time had access. Being one of the best-geared rogues on my server at the time, I joined a group of other elite raiders and, well, we got bear mounts for us all.
Being locked behind that challenge run made the mount rare—though not exceedingly so—at the time, but then Blizzard removed it. When the level cap increased with the next expansion pack, Blizzard didn't want over-leveled players to be able to go back and easily complete the timed run, so they removed the War Bear reward. Zul'Aman was reworked in a later expansion as a 5-man dungeon, again with a timed challenge for a Bear Mount reward, but that one's called the Amani Battle Bear and has a different color palette. The original Amani War Bear was rare at the time, and it hasn't been available for more than a decade. But I have one.