Monday 31 May 2021

May 2021 Review: Ten Years

Black Desert Online continues to be the highlight of my solo game time and Remnants: From the Ashes has taken the place of GTFO as our Friday night co-op since Rundown 5 has introduced connectivity issues to the game, which are way more frustrating than their actual monsters! The guild in Neverwinter Online continues on though, and we are now at Guild Hall level 17!

I'm sure you've also noticed I'm getting more into cryptocurrency these days and thanks to the recent correction I'm currently down in all my holdings (XRP, VRA, VET, DOGE and now SHIB). Perfect time to buy more though. This is a very addictive experiment.

Something basic I learned from it this month is that percentage reporting can be misleading. For example: if a token goes from $1.00 to $0.50 it’s a change of -50.00% However, to get back to $1.00 the price needs to move +100.00%.  On the flip side if a token goes form $1.00 to $10.00 it’s a +900.00% move. When the token price then goes from $10.00 to $5.00 it’s a -50.00% move so percentages can be misleading (thank you golden_state7)!

In other news: sad tidings for fans of Berserk as it's creator has sadly passed at the start of this month, leaving the tale unfinished. Hopefully the studio / someone can forge on to complete that task. As to not end on a downer: this blog is now ten years old! Happy Birthday blog! Man, my first post was full of cringe... just like most of my current posts! :P

Most Viewed Posts in the last 30 days

GTFO: R5A1 - Floodways (Normal)
Tyranny: The Fatebinders
The First Tree

Interesting grouping this time around with my "not happy" review of The First Tree sneaking into the third spot just behind the first Tyranny story post. GTFO proves walk throughs are still the most popular though, which is a shame since I don't have any more of those coming currently thanks to the technical issues I mentioned at the start of this post.

Sunday 30 May 2021

BDO: Cure All

[Part of my Adventures in Black Desert Online]

Since I did such a good job last time, Isobelle lets me take a short vacation to take in the sights at the quiet village of Olvia which seems to be a fantastic place to settle down. In addition, there's some sort of water festival happening down at the beach with tons of people (players) fishing at the shore.

As I naturally hate fishing, I quickly returned to Lady Isobelle in time to escort her caravan to resupplya cliff side stronghold which is under attack by harpies. Pushing through there we arrive at the Northern Plantation where Isobelle suddenly collapses from some sort of poison.

Shai are short and cute mouse type people.

I set off to the Shai village of Florin, also known for its herbalists and cures and they agree to help. In exchange I do random chores for them, such as collecting herbs and timber, hopping on bellows and repairing roofs. They also get me to cull the masked owl tribe (literally humanoid owls wearing masks) to harvest their spleens... for science? O_O

Insight: I love that there are so many little optional mini-games scattered pretty much everywhere.

Friday 28 May 2021

BDO: Hired Muscle

[Part of my Adventures in Black Desert Online]

With not much else to do at Velia I headed on South to the next city of Heidel and find representatives of two merchant factions having an argument over trade contracts in town. Since I get roped in to helping one of them, I pick the one whose representative is a hot chick the esteemed Lady Isobele and promptly get employed as her muscle.

Pretty good graphics for an MMO.

My first tasks involve carrying crates from point A to point B, clearing a road of more imps and then finding proof that the opposing merchant guild is actually supporting the nearby rebels (by killing them, naturally).

With proof in hand and Lady Isobelle's trade contract secured I am then sent off to the swamp town of Gilsh to handle the local froglodyte population who have made it a habit to ambush trade caravans. After "a pleasant conversation with their prince, they agree to stop" (aka I wrecked their homes, killed over a hundred of them and annihilated their leader). I'm now level 37.

Insight: Aggroing a bunch of enemies and then backing off usually makes them cluster into a single group in front of you, making it faster to hit all of them. Crowd control abilities are quite useful.

BDO: Cheap Adventurers

[Part of my Adventures in Black Desert Online]

Since the excavation team really made a mess of things I was part of the many cheap adventurers (noobs) hired for protection against the literal army of "imps" (which look a lot like kobolds) they displaced during the dig. Not just for the crew either, but also for the nearby village of Velia which is already troubled by surprisingly tall goblins and exiled soldiers in an old castle.

Imps grow big here.

Defeating the imp leader also revealed that the excavation had freed a cutesy black spirit which empowered the creature physically. The little bastard then fled and did the same for the goblin leader and castle lord, both of whom I had to beat while chasing it down before losing its trail.

Alas, since I lost it again I was promptly fired from the protection detail. Awesome.

Insight: Thank god for the "T" auto travel key. I use it a lot!

Adventures in Black Desert Online

I'm finally trying out this game (the "Remastered" version) after seeing the trailers years ago (now that I can play it for free). Character wise I'm starting with a Musa, since sword and bow is my jam and more because all the write ups for him are "was once really good but is now not very" which fits me perfectly. :P

I'm also making use of the "noob catch up channels" of New Olvia for as long as I can, as it offers some nice boosts and generally makes things a little easier and as usual, I'm editing some of what's in the game simply because I can. Let's see just how far a free-to-play tourist can get!

Chapter 1 - Cheap Adventurers
Chapter 2 - Hired Muscle
Chapter 3 - Cure All
Chapter 4 - Attack on Calpheon
Chapter 5 - Into the Leight
Chapter 6 - Isobelle and Elina
Chapter 7 - Nella's Quest
Chapter 8 - The White Witch
Chapter 9 - A Song of Barbarians
Chapter 10 - Shen Rising
Chapter 11 - You need to Train
Chapter 12 - Sword on a Stick
Chapter 13 - The Black Spirit
Chapter 14 - Across the Sands
Chapter 15 - Desert Tourist
Chapter 16 - Dragon Bandits
Chapter 17 - Secret Army
Chapter 18 - Robber Team
Chapter 19 - The First Ring
Chapter 20 - Named Delegate
Chapter 21 - Trespasser
Chapter 22 - The Sly Queen
Chapter 23 - The Sherekhan
Chapter 24 - Garmoth
Chapter 25 - Ahib Tamers
Chapter 26 - Unfinished Gem
Chapter 27 - Life Skills
Chapter 28 - Blackstar Bomb
Chapter 29 - Settling Down
Chapter 30 - Case Closed
Chapter 31 - Row Row Row, you're Sunk
Chapter 32 - Across the Sea
Chapter 33 - First Mate
Chapter 34 - The Second Questing
Chapter 35 - Return to Port

An odd error is preventing me from logging into Black Desert Online and everything I've tried doesn't work so that's the end of this for now.

