The Package


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered • Complete ‘Crew Expendable’ on Veteran difficulty • 4.49% of gamers unlocked this

Believe it or not, as I write this, I am in the middle of a game of Sea of Thieves with a bunch of online friends. What fresh hell is this? Of course, none of this tomfoolery has resulted in an achievement tonight, and so I’m left with my – still great fun – COD MW Remaster.

The game itself does feel a little more polished than the original MW. I’m fairly certain that they’ve re-done Captain Price’s voice as well – not necessarily for the better – but it’s just ‘different’. I spent a fair bit of time running the opening mission (the SAS HQ) to try and get my time under 19 seconds (for another achievement), but my wife got sick of Price shouting instructions at me, and I decided to push-on with the game. Given that I don’t need a ‘story’ fix from MW … after all, I spent most of last console generation with Soap and team … I’m planning on going through the game on Veteran, just to double-dip on achievements.

Long story short – the game itself holds up well, and I think they’ve done a good job on the remaster. For me, this is just a chance to play one of my favourite titles once more for a whole new set of achievements.

In other words – any excuse will do!


Road Warrior


Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands • Drove a vehicle for 100km • 15G • 47.97% of gamers unlocked this

There are some things I can do in Wildlands to delay achievement gratification. One of these is sky diving, with only one jump needed to tick that achievement off – I’ve been sitting on it for a particularly time-poor day. One of the things I can’t ‘not’ get away with, however is driving. So when I saw the achievement was only a good 5-6km away, I figured I might as well double down and grab this one for good measure.

There’s something enormously satisfying about the narrative that Ubisoft have created in Wildlands. I haven’t really been that interested in it so far, but over the past 48 hours, I’ve been watching some of the in-game movies and discussions that are had, and I have to say, this is a story that would make Tom Clancy proud. It’s also one that I think would struggle in any other kind of medium. The Wildlands story is uniquely captured in the chunks relating to each part of the cartel’s hierarchy, and TV or movie lovers would tend to be sucked into an overarching narrative. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like the ‘monster of the week’ style entertainment – best pioneered by The X-Files – of which I think Wildlands is the closest thing to it I’ve seen in a game.

There’s no real technique applied to earning this achievement. I just drove. My Xbox statistics are putting me in at 17 hours (incidentally, this achievement seems to only be for cars – I have a ‘Travelled Distance’ of 356.57 – and I certainly have not ran the balance!), and that’s playing – as far as I can tell – fairly normally, so it’s a fairly timely achievement I suspect.

Some more Wildlands before bed, and then in pursuit of another achievement tomorrow. I have a good Wildlands feeling about this weekend.

Spice of Life


Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands • Played each type of side mission • 30G • 31.83% of gamers unlocked this

Tonight’s session in Wildlands was all about the fun. Since taking the Quasi-Clancy sandbox as the playground it is supposed to be, I’ve been enjoying it much more than the more serious tactical military sim that I once had in my mind. No, my friends, this is much more Just Cause than Jack Ryan. And the series is that much better for it.

The progress achievements in Wildlands seem to be a bit hit-and-miss. I had ‘closed out’ what I thought were two ‘bosses’ tonight, but I think when they’re viewed in terms of the overall cartel organisational structure, they only form part of a part – that is, they’re too low down to earn themselves an achievement on their own. That’s fine – as I say, I’m having a great time, but in the interests of keeping game momentum up with my daily challenge, I speak purely out of self-interest.

This achievement unlocked at the same time as another – one for unlocking all the rebel skills, which you get for completing side missions, so it seems like this is a bit of a waste – or an easy earn – depending on how you look at it. I put it down as an interesting observation. Either way, I earned that one as well!

No Linux gaming tonight – I’ll save that for the weekend – so I hope that I can mix up my entries for the next couple of days!

Eye in the Sky


Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands • Campaign: Marked 100 enemies with a drone • 15G • 48.93% of gamers unlocked this

The idea of drones when I was growing up was pretty much the realm of science fiction – and I’m still in my thirties! So it goes to show you how quickly a bit of technology has come, not only in terms of fiction, but even as a practical tool of war.

