Here’s everything you need to know about Xbox achievements

xbox achievements everything you need to know achievement
Since 2005, Xbox players’ video game skills have been quantified by a simple number: the “Gamerscore.” Introduced on the Xbox 360, Gamerscore, and the “Achievements” from which it is earned, offer players new and creative challenges in their favorite games. Sometimes you earn them simply for completing a level or finishing a fight in a certain amount of time, but other achievements require players to think outside the (X)box. But just what are Xbox achievements, exactly, and how do you earn them? Here is everything you need to know about achievements on Xbox One.

What are achievements?

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Achievements are digital rewards given to players for completing specific tasks in their games in by the game’s developer. Each individual achievement is worth a certain number of points, which is conferred toward your overall “Gamerscore.” Typically, achievement scores come in multiples of five, ranging from  five to 100. Your Gamerscore is a quick and easy way to view your gaming career at a glance (or a friend’s). It never resets — the achievements you unlocked for Madden NFL 07 will forever be linked to your Gamerscore unless you choose to make a new Xbox Live account.

xbox achievements everything you need to know achievement unlocked

You can unlock achievements in Xbox 360 games, Xbox One games, and select first-party Microsoft games on PC. As with PlayStation trophies, unlocking an achievement will trigger a small notification on-screen, as well as a distinct “ping” noise.

xbox achievements everything you need to know rare achievement

Microsoft tracks how many players who own each game have earned each achievement: If the achievement you earned is especially rare, the standard chime will be replaced by a twinkling noise, and you will see a diamond in the notification window.

A small number of games also feature unscored, time-sensitive “challenges.” Completing these will not affect your Gamerscore, but you can earn additional in-game rewards. They cycle in and out in supported games, so you should always have something to work toward while you’re playing. Challenges don’t show up on a game’s achievement list before they’re completed, even as a secret, but third-party sites like True Achievements track them for completionists.

While the number of achievements in each game varies, most achievement lists add up to 1,000 Gamerscore at launch. Many developers add more achievements through post-launch downloadable content. Xbox achievements don’t have a reward for earning all of them, like the PlayStation 4’s Platinum Trophy, but Gamerscore is a simple and easy-to-understand system for your friends to see your progress.

Achievements hub and Gamerscore leaderboard

Xbox One X review gaming close
Les Shu/Digital Trends
Les Shu/Digital Trends

The Xbox One features an achievements hub, which shows your achievements and more information about your gamerscore. To find it, hit the Xbox button in the center of your controller and select the icon with the trophy on the far left of the Xbox sidebar.

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From there, you can see a list of your achievements by game, look at your recent achievements, and check the “gamerscore leaderboard,” which shows how much your score has improved compared to your friends on Xbox Live. If you are playing a game, the sidebar will also give you quick access to that its achievement list.

xbox achievements everything you need to know my great capture screenshot 2018 01 09 16 49 11  1

Click on “see all my achievements” to go to your achievements hub: From here, you can view all of the achievements you’ve earned for various games across the Xbox One and Xbox 360. Games will be shown in the reverse order you have played them. If you select a particular title, you can check the progress you made toward particular achievements.

xbox achievements everything you need to know

In a tab to the left, you’ll see “stats.” Click on this to view detailed game statistics for almost any Xbox One game. They can be anything from “total time played” to “highest level,” and vary from game to game. Click on any individual statistic and you will see how you compare to anyone else on your friends list who has played the game.

xbox achievements everything you need to know
I have friends, I swear.

Also in the achievements hub is a monthly Gamerscore leaderboard. This section shows the achievement progress you and your friends have made in the last 30 days. To view the leaderboard, go back to the main page in the achievements hub and you will see a tab for it over to the left. Select it and you will be taken to a page showing your friends’ scores within the last month. A drop-down menu at the top of the page will allow you to view the previous month’s leaderboard, as well. Select any friend on the list, and you’ll be taken to a page detailing how your progress compares in mutually played games.

How to earn achievements

You can typically earn several achievements in each game you play without doing anything you wouldn’t normally do — completing stages, raising your characters’ levels, finding collectibles, and competing in multiplayer.

Once you’ve earned as many achievements as possible without doing outside research, it’s time to start filling in the gaps.

Many games also have a certain number of very specific achievements — some add extra challenges, others are simply meant to be funny. You can check the achievements in a given game by looking at the achievement hub on the Xbox One. The hub lists all possible achievements for your games, though some are listed as “secret” and won’t be revealed until you complete them. You can also view achievement lists on the web at third-party sites like Xbox Achievements, which offer the added benefit of a comment section for players to share stories about how to earn particular achievements.

While viewing a game’s achievement list, you can sort the achievements by how close you are to completing them. To view these in your web browser, check out Xbox Achievements, which also offers a comment section for players to elaborate on particular achievements.

If you want moment-to-moment tracking on a particular set of achievements, the Xbox One allows you to do that, as well. Just open the home menu and underneath your achievements, you’ll see a tab for “achievement tracker.” Turn this on and a box will appear in the corner of your screen during a game with a list of possible achievements. Underneath the toggle is a “configure tracker” option, which you can use to pick particular achievements, make the window more transparent, or move it to a different section of the screen.

You will only be able to unlock achievements if you are connected to Xbox Live. Any achievement requirements you meet when playing offline should result in the corresponding achievements unlocking once you’ve connected your console to Xbox Live again, but we have encountered issues with this working properly in the past.

If you’re eager to build up your Gamerscore quickly, it may be worthwhile to go back through the Xbox 360’s early catalog of games. Many games, such as Fight Night Round 3, make it easy to 1,000 achievement points. Finishing just eight particular fights in the game will unlock all 1,000 achievement points. The infamous game Avatar: The Burning Earth has 1,000 achievement points that can be earned in just a few minutes by racking up a 50-hit combo. Once you’re done, you can always sell the game back or give it to an achievement-hunting friend.

Does Gamerscore offer any tangible benefit?

Yes! If you sign up for Microsoft’s Xbox Live Rewards program, you will be placed into an “achievement tier” based on your Gamerscore. Getting into a new tier will earn yourself special “Gems” that can be redeemed for prizes. These include everything from games to controllers and even new Xbox consoles.

There are also special monthly offers that can reward you with credits for use in the MyRewards shop. Even if you’ve been playing Xbox games for ages, it’s worth joining in order to claim rewards for something that was previously just good for bragging rights.

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