Thursday 27 May 2021

Castlevania (TV Series)

Because a whip is the best weapon against vampires.

Based on the video game series this four season adult animated series primarily follows the adventures of Trevor Belmont against the regular Castlevania nemesis: Dracula. The art style and animation is very good, with epic fight scenes being the highlight and the voice cast does a great job with the well written lines (warning: lots of swearing).

I really like the art style.

If anything it's the plot that is the weakest element here, mainly noticeable in the latter seasons where things just happen for no / poorly explained reasons. I was often wondering out loud why characters forget to use previously used skills or suddenly skill up mid fight. I guess I have to settle for "they needed to fill their rage/musou bar first". That said it is still a very good series and one I can easily recommend. I give it four morning stars out of five, and I would definitely watch it again.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Remnant: from the Ashes - The Undying King

[Part of our Remnant from the Ashes story]

We finally made it to this damn tower!

The Undying King is a chatty fellow who once nuked this planet to eliminate the Root from it. He offers us a key to the locked doors in the labyrinth in exchange for a creature's heart; a creature that happens to be the guardian of another world and is doing a good job keeping the Root out so we decline this trade which enrages the monarch into a boss battle.

Unfortunately for him, he is nowhere as strong as Claviger or the Hive. In his first mode, he is supported by Goa'uld attendants while he either summons pew pew orbs (which should be killed ASAP as they have low HP and don't move, to have one less thing shooting you) or, if he has his swords out does some lethal combos if he closes the distance which actually downs DL in this fight. His style has a fatal flaw though - back away until he does his jumping lunge and dodge AT him and he'll miss every swing. Thank you Dark Souls experience!

Once weak enough he heads over to his throne to regenerate while summoning a swarm of the man spiders but between our dogs and Jim's flame pistol, those never make it up the stairs leaving the idiot King open for all my strong melee attacks which kills him. Once. Obviously he gets up again, hence his title, but is easily burned down by beam rifles wielded by Jim and myself. Stupid king felt what happens when you cross the streams - there's no coming back from that!

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - Know when to Fold em

Featuring the fickle Lady Luck.

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

A Las Vegas casino sets the stage for the next ritual, and to break it Father Luke (Juris), the Kid (mom), John (DL), Arielle (wifey), and Mario (me) must win SIX times at the casino, requiring to pay an item per attempt and only able to gamble if the casino has no enemies.

This proves to be tremendously difficult as cultists and hounds of Tindalos regularly appear on the casino floor thanks to the poor odds at the table and while the team gets half the required wins they are out of time as a full powered and immortal Cthulhu appears, nearly killing Luke (who is saved by catatonia). 

The hounds would fit nicely in a Warhammer 40k Tyranid army.

John lures the elder one and everything else away but before they can kill him it triggers his dependency, returning him to the safety of the casino with no enemies in tow. At this point a miracle happens as the last three wins happen in quick succession, weakening Cthulhu once more and pulling him to the party who beat him up!

Fleeing from the room, John goes and lures him back into range (most of the team have ranged attacks) which totally wrecks the tentacled beast, and it is Father Luke who finishes it off with a blessed pool cue in close quarters. AMEN!

MISSION SUCCESS (unconvincing victory here as we almost lost multiple times with numerous people almost dying prior to breaking the ritual, and having the doom track two only steps away from the end)!

Insight: Ugh, I hated the gambling mechanic! We had to learn the hard way that you want to have stress to spend AND a lot of items when using the casino. Not doing so (like we did at the start) felt like wasted turns. I dunno, it just felt really swingy.

Monday 24 May 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - Dig Deep

Shovels and rifles, a good combination.

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

Arielle (wifey), Mario (me), Father Luke (Juris), the Kid (mom), and John (DL) arrived at the excavation site where cultists had already begun their ritual. This time, the team needed to uncover an evil artifact and destroy it and quickly set about their work - removing cultists in the way and digging from midway on the map back to the start.

Even their monstrous Bokrug ally is laid low by Luke and his pick axe as the artifact is revealed. The squad then whacks it into pieces, breaking the ritual and summoning a weakened Hastur who quickly is sent fleeing behind his minions.

The Bokrug. Everything in this lore really has a tentacle theme.

Armed with a lasso (sneak three enemies) Mario nabs the elder one and drags him back to the team, away from his defenders for another sound walloping before the King in Yellow breaks free again and retreats down the quarry. This is to no avail though, as Arielle and the Kid both snipe him in the back and lay him low once more.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try thanks to good planning)!

Insight: Since the artifact moves toward the caves once revealed (and if its there you get a penalty), we opted to dig as close to the cave first as the earliest digs have a zero chance of finding it, then in spots closer to the start location so the artifact has a long way to move.

It only took one step in our game, but this was more because our team didn't have to walk too far to whack it. As always, positioning is everything.

Sunday 23 May 2021

Remnant: from the Ashes - Claviger's Hive

[Part of our Remnant from the Ashes story]

Our trail of destruction across Rhom continues as we push forward to the tower of the Undying King and our first major hurdle is some dude with a radioactive beehive on his head. Aptly named "The Hive", he is a bullet sponge that gets slightly faster the more hurt he is. He also has a hell of a SLAP so if you see him raise his hand, dodge away. Like everything else in the game, melee swings go through walls so be careful. 

Apart from launching bees he also calls radioactive explosive adds who we countered by summoning dogs. Radiation is a big thing on Rhom since I guess they got nuked? Really doesn't explain the giant floating skulls though. Anyway, best strategy for the Hive is lead him down one wing, cross the central chamber and lead him down the other wing. Fighting in the center is a poor choice strategy wise as you obviously will get surrounded.

