Welcome to Britain

Forza Horizon 4 • Arrive at the Horizon Festival • 10G • 85.55% of gamers unlocked this

I forgot that over the weekend, I grabbed another month of Game Pass so that I could play some Super Lucky’s Tale with my son … but, of course, that brings with it a whole new library of games that I have the option to play, not least of which is Forza Horizon 4 … so late last night I set the 60GB+ download going, ready for a quick session this morning.

And then, of course, Xbox Live was down.

I’ve tempted fate by talking about how my Project Scorpio Edition of my Xbox One X has stood the test of time, despite others like Game Informer’s David Milner lamenting his Xbox churn.

Despite this, I’ve found that it has become quite slow over the past few weeks in terms of loading times and particularly connecting to the internet. I don’t have the same problems on my PC, but the PlayStation has also increasingly become a ‘bit’ slow … but it’s also a few years older, so I’m keeping a nervous eye on my hardware, but today’s Xbox and network outage absolutely gave me pause.

Now, more about Forza itself.

Firstly, wow. I made the decision early-on to switch the graphics option back from ‘pretty’ to ‘performance’ (that’s my language, not the game’s), and this thing runs incredibly smooth. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’ve never seen a game look this high-end on my TV before – and I’m running an older Sony Bravia 1080p. The game is just … gorgeous. If this is the standard Microsoft is setting for its first party, then its collection of new studios both have a very high standard to meet, but are also in very good company.

The first race itself is Forza Horizon standard … a variety of vehicles and race modes mixed up to give you a taste for the game, this time with different seasons to show you how the different environments change the style of racing. I can already sense myself becoming less-than-a-fan of winter driving.

I polished off a few races as part of my session this morning, but obviously not enough to grab more than the first achievement in the game. As it turns out, the Xbox outage required me to fully reboot my Xbox and reconnect to Forza before the achievement popped. I thought it strange that I hadn’t earned anything after finishing the first race, a few intro races and choosing new livery for my Ford Focus, so when I checked the achievement list and saw that the ‘Welcome to Britain’ achievement hadn’t popped, I knew something was wrong.

Turning things off-and-on-again remains the timeless, tried and tested method for Step 1 troubleshooting. Even in gaming.

Tonight is my visit to the accountant, which gives me a sinking feeling in the stomach, but it is a much-needed bandaid approach – get it over and done with – so I’ll see how much, if any, gaming appeals to me later in the evening. If I can muster the enthusiasm, I feel like a few more Forza races are in-order.

Split Decision

The Walking Dead: Season Two • Completed Episode 1: “All That Remains” • 50G • 45.59% of gamers unlocked this

What do you do when everything in your game library seems to require a ‘bit’ longer to play than you really have the time or inclination for? You switch back to a Telltale game, of course!

This morning rounded-out the first episode of the second season of The Walking Dead, which was really all about making a choice between two non-player characters: one who had already been bitten by a zombie, and another dude who was smarmy and rude. Neither of them have had any lasting effect on me considering the amount of times I’ve played the game, so that should tell you all you need to know about why I don’t know their names – but nonetheless, I chose the young and smarmy guy because he, at least, wasn’t inevitably doomed.

In other news, I got lumbered with a not-insignificant tax bill estimate today … I’m talking a serious five figure bill … so I’ve had to make some last minute calls to get myself in front of a numbers expert tomorrow night. I mention this as part of incorporating the vicissitudes of life in among my gaming … I wanted to give a sense that, while gaming is a great outlet and the medium through which I create content, it’s also competing with the real world for my time and energy.

Tomorrow, I feel, is going to be a hell of a day.

I’m glad I made some more TWD progress today … for all the recent media about Telltale, and how TWD is going to be concluded, I just love the games for what they are. While there was a lot of agitation on the internet about paying the Telltale staff their severance and the various labour conditions in California, deep down – and I know I’m not the only one – I was lamenting the possible absence of a conclusion to Clementine’s tale.

In the meantime though, I still have a few seasons to go!

Nothing Left to Say

Destiny 2 • Pursue Uldren and the Fanatic to the Watchtower, and finish what you started • 40G • 13.56% of gamers unlocked this

Finally … I have completed the main story campaign of Destiny 2: Forsaken on Xbox, and I can move on with my life. It has felt good – damn good – to get my characters through the campaign on Xbox, and while I’ve been enjoying my time with the PC version, I feel like keeping my progress from Vanilla Destiny through to today is absolutely worth the double effort. I’ve had some adventures with my Exo Hunter, and I’m looking forward to taking him along with me into Destiny 3.

What I found interesting about this achievement was that it unlocks simply for ‘having a go’ at the final mission, rather than requiring you to play the whole thing through. It simply pops in the first few seconds of the level, which I’m assuming is a design decision made by smarter people than I.

To round out my Xbox Destiny 2 experience today, I went in pursuit of a few Triumphs … starting with the Strikes I hadn’t ‘ticked off’ the list yet, and then moving into some more obscure ones, today focussing on supers in Gambit. I had to put the controller down and walk away for a bit this afternoon when a particularly inept Gambit team ruined the final game I needed for the five-match streak (and associated triumph), but I guess that’s either a good incentive to hook up with like minded players, or just get good enough to take on a four-man fire team single handed.

