For the Puppies.

Four’s a Party — December 5, 2018

Four’s a Party

Brawlhalla • Played 3 games in the Free-for-All matchmaking queue • 15G • 25.18% of gamers unlocked this

I played some Brawhalla earlier this year when visiting in-laws, and it looked like a fun free-to-play game for mainstream console owners who missed the frenzied combat of Super Smash Bros. It was easy enough for my son to play, largely attributable to its simple controls of move, jump and attack, and some slight variations on those themes, and I like to set him as the benchmark for what he should and shouldn’t be in the lounge room watching the TV for.

I got another achievement essentially just for logging in, so I figured that a few games wouldn’t go astray. In the space of three games I managed to come last, second last and then second! There’s certainly room for growth!

Right now though, I’m falling asleep writing this entry – so I that makes a brilliant idea.

First Love — October 26, 2018

First Love

Forza Horizon 4 • Buy your first car from the Autoshow • 10G • 62.50% of gamers unlocked this

I didn’t actually realise that this was an achievement on its own, considering I’ve been buying up cars – particularly Forza editions – from the Auction House, so when I went to do an off-road race and there was only one buggy in my garage available to race with (and it didn’t really float my boat), I clicked on the ‘buy car’ option to see what else I could get for my money. As it turns out – a Toyota Landcruiser!

A purchase, as it turns out, for the heart – not the head.

The race that I had chosen to run with the Landcruiser wasn’t even a close competition. Within seconds my D class Landcruiser had fallen way behind the A and S1 class off-roaders … resulting in an opportunity to do little more than just take a couple of screenshots.

I was actually fairly content just doing that, considering I’d already earned my achievement from the purchase and now I had moved into ‘influence harvesting’, chasing down the unlock for my next season – Spring. Once again, the second showcase event didn’t come with an achievement, and so these events served as not much more than … well … ‘fun’, which I did for the experience but – as the saying goes (it doesn’t really, but I should get bumper stickers made up) – I’d rather be achievement earnin’.

Today is PAX Australia Day, so I’ll hopefully collect some thoughts about that experience either today or by the end of the weekend – but needless to say, I am very pumped.

Time to head on to my philosophical home.

Snow Problem — October 25, 2018

Snow Problem

Forza Horizon 4 • Qualify for Horizon Winter • 10G • 61.44% of gamers unlocked this

Here we are at pre-PAX Australia eve, and with a little over twelve hours before I’ll be walking in the front doors of the one place with the most relatable marketing slogan I’ve seen: Welcome Home.

In the meantime, there’s achievements to be earned – and today’s was a tactical choice in Forza to continue on to the Winter season. The environment isn’t as bad as I thought it would be – in all honesty I’ve really only hit one bit of trouble – going uphill in a Citroen through thick snow. You can’t say that would be a normal everyday occurrence.

In terms of the rest of the game? Well, I’m literally just ‘chipping away at it.’ A race here, a stunt there, interspersed with the occasional scenic stop or reward board. I feel like the release of races is too slow, but if I’m objective about it, I can tell that there’s always been a ‘new’ race to complete and I’ve never felt ‘stale’ in the core gameplay.

Forza Horizon 4 is a very very good game.

I haven’t played any Destiny the last few days so I might swing past and run a gambit match or two before bed tonight, which isn’t far away. It’s been a long couple of days, and with PAX, there’s a few long ones to come!

Optional Extras — October 24, 2018

Optional Extras

Forza Horizon 4 • Apply your first Car Mastery • 10G • 67.31% of gamers unlocked this

Horizon 4 certainly isn’t as generous with its achievements as its predecessors, which I guess isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it doesn’t give me that nice satisfying ding-ding-ding of multiple unlocks after one or two events.

Even the first great showcase event, a Toyota Baja vs. Hovercraft, wasn’t enough to get me a bit of digital recognition.

Still, that was a damn good race though. Not quite vs. chinook or fighter jet, but it certainly did a good job of capturing that Top Gear feel.

Today’s achievement is fairly rudimentary, an upgrade which you get as part of the drip-fed tutorial as you play. The upgrade itself didn’t really – no pun intended – ‘float my boat’, but it seemed necessary in order to progress the story, so I grabbed it, an achievement popped, and I moved on with my life.

In other news, my expectations were met with the accountant last night which was a real personal blow, but now I can quantify my position, strategise a solution and move on. It feels a bit like an opportunity to learn more than anything, albeit an expensive one. I am torn between the philosophical benefit of tax, and the personal cost of doing business. Perhaps that’s a conversation for my personal blog … but my point is simply this: we’re all dealing with personal stuff in our lives, but gaming can – and does – remain something that can be a constant outlet and a distraction from the tsunami of life. Even the world’s worst game has been crafted by real human beings for your benefit … and I think that small sliver of joy is worth reflecting on.

Welcome to Britain — October 23, 2018

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.

Green Wristband — October 19, 2018

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.

Welcome to Montellino — October 16, 2018

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!