It took us a few goes until finally DL won after Jim and I were KO-ed. In co-op mode, if you can't use a heart on a downed ally in time the only way to get them back is resting at a campfire. That is a fair mechanic and one exploited by the next boss - a giant root thing that summons Goa'uld on a floating platform. This bastard - "Claviger" - was VERY tough and managed to knock Jim off the platform early on our successful run, meaning DL and I couldn't revive him during the fight. Basically it is just a big wizard who likes hiding in a force field. To turn off the shield, destroy the orbs on either side and then you can shoot him - but only if you can counter his attacks of which there are three.

Bring ammo packs and heavy water.

When he summons, we just summoned (dogs) too and kill the adds before returning focus fire on him. When he does his special beam cannon just... walk? It doesn't move very fast so blast him while doing so. His last attack is actually the first he uses - orb shooting. This is both painful and annoying and it took Jim and I some time to get the timing down. You don't actually have to dodge, but its safer to. Also don't rely on the four pieces of cover on the platform as they get wiped out by Claviger pretty quickly. After a painful fight (and many attempts of it) we finally get through and reach the door of the Undying King's tower. It's about time!

Friday 21 May 2021

Remnant: from the Ashes - Weapon Upgrades

[Part of our Remnant from the Ashes story]

Thanks to someone called the Undying King, the world of Rhom somehow fought off the invasion of the Root so we set out to get to his uber awesome high tech tower situated in the middle or a sandy waste where a previous civilization was clearly decimated by fire. Our path through is very violent as the zone is now occupied by his worshipers: cannibal tribesmen with exploding spears and hungry dogs. We manage to tame one dog (each) though, and also get a really cool necklace from a vendor in the zone which lets our dragon heart usage also affect our in range teammates for full heals. The dogs are also particularly useful for a two minute summon, as they do decent damage and can tank a little bit.

"Who's a good boy?"

Exploring one of the concrete ruins we are surprised to find it inhabited by Goa'uld, dark maul cosplayers, radioactive exploding humanoids as well as spidery type people that emerge from holes in the wall and always in huge numbers. The building is some form of workshop with giant robot feet left incomplete and some sort of rocket ship on a launchpad. 

Opening the blast doors of that rocket ship triggers a defense task (boss fight with no boss, just swarms of baddies) and the best hold spot we found was up the stairs on the right then right again to get to the corner room. With healing pools and the dragon heart necklace upgrades we hold quite comfortably in there - even when tribals carrying rocket launchers arrive. Beyond the blast doors is an awesome beam rifle which both Jim and I quickly switch to and teleport back to Ward 13 to upgrade it - especially as we have the next tier of iron component now available.

While there I explore the reactor a bit more and accidentally find the master key behind a large fan (which I switched off by accident when trying to steal a fuse). The key lets us through the locked door on level two and into a room with a submachine gun. Again, Jim and I get this, though Jim still keeps his flame thrower pistol handy as well. As expected DL remains on the Sniper Rifle and standard pistol because he's a Sniper Elite. :P

Cthulhu: Death May Die - Holy Murder

Some priests are psycho.

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die. 

Victorious from the forest, the investigators John (DL), the Kid (mom), Mario (me) and Arielle (wifey) headed to the nearby cathedral of Father Luke (Juris) to rest up. Alas, this was not to be as one of the other priests had been murdered and the sanctum was now overrun by cultists, ghouls and star vampires!

To break the ritual this time they needed to find the murderer in a possible pool of five NPCs by questioning each one. Focused on that, the team splits up as the Kid uses her magic to clear the initial star vampires before passing out from exertion (catatonic).

Arielle and Mario use the opening to begin questioning suspects while Luke and John deal with a new star vampire and star spawn that emerge from the underground crypts. While it takes awhile to get the information required (since proofs keep flipping back down when the elder one advances) through a process of elimination all signs point to the deacon, whom John executes.

This is correct and interupts the ritual (being wrong is pretty much instant game over), which summons a weakened Cthulhu into battle. After the elder one is bashed down he attempts to flee but takes severe damage from Arielle and the Kid's ranged attacks (who was one step to dying from insanity at the end). Luke attempts to finish off the big bad but rolls a critical fail and only by the love of Jesus manages to survive the counter attack leaving him with one hit point.

It's like this scene from Hellsing Ultimate. Just pretend Alucard is Cthulhu. :P

It is John then who takes it upon himself then to finish off the tentacled monster by using his strengthened bull whip to wrap around its neck and the entry way portcullis machinery to strangle and crush the elder one to death.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try and I really liked the mechanic in this one)!

Insight: When rolling, stars are often good especially for characters with arcane mastery. Not so much against star vampires who instantly damage you if you roll stars when attacking them! Mom had to go easy and cleverly reroll those.

Thursday 20 May 2021

Crypto-Correction Opportunity

For those who have ever been curious about Cryptocurrency and wanted to dip their toes into the market there is currently a massive correction taking place meaning all the prices are down, making it the perfect time to buy in! Just don't go nuts and remember to only put in what you can afford to lose.

If you don't know how then it's simplest to use some sort of broker. As I'm based in Australia I use Coinspot which is deals soley in crypto while Juris prefers EToro since it also handles regular share market stuff. There will be a slightly annoying process to sign up regardless of which you choose because it's basically like a bank, so security measures need to be tight.

As for the what to buy I would possibly put forward Bitcoin (BTC - just buy fractions of it), Ripple (XRP), Dogecoin (DOGE) or Shiba Inu (SHIB). While those are in order of risk (I'm still experimenting with DOGE and SHIB), remember this is a long game and you will need to wait months, or more likely years, before seeing any profit. If you never sell, you (almost) never lose. But if you never sell, you'll never win either so... set a target at least. x2 or x3 of what you put in is a decent marker. Also remember your broker will also take a tiny cut and any earnings are taxable!

Lastly the more you know about who you use / what you are buying the better off you will be so a research (whatever the amount) will always help. Good luck!

Disclaimer: This public service announcement is not financial advice. Also this is unlikely to make you rich quick and yes, it is basically GAMBLING (with gleaned information depending on the thoroughness and regularity of your research, which provides some predictability).

