Last Wish

PlayStation

God of War • Spread the ashes • Gold Trophy • Rarity 43.9% (Rare)

And now, my time has come. I’ve had my share … etc. It is done. God of War Campaign Complete. I texted a friend about the news and he asked me for a rating, and while I’m not generally enthusiastic about numbers when it comes to scoring games, I made an exception:

Hmm. Tricky one. Solid 8.5-9 with moments of a 10. Feels epic in scope, gameplay wise has a lot of similarities with Tomb Raider. Some nice touches of nostalgia which tickled me in all the right places.

There’s probably nothing in that message that is contrary to what I’ve been saying all along – but I guess I wanted to include it as a bit of a ‘tying up loose ends’ thought.

Was the ending everything I hoped it would be? Absolutely. It struck just the right narrative note in my mind – combining a nice ‘reveal’, or twist, along with a satisfying level of poignancy that doesn’t seem forced or unnecessary. Indeed, Sony Santa Monica have done a good job of always making the story feel appropriate for what you’re doing at any given time – and that’s no mean feat. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that game writers are so incredibly unsung but they actually make all the difference when it comes to a great narrative-driven game, and they can enhance every other game through clever dialogue and strong characters – up to and including the world’s latest obsession with Battle Royale.

I’ve enjoyed my God of War journey tremendously, and it’s been nice to see Kratos both keep his same level of badass while tempered with the burden of fatherhood (and his history). Sony have got themselves an absolutely A+ franchise here, and they have revitalised it just right for a new generation.

They better not stuff it up for the next.

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The Best Moves

PlayStation

God of War • Fully upgrade a Runic Attack • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 53.8% (Common)

I wore some criticism yesterday for ‘giving too much away’ when it comes to God of War, which I suppose is a subjective assessment, but it still gives me an emotional reaction at the injustice of being called out. The modern risk of putting yourself out there is not so much an occupational hazard, but one of the vissictudes of life. Que Sera Sera.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to be spiteful and try and ‘spoil’ something else (yes, I’m that kind of person), I went with a trophy that’s a little more ‘mainstream’ tonight. My intent isn’t so much as to labor the substance of this achievement – I feel like it’s one that most people will get to in their course of learning the game (and a 53% completion rate seems to support that), but more so just to talk about these final few beats of the God of War narrative.

Tonight I had a range of battles, puzzles and encounters that start to tie-up the threads that have been left throughout the journey. I feel like the game is moving at a cracking pace, but sure enough, it’s nearly midnight and I have just put the controller down for the night – talk about a time-sink. I am left glancing at the clock every twenty minutes while willing the game to draw to an end, just so I can scratch this one off my ‘played’ list and return to hating on PlayStation and Sony.

Another solid session like today should bring the main narrative to an end, but a glance at the checklist to complete shows a much greater list of side missions and tasks to complete before I even get close to a Platinum trophy. I’m not sure if this is an ‘immediate’ priority for me, or whether it’s something I’ll go back to later in the year.

Either way, I’ve enjoyed the journey so far – and I intend to enjoy these final few steps as well.

Dragon Slayer

PlayStation

God of War • Defeat the Dragon of The Mountain • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 65.1% (Common)

Well, in terms of big battles, this really tickled my tits. It’s what I want out of Dark Souls, but it offers a level of accessibility that far surpasses any of From Software’s catalogue. This was a big, meaty fight that let you learn and respond to attacks along the way, rather than punishing you from the first strike for failing to study up on a particular combatants techniques.

I guess this also gives you a placeholder in terms of where I’m up to in God of War. Kratos and Son have been working their way to the summit of the mountain, and found a new friend (with echoes from Game of Thrones and Fallout 3), and started their journey back to the witch in the forest.

You can begin to see why you hear whispers of so many ‘false endings.’ Even now I have become accustomed to not getting comfortable about my place in the narrative, so every session continues to surprise and delight me.

With a few more setpiece battles like this … it might even start to convince me that it deserves Game of the Year.

Revenge

Xbox

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood • Complete part one • 20G • 50.74% of gamers unlocked this

I don’t know how many ‘parts’ constitute the Wolfenstein prequel, but I do know I’ve completed the first of them. It’s been a while since I’ve played with ol’ BJ, but I’ve had a long day, a bit of a week, and – to be frank – I just felt like playing something mindless for a bit.