Of course, these little drones are more like what you’d expect to buy at EB Games, rather than Lockheed Martin – and it’s a simple matter of throwing one in the air and moving the camera around a notch as it returns red reticules around bad guys on the battlefield. A lot of the earlier levels give good opportunities to use the drone, so getting 100 targets is actually a reasonably easy affair. It turns out just making sure you use it during each engagement is more than enough to see that number hit 100 after only a few hours playing.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve played Wildlands, but the recent spate of Tom Clancy love from Ubisoft prompted me to give it a whirl this afternoon. Much to my delight, I also had a brief session with the Predator! I thought that this was a time-limited event that I had well-and-truly missed, so I was stoked to see him running the Bolivian jungle with gay abandon. He killed me about three times before I put the controller down and vowed to fight another day, but it’s an excellent addition to the game – and, let’s be honest, a damn good bit of fun.

I think now I’ve worked out how to play Wildlands I might get back into it a bit more. I’m was lost without the guidance to move onto the next mission, but I think it’s a byproduct of just being ‘too’ open world. I discovered as soon as I landed in another area, a dialogue would trigger and open up a few missions and other options for me – so I’ll chip away at it for a little longer and see where I end up. I have to say though, the level design on this game is stunning. Ubisoft have absolutely outdone themselves on this – to the point at which I wonder how well it sold. I’m absolutely glad I decided to go back to it.




Windward • Open a Sealed Letter

I guess you could say this was a belated hangover achievement, in that I’d seen it before, knew that I had a sealed letter in my inventory, but never spent the time to work out how exactly to open it. As it turns out, the trick is to clear out your inventory of the other achievements first, and then right-clicking and hitting ‘Examine’ seems to do the tick.

The letter itself was actually a fairly small part of my time on Windward today. For the most part, I’ve been attempting to work through a few of the quests, from what I can understand of them anyway, and – like most normal people I suppose – I’ve just ‘played’ the game.

Outrageous, isn’t it?

I feel like I’m getting a good handle on combat and game navigation now … I know it’s only taken me a few hours, but unless you’re playing naval strategy and trade games with some sort of regularity, some hurdles are expected. Handy cut-outs with information and requirements are littered throughout the game, so where I’ve had a memory blank (or simply can’t work out what’s going on) I’ve typically been steered back to normality by the game itself. Good Design.

I’ll try and get around to a bit more of this tomorrow, but I’m also conscious that there are better games to play in one’s lunch-break. We will see how and where the mood grabs me.

Learn the ropes


Halo Wars 2 • Completed the Basic standalone tutorial • 10G • 42.63% of gamers unlocked this

Of course I don’t need a tutorial to play Halo Wars 2. If anything, I’m turning into a bit of a gun player (touch wood). For what amounts to an RTS on a console, I think I’m doing a pretty good job navigating my way around my controller and saving the world. But, this – along with the other tutorials – offer up an achievement, and it would be remiss of me not to jump through the hoops to obtain it.

When we’re talking ‘Basic standalone tutorial’, it’s almost hard to believe how basic it is. Literally, move the camera left, move the camera right, zoom in, zoom out, move your troops, the end. However, this morning I was up around 4.30am, and had an incredibly difficult time getting back to sleep. I don’t know what caused it – perhaps the salty pizza (and large serving) that I had for dinner last night had caused me to dehydrate (right now I’m craving a drink of water … I might pause for a minute to go fill my drink bottle up) – but the net result is that I was awake, and with the rest of the family asleep, it felt like a good time to knock an easy achievement on the head. Don’t get me wrong, I was tired, I just couldn’t sleep, so following some basic instructions met my fairly low benchmark for complexity today.

Skimming through my games library this morning still makes me realise how many games that I need to finish-off and then delete from my library in order to move on with my life. I don’t think it should be any surprise that I’m a bit of a digital hoarder, and while it doesn’t really impact my day-to-day living, it does mean that I’m a bit flighty when it comes to playing, and finishing games. Perhaps it’s a challenge for 2018-19, but time will tell. I suspect I will be as flighty in 2028 as I am in 2018.

Right now, I’m just thankful that Xbox caters for tired Dads awake in the middle of the night as much as any other demographic.