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - The Burning Woods

We don't need no water...

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

John (DL) led the newly formed team of policeman Mario (me), hunter Arielle (wifey), new priest Luke (Juris) and the recovered Kid (mom) into the Missouri woods for some cultist hunting with the team deciding that the fastest way to victory was simply to set each of the four cult campsites on fire.

It's the only way to be sure.

Splitting up, Luke burned his target first with the aid of a friendly pyromaniac while Mario torched his soon after - executing the panicked cultists that emerged from within. While Arielle hunted down her favored enemy (nightgaunts this round), the Kid roasted cultists on the way to the next campsite but still needed Luke's support to torch it fully.

Far to the North, John was meeting the most resistance reaching the farthest camp having to fight multiple flying polyps and eventually the FULL contigent of cultists from the box! Luckily Mario got there in time to assist, revealing an awesome combo power (as long as they are in the same space) which makes the pair and any other ally on the same tile nearly invulnerable to the cultist horde.

Still they managed to delay long enough for a fully powered and immortal Hastur to appear and attack Arielle,  but she dodged the majority of the attacks. The last camp was set alight soon after, weakening Hastur to a mortal state. Suddenly vulnerable the King in Yellow couldn't take the punishment dished out by the covering fire from the sneaky huntress and the kid (actually everyone was wonderfully placed as he he kept teleporting to vulnerable spots) and was finished off as Father Luke shoved a blessed crucifix down his throat.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try, but this will probably be way harder if fought against Cthulhu instead - Hastur's gate placement is a big advantage to the players)!

Insight: Season two comes with a lot of new monsters, ten new playable characters and six new missions but no new elder ones. It also needs components from season one to play so only get it if you really enjoyed the base game as my group did. :)

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Cthulhu: Death May Die - Ritual Heist

Saving the world with armed robbery.

A board game session from Cthulhu: Death May Die.

Apparently Hastur's yellow sign was much harder for Rasputin to recover from than the "usual death", so it was up to the Kid (mom) and John (DL) to head to Chicago to stop cultists performing a summoning inside a bank vault (props for creativity)!

Knowing they'd need help they also recruited an African amazon Adilah (wifey), timid little axe murderer Borden (me), and a well connected a priest (Juris) who manages to hire two mob bosses to assist in the job.  

Since John has psychotic tendencies he soloes the shorter path to the vault, taking on cultists and an elder thing en route while the others go the long way, fighting through tcho-tchos and a star spawn that Borden lures away while Adilah's special focus ability (which she chose Borden to pair) means when one rests so does the other (even out of turn) is great to counteract the multiple marked tokens the pair are receiving.

"Did you miss me?"

With the priest's gangsters, it is John breaks through the vault doors to interrupt the ritual summoning an angry Cthulhu upon himself and manages to fend off the attack which kills all the extra allied gangsters while the kid provides fire support from the next room before being swarmed by tcho-tchos.

This causes Cthulhu to flee right into the priest who badly wounds the elder one with his holy relics before a freshly summoned star spawn eliminates the man of god. John then charges the room and wounds Cthulhu enough to make him flee again.

This time, all alone on the dimly lit street, Cthulhu is ambushed by improvised explosives Borden had brought and is summarily chopped into pieces by the axe murderer - who gains so many extra free hits when there is only a single opponent sharing the space.

MISSION SUCCESS (first try though it was looking dire there for a bit. Recruiting gangsters at the start was quite annoying)!

Insight: Most mobsters demand payment before you can hire them, and if you can't you often get the "marked" condition which really sucks - think of it as random life draining so keeping your HP up is mandatory!

Monday 17 May 2021

Remnant: from the Ashes - Singe

[Part of our Remnant from the Ashes story]

Our city exploration leads us to a main road guarded by the root dragon, Singe, whose glowing weak spot is right in the chest. This dragon likes throwing fireballs, using flamethrower breath and if you get too close, Dragon-no-Jutsu. It also summons pyromaniac root that love immolating themselves and the numerous oil spills on fire. Again these are annoying, but they are also actually our ammo supply. That said, we did need to use packed ammo crates and a few other consumables (adrenaline) for this fight so prepare accordingly.

Going up close was no good, so we opted to do the opposite of Shroud's tactic. Since the dragon is strong up close, we stayed back and shot it while moving from cover to cover. That's a necessity since the dragon actually destroys cover (to make up for its poor aim at range)! It is a long fight in which Jim and DL do most of the dragon slaying, while I stick to mob control and harvest duty (shotgun and hammer not great at a distance). I also serve as reviver since not hurting the dragon means it doesn't look at me as much. Just a reminder you can only pick up allies by using one of your own dragon hearts on them!

Anyway it is a LONG but safer battle, and Jim crafts a flamethrower pistol from the piece we carve from its corpse. Just beyond is a massive, translucent tower which turns out to be the labyrinth we are searching for. Teleporting inside we are greeted by the Keeper of the Labyrinth who allows us passage through the doors... which lead everywhere! Except most are locked so really there's only one way to go... to the world of Rhom.

Sunday 16 May 2021

Remnant: from the Ashes - Mangled Root Mother

[Part of our Remnant from the Ashes story]

After another set of tunnels with root sleeping on the ceiling and annoying teleporting screamers (that summon more root, target them first), its not long before we find a woman "the Root Mother" waiting for us at a church. She wants to help us locate the founder but first must detatch herself from the root tendrils attached to her. The monsters react poorly to this, beginning a two minute defense mission where all we really have to do is draw aggro and dodge roll. Once she is free she kills everything and tells us to find "the labyrinth" as well as upgrades our dragon hearts to have four uses (up from three) each. In the church basement, DL also gets his hands on a sniper rifle (everyone does actually since all loot goes to each player).

The Root Mother gets a merchant stall back in Ward 13.

