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!

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Welcome to Montellino

Forza Horizon 2 • Arrive at Montellino for the first time • 25G • 44.71% of gamers unlocked this

Just a quick entry tonight, because I’ve spent most of my free time either playing Destiny 2, doing a workout or just generally spending time with my family. I regret none of it, but boy … I feel like a few more hours in the day wouldn’t go amiss!

This achievement for arriving in Montellino, apparently required a bit more effort on my part than simply just ‘driving’ there on the map. No, as it turns out there’s a very specific Forza Horizon 2 task to do in the form of a ‘roadtrip’, and as long as I triggered that, then I was free to pretty much abandon the beaten path and just beeline for the ye olde European town.

I need to sit down and spend some meaningful moments looking at the achievement lists for both Forza Horizon 2 and 3 to see what is low-hanging fruit and what might take a bit of a slower burn. To be honest though, I’ve just started downloading a Diablo III-esque game that’s part of this fortnight’s Games with Gold on Xbox … and while I don’t know that I’ll ever finish it, I’m on a bit of a Diablo kick at the moment (they announced a limited edition Nintendo Switch Diablo III console today), so hopefully this scratches that itch.

Otherwise, it’s time for a shower and bed! I told you this was going to be a short one!

Like a Needle in The Outback

Forza Horizon 3 • Find your first Barn Find • 10G • 49.72% of gamers unlocked this

I finally worked out the whole ‘barn find’ thing in Forza. Rather than it being a case of systematically working your way around the map to find cars, it turns out it is more a case of waiting for them to be unlocked, and then navigating to the site to unlock the car. So much for using an internet guide to knock that particular achievement on the head.

Nonetheless, this isn’t an entirely helpless achievement. For under $5 (microtransaction) I was able to buy a ‘map’ which unlocks all the billboards, the barn finds (once they’re unlocked) and other collectables – and I’m not too proud to be able to give myself a little helping hand from time-to-time, so I lashed out and made my way to what I think is the second barn find that has been unlocked for me – but the first I actually found.

Without really trying, I’ve just been working my way through Horizon with the view to having fun. Achievements seem to be coming pretty thick and fast, so I’m just rolling with the punches.

What I did particularly enjoy this morning was defeating Good Game host, Gus “Goose” Ronald’s Drivatar in a Warthog vs. Warthog battle in the Australian outback. Turns out going off-script and just going as-the-crow-flies across the desert to the finish line is a good strategy.

Maybe not the most honourable, but – hey – it’s 2018 … if we’ve learned anything it’s that, seemingly, the ends justify the means.

First Time Buyer

Forza Horizon 3 • Visit the Autoshow and buy your first car • 10G • 59.94% of gamers unlocked this

I’ve seen a lot of people getting around in this Mercedes in FH4 lately, so it was hard to pass this little beetle up when the opportunity presented itself following a festival expansion. One of the things I’ve been working – badly – on in Forza Horizon 3 is my car collection, going to some lengths to outbid people on auctions, or waiting until the last minute to put a bid in, eBay style.

In terms of story progress, I’ve never ‘finished’ a Horizon, so I don’t even know if there is a finish, but if-and-wherever it is, I’m not there – I can promise you that.

Wherever I am though, I’m having a blast!

The Architect

Forza Horizon 3 • Blueprint and complete an exhibition • 10G • 47.82% of gamers unlocked this

I am utterly committed to platinum’ing Spider-Man, but of course, Sony announced overnight that they’re finally bringing name changes to PlayStation, and now I have a great moral dilemma (again) about which account to use. The thing is that they don’t seem particularly committed to bringing about the change holistically, only on titles that appear to have been launched since mid-2018 … which is pretty useless for my Vita collection, along with a whole bunch of games – not just PS3 games, but a lot of PS4’s early-generation titles – which I consider classics. The solution from Sony’s perspective is not to try and work through any of those issues, but rather to let you change your name ‘back’ for free.

Colour me less-than-impressed.

So, with the snifter of disappointment in mind, along with some fatigue from just swinging around mindlessly in Spider-Man waiting for crimes to happen (which is all I have left to do now before a Platinum), I decided to jump on to Forza Horizon 3 having heard so much about FH4 over the past few weeks, and – well, quite simply, it’s a great game.

A lot of my play-time in Forza over the past 24 hours has actually taken me away from the Byron Bay staging area to set up another festival site in ‘the desert’, so I’ve been doing a lot of driving, not so much in sand, but actually on country roads that remind me a lot of home. I am genuinely impressed at the Playground Games’ team who travelled to Australia to capture the scenery’s ability to translate it into gameplay … everything from the trees on the side of the road, the colour of the grass you pass, through to the way fences and railway crossings overlap the roads – it gives me great hope that FH4 has captured the same sense of UK driving as FH3 did for Australia.

Of course, despite growing up 15 minutes away, I – and nobody that I know of – have never been able to drive along the sand at the foot of the 12 Apostles.

