Vandal

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War • Destroy a Monument • 10G • 52.72% of gamers unlocked this

I had seen this achievement on the list a couple of times now, and the percentage of completion prompted me to assume that it would be something I stumble across during the course of my gameplay. Sure enough, my brief session this morning (with no purpose, just intended to log on and kill a few orcs) caused me to stumble across a large orc statue in the middle of a stronghold.

If I was Monty Burns, I would have rubbed my hands together and salaciously whispered “Excellent.”

There’s no pop-up or tutorial to instruct you how to actually destroy the monument. My experience of digital vandalism is largely confined to the Just Cause series, which usually involves placing explosives onto a statue and … well … pushing a button. Here, I shot arrows into the statue, detonated the nearest explosive barrel and swung my sword at it a few times, but – as it turns out – all you have to do is climb onto the head, click RB and Talion will do the rest of the work for you.

Exit, one monument.

In other gaming news, I still have no gaming PC yet, so I’m feeling a bit tetchy about all the gaming goodness I’m missing out on. It’s not like I’ve actually got any time to play anyway – but you know what they say about absence and the heart!

Promise Keeper

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War • Issue a Death Threat, and then successfully kill the target • 20G • 31.15% of gamers unlocked this

A bit more Middle-Earth today, and – if I’m honest – this was a bit of a cherry picked achievement. For much of the last week, I’ve really just been working my way through Mordor and killing and building up Orcs for my army without any real rhyme or reason. I think the mechanism is a bit different from the previous game, in that the ‘pleb’ orcs don’t hang around and they certainly don’t do anything for you beyond fight in the here-and-now (or, at least, not attack you), which is frustrating, but it’s also equally fun – and so while I am likely not making much narrative process, I also feel like I’m doing what gaming is supposed to be about – having fun.

Today was all about threatening and then killing a particular orc. The ‘worm’ orcs seem to play a more important part in this title than the first installment, in that they are more numerous and serve as a logistical force behind a lot of the emergent gameplay, and it wasn’t hard to find one – send a threat out to a random captain, and then … well … then kill him.

In other news, I still haven’t heard about my Ryzen PC, which – regular readers will know – has been sent to the technicians for troubleshooting and repair. It’s quite frustrating, I had hoped for a weekend of gaming that I have otherwise had to miss out on because of my potato PC, but if this blog has taught me anything, it’s that the vicissitudes of life tend to prohibit these plans on a not-uncommon basis anyway.

There is a temptation to call the technician and give them a hurry up, but a saying which I was always fond of repeating springs to mind – good things come to those who wait …

… or does the squeaky wheel get the oil?

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.

 

Dismantled

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War • Disable an Outpost

Believe it or not, there is 59 different shaders you can use in photo mode on Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. The problem is, they all look a bit ‘meh’, and following the simplicity by which I was able to take shots on God of War, this clunky, mediocre effort actually makes me irrationally mad.

Thank God the rest of the game is, so far, ‘OK’.

There’s not a lot different between the original Shadow of Mordor and this outing, and I’m absolutely alright with that. Sometimes, games need to stick with what they do well, and that is it. Call of Duty is perhaps the best series which fell off the bandwagon when they introduced the most ridiculous mechanic in gaming in the last twenty years: the wall run.

In terms of achievements, this is a surprisingly slow burn. It’s taken a solid hour (though I’m sure it’s much more) before this first achievement popped – and judging by the achievement list, I’m can’t really see a path to quick-and-dirty achievements. Most seem to be unlockable through just routine gameplay, while others are for what I can only assume are key story beats.

Either way, it’s good to have a few runs on the board. I am a huge, huge fan of the WB Middle-Earth games, regardless of all the carry-on about loot boxes and micro transactions, I think a solid game is a solid game. I can’t wait to get into it a bit more!

Perfect Aim

Injustice: Gods Among Us • Win a match as Deathstroke without missing a shot (minimum 12 shots) • 10G • 1.47% of gamers unlocked this

Now that’s a rare achievement! I can kind of see why it’s rarity is intact though, having spent the last twenty minutes trying to stack this achievement along with the one for completing battle mode on Injustice, but the latter doesn’t seem to have popped yet so I’ll investigate a bit more this afternoon.

It looks like my last proper run on Injustice was around January this year, so it was nice to play again this afternoon just for ‘the hell of it.’ Right now I have essentially an empty house, so I took the opportunity to relax and just play something mindless. Injustice Battle Mode fit the description.

This afternoon is the Intel Extreme Masters Sydney 2018 Grand Final, and right now I’m enjoying ‘The Caches’, which is the esports equivalent of ‘The Ashes’ which is just brilliant. Much like the Overwatch World Cup, or any sport really, I enjoy my esports a lot more when I can barrack for a country rather than a team, but that’s just out of ignorance of who is on each team more than anything else.

Give me time though … I’ll learn!

Beginning of the End

The Wolf Among Us • Completed Chapter 1 of Episode 5 • 20G • 35.84% of gamers unlocked this

So … here we go. The final episode of Bigby et. al. The episode itself opens up where we left off yesterday, in the HQ of the Crooked Man and his lackeys. I think it’s this portrayal of the characters which I enjoy the most – particularly Jersey Devil, who looks like he’s fresh off the set of a bad 70s porn film. Having read Alice in Wonderland to my son the other night, I also found it hard to picture the Tweedle Twins as anything other than grunts for hire.