The explorable city then branches out considerably patrolled by gun toting root soldiers. This makes it much less scary since they don't teleport and have predictable movement patterns of running to cover. If things don't teleport or spawn out of hiding/nowhere, its easy to control the area. While exploring we also fight the Mangler mini-boss, who looks like a round tumbleweed who rolls around and summons the weak, fat goblin things. At half health it grows in size and... well, that's it really. So basically at half health it becomes easier to target. A super simple fight.

Doing this gives us access to some sort of storage zone, where Jim gets himself an assault rifle. He's also traded out his coach gun for a shotgun like mine, meaning the big root guys with swords have little chance us we stagger them a lot.

Friday 14 May 2021

Remnant: from the Ashes - Shroud

[Part of our Remnant from the Ashes story]

Evil plant like beings nicknamed the "root" are taking over the multiverse and it is up to us at the small outpost of Ward 13 to stop them. Given the task of finding "the founder" we set out into the city which is infested with the plant men who are supported by black cloaked archers. These things are annoying as their arrows apply a bleed effect that needs a bandage to cure if they hit and a cloud of rot that needs a potion to cure if they miss. Furthermore, like most other non-heavy root units they can teleport (or burrow whatever) at will.

While traversing the sewers to fight roundish goblins a boss type of these archers shows up: Shroud, who is not just stronger HP wise but has an added ability of "orbital bombardment" which doesn't even need line of sight! There is an audible cue when this happens though, and that's the signal to RUN (specifically not into where a team mate was standing before). Only after upgrading our gear (and both DL and I getting the heal mod as well on the long guns) do we fight it off... only to run into again in its boss chamber!

This time Shroud summons endless waves of root (who technically are our ammo resupply but are annoying nonetheless) and has plenty of space to run. DL quickly works out that Shroud is weak to melee so I focus on chasing down the archer to apply the "hammer to the face" technique while he and Jim focus on crowd control (and obviously shooting Shroud in the head when time permits). As the melee focused guy, I can confidently say there is a semi-safe spot to attack Shroud at: point blank. If it doesn't have any summons nearby its only two valid counters are to teleport away or to do orbital bombardment as the other bow attacks start out too far / I clipped through its bow. To move faster, practice the slide (which is sprint + duck).

Ultimately its the orbital bombardment evasion that is key. Once we started calling out "run" over chat, and learning when NOT to try revive each other with Dragon Hearts, we finally laid low this evil archer.

Remnant: from the Ashes

Since the latest update of GTFO: Rebirth is giving us connection / drop issues for all the level B maps, we voted to move on to this game until GTFO can get its act together. Our starting setup is as follows: DL as the hunter, Jim as the ex-cultist and myself as the scrapper. A perfectly balanced team... or is it? :P

Chapter 1 - Shroud
Chapter 2 - Mangled Root Mother
Chapter 3 - Singe
Chapter 4 - Weapon Upgrades
Chapter 5 - Claviger's Hive
Chapter 5 - The Undying King
Chapter 6 - Queen of the Butts
Chapter 7 - Zombie Onslaught
Chapter 8 - Flaming Totem
Chapter 9 - Sweet Dreams Mothra

This story has ended! Thank you for reading!

Kong and Godzilla

Two giant monsters. Three action movies.

Kong: Skull Island

Set in 1973, an expedition is formed to explore the mysterious and titular Skull Island (which I assume is mostly made of monkey poop) with the semi-secret not so secret task of locating a gigantic monkey the size of a mountain. For some reason, an expert tracker (played by bored Tom Hiddleston) is hired for this because ... the directors wanted it to happen? :P

Even Tom himself wonders what he is doing in this film in every shot he is in as the plot often borders on lunacy. That said, there are some really cool beasties on Skull Island as everything grows big there - not just the monkeys. Luckily they, and Samuel L. Jackson's character are pretty fun to watch. Just remember to turn your brain off to get the most out of this. I give it two random attacks out of five. Would I watch it again? Probably, but I won't go looking for it.

Godzilla: King of Monsters

A sequel to Godzilla (2014), man has discovered around seventeen more "titans" like him in hibernation and naturally, this means militarist eco-terrorists go about waking them all up to destroy the pollution that is humanity. Totally logical.

Despite the eco baddies, the plot lines involving the humans is actually ok, or at least, better than the previous film and this time around there is plenty of Godzilla some of the other beasties too, but strangely not as good as the critters on Skull Island. Not great, but a solid "its alright". I give it two Millie Bobby Browns out of five. Would I watch it again? Sure. Maybe after a few years...

Godzilla vs Kong

Five years after Godzilla was "crowned" the King of Monsters, he's back causing havoc on us puny humans - mainly because a clandestine and super wealthy corporation that cuts corners in their security department is hunting some unobtanium type power source by releasing King Kong from his now enclosed Skull Island.

Their fights are pretty epic.

The graphics and action sequences are very cool with the monsters definitely taking center stage each time they are on the screen but this does mean the plot takes a back seat a bit to get these two giants into battle. As long as you don't expect too many things (or anything really) to make sense when it comes to the humans and you'll be in for an entertaining time. I'd probably watch it again and give it three kaijus out of five.

Thursday 13 May 2021

The First Tree

Fails to be zen.

With really cool visuals, a nice sound track and decent controls the First Tree is quick to grab your attention as you play a fox looking for her pups in an almost sand box environment with no enemies and a nice visual goal of a huge, distant tree.

Awesome opening.

My problems come with the constant narration, where in a man describes this "fox dream" you are playing through to his partner/wife/booty call/shrink as he basically tells an entire life story to the poor woman. Worse than this though, is that somehow the level design still incorporates platform puzzles some of which are mandatory to advance. And not in the "just do a double jump" kind of way. More like in the "hunt the x" which will "make you jump higher" or "open the vines".

Never had I more wanted to be human height so I could see where all this crap to find was without meandering through the tall grass. Good idea, poor execution. I don't recommend this walking simulator to anyone. Just get your fill of fox antics from the saveafox channel instead.

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Tyranny: Fall of the Archons

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the trial of Graven Ashe complete, Tunon the Archon of Justice then put Shelumu on trial for betraying Kyros and found him guilty! To enact this death sentence both Tunon and the executor and Archon of Shadows, Bleden Mark, attacked Shelumu and Sirin. Thanks to Sirin's increased power, the Archons of Justice and Shadow fell in combat leaving the victors free to return to their home spire.