Playin’ the Field

PC, Xbox


Halo Wars: Definitive Edition • Won a Skirmish Game with every Leader • 15G • 4.86% of gamers unlocked this

I thought I’d be able to grab a quick achievement in my lunch-break today, but as it turns out – I was able to put in even less effort to grab this one, thanks to a handy application of good ol’ fashioned AI assist. Admittedly, I did have a go at winning some of the level-specific achievements for the levels that I’d already completed, but I think it requires a bit more research on my behalf before I can confidently cruise through a level like I had anticipated.

I think I used a similar AI tactic in earning the achievement for winning a Skirmish match … so this time it was a simple process of just setting up another four or five games, and letting the computer do the work while I went about my day. I think all-up I contributed about 10-20 mouse clicks to earning this achievement, and, in my view, that’s a good effort in-and-of itself.


My computer was actually running Halo Wars fairly well today. I suspect that having it up on a proper stand where it can get airflow and an unlimited supply of power had something to do with it. Tucked away in a bedroom over Christmas with spotty Wi-Fi and no air conditioning tends to make even the best computers groan a little – but no such problem today. It ran smooth, it ran seamlessly, and it really makes me want to build up my home gaming rig so that I can have this experience all the time!

Tonight is a training night, so I don’t know if I’ll get any achievements at home this evening. It’s more likely that I’ll be able to squeeze a few rounds of Rocket League in before bed. Importantly, I have a three-day weekend coming up, so that means it’s a good chance to polish off a few titles I’ve been sitting on. I’m thinking Ghost Recon and Dishonored 2 are right up there on the ‘need to complete’ list … but I also know that I’ll have a couple of kids in-tow, so it could be a weekend of Skylanders and Disney Infinity. Time will tell.

Big Huge

PC, Xbox


Rise of Nations: Extended Edition • Win on a Big Huge Map • 10G • 18.56% of gamers unlocked this

I’m probably going to play a bit more Skylanders tonight, because I promised my son – but I felt like I had a brief opportunity to grab a PC achievement today in-between business commitments. I actually just really setup a single match using a ‘big huge’ map with a whole heap of allies vs a single opponent and let the thing take care of itself. It’s probably a bit of a cop-out, but it’s still legitimate, so I’m going to take it. And, as I say, there will probably be quite a few more by the time the clock strikes midnight tonight.


Perhaps what prompted me to venture into today’s game was the announcement that the Age of Empires remaster would be out in February. Finally! I grew up on a healthy diet of AoE … so I’m not sure if the remaster is going to tickle my nostalgia-bones, or whether it will be an underwhelming shock-to-the-system, like so many remasters have been before. For instance, I didn’t really play Rise of Nations until this was remastered and launched on Windows 10, but I can see its appeal. It’s a fun game, that has obviously aged with some mediocrity, so is AoE going to be more-or-less the same thing? I’ll keep the jury out for the time being.


As I say, I didn’t really do anything in this match – simply set it up and let it go … but I did hit some button that seemed to show me the direction of travel? Or line of sight? for the different characters in-play. I’m not sure what this button does or what use it really is to anyone, but I thought it was an interesting anomaly in an otherwise fairly simply game.

7 vs. 1 is always going to favour everyone who sits on the former side of that divide! It won’t be the last time I use this little trick either!

First Thoughts: PUBG (Xbox)


Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds • Game Preview Program

Here’s an unpopular opinion. I don’t think PUBG is ‘all that.’ I know, I know. ‘Beta’ this, ‘Game Preview Program’ that, but frankly, it’s just an unnecessarily long game that yields very little time spent-to-reward gained.

Let’s start at the beginning. This week saw the launch of the titular Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, colloquially ‘PUBG’, on Xbox. The game itself has gained some notoriety, so buying into the hype to see what’s all about is almost mandatory. It’s a Battle Royale style game where you … oh, you know what, go read the Wikipedia entry on PUBG if you want to know more about it – the point is it’s big, and it’s now enjoying console exclusivity on Xbox for the time being.

At AU$30, it’s hovering around my maximum ‘happy place’ expenditure for a game that I’m going into untested and without any real knowledge about how to play – but given my initial experience, I’m also glad that’s all I played. The game starts off with everyone in a small lobby that waits to be filled as people collect weapons from tables and, well, they shoot each other. At best, it’s really only a couple of minutes wait, but it seems like eternity when you’re waiting to get ‘into the action’, but little do you know, that ‘action’ consists of something entirely different than what you thought it would.

