GW2 Heart of Thorns release – the free to play perspective

GW2 has had the mother of all updates. The expansion, Hearth of Thorns, has been released and alongside that the free base game has had a major update.

I’ve not brought the Heart of Thorns expansion personally. I’ve only just been getting in to GW2 again recently, but the stuff on offer in the expansion didn’t appeal to me all that much. That’s where I stand at the moment, but it doesn’t mean to say that I won’t ever buy it though!

Why I Game has written up a great post about the fun he’s been having since the expansion released. I’d recommend a read for the ins and outs of how the expansion plays!

All in all, the multiple releases have definitely gone down incredibly successfully when you look at it technically. It also coincided with the seasonal Halloween stuff being dropped, which in itself is a big patch. That there haven’t been any major bugs or crashes is a major technical success for the developers.

I’ve not purchased the expansion though, so I’ve been playing in the good ol’ free to play base game. Here’s my perspective on the changes that’ll affect me.

One of the first things that really caught my attention was the reduction in Dungeon rewards. They’ve reduced the experience and gold gained from completing a dungeon by 1/3, when dungeons had already been hit by previous nerfs. I saw some conspiracy theories out there that this is all part of a scheme from Arena Net to phase out dungeons. Whilst I’m not going to go fully tin-foil hat on this change, I think it will inevitably lead to the numbers of players doing dungeons phasing out into nothingness, which is a shame – I’ve always enjoyed the GW2 dungeons.


Player versus Player got some very overdue attention as well. There’s a league, a new reward structure and a whole new gameplay mode. Sadly though, the PvP scene on GW2 is long dead, and I very much doubt, even if these changes are really good in practice (I admittedly haven’t tried them out personally), that there’s much chance of resurrecting it.

For me, the real big changes have been with World versus World. I’ve basically become a wvw’er since coming back to GW2. The borderlands were always favourite maps of mine, but they’ve now been replaced with 3 enormous maps themed on the new expansion.

I’ve got a few concerns with the new borderlands maps. Firstly, there’s a lot of PvE stuff thrown in there, some of which is even expansion specific. Why put PvE stuff that’s designed for people with the expansion into the free to play WvW? That doesn’t make too much sense to me.

I’m also concerned by the size of the maps – they are absolutely huge. I play on Seafarer’s Rest – a sever at the top end of the European rankings. As far as servers go, we’re not the busiest, but we fill WvW better than the majority of servers. In the time I’ve played on the new borderlands maps over the past two days we were rattling around and hardly ever saw the enemies. That’s not good for WvW! I worry that lower tiered servers will struggle to put a serious forces into even one of the new borderlands, which will end up skewing the rankings further towards the more populated servers instead of the more skilful servers.


That aside, I do quite like the design of the new borderlands. They look different from anything else I’ve seen in GW2, but on the whole I like it. I just wished they were smaller, and with less PvE clutter!

My favourite WvW map is the Edge of the Mists. It’s not very popular with most hardcore wvw’ers, but I like the variety of it. As the Edge of the Mists is the only map where players are drawn from a jumble of all the servers, it’s almost always guaranteed to have people in it and there’ll almost always be a different experience when you play. Let’s face it, hardcore WvW can sometimes be incredibly dull, and I find EOTM far less so personally.

EOTM has been hit with a major nerf in this update. The experience and loot drops have been reduced massively, which to be fair they were disproportionately higher than the other WvW maps. My main problem with this, though, is that EOTM was also usually quite busy with people levelling characters up, so I’m worried that this nerf will drive EOTM player numbers right down. Ultimately though, I really just wished that rather than hammering the EOTM players with a reward nerf, they’d just upped the rewards for the other WvW maps.


Arena Net have a strong tendency to nerf to balance gameplay – and they’ve done it both with dungeons and the EOTM with this update. I understand the technical need, but I really think as far as gameplay goes it would have been better to bump the rewards up elsewhere rather than punishing a certain group of players.

All in all, I’m a bit disappointed so far by the changes made by the update to the free to play game.

Most of all, I’ve been surprised to see that next to none of the players I used to play with have come back. None of the three guilds I was a member of have any active members other than me any more (and one was once a pretty active one of 40/50 people). My friends list remains a sea of greyed out names. That’s sad, but it’s also a way that the expansion hasn’t been successful. So far, old players who have been leaving in their droves previously haven’t been enticed back by any of these changes. It’s still very early days to judge that, but so far it’s a little concerning.

Digital Salad –


Returning to Guild Wars 2

I’d been tempted to load up GW2 ever since I got my new pc back in January. The game had lost its charm for me a while back, and nothing that had happened since had really been any draw for me. I was envisioning a quick load in to remind myself of my beloved characters and see them in fancy graphics. Turns out, it didn’t quite go that way.


It’d been pretty much 2 years since I’d last loaded in to GW2. What should’ve been an age away, where I was some sort of retro throwback totally out of the loop hasn’t really been the case. I’m actually grateful for that, but I can see why it’s driven older players away in their droves.

I think GW2 is an MMO that survives on quite high player turn over, and the recent switch to Free To Play fits with that. People sign up, want their characters to look cool so spend some real money and then it doesn’t really matter if they drop it because you’ve made your money. The visuals remain stunning, and plenty enough to keep new players coming for now.


How’ve I been finding GW2 to play though?

Well, I’m taking it easy. Back in the days where I played it pretty non-stop for a little over a year from release, I racked up well over 1000 hours. That’s an immense amount of time to put into it, but it didn’t feel like it at the time. I had a lot of spare free time and a lot of good real life and online friends who I shared the experience of GW2 with (heck, I even made some really great new online friends through GW2 as well!)

GW2 is a totally different experience for me now. No-one I know plays anymore. In fact, of the dozens of friends on my friends list from back then, only one still plays and I only faintly knew him as he was a well known player across our server. So, it’s more of a solitary experience now.

I also really, really, really don’t have the same kind of spare free time I had back in the early days of GW2.

All of this means that I’ve been approaching GW2 in a totally different way. I’ve been playing in hour chunks roughly every day, so a little and often approach, and making sure to do whatever I fancy doing.


At the moment I’m mainly focusing on levelling up my re-rolled necromancer. My little evil asura, called Obitex, is fast levelling up thanks to the vastly increased drops of ‘Tomes of Knowledge’ (essentially a free level up). It also doesn’t seem as much of a grind if I pop on and get a level once a night.

I’m really enjoying playing some Edge of the Mists World vs World. Often it’s just a glorified champion train (which is great for levelling up) but just when you get settled into the swing of it there’ll be one server that decides to make a stand to spice things up. So far, I’m enjoying the pace of it and I’m hoping to finally get round to saving up enough money to buy a commander tag so I can lead groups of my own in World vs World.

Digital Salad –

Quick Update

I’ve been appallingly bad at blogging over the past couple of months. What can I say, life gets busy some times!

In the world of all things Digital Salad, I’ve been promoted at