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.


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!

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.