I think this pretty much concludes my Destiny 2 achievement hunting for a little while. Everything else seems to hinge on completing a raid, and if history tells me anything, it’s that I’m probably never going to get a chance.

Still, I should never say never! Needless to say that if I do manage to get in and complete a raid, it’s an almost-certainty that it’ll be my achievement a day on that particular occasion.

Scrap Heap

Livelock • Destroy 100 enemies • 10G • 49.48% of gamers unlocked this

There must be a bit of a trend for top-down twin-stick shooters at the moment … well at least that style when I think of Diablo, Victor Vran and now, Livelock. This was a Games with Gold title in September, but you could forgive me for thinking that this was actually a free-to-play game, considering it’s published by Perfect World, but for a fully-featured title, I’m somewhat happy with its quality (and even happier that I got it as part of Xbox Live Gold).

The concepts in these early levels are fairly standard. Point your gun at the bad guys and shoot. Even the ‘evolved’ bosses at this stage are defeatable through regular ol’ gunfire, but I suspect the range of unlockables and character builds available mean that there is going to be a mixture of character build and strategy to contend with in later levels.

Look … I’m enjoying this game, but let’s be honest. We’re a week away from Red Dead Redemption 2, not much further from Fallout 76 I got myself a new contract this week, and I’m probably going to have to move to an office without the luxury of wi-fi and lunchtime gaming. All is not lost … thank goodness I got the Vita fired back up again … but the truth is, I’m not likely to be dedicating a lot of time to Livelock throughout November. This is undoubtedly going to be a title that I have to ‘come back to’ between now and never, as the slow drip-feed of Christmas releases starts to flow, and then it’s the new year.

Pretty soon, it’ll be time for E3 2019.

Green Wristband

Forza Horizon 2 • Obtain the Green Wristband • 10G • 50.57% of gamers unlocked this

I actually stretched myself tonight to get the ‘Get a clean racing skill 100 times’ achievement tonight, but of course you forget that, in pursuit of the achievement, you are likely to earn others along the way.

Somewhere in the vicinity of Drivatar level 14-15, I levelled up to the next wristband, and the aforementioned titular achievement.

Forza really is about all I can muster tonight. I am utterly, utterly bone-come-dog tired. It’s been a hell of a week, and I’ve been offered a new contract with a different area of my client’s org structure that has meant a lot of angst in my team which I’ve been trying to wrangle.

Needless to say, I have mentally and physically exhausted my ability to do much for the rest of the day. Including write blog entries. Enjoy your weekends, and maybe tomorrow I’m finally work through my not-insignificant like-of-Shane.

Lab Tested

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two • Finished Yen Sid’s Lab • 20G • 74.26% of gamers unlocked this

Had I have known that I was going to have the day I had today, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to try and squeeze in an achievement this morning before I left for work. But I did, and I got one. Que Sera Sera, Carpe Diem, or whatever your Latin phrase-of-choice is … the net result is that I got an achievement.

Go me.

Following the disappointment (achievement-wise) that was Victor Vran, I really was looking for a ‘quick win’ this morning. I had gotten the kids dressed, and served them breakfast, so with two sets of beady little eyes watching me, I stumbled across Epic Mickey … which I think was one of the Games with Gold titles from last month – but in either event, I didn’t realise that I had downloaded it already, so it seemed like as good a place as any to start.

Despite growing up in an era where it was cool to have understood Fantasia, I’ve never actually been able to watch more than 5-10 minutes of it at a time without being freaked out, so I was a bit unsure what was happening at the start of this game when small brooms started marching up stairs and Mickey was invited to follow. It seemed like that this was going to be, essentially, Fantasia: The Game, but the mechanics involved between painting and ‘thinning’ the environment meant that the background noise that would normally constitute Fantasia blended into the background.

Thank Goodness.

I am sure that the mechanics of the paint will become more-and-more complex as time goes on, but for now, I’m taking it slow. With any luck, this might become our new Max and the Curse of Brotherhood, which was a great family game … though I suspect the graphics in Mickey are going to be a step down from Max.

Time will tell how much of a graphics snob I have turned into!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

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Asphyxia • Roberta tells a chilling horror story

The game I was trying to think of yesterday was Victor Vran, which is the quasi-Diablo III knock-off, but it seems like my cursory look at the achievement list means I might have been optimistic grabbing one today. I’ll get something I’m sure, but the nearest achievement looks to be getting to level 10, so my twenty minutes of playtime and reaching level 2 this morning indicates to me I have a bit more work to do.

In the meantime, there’s visual novels.

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I didn’t realise how close I was to 100%’ing Asphyxia, considering out of the three achievements I had left, one of the playthrough gives you two and then it’s just another ten minute (if that) whip-through to completion. The same situation as last time, skip all dialogue and use a guide, but if it wasn’t for my out-and-out honesty, you’d never actually know.

Curse my ethics.

I want to make a bit of a final push in the story mode of Destiny 2 on my Xbox Account over the next few days, as I’ve started in on the Barons and I’m hovering in the early 40s level-wise … and I have a few 500’ish weapons willing me ‘over the line’ in terms of light level. I certainly didn’t have any problems last night playing Destiny 2, and – after a while – you begin to forget about the gorgeous graphics on PC and just settle in for the ride.

Maybe the universe is telling me to get a new TV?