Ultimate Skill

Xbox

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands • Campaign: Bought all the upgrades of a Skill branch • 30G • 6.65% of gamers unlocked this

It seems to be a weekend of just-after-midnight achievements. That’s OK, I’ve never made any apologies for trying to get my achievements in as early as I can, but I think this would have to be some sort of record at about four minutes past midnight.

I wanted to stick my head into Wildlands tonight after trying to play around with it on PlayStation and … well, I just didn’t enjoy myself. I am trying really hard to like the PS4, I’m playing Bloodborne (badly), I’ve made the switch on all my devices to the new account and I’m giving it a red hot go, but I just have no joy and I get jaded playing anything on the PS4 that I can play on Xbox, and so I ended up back on my main console for tonight’s gaming session.

While I’m on a PlayStation kink, I should emphasise that this Sony resistance strangely doesn’t extend to the Vita. I’ve been loving getting back into the Vita … I’m a little miffed that a few year’s worth of PS Plus games aren’t there for me to download, but the ones I do have are giving me a great sense of enjoyment. I don’t want to turn this into a gush, but I do want it on the record.

Back to Wildlands: I suspect that a large part of the free weekend has to do with the introduction of Splinter Cell‘s Sam Fisher as a new mission. I guess that the end goal is to encourage players to buy the ‘Year Two Pass’, which I gather is largely multiplayer perks, but that hardly excites me, especially when there’s enough medals and resources and other perks to upgrade first.

So, with that in mind – much of my gaming tonight involved just doing cleanup missions and shooting bad guys until I had enough for the final skill in the ‘Weapons’ category. There was one gap in that branch for a medal, but I assume that’s treated more like a booster than a skill itself, and so with everything all sorted, this achievement unlocked and I am free for another 24 hours.

Well, 23 hours, 31 minutes …

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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.

Save the Bacon

Xbox

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered • Protect ‘War Pig’, the Abrams tank • 15G • 23.16% of gamers unlocked this

Fun fact: For a very brief moment following the original launch of MW, I tried the handle of ‘War Pig’ online. It didn’t last very long, but it does remain forever attached to my Google Account thanks to a range of interactions I had with Google Help and Google Forums that somehow means it can never be deleted.

Databases and their web equivalent seem to be the bane of my existence (see also: PSN name changes).

Anyway, I headed back to MW tonight to see if I could make a bit more progress. Tonight’s mission was less about the tank itself, and more about the journey to get there, but I know from history that this isn’t the last we’ll see of War Pig.

Despite being at work all day and having a few hours tonight of personal training dig-into my gaming schedule, I’m still a bit surprised that I managed to smash out a Veteran-difficulty level without too much issue. Either my hands are getting used to it or the layout of this level lends itself to better cover and general protection …

… either way, it was enough to get the job done.

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.

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.

Smuggler’s Blues

Xbox

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands • Completed the Smuggling operation • 15G • 17.62% of gamers unlocked this

And then there was one: El Sueño. This was quite a considerable grind over a few missions, with a couple of stealth missions triggering a failure due to conditions that would make Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell) blush, and some enemy AI that had a penchant for blowing up my transportation rather than me before I could escape. It made for more than one long-haul trip over the Bolivian countryside to find alternative arrangements.

In addition to dismantling the final arm of the cartel, I also closed-out the DEA Ricky Sandoval storyline which is essentially one where the Ghosts recover a recording where Sandoval confesses to being responsible for something (being deliberately vague for spoilers) that the cartel is blamed for. It’s not Hollywood-level writing, but I guess it’s … something.

And so, I’m left with the boss himself. The final countdown. There’s two missions that look to be attached to El Sueño so I’ll most likely give them a look over the next 48 hours and close-out the main storyline on this adventure once and for all. History (ie. Just Cause 2, etc.) tells me that I’m very good at going back to do open world cleanup, so I may cherry pick a few achievements and see what I can make happen – but I also note there’s a few of those achievements attached to DLC, so I’ll wait and see whether it’s worth the extra money.

Bad Reputation

Xbox

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands • Completed the Influence operation • 15G • 19.74% of gamers unlocked this

I know it’s trendy to hate on ‘the Church’ at the moment thanks to a glut of scandal, but even I found a small sense of smug satisfaction chasing down this priest and handing him over to the CIA. This drug-and-child trafficking monster seemed to get off fairy lightly in my book, but I guess thematically he’s really just a means to an end.

That, and of course, he’s entirely fictional.