The chapter actually concludes in a brief battle with the Crooked Man’s subordinates, and – because I like to play Wolfy over breakfast – I wasn’t really paying attention and ended up getting Bigby killed, though unlike some of the other Telltale games I’ve played, the reload didn’t take me all the way back to some convoluted exposition, and instead I was straight back into the action.

I have to make some inquiries (read: do a Google) about when the sequel is out so I can time my Telltale escapades with some appropriate pacing. There’s still enough between The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands (and Batman) to keep me going, but because the Bigby story is so intricate, I feel like it’d be worth keeping up with it as close as I can.

First thing’s first though – get to the ending of this episode. It feels like it might be the week for it!

All in a Day’s Work

Batman: The Enemy Within • Completed Chapter 1 of Episode 1 • 20G • 60.17% of gamers unlocked this

I’ve been looking and listening to a few of the reviews for The Enemy Within as it reaches its concluding episode. Batman, along with Game of Thrones, is one of my favourite licensed properties by Telltale, and it seems like this second series is off to a great start as well.

Many of the game mechanics from the original Batman, the ones that go beyond that of a normal Telltale game, are still there: The use of detective skills and planning elaborate takedowns looks like they have just carried over without amendment. That’s fine – no need to reinvent the wheel … however, we will see if these expand as the story unfolds.

The opening scene takes place in a casino and is a great introduction to Telltale’s take on Riddler. If we’ve learned anything from last season, it’s that Telltale have a delicious spin, not only on the character of Batman, but of all the supporting cast as well. This narrative looks like it won’t be much different.

That’s about all the Xbox I’ve managed to squeeze in today. I’m finding myself incredibly tired at the end of the day, so I’m calling an early night. These late nights gaming do catch up on me from time-to-time!

I Can Back it Up

Injustice: Gods Among Us • Equip a new Background Image • 5G • 27.55% of gamers unlocked this

This is why I’ve been getting my achievements out of the way early in the morning. You just never know when you’ll have your day caught up in a whirlwind of activity, and while it’s great that it’s not an emergency or other family disaster that has caused my time pressures today, it did result in a last-minute scurry to get an achievement.

The reason today? I’m off to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And when I say ‘off to see’, I mean, ‘sitting in the cinema writing today’s blog entry in a hurry before the movie starts’. It was a fairly last minute decision to come see the film, but after struggling to find a movie time in my local cinema, and another one of the screenings already sold out in town – it seemed like I better get in sooner rather than later.

Was this going to be the day I burned through my one final ‘low hanging fruit’ achievement on iOS? (For those playing at home – this is the ‘build a stable’ achievement on Age of Empires) Obviously, it’s not a spoiler to say, no, it wouldn’t be – but it’s an equally quick-and-dirty victory today in changing the background of my Hero Card in Injustice. A quick click here, a scroll there, save the game, and ding! Achievement earned!

Alright, movie is one minute out – but let it be known that I am an Achievement Ninja!

Today anyway. Tomorrow’s a different story.

Superhuman!

Injustice: Gods Among Us • Perform every character’s supermove • 10G • 7.80% of gamers unlocked this

I really was just planning on grabbing a quick achievement for having a session in Practice Mode in Injustice this morning, but my enthusiasm got away from me and I started experimenting with everyone’s supermove. The temptation to hit those two triggers when you have unlimited power was too much, and so after a lazy twenty minutes I had worked my way through the roster and unlocked this achievement.

It actually, to me, paints a bit of a sad picture about what DC could have had in terms of a cinematic universe. I love how they had Stephen Amell voice Arrow, but even then, he forms part of what is essentially The CW universe, not DC canon. What they have now is just a dogs breakfast, and – despite having the content – certainly nowhere near Marvel’s powerhouse.

Most of the other achievements I have left in Injustice are online ones, and I am fairly certain that community has all but dried up. I’ll pop my head in and see if I can grab them, but I think that will be a late-at-night thing, and probably not going to qualify for a daily achievement unless I’m extremely confident I can get a win in.

Don’t hold your breath – if people are still playing Injustice at this point in the launch cycle, then they’re probably really really good.

Bull in a China Shop

Injustice: Gods Among Us • Cause maximum damage in all Arenas (does not include Practice mode) • 100G • 25.61% of gamers unlocked this

I thought I might be able to get a campaign progress (or completion) achievement last night as the clock ticked over from 11.59pm to midnight, but alas, as fight after fight edged me closer to my goal, it was a defeat around 12.30am that caused me to rethink my tactic and start a battle with my beloved Deathstroke instead.

The difference here is, of course, between battles and the campaign is being able to choose your difficulty level, so choosing ‘Very Easy’ made the end-to-end ten battles about a 15-20 minute exercise all up. It’s still something that I probably should have done other than the middle of the night, as I’m feeling the pain a bit today, but, as they say, hindsight is 20-20, I’m human, and I’m trying to complete a challenge that requires me to earn a gaming achievement every day with an inner circle that is, at best, tepid about gaming. I suspect the economic value of games is probably lost on them until they start to see some numbers.

Obviously, this achievement isn’t the “battle” one, but I earned it on battle seven or eight (out of ten), and I was curious to learn about what requirements made up the achievement build. I suspect ‘maximum damage’ can be achieved by using a character’s super move – something I’ve been trying to do fairly liberally when I’ve been fighting with different characters, as well as Deathstroke when I want large chunks of health gone. Either way – between all my matches I got it done, and for 100G I think it deserves to be my achievement for today.