"I guess that makes me the last archon!" laughed Sirin giddily. "Indeed," replied Shelumu in a measured tone. "About that..."

Only a fool would keep a potential traitor alive.

With the next of Kyros forces assembling at the border, Shelumu turned to the ancient device to cast his next Edict - one that would throw Kyros armies into retreat and inspire many others in the Kingdom of Kyros to begin openly rebelling against the overlord. It was time to see just what Kyros was made of.

Shelumu grinned.

Insight: Archon wise, I found Graven Ashe to be the easiest to fight while Bleden Mark was the hardest. If you play your cards right (which I didn't in either play through) you can probably end the game without fighting ANY of them which is really cool!

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Tyranny: Of Secrets and War

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets, didn't expect Verse's will to be so strong. She overpowered his mind and took over his body. Loyal to Shelumu, the Voices of Verse then took all the remaining Scarlet Chorus for an all out assault on the Disfavored main base and Barik went with her to confront his ex-commander and Archon of War, Graven Ashe. Shelumu and Sirin wished them luck and instead headed to Tunon's court to angle for a different type of victory.

The battle is fierce and Ashe's ability is to protect his soldiers makes them a force to be reckoned as Chorus suffer terrible losses. Graven Ashe personally manages to trip Verse over and smash her head like a watermelon with his giant maul and then proceeds to smash Barik's armor off one swing at a time. Suddenly, Bleden Mark, Archon of Shadows appears and whisks Graven Ashe away... and right into Tunon's court where the Archon of Justice finds him guilty of sedition and war crimes thanks to evidence presented by Shelumu.

Tunon is ready to play GTFO.

The Archon of Shadows immediately carries out the sentence and executes Graven Ashe. Unfortunately this means all those once protected by the Archon of War suffer the same fate in an explosive fashion, leaving Barik the sole survivor in the camp, free of his cursed armor but broken in the mind amidst the bodies of his half sibling and his previous brothers and sisters in arms. All he can do is scream.

Insight: Verse is actually the first companion you can kill, with the same scripted death as the above. Finishing her quest lines to avoid the boss fight against Nerat is handy though. In combat she has a few handy combo moves that are nice (the one with Barik especially) but needs some management as she is not too tough. Meanwhile Barik is great as a tank, but is easily replaced by Killsy who can tank AND DPS. Also, its a pain to get that armor off him (for both Barik and the player).

Monday 10 May 2021

Tyranny: Of Blood and Hunger

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the war in full swing, Eb and Kills-in-Shadow return to Lethian's Crossing to aid their forces in repelling a massive Disfavored attack. Eb's tide casting is handy in putting out the fires while the beast woman tears into the enemy force... until she is killed by Lucia. This rallies the Disfavored forces to victory and forcing the rebels to surrender. To further teach them a lesson, Lucia executes Eb in front of them.

Lucia's celebration is short lived however, as Bleden Mark the Archon of Shadows catches her in the privy soon after and slits her throat for Kyros, taking with him the Silent Archive.  

Don't mess with the Archon of Shadows.

Meanwhile Verse had come up with a plan to handle the Voices of Nerat so she, Shelumu, Barik and Sirin push on to the main Scarlet Chorus base to confront him, a surprisingly easy task due to the low number of guards. Nerat knows he is on the back foot and offers a deal - he and the Chorus will withdraw from the region if Verse gives herself up and she agrees.

The Voices of Nerat devours her on the spot.

Insight: You can execute Eb much earlier, after the battle for Ascension Hall. Kills-in-Shadow is a little trickier as you can only eliminate her in the later part and only if you are too friendly with Graven Ashe and the Disfavored. Eb is an ok mage but not much of a loss (I rarely used her), but Killsy is an excellent and ultra mobile DPS machine (titan tree) so think hard if you really want her gone.

Saturday 8 May 2021

Tyranny: Of Stone and Fire

[Part of the Cursed story line]

A broken Barik, on a suicide mission against the Chorus, eventually found his way to Shelumu in the Stone Sea and thanks to Verse (who turns out to be his half sister) convinces the soldier to join the rebel team. There they also manage to convince a tribe of earth shakers to join their growing alliance by breaking the Edict of Stone and putting their leader to rest. As a side effect, this also ruined the already low crop supply of the main Chorus camp nearby.

Enraged, the Voices of Nerat unleashes the Chorus horde upon Shelumu, but thanks to Eb's studies of the ancient devices atop the spires, Shelumu manages to halt their advance by recasting the Edict of Stone! This kills over three quarters of the attacking force, causing the rest to flee. Admittedly, this does fix their low food issue thanks to the fewer mouths AND the return of fertile ground.

Elsewhere Lucia found herself back in the Burning Library, which was still ablaze with the Edict of Fire she herself had proclaimed years before. Kyros' intention was for the fires to continue until all the forbidden knowledge in the library was gone, but with the Chorus trying to save said knowledge to strengthen themselves in the war she had no option but to take a more hands on approach, eventually finding the last remaining item called the Silent Archive - a magic scroll that knew the answers to almost everything.

Well, that looks like a trap.

Despite strict orders to destroy everything, she opts to take the powerful artifact for herself. As soon as she leaves the library the Edict of Fire ends, as all the forbidden knowledge within is gone. While the Disfavored are easily fooled about its destruction, her crime does not go unnoticed by the Archon of Shadows, Bleden Mark, who is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Insight: When fighting people I normally go for two handers and mages first, followed by the weaker scout types and leave the tanks for last. Regular bane wise, I find the red ones scarier than the blue so I always burst them down first. It's all about enemy DPS mitigation.

Tyranny: Storm Breaker

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the artifact in hand, Lucia and Barik manage to pierce the endless storm and with a contingent of Disfavoured, attack the hated lord of Sentinel Stand. This is because said lord is directly tied to the Edict of Storms, where it proclaims "Let Our storm rage until the last blade be broken, or the line of Regent falls".

The artifact magically farts the storm away.