But then again, never say never.

In other Xbox news, I have finally been able to score myself a new Avatar! Sometime over the past few days, the Xbox updated itself to the new system software and invited me to create my new Avatar. While I’m still a bit on-the-fence about body shape options, I do think that they are a step-up from the original Xbox avatar.

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There doesn’t seem to be much option beyond the Xbox Avatar App to interact with your little creation though, so I hope that there’s further dashboard or in-game opportunities to use avatars going forward.

High-Stakes Play

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Destiny 2 • Win a Gambit match • 20G • 10.68% of gamers unlocked this

I have lamented the lack of Destiny 2 achievements for a little while now, and I was particularly miffed when the two expansions from Year 1 didn’t have any additional rewards for completing the subsequent campaigns (Osiris and Warmind), and this lack of ecosystem support largely contributed to my decision to move to PC. Well, that, plus it’s so much nicer to play it on PC!

Nonetheless, it’s good to see ‘something’ be added into the mix for Forsaken … and so I finally managed to dedicate some time to my Xbox instance, and get through – and win – a match of Gambit.

First things first, I took the opportunity to use the free character ‘boost’ you get with Forsaken to upgrade my new Titan. Since Destiny 2, I blew away all but one of my D1 characters, my Exo Hunter … now in the absence of Cayde-6 it seems even more poignant to keep him. I had intended to slowly build up a new Warlock and Titan in the vein of Zavala and Ikora … an Awoken and Human respectively (they were reversed in my original save), meaning I would have a collection that represented the collective spirit of the Vanguard. With my newly-minted Titan, I glossed over everything else available to me, and with my heart set on this achievement, I dived straight in.

I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ who complains about playing with newbies, or how ‘casuals’ make the game more-or-less difficult to get wins, but I can certainly empathise with dedicated players who likely experience the same frustration I had in trying to obtain today’s achievement. Except, the difference is, I don’t blame those players. I think everyone – from the ‘filthy casuals’ to the ‘hardcore gamer’ should be able to enjoy Destiny … there’s a place there for everyone. I do, however, blame the collective Bungie-Sony mess that has made cross-play and cross-save a mess for everyone. My PC characters are strong, they’re familiar, and – more importantly – they have had many, many Gambit wins. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but they’ve certainly had more than the one win I had to get this achievement.

After two losses (and that’s not two games, that’s five separate games resulting in eventual 2-0, 2-1 losses), I could feel myself getting frustrated and making silly mistakes as well. I would stay in fights way too long, I would get involved in melee, and it would ultimately result in me loosing anywhere from 5-10 motes at one time. I suspect that this is the difference between competitive gamers and the amateurs like myself … the pros need to be able to comfortably shake-off those losses and get their head back into the game. Me … well, I get angry when I haven’t eaten for two hours … so my journey to pro gamer is probably going to take a little longer.

Nonetheless, I felt like it was a numbers game … and it was – ironically so. My win in the end didn’t come from sheer luck of playing games, it came from a heavily lopsided contest in which two of the opposing team had dropped out, and the 4 vs 2 match that ultimately netted me the achievement was essentially a no-contest. I seriously hope the opposing team got themselves a good engram or two for their valiant effort staying in the fight.

I still haven’t gotten around to Spider-Man on PS4 yet, due to a lengthy Software Update and the inevitable Day 1 patch. Maybe tomorrow.

New Power

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Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition • Learned first ability • 5G • 45.68% of gamers unlocked this

I actually have an overwhelming craving to play Destiny 2 tonight, but a challenge is a challenge is a challenge, and so achievements must come first. My TV has been hijacked by my in-laws tonight who are watching the Collingwood Magpies vs. Richmond Tigers AFL game … which is fine with me, it gives me some quiet time with my PC – which I’ve missed over the past fortnight, and – well, gosh you’ll get me all emotional.

Steam was updating when I turned the computer on, as was Battle.net, so I went with a Windows 10 game in Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, that I thought I’d already started, but I think, from memory, it must have kept crashing on launch, so I never got to the point where I could save. Whatever the case, this time I managed to get a bit of gameplay, and story in – and far enough in to be able to get an achievement, but not too long as to impact on some Destiny 2 time.

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From what I understand, the story in the Pocket Edition is exactly the same, but the graphics are toned right down and everything is made much ‘simpler’. Whatever the difference, many, many more games should take this approach. I will always, always take the narrative of a game over complicated mechanics, and for something with a high barrier-to-entry like Final Fantasy, this is perfect. I can see a lot of other games thriving in this model, but at the same time – people are dumb, and it’s highly likely not enough people bought the Pocket Edition to make it worthwhile. Speculation, to be sure, but I think it’s fairly accurate.

I hope to play a little bit more when Destiny 2 inevitably reaches a bit of a lull, but right now it’s almost fever-pitch, with a lot of people having finished the campaign, and working through the revamped end-game. Speaking of which … have I mentioned I’m playing some Destiny 2 tonight …?