I don’t have a lot of time for video games these days. Recently, I made it a point to make some time so I could play something with my good friend Rob Evans. I picked up Tom Clancy’s The Division specifically for that purpose.
Rob is one of my best friends in the world. One of the worst parts of moving from Evansville, IN back to upstate NY was having to move away from him. We went from living right around the street corner from each other to about 700 miles away. That sucked, and still does. We played a lot of video games together, spent a lot of nights at Show-Me’s (Hooters rip-off) in Evansville, got rejected by females together (and often). They were great times.
Our only interaction these days, unfortunately, is through the PlayStation Network. I was excited for The Division, because it is designed for team co-op play, and I knew Rob and I would have a blast playing it. Over the past month, 99% of any video game time I have had has been playing that game with Rob.
I’m what some people would call an “achievement (or trophy) whore” when it comes to gaming. Gamerscore/rank is just as meaningless in life as likes on Facebook, but I still enjoy the sense of accomplishment. I want to conquer the feats placed in front of me when I see a list of trophies in a game. I feel like I’m being challenged to do something. When the notification for an achievement pops on Xbox or a trophy dings on PlayStation, I feel like I succeeded in something. (Please, let me wallow in my false sense of pride.)
As the hours passed while playing The Division, I realized that Rob and myself had a good chance at nailing down the platinum trophy on PS4. The only way to get a platinum is to unlock every single trophy in the game as it signifies that you mastered everything the developers put in front of you. I made it a mission for us to get the platinum for this game together.
Heading into yesterday, Rob and I were only one trophy away from making this a reality. The only thing we had to do was beat a level on challenging difficulty. This difficulty is designed for a good squad of four players, and Rob and myself have been unable to conquer it as a duo.
Sunday morning, Rob’s friend Dana joined us to see if we could beat it as a team of three. It took a while, but we finally developed a good strategy and started making progress through the level. It was definitely easier having her as a third member. After a few hours, we hit a roadblock that wasn’t going to be easy to pass. At this point in the level, we were boxed in with enemies charging us at an alarming rate, while also having to protect a computer character from being killed. There were a few times we almost had it. Frustratingly, we tried over and over using different tactics to see if we could fight our way out of this section and go on to beat the mission.
After about four hours, Rob had to leave. There is no way to save the mission from our progress point. This meant the four hours we spent getting to this point were now wasted. We had failed. We were going to have to try again another day.
Later in the evening, Rob sent me a text asking if I wanted to play some of the other daily missions for the day. After wasting four frustrating hours on this game already, I was in no mood to play. Now, when Rob asks if I want to play the daily missions, this always means the hard difficulty. When we decide to make an attempt on the challenging difficulty we plan for it, like we did earlier in the day with Dana.
At about 1:30 this morning, while watching one of my Doctor Who blu-ray sets on my PS4, a message pops up on my television from Rob. It was a screenshot that felt like a back-tap to the genitals. Rob had beaten the challenging difficulty and earned the platinum trophy without me.
Not only did he get this without me, he then sends me a screen shot to rub it in. Keep in mind that this is one of my best friends. I baptized him. I helped deliver two of his children. I helped father one of them. I’ve agreed to be the best man in two of his next three weddings. I faked a calf injury when we climbed Mt. Everest just so he could reach the top first. After all of that, I get this absolute betrayal.
So now as I sit at 98% completion while Rob flaunts his 100%, I realize I was played. Instead of achieving this goal together as we set out, Rob recruited a bunch of strangers to help him nail down that platinum trophy. He will now use this accomplishment to catapult him into stardom, locking down exclusive endorsement deals and riding a new path towards the video game hall of fame while I flounder in mediocrity. Rob will be in commercials, and I’ll be at video game conventions in a dusty warehouse teaching the Konami Code to uninterested kids. It was all business and career goals for him. I wasn’t a teammate, I was a vehicle that he drove until the engine overheated and then was abandoned on the side of the road. He’s Shawn Michaels and I’m Marty Jannetty.
I may never get that platinum trophy now. Rob caught a plane to Los Angeles this morning to be in a magazine spread with PewDiePie, so I know I won’t receive his help to lock down this platinum for myself. I could recruit a bunch of strangers in matchmaking to help me, but then I would be no different than him. I won’t use others for personal gain.
This morning, I found out that Dana wasn’t even real. She was just some actress that Rob hired to lure me in with her sexy voice as he schemed his way towards the platinum. Rob’s son was playing her character in the game while she talked on the headset.
I hope my story helps others avoid the same pit I fell into. Be wary of your close friends, especially if you met them at Gamestop. Most likely your best buddy, your girlfriend, your children, are just working you day in and day out until they have that opportunity to pounce and secure their way into video game stardom.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffLane22