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.

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Avenged

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War • Complete a Vendetta Mission • 15G • 59.36% of gamers unlocked this

I’m going to attempt to going back to adding in more detail about my achievements in the initial leader line because I think, in some instances, that context is useful. In some ways, differentiating between a Bronze or a Gold trophy, or understanding it’s difficulty in terms of earn-rate (percentage) provides a rich picture about the achievement beyond my usual musings and often over-tired and shoot-from-the-hip style of writing.

If I’m perfectly honest, I’m not sure if this achievement is glitched or not, but from what I could tell, it unlocked while I was still in the middle of the titular Vendetta mission. While I did complete it in the end, I was actually in pursuit of my Orc target when it unlocked – which caused me to raise an eyebrow, briefly, before resuming my chase and eventually cutting down the tricky little blighter who had killed me twenty minutes prior.

It seems that I have progressed far enough in Shadow of War now so that my time is to be split between managing my army and playing the game itself. I am still having my hand held by a lot of the tutorial and help screens for this part of the game – but from what I can tell, it’s a good evolution of the already-excellent nemesis system.

One of the more emotionally-charged moments of the game came this morning when ‘Tarz of the Black Gate’ came on me and decided to taunt me with his admission he was there on the night that Talion’s (the protagonist) family were killed in an Orc attack. I’m not sure if this was a dynamic or scripted introduction into the game, but I loved it. Loved it. It triggered just the right of emotion into the battle that I felt like Tarz needed more than a simple sword-to-the-face. I wanted him to be properly punished. I wanted him branded.

So I did.

To add insult to injury (for Tarz), the delightful war troll, Brûz – who is best known for his appearance in the original gameplay reveal – rolled in shortly after I dominated Tarz and suggested that I make him my bodyguard. Great suggestion, Brûz. With a couple of controller clicks, I had converted Tarz, the taunting, family-killing orc captain into a minion under my control.

Delicious.

I’m still slowly working my way through this region of the game, and pretty much just undertaking quests if-and-when they occur. There is a method to working through the quests in sequence, but – to be honest – I’ve just been having fun levelling up Talion and, now that I’ve unlocked it, branding Orcs to fight for me.

Now if only they have the brilliant mechanic from Shadow of Mordor that allowed me to explode their heads en masse, we could have some real fun!

Better Luck Next Time

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War • Meet an Enemy or a Follower who has cheated death

I am feeling a bit miffed, as I had hoped to have a beautiful new Ryzen 5 PC built and be playing something significant on it by this time today, but alas, good ol’ Ryzen chips don’t have on-board graphics, and I can’t work out whether the little-2GB-GPU-that-could is actually supposed to work on that board, or whether I should genuinely be upset that the CPU fail Ezy Debug light is showing on the beautiful new motherboard.

Net result: I am a little upset.

It’s a good thing there is the sweet, sweet catharsis of killing orcs to see me through, as I pushed on with a couple of missions today – resulting in a not-insignificant amount of slaughter for a few named orcs. I have to admit, I do miss my full powered-up Talion from the original game, but judging by my skim of the upgrades list, most of his old moves are there, and it should just be a bit of a grind away to get them all in the end. Time. It’s just simply time.

I’m still a bit on-the-fence about the game’s representation of Shelob … as a humanoid. I mean … I can see that it makes the narrative a little easier, but I don’t think anyone has really ever taken Tolkien to be a allegorical work, still fiction, of course, but everything has typically had its plain meaning. Still, good gameplay tends to forgive a lot of sins, and thus far, I am killing Orcs at a pace that satisfies my tortured soul.

 

Dragon Slash!

Fortnite • Unlocked access to the Ninja Hero

While there’s not really a lot of pressure today, I didn’t necessarily feel like spending a day in front of the television to progress through Pillars of Eternity – well, certainly not as much as I did yesterday (I’ll probably work on this a little later tonight) … and so I headed back to ‘Save the World’ in Fortnite for a little longer to see what I could achieve.

As it turns out, less than I thought.

I was certain that there was an achievement for every one of the levels in the campaign mode of Fortnite, but that doesn’t actually seem to be the case. This morning I went through two of the main missions – which is a bit tricky because they’re not so much linear missions, but more like tasks which you need to set out to achieve while completing the other wave-based defence missions, and usually with other people. So, by the time I finished my second mission, I headed back to the achievement list to confirm that, no, you don’t get an achievement just for attendance, and as it turns out, there was likely to be another two or three missions just to get the next achievement, and so just as I was about to wrap it up and move onto something else for the day, I figured I might just spend my earned XP and level up a bit of my base. As I did …

… ding! Ninja unlocked! To be honest, I’ve been hanging out for the Ninja ever since I learned that they can do a double-jump (it’s on one of the loading screens) … and now that I’ve played an additional level with her, I think it’d be very hard to go back. Even though the special move is a little underpowered compared to the soldier’s grenade or the constructor’s charge (from what I can tell, the Ninja just throws a shuriken), but double-jumping around the map is just a much more fun way to navigate … and so there’s a better-than-average chance that I’ll be sticking with her.

What’s even better is that the achievements for the other hero-types don’t actually require me to play as them, just unlock them!

Before and After Science

Fortnite • Completed “Before and After Science”

For an achievement hunter, there is nothing more frustrating than having achievements ‘locked away’. Perhaps the best example of this is DC Universe Online, which tucked away its trophies (on PS4) behind a pay wall that required you to purchase one of the episode packs before you could unlock anything.

I took advantage of this week’s Xbox Deals to grab the Founders’ Pack for Fortnite at 50% off RRP, which not only unlocks achievements, but the other half of the game – the Player-Versus-Environment – section (for which the achievements are for). I have to say – I think this section is, by far-and-away, much more fun that the traditional Battle Royale.

In what I expected was a traditional, story-based campaign in which you run around fighting zombies (or ‘husks’), turns out is a much bigger strategy game that involves rescuing survivors, building forts that have a purpose, crafting resources, base management and – most importantly – shooting stuff. I’m about 2-3 missions in so far, and I am loving it. Loving it. The only downside is that it isn’t particularly family friendly, so I can’t settle down for an decent session to play without tucking the kids into bed (or, like today, playing before they wake up), but I feel like grabbing the game before it’s released to the world is a good way to get a headstart and build some capability and understanding into how the game works before the ‘cool kids’ (read: Twitch Streamers) discover it.

This is where I drop an obligatory hipster ‘I liked Fortnite before it was cool‘.

I’m in two minds about whether to spend the time playing the PvE (which I enjoy) or sinking my time back into the Battle Royale mode (which everyone else is playing) this season. I went and splurged on the Battle Pass last season, and – to be honest – I don’t feel like I got a whole lot out of it other than some new costumes and things. Other than updating my stats, there doesn’t seem to be any real carry-over goal from season-to-season (which, I suppose, is the point), so if I invest my time in building up my base in PvE which appears to have a slower burn (we’ll see if it resets next season), then I think I’d rather run with that approach.

Of course, being a Beta product – there’s a good chance than none of my progress will carry over at launch, and the whole thing will be a waste … best get those achievements quickly then!

Did The Thing

Death Squared • Completed 1 Story level

Death Squared is one of the latest additions to the Xbox Games with Gold monthly freebies, and essentially amounts to an indie puzzler that uses both control sticks to navigate a red and a blue square around a 3D puzzle. And … well, that’s it … end of description.

To be honest, I have plenty of time for gaming tonight, but I really just wanted to try out something simple before I left for work this morning, and this seemed to fit the description. There’s no tutorial for the game – instead, you rely on diving in headfirst to discover how to play, but if you haven’t worked it out within the first 15 seconds, then – I’ll be honest – the rest of the game probably isn’t going to be for you. Even as new challenges and obstacles are introduced in later levels, it is usually only one or two deaths away from having that ‘a ha’ moment, and completing the level without much trouble.

Now that I’ve finished God of War, I feel like I’ve been a little bit lost lately with what to play. It’s certainly not for a lack of available content, but with what I have the appetite for. The last few nights, I’ve managed to have a bit of a session on Rocket League before having what I would normally call an ‘early night’ (which is still way after 11pm and pushing midnight!), but in terms of a game I can steadily work through – well, there’s a bit of a hole in my heart.

Perhaps some retail therapy is required to find one, decent, AAA title that will keep me sustained for a little while – I’m open to suggestions about what that can be, but chances are that I’ve already dabbled in it.

Survivor

Riptide GP: Renegade • Earn 1st place in any Elimination Event • 20G • 20.74% of gamers unlocked this

I didn’t realise that I had another event type to earn an achievement on in Riptide, and I thought that today’s achievement would be for reaching Level 5, but in my ongoing progress through the campaign, this event type came up – and I managed to stay in there long enough (not overly difficult) to win the race.

You would think for someone who has been less than enthusiastic for this game, that they might have long since abandoned it … but this weekend has been a time-poor occasion, where I’m attempting to mix garden landscaping (building a retaining wall yesterday, I ended up getting burned and blistered), a Robbie Williams concert (yes, Robbie, you may entertain me), and a foggy, hungover head as a result of the aforementioned concert. It seems like a miracle that I am even able to get out of bed today, but other than sitting down to do a couple of races and smash through the rest of my level on Call of Duty (which I’ll write about shortly), I have been taking it deliberately easy.

The good news about earning these surprise achievements is that I know what I can accomplish tomorrow before I even have to worry about it. Tomorrow is another balls-to-the-wall kind of day, so a couple of races to clinch Level 5 is likely all I’ll have time for.

And right now, my hangover tells me that sounds like a damn good idea.