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.

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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.

You’re Hired!

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Photo by Gumzito Leruo on Pexels.com

Forza Horizon 3 • Hire a Drivatar for your Drivatar Lineup • 10G • 76.00% of gamers unlocked this

Oh my God. It is so good to be home. So very, very good. I’ve spent most of the day laying on the couch with the stereotypical ‘Bali Belly’, which is likely the result of either a final Bali night smoking a hookah, or some unique spices in the upper-class Asian restaurant we went to for our evening dinner, but I was still able to drag my arms to a controller and spend half-an-hour playing Forza Horizon 3 for a while, at least until my head got foggy again and I ended up falling asleep a little longer.

There were a couple of early-on achievements I was able to unlock in this play session, with today’s achievement being for essentially winning a one-on-one match with an AI-controlled car using the gamertag of someone off my friends list. At least … I think they’re off my friends list. After a lot of time gaming, I’ve gone and accumulated a lot of dead weight on that list, and the name wasn’t instantly recognisable, so let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that it was a real person. I base that assumption on the fact that the Drivatar concept is/was supposed to be your Forza persona that could be inserted into others’ games, so it’s an educated assessment.

Anyway, I raced my race and I won, unlocked the Drivatar and … well, that’s it. I haven’t quite worked out if there’s anything else I’m supposed to be doing with that concept, but I noticed that there were a few options still locked-out at both the Festival HQ and just the general pause menu, so I think I’ve got some more ‘story’ to unlock before I get to a more open-world and meta-game state.

And so, I’m back. That’s been a tough couple of weeks of gaming, relying on iOS and Vita games, neither of which I got a lot of time to play – but I’m keen to dive into a whole raft of new releases that I haven’t had a chance to indulge in yet … Spiderman, Shadow of the Tomb Raider … and even updates to Destiny 2 and Sea of Thieves look appealing.

What a great problem to have!

Welcome to Your Horizon

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Forza Horizon 3 • Celebrate opening your Horizon Festival site by putting on a spectacular Showcase • 10G • 79.02% of gamers unlocked this

It’s been a long-time coming, but finally, finally, I’ve been able to play Horizon 3 … and on my PC as well! I have a lot of both stock and faith in the Xbox-on-PC model … remembering that I was one of the early champions of the unpopular Games for Windows Live, this finally feels like a step in the right direction – and we should all take our hats off to Phil Spencer for driving a lot of this innovation in Microsoft.

In Phil We Trust.

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Before I started playing, I had to go through a bit of a setup process, which was strange considering most games I’ve been playing on PC lately are – with the exception of a minor installation screen – pretty much click-and-go. Horizon went through a lengthy PC optimisation cycle before I could start, which is fine I suppose, but doesn’t really tell me what it’s doing as far as ‘optimisation’. I thought, perhaps, that if I’d chosen a higher resolution, this might be the time it downloads better visuals, but it’s speculation from a man who – in the end – really just wanted to play himself a video game.

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The game starts off much the same as the Horizons before it. Your player character is driving to the festival in any one of an assortment of gorgeous sports cars, before launching the festival with a farcical, Top Gear-style race – this time around against a Jeep being transported by a chinook for most of the way.

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Fun fact – I actually grew up close to the Great Ocean Road and worked it for many years, so for me – this is home. While I know that one doesn’t make a quick turn to get from the Daintree to the Twelve Apostles, I actually think Turn 10 have done a good job of building transitions into the races – in this instance, a cave network that immediately gave me echoes of the cave at Loch Ard Gorge.

And so, thus concludes the opening volley of Forza Horizon 3. This is an up-late achievement on account of me being on-the-road much of this weekend for the Melbourne Esports Open (which I’ve mentioned every day for the last few days!), so we’ll see if this has sharpened my Forza skills up enough to win a game or two on the tournament floor … stranger things have happened!