The selfish bastard who let his people suffer is easily dealt with, but as the storm persists after his death the Disfavored are thrown a nice curve ball. His prisoner, the daughter of their leader, Archon Graven Ashe, had fallen in love with the lord's now also deceased son and bore child. While this was a shock to the squadron, Lucia didn't flinch.

She killed the mother, who clearly was now a traitor, and ordered Barik to prove his loyalty by killing the baby. With heavy reluctance he complied, ending the Edict of Storms once proclaimed by Shelumu that bound him to his armor. This also ended Graven Ashe's trust of Barik - who promptly renounced him from his army and exiled him into the wastes.

Elsewhere Shelumu continued to explore the Old Walls, finding more spires to awaken and even a whole colony of refugees. Unfortunately for them, they were doing experiments with captive beastmen so Shelumu let the bane take them all, save for the one beast woman he could save called Kills-in-Shadow.

Insight: Obviously there's a non child murdering loop hole option here. Now is a good time to mention Lore is the highest required skill to have more options during dialogue sequences so wizardly types might get more options than fighters. Also, yeah, I don't think you can get Ashe to renounce Barik so early in real even with this evil act. :P

Friday 7 May 2021

Tyranny: The Bane

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With the armies back in their respective camps, Tunon summons both Shelumu and Lucia to his court for a debriefing all while under the watchful eye of the executor, Bleden Mark, Archon of Shadows. When questioned why he sided with the rebels, Shelumu argues that peaceful subjugation is better than outright conquest - a concept Tunon agrees with, thus the Archon of Justice allows him to continue helping them, for now.

Tunon then tasks the pair with investigating both Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat for any broken laws they or their forces have committed before sending them on their way with Lucia travelling to Sentinel Stand to help the Disfavored reinforce their base there while Shelumu heads to Lethian's Crossing to secure supplies for the rebellion.

In the small town Shelumu encounters Sirin, the Archon of Song, who has defected and is hiding from the chorus. It is an easy task to convince her to join his party as they end up exploring the nearby Old Walls - ancient structures that normally are forbidden by law to enter, mainly because they house magical "spirits" known as the bane. While doing so, Shelumu manages to activate a second spire.

Any time you see a bubble, it means boss fight!

At the same time, Lucia also deals with the bane in walls that have been breached by the Edict of Storms in an effort to claim an artifact that will help break the edict once and for all.

The Old Walls are the combat orientated "dungeon" section of the game with a small set of puzzles while the overland areas are mostly dialogue choices peppered with optional combats. So yes, there is A LOT of reading in this game!

Thursday 6 May 2021

Tyranny: The Battle for Ascension

[Part of the Cursed story line]

In a drastic move - Eb, one of the leaders of the rebellion, secretly met with Shelumu and asked him to join their cause. Having heard the edict, the rebels believe that by swearing fealty to Shelumu and letting him take their base of Ascension Hall will cancel it out. Shelumu agrees to this, though it does mean now requiring to defend the hall against both Graven Ashe's Disfavoured and Nerat's Scarlet Chorus.

Fortunately, their chances are greatly increased as the two archons declare war on each other the night before he attack which results in both sides fighting each other during the siege! Outside the walls Lucia and Barik join the Disfavored to face down Nerat's song bird, Sirin, the 15 year old Archon of Song whose ability is to control the minds of others. Despite this, they soundly defeat her and force her to retreat in humiliation.

Without that dampener Sirin is probably the strongest Archon.

It is the Scarlet Chorus who manage to enter the keep and with their impressive numbers manage to take Lantry down and spirit him away from the battle. Shelumu, Eb, Verse and the remaining rebels fight off the horde and Shelumu claims Ascension Hall for himself. This breaks the edict and somehow also awakens the ancient spire above them with magical light!

Both the armies of the Disfavoured and the Scarlet Chorus scatter at this sight, but it does not save old Lantry who is taken back to the main Scarlet camp in the Stone Sea and devoured by the Voices of Nerat.

Insight: This is Lantry's scripted death if you don't save him from the Chorus Camp. While he is a "sage" I used him more as a skirmisher/warrior as he can be decent with a sword. Just be sure to give him a throwing weapon too so that you can make use of his quill throwing skill tree.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

GTFO: R5A2 - Recollect (Normal)

Retrieving Hi-Sec cargo is the goal this time around and our loadout is almost the same: DL with the Double-tap Hanaway, Sniper and mines, I still have the Raptus, HEL Gun and c-foam while Jim brings Burst Rifle (which he disliked), a Hel Sniper and sniper sentry.

This isn't such a big map so just push forward to find the bulkhead key and controls then unlock the "main mission" one and face a class II cluster alarm. I don't think we even bothered setting up for this one and just fought well. Through the door is a most important central chamber... with those yucky sac things on the roof. There's also a scout in here so we bop a few sleepers quietly before DL snipes the thing, and we use the long straight firing position back through the bulkhead door to hold the rest.

With the objective behind a key-locked door, we make use of the terminal to pick the correct blood door to open next. DL puts double mines pointing into the door and I open it, and we all fall back to the previous firing position to handle the wave which includes a pair of barrage hybrids.

Now, because we're not keen on getting a scout respawn in the central chamber I opt to stay inside to see the respawn mechanics while DL and Jim proceed through the blood door to find the key - luring things back to my line of sight if things go loud. DL swaps out with me when he runs low on ammo, and nothing respawns.

Key in hand its time to open up the locked door for a regular non-alarm scan into a big dark room. Can't have someone hang back in the central chamber here since there's a class III cluster alarm door to unlock so we all go in, clear, and prep the single bridge with the sniper sentry facing inwards, followed by all my cfoam, followed by rows of mines. In addition, Jim and DL use their sniper rifles from numerous vantage points here which actually results in an easy hold.

Once done, DL waits back in the central chamber where nothing has respawned while Jim and I continue to the objective room that holds a lot of gear. We hand that out before Jim picks up the cargo because as expected - this triggers an endless, but slow and light sleeper spawn. Thanks to DL camping the central chamber NOTHING RESPAWNS FROM THE SACS. So it is a pretty easy escort the cargo back to the entry site, hold and GTFO. Another first attempt win - huzzah!

