Not-Actually-Cosmetic Award
aka: What Do You Mean Its Not Cosmetic

It looks like a Cosmetic Award, it's awarded like a Cosmetic Award, it gives points like a Cosmetic Award, except it is not cosmetic, it actually does something to affect gameplay.

Usually such achievements do not influence gameplay immediately, but instead unlock content for later use.

See also Bragging Rights Reward, And Your Reward Is Clothes.

Examples:

  • Bloodline Champions has achievements that give Blood Coins, the main in-game resource, that can be later used to unlock characters. Grinding the easiest ones is usually recommended for new players.
  • Kongregate's main feature is an API that allows you get achievements for pre-existing flash games. Achievements are regularly selected for challenges that, if completed, give you a card for Kongai, the site's iconic CCG.
    • After they merged with GameStop, this was intensified— now a random achievement each day gives you points for the customer loyalty program.
  • Both of the Mass Effect games feature a selection of Achievements (and later Trophies) with immediate and potent effects, such as increased XP-gain, boosted powers, access to new abilities, or any number of other benefits.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, there are challenges a player can do which are usually skill or weapon-based(kill enemies X times with a particular weapon, use a certain item x times, etc.). When these challenges are completed, you'll actually get minor perks.
    • And most of the PS3 / Xbox 360 / Steam achievements are tied to either the above challenges or major quests, so when you hear that bleep, you're probably getting a big pile of Experience Points, too.
  • In World of Warcraft, the achievement-gained mounts can qualify as this in previous versions of the game, as it means you don't have to buy a fast mount if you haven't already, and the +310% speed ones mean you don't have to buy the last flying rank. Now however all mounts move at whatever speed you have learned and flying mounts do not actually fly if you haven't learned the skill. The guild achievements also provide numerous perks, such as +EXP items to give to alts, or groupwide buff items. None of them are necessary to maximize your abilities in combat, but they can save time on many types of grinding.
  • When Team Fortress 2 first released alternative weapons, the only way to get them was to complete various achievements for the class in question to unlock them (you can still do so, but since the items now Randomly Drop and you can now trade, craft, or just buy them it's somewhat redundant).
    • Some of the hats Team Fortress 2 is known for used to be part of sets with other items, which when completed gave you stat boosts. The trope was subverted when these boosts were removed and the hats were nerfed to be truly cosmetic-only.
  • In Freespace completing secondary objectives and such not only awards you with points and medals, but also sometimes gives bonus ships.
    • Completing secondary and bonus objectives sometimes give some sort of advantage in the following mission (for example, the ship you are ordered to escort might start with less damage).
  • A very subtle example is found in the World in Conflict multiplayer mode. As you ramp up your scores, you will soon receive a Rank Up or ten. While your fancy online rank insignia are pretty much useless in hard gameplay terms, they give you an unexpected but significant "soft" bonus in the extremely teamwork-oriented online mode of the game: on public servers, random players are much more inclined to follow a Colonel or General's orders, giving your side a higher degree of coordination and team play which translates into a significant advantage over a largely disorganized opponent.
    • League of Legends has alternate champion models that can be unlocked for real cash. While having no impact on gameplay (except for a certain Annie skin that makes the "stun ready" particle hard to see), when you are on a team with zero skinned characters and the enemy team has three or four, you pretty much assume you will lose.
      • There's also the −1 damage to Leona's Sunlight spell that all skins with sunglasses provide.
  • Gotcha Force features palette swaps of various borgs. Being toys and all, different colors give different stats.Gold and Silver borgs in particular.
  • Konami Man, Twin Bee and Vic Viper in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin are gotten as rewards from beating the game on Hard difficulty with a level cap of 1, 25 and 50, respectively: their description only reads "5000 points", but each of them also gives a permanent 50 point bonus to STR, INT and LCK, respectively.
  • Collecting Marks Of The Gods in Outland mainly unlocks some concept art for the game, but they also give you the ability to cling to walls longer, mark all treasure urns on your map and double the strenght of your melee attacks if you collect enough of them.
  • LittleBigPlanet has collectible stickers, which need to be pasted on cardboard objects in the levels to activate events. Although mostly it's for more cosmetics, as player made levels often don't use stickers to activate shortcuts often, and many of the good ones don't include stickers at all, but developer made levels are the only ones that have new cosmetics.
  • In Ratchet: Deadlocked, the final cheat, Ninja Ratchet, not only gives Ratchet a neat ninja costume but also increases his power and speed a bit.
  • In I Miss the Sunrise, merits will grant slight bonuses to the Personal and Battle Trust (which affect damage and accuracy) of all allies, including ones not recruited yet.