Killing Alternative Universe Nazis seems to fit that bill nicely.

My lack of concentration hasn’t really helped with understanding the state of affairs as it relates to the narrative, but while I enjoy a good story, I’ve left The Old Blood alone for so long now, I’d struggle to tell you where things are at. Like many other titles before this one, my plan will be to just finish the game and then catch up on the plot on Wikipedia after. It’s a tried and true method.

After tomorrow, I’m entering a bit of a pressure point scenario with achievements. A weekend of family staying and a party here at home means I’ll be hard-pressed to get some console time, but I’m going in a little unprepared because I’ll be at home. I’m sure there’s some magic I can wrangle between Windows, Console or both (streaming) … but, as I say, I’m not making plans so let’s see what happens.

‘Not making plans’ is my middle name.

Icons of History

Xbox

Age of Empires: Castle Siege • Unlocked any 6 heroes • 50G • 15.19% of gamers unlocked this

As promised, I went with a Castle Siege achievement today. I thought I might be able to keep this one in my back pocket and grab an iOS Minecraft achievement, but the closest thing that was on offer appeared to be was creating an enchantment table – and after a hunt around a Minecraft Wiki, I knew I was nowhere near assembling a table without some serious hand holding and, if I was lucky, a pre-prepared, achievement-specific world.

This achievement cost me a bit of in-game currency, which was fine – I still had some leftover from upgrading my archery tower last time I needed an emergency achievement, and in the meantime I have another three heroes to experiment with in-battle (I’d already unlocked a few others).

Right now, though? I’m enjoying a local beer from the Bright Brewery (for international readers, that’s in Bright, Victoria, Australia – at the foot of the Alpine region, and the gateway to our snowfields) and I plan on enjoying a few more before the night’s over. I very much doubt there’ll be any more achievements today.

Except, perhaps, in Untappd.

Cleric Beast

PlayStation

Bloodborne • Defeat Cleric Beast • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 51.6% (Common)

Look, I wasn’t going to bother with another blog entry today, but I was so pleased with finally getting ‘something’ on the trophy board that this seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

I am uncertain if I’ve talked about my success, or serious lack thereof, in the Dark Souls series, so I’m expecting an incredibly slow burn when it comes to Bloodborne. The Cleric Beast is essentially the first boss that you encounter in the game, and my previous attempts has whittled him down to about a half to two-thirds health. Tonight, I decided to try and invoke a bit of help and I rang a small bell that invites other players into your game.

And along came Harold.

Harold was obviously a seasoned player. He darted around the opening stages of the game with ease, and while he essentially tanked some of the bad guys – the werewolves in particular – I was able to get a few good blows in from behind and finish them off. It was a match made in heaven.

I’m sure some purists would like to have a dig at me for not beating the Cleric Beast on my own. I sent a message to a mate (who thrives on smashing through solo – and getting a platinum – on the Dark Souls games), who made a point of sending me a disappointed silence (literally, a text message that read “…”) when I said I asked for help. I don’t really have any counter-argument, it is what it is … and you know what? I don’t really care either. If it lets me push on and enjoy the game a bit more, so be it … I’ll keep on calling for help as the need arises.

And thus, my three day weekend begins! What a great way to kick it off!

The Escape

Xbox

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered • Complete ‘Hunted’ and ‘Death from Above’ on Veteran difficulty • 30G • 2.33% of gamers unlocked this

Some video games have truly iconic villains. Arkham Knight or the Joker in Batman … 006 in Goldeneye … but blow me down if a single aggressive helicopter in Modern Warfare didn’t give me more grief than any of these bad guys combined. As I said last night, this helicopter gave me enough grief that I had to abort and fire-up The Wolf Among Us just to grab an achievement – but once I’d hit the midnight changeover point, I went back to Modern Warfare determined to put this abomination to an end.

I have never felt more satisfaction in killing a bad guy than I had dropping that helicopter out of the sky.