After jumping from an airplane, you try and navigate to a semi-populated area, or at the very least, a farmhouse, and get yourself a weapon. In most cases, I was able to get myself at least a pistol, and all of the weapons had a handy pile of ammunition beside them. Some of the more ‘substantial’ areas, such as the military base, would often cause me to make a last minute parachute readjustment, as I saw other players ahead of me landing in the buildings I was going to – and because it’s still early days and I haven’t quite mastered the mechanics, I thought it best to avoid them.

Then … it’s essentially a waiting game. For a 100-player map, there sure is a limited number of people floating around to battle.

Even my ‘best’ output, which was reaching the top 10, doesn’t take into account that I spent the entire time trying to find another player to kill but instead just ended up running from point-to-point to make sure I was inside the playable area. Even in the final minutes, there was hardly anyone in-sight, and it was a sneaky shot to the back of the head which ultimately got me – but the net result is that this is not the fast paced shooter that it seems to be marketed as. Have people convinced themselves that this is the next big thing? Or am I just too old and jaded to be able to enjoy it thoroughly? There’s also a not-insignificant chance that having no achievements to strive towards somewhat coloured my experience, or at least the amount of time I was willing to spend working towards something.

A week or two back, when PUBG started to get some media traction, I remember seeing on one of the forums – perhaps MSPowerUser – a question from someone asking if PUBG would have a free trial mode. I suggested that something like Fortnite would tell him whether he enjoyed this style of game, and he said that he looked at Fortnite and it “was nothing like” PUBG. Well, having now played both, I can tell you that PUBG is quite like Fortnite, and – for my $0.02 – I actually think it’s a little better.

D’frent strokes and all that.

Look, depending on what the achievements ultimately end up being – I will ‘most likely’ give PUBG another go. I’m not necessarily going to make this my go-to game, I think Destiny 2 and Diablo III do a far better job holding my attention than PUBG does – and with a far greater emphasis on getting straight to the action. In two minutes I can go from game launch to 100+ kill streak in Diablo III, and that is satisfying.

Battlefield 1 More Time


I took advantage of the free play weekend for Battlefield 1 over the last couple of days, which has the excellent campaign design of breaking up ‘the war’ into four or five discrete ‘war stories.’ EA have clearly tried to infuse a sense of reverence to World War I in the lastest contribution to the Battlefield franchise, and from what I can tell, it certainly delivers. 

Being the red-blooded patriot that I am, it seemed natural to start with the Gallipoli story, which was brilliant, but questionably short. When you start to get into the war stories, you’ll realise that the Gallipoli campaign was about average, with one of the other stories, for example, only lasting two chapters. 

Importantly, it was nice to hear an Australian accent in-game that did not suffer from the twang of a Hollywood wannabe. A delightful narrative about a pair of Australian diggers in the days that followed the initial Gallipoli landings. 

Concluding the short Gallipoli tale in just a few hours then allowed me to head back to the first story, which focuses on the tank campaign from the 1918 Battle of Cambrai which features, among other things, a brief interlude where you play as a pigeon!

I’ve also since completed the rest of the war stories, all of which are easily completed (on easy/normal) with a good solid few hours to spare. I get the sense that these are more about the narrative than the gunplay, but for a guy who plays Call of Duty for the campaign, this didn’t bother me in the slightest. 

My brief sojourn into multiplayer was just that: brief. One of the problems with coming late to a multiplayer game is that you are always a bit behind the diehards who already have all their unlocks, they know the layout of the maps, and are just generally better practiced. It’s a balancing issue, with only Rocket League and Overwatch giving me the best insight into the way multiplayer should be for newcomers. I would suggest sales figures for both those titles would agree. Nonetheless, it’s not a hard game to pickup, but an arguably difficult one to master. 

Battlefield 1 is a visually stunning game that does an excellent job portraying the less-stunning atrocity of war. Thanks to EA and Xbox for giving it to us for nothing over the past two days. 

Screenshots from Battlefield 1, Electronic Arts