It also feels good to close out an ‘arm’ of the Wildlands missions. For a game I thought I would never understand and get into, I’ve really sunk my teeth into it and I’m developing a good battle rhythm now. Of course, if I stayed on the Predator mission I think I’d still be there, and so I have to admit, I’m loving the slow pursuit of bad guys through a well-rounded variety of missions.

Closing out missions also means one thing – it’s a bit of a slow burn back to get to the next ‘arm’, so I suspect a Wildlands achievement might be a while off yet, though if I get some time I’ll certainly make as much headway as I can.

And so, another one – or four or five – bites the dust. The journey continues …

New Toy

Xbox

World of Tanks • You’ve acquired your first upgrade • 5G • 44.54% of gamers unlocked this

Not really much to this one – I actually thought I might get the ‘complete basic training’ achievement, but again there was a sneaky little intro achievement buried in the list so it popped and I’ll save the rest of the introductory achievements for another day.

It’s all part of the tutorial really. Click this button. Choose this upgrade. Do this. Do that. It’s a paint by numbers achievement but I think that every game should at least have one or two of them. For some of us, they’re our bread and butter!

Destiny 2 on the other hand … all looking achieveable, with planning. I think not being in a rush to get my Level 20 Titan up to be raid ready is not a bad strategy. It’s nice to have another character up my sleeve – in this case, my Hunter, who might be able to hit Level 20 with a final concerted effort. It’s a shame bounties aren’t part of Destiny‘s sequel, but I think ‘missions’ are supposed to replace them.

I’m sure it’s all stuff I’ll work out once I finally finish levelling up my characters!

Journey Begun

Xbox

World of Tanks • Completed a story chapter successfully • 10G • 3.62% of gamers unlocked this

I have played a lot of Destiny 2 today. A lot. Across both PlayStation and Xbox, I’ve spent some time with my clan mates (I’m the founder so it’s nice to put in an appearance every now and then!), and made some progress across most of my characters today.

What I didn’t do in Destiny 2, however, is earn an achievement.

I thought today’s achievement would be as simple as visiting Xur, who was, quite literally, up a tree, but it seems like the achievement requirements need you to actually buy something before it unlocks. My big fat bank balance of zero legendary marks (if that’s what they’re called now?) meant that I was SOL, so ended up just pursuing a few more levels on both my Xbox Hunter, and PlayStation Titan. In-between I filled in some time with my other characters.

When it became apparent that today really wasn’t the day for a Destiny 2 achievement, I fired up the NBA 2K18 Prequel I had loaded the other night. Last year’s Prequel offered a short story about the protagonist, you, being accepted onto the basketball circuit, by which you could earn a few hundred gamerscore for free. This time around, however, they couldn’t even be bothered programming in some achievements. I took the liberty of checking the achievement list before I dove too deep down the NBA2K rabbit hole, and I was glad I did, because earning 0/0G is nice for alpha and beta testing, but unhelpful if your goal is the titular ‘achievement a day’.

The delete button followed shortly thereafter.

So, I had a trawl through my games list to see what I might like. I had downloaded World of Tanks as part of my free-to-play session the other day, so I fired it up. I was fairly sure I’d already played a bit of it, but I had zero gamerscore so perhaps I did so on PlayStation or PC. Nonetheless, I opened up the story missions and played through the first level. Nothing earth shattering to report – essentially a basic lesson on how to point and shoot.

One of the nice things I saw in playing was this splash screen stating that Wargaming.net were throwing their support behind ‘Team Rubicon’, a charity that deploys military veterans to disaster zones. What a great concept – and an excellent use of unique skills. The gaming community has done a great job of supporting victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, including my favourite, Bungie, who sold pins (which I ordered) and an in-game Destiny 2 player banner.

Loot that helps a good cause? Count me in.

Endurance I

Xbox

Wolfenstein: The New Order • Unlock Assault Perk 2 • 10G • 13.99% of gamers unlocked this

A bit more Wolfenstein tonight. I knew I had this one up my sleeve for a day where it’d be a tight turnaround, though I admit that it’s a bit lazy to waste it on today’s achievement, considering there was a few other perks I could work towards. Anyway, it’s done, and I can’t ‘unearn’ it, so I’m cashing it in as today’s achievement.

I’m currently working my way through a destroyed bridge level, and I remember having trouble with directions when playing this on PlayStation. Second time around isn’t much better. Every now and then I step outside the destruction to see where I’m supposed to be, but no clear path on how to get there. It’s frustrating, but still considerably less frustrating than the base building stuff.

Anyway, this is just a quick break to check in my achievement before I try and finish this ‘challenging’ level. Difficulty levels don’t change the need for a good sense of direction!