Tuesday 4 May 2021

GTFO: R5A1 - Floodways (Normal)

The first map of Rundown 5 brings us to a zone of large hallways and rooms where we must end the shutdown by finding a particular terminal and entering the code "OVERRIDE_LOCKDOWN". Our loadout this time was as follows: DL with the new Double-tap Hanaway, Sniper and mines, Jim testing the Heavy SMG, Machinegun and sniper sentry and I brought the Raptus, HEL Gun and c-foam.

As the "tutorial" level, it is quite light on sleepers and is a great place to joust them. Also introduced are the annoying invincible ceiling sacs which is a new mechanic for this rundown. If you clear a room of sleepers with the sacs and move far enough away when you come back they will all be back too - so try to maximize your searching per zone.

Searching for what? Artifacts! Another new thing that counts for the whole team when someone finds a piece. You can equip up to three assembled ones that give you a one off boost for one mission which is a nice bonus I guess? You'll still mainly want the big three though: ammo, tools and health so use terminal pings for that.

Back to the mission, EAST is the correct direction to go and when in doubt always pick the door that leads to the highest letter value printed on the door. This will lead to a non-alarm team scan and eventually to a huge room with an unpowered security door whose generator is in the deep pit in the center of the room. Find the nearby cell and behold the first Class II cluster alarm of the mission.

With only one door in, this is a simple hold (even if the horde introduces a giant striker or two). Foam the door once (10 shots) and one mine is more than enough to clear the circles. After clearing the wave proceed through into Zone 63 where the objective terminal is which for us is guarded by a scout! DL sniped this one since we bopped the room already, but even if you goof this up just hold your nerve and JOUST as it won't be summoning more things than you've already beaten to this point.

Type in the code at the terminal and nothing bad happens. YAY! Now you just need to get to the forward extraction point all the way to the WEST of the map. Remember those ceiling sacs? Yep. You will probably run into things you've already killed. Just kill them again. It's the simplest solution. The security door that would have blocked your path (because we actually went West first LOL) will already by open so just calmly proceed through.

Only one more security scan is in your way and this one if a class III cluster that has three doors in. We cfoam grenaded two and I foamed the third while DL mined all (pointing the laser light into the door is preferable). Also we rightly guessed that the horde arrives from the smaller door downstairs, so Jim's turret is placed in the hallway and I'm on door duty (continuous cfoam of the door) while the other two scramble for circles.

Once done we held the top of the stairs to kill... one little sleeper? GTFO. DL's mine and Jim's turret got everything else. The forward extraction spot is just beyond the door, and despite setting up for a final zerg rush nothing came once we stepped in so it was a really easy end to a pretty easy mission, won on the first go. We've improved a lot! Note this also already unlocks the B level for this rundown.

Monday 3 May 2021

Tyranny: A True Monster

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Before departing the camp, each Fatebinder was assigned a body guard. Barik, an elite Disfavored soldier who had become fused with his armor when he was hit by the Edict of Storms (previously proclaimed by Shelumu) understandably chose to go with Lucia.

Verse, a murderous fury of the Scarlet Chorus, volunteered to be Shelumu's escort and took him to their side of the camp. While Graven Ashe's Disfavored elites were few, well equipped and orderly this place was teeming with warriors, and with filth, chaos and barbarism - much like their leader, the Voices of Nerat.  

While there Shelumu went out of his way to rescue the sage Lantry, from execution as well since the old man had ties to the rebellion. In trying to avert the loss of life, Shelumu slowly helped the rebels by letting them escape the advancing armies and treating them with dignity.

I also like that you can sneak past enemies instead of having to fight everyone.

Elsewhere Lucia mostly killed every rebel she could get her hands on (the Disfavoured way), with only few occasions of capturing some for the Scarlet Chorus and their "Join or Die" motto. In reality some died and joined anyway, since the Voices of Nerat's ability as the Archon of Secrets is simply to devour people to gain their skills and knowledge. That is a true monster.

Insight: It is actually hard to unintentionally lose party members through combat (or traps) in this game since often times if they die it most likely means you are about to lose the battle you are in anyway. And since any battle loss is an immediate Game Over, you are pretty much required to load the save and do better or come back later with more XP/Gear. :P

Sunday 2 May 2021

Tyranny: The Fatebinders

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With Kyros' power extending across the continent, Shelumu took it upon himself to learn how the overlord's magical "Edicts" worked by gaining employment under Tunon, the Archon of Justice, as a Fatebinder - those chosen to read out these powerful words.

After years of service, he now stood in the commanders tent in Vendrien's Well as he finished reading out the second of Kyros' edicts he ever proclaimed.

"...Unless Our representative holds the Hall of Ascension on Our Day of Swords, all in the valley of Vendrien's Well shall perish."

These words shook those present to the core and forced the Graven Ashe, the Archon of War and his rival the Voices of Nerat, Archon of Secrets to stop squabbling among themselves and to prepare their forces to attack one of the last remaining rebel strongholds.

Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat.

Only fellow Fatebinder Lucia wasn't taken a back, instead wearing a wry smile on her lips as she twisted her dark locks around a finger. Shelumu always thought there was something wrong with the girl, and that made her dangerous.

Insight: As this story will be an amalgamation of two playthroughs I had expect there to be a lot of artistic / dramatic license to it! Well, more than usual anyway. And yes, I liked it that much to play through twice! ;)

Saturday 1 May 2021

The Frankenstein Chronicles

Raising the dead because they can.

The discovery of a composite corpse (one made of many people) at an ill opportune time for the scientific community prompts an secret investigation by John Marlott (Sean Bean) to track down where this thing came from and more to the point: who made it.

Decent cast, questionable plot.

The suspect list is long and the detectives aren't very good, especially since Marlott suffers from tedious hallucinations at least then percent of the time. This makes for some slow viewing at times in this two season show but its not terrible. The plot goes to interesting places but ends leaving more questions than answers. Not one I'd really recommend unless you are a Sean Bean fan, I give it two and a half Galvanists out of five.