  • Many MMORPGs nowadays attach small stat bonuses to their Titles. Developers occasionally get carried away.
    • A special mention goes out to Vindictus, whose titles grant stat boosts whether they have been equipped or not. It might be worth going around and kicking 100 gnolls to death, if it will give you +1 STR.
  • Each ship in FTL: Faster Than Light has a set of three achievements unique to it. Completing two of these three achievements unlocks a new layout of that ship, which usually feature new initial weapon loadouts, crew rosters, and floor plans.
  • Some of the badges in Pirate 101 serve as flags that signal for a reward ranging from a companion to become available in the crown shop, a housing item, or a pet.
  • Some achievements in Star Wars: The Old Republic award small amounts of Cartel Coins (currency otherwise bought only with real money). Maxing companion affection or reaching level 50 with a human character awards small stat bonuses to all characters.
  • The achievement system in Cookie Clicker initially comes off as being a mere Bragging Rights Reward. However, unlocking achievementsnote  also increases one's "Milk" percentage, and the Kitten upgrades (helpers, workers, and engineers) increase one's CpS based on the amount of Milk the player has. Additionally, there are a series of upgrades you can get, courtesy of the Bingo Center / Research Facility, and that is only available if you have the Elder achievement.
  • Star Ocean series:
    • Battle Trophies in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time appear to be for show, but acquiring enough of them unlocks various costume changes for the player characters, as well as the harder difficulty settings (Universe and 4D) and a special "manual" battle option that lets you perform attacks where your character is positioned instead of having the automatically move to a predetermined distance from the enemy, allowing you to use your moves quicker and in new ways but making it much easier to miss with them.
    • Taken one step farther in Star Ocean: The Last Hope, where acquiring enough of a character's battle trophies is required to increase that character's level cap from 200 to 255.
  • Borderlands 2 has a laundry list of minor challenges of the "kill 10/100/1000 enemies with a pistol" variety that look like purely cosmetic achievements, but unlock "badass points" that can be cashed in for small bonuses that apply to all your characters.
  • In World of Tanks, there are "Battle Hero" achievements for excellent performance in a battle (killing at least 6 tanks, dealing very large amounts of damage, assisting in killing tanks through damage or spotting, etc). While these are purely cosmetic if you win, earning such an achievement in a loss results in a "Courageous Resistance" bonus that effectively gives you a winning payout.
  • In World Of Warships, however, "Battle Hero" achievements aren't just cosmetic. Each achievement you can earn by performing the appropriate task in battle will also award you with a set of the appropriate signal flag(s), which you can then hoist onto your ship to provide specific bonuses for that ship for one round. Did you manage to stay afloat after sinking another ship via ramming? That "Die Hard" achievement just rewarded you with a flag that boosts the ramming damage you deal by 50% and reduces the ramming damage you take in return by 20%. Did you suffer a magazine detonation? Here's your "Detonation" achievement, and a flag that eliminates the possibility of that happening again for one match. Did your ship's secondary batteries land a killing shot on an enemy ship after having they have dealt at least 40% of that ship's HP in damage? Here's a "Close-Quarters Expert" achievement, and a flag that boosts the range of your secondaries.
  • Super Mario RPG has the Quartz Charm, a piece of equipment that you get for beating the Bonus Boss, Culex. It's description doesn't mention anything specific, other than it's apparently shiny. It also doesn't seem to give any stat boost when equipped to a character. However, what it does do is give you a strength and defense up boost when starting the battle, even though it doesn't play the boosting animation when you do, making it a very useful piece of equipment against enemies who can't debuff characters.
  • Obtaining the Assassin Emblem in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots earns you the Assassin's Costume, which unlike the other costumes in the game, automatically makes non-PMCs friendly toward you. It is well worth finding.
  • Earning any achievement in the XBLA port of Ikaruga unlocks a special mode in the XBLA port of Radiant Silvergun (if you have it) that is the same game but with the scoring mechanics of Ikaruga.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's Brass Bowling Trophy Trophy trophy is earned by picking up a brass bowling trophy in the Strange Leaflet Quest. Which trophy appears in that quest is random, and once you buy the bowling trophy, it won't ever appear there again, which makes the game a tiny bit easier, as the other four possible trophies all let you earn some free stat experience by saying the right magic word.
  • While many characters in Crossy Road are purely cosmetic, a few are not: many characters also change how the playing field looks, and characters such as Pac-Man and Psy add new gameplay mechanics, which are often tracked separately.

Alternative Title(s): What Do You Mean Its Not Cosmetic

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NotActuallyCosmeticAward?from=Main.WhatDoYouMeanItsNotCosmetic