The euphoria of killing that helicopter stayed with me for a while, so I followed-up with the AC-130 mission as well, which is fairly simple on any difficulty – just rain hellfire down on bad guys that aren’t flashing with a strobe and get your team out of there. As long as you keep an eye on everything around the scene, then it’s quite quick and achievable.

With that in mind, combining these two missions into one achievement makes a lot of sense – one insanely hard, one generally pretty easy. Together they make up a reasonably happy medium for what one would expect on ‘veteran’ difficulty.

The rest of my day has been consumed with some health and fitness stuff and a 5-year old’s birthday party, and I am pretty much ready for a bit of a snooze now. I might jump on and see if I can make a bit more progress on the PS4 version of Wildlands if the mood grabs me later, but I’d be equally happy having an afternoon and evening on the couch watching something mindless on Netflix.

The Search

Xbox

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered • Complete ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ on Veteran difficulty • 30G • 3.02% of gamers unlocked this

I am running face-first into a 40th birthday party tonight, and because I don’t want to end up in a position where I’m trying to blog in the middle of a function, I’m obliged to knock-out an entry this afternoon.

I am quite pleased that this is the entry I get to write though! I thought I’d never finish clearing that TV station, certainly not on Veteran difficulty! But a combination of rushing through to the objective and then slowly cleaning up bad guys from behind cover seemed to get me through.

I think the 3% completion rate should be fairly telling how difficult this level is. The semi-final encounter in what appears to be a shootout in the studio bullpen is intense. Really intense. But if there was to be a silver lining, I suspect it would be some strategies about clearing large spaces with little (bulletproof) cover. Objective markers are usually a good indicator, and in scenarios that seem to have never-ending bad-guy spawn, a run-on-objective is not an entirely silly idea.

In other gaming news, I had my first attempt at Bloodborne today. I’m already enjoying it more than Dark Souls thanks to the absence of a shield, which means it’s just a matter of attack and dodge that I need to worry about. I’ve also only killed about five enemies so far, which has been far more satisfying than killing five enemies in Dark Souls, but I’ll give a more thorough assessment once I’ve earned a trophy and can get a sense as to what’s in store.

Daredevil

Xbox

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered • Kill an enemy while blinded by a flashbang in the single player campaign • 10G • 20.47% of gamers unlocked this

I suspect that the twenty-odd percent of people who unlocked this achievement did so in a similar scenario to me … accidentally. I don’t know whether it was my flashbang, my team’s or the enemy’s, but either way … one minute I was alive, the next I was dead (repeat steps 1-2 a few times), and then the next I was unlocking this achievement.

I’m still slowly making my way through the ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ level, which feels longer than I remember – but everything on the map also seems fairly familiar, so I don’t think anything’s been ‘added’ to the level, rather that my Veteran-level playthrough is causing me to work through MW at a slower pace.

If I had dedicated my evening playthrough to it properly, I probably would have finished the level, but instead I had a bit of a session on RiME (their stylisation) hunting an achievement – any achievement – but despite a few areas where I feel like an early-game achievement wouldn’t have gone astray, I’m still sitting on 0G.

Nearly time for an achievement guide.

The Rescue

Xbox

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered • Complete ‘Blackout’ on Veteran difficulty • 30G • 3.97% of gamers unlocked this

I take two things away from this achievement. The first, is that I either never paid attention to what Nikolai looked like, or the remaster has given him a considerable facelift, but either way the image of the new Nikolai isn’t what I had in my mind … and he is certainly a staple of the Modern Warfare universe.

The second takeaway is genuine surprise that seemingly nobody has had a go at MW on Veteran difficulty. The achievement for completing the mission on any difficulty has a completion rate of 31.07%, so to see it drop to sub-4% is a real shock. I would have thought that the core audience for a MW remaster would be all over a veteran run on the campaign, but it seems like most people just needed a story fix and have moved on with their lives.

That being said, I can certainly see the appeal in dropping the difficulty and then going back for an achievement clean-up. The level after tonight’s achievement, ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’, has caused me to hit a metaphorical brick wall just trying to clear a room.

I’ll do it eventually, it’s all just part of the experience of a veteran run through, but if you’ve got a low tolerance for failure, then respite is just a few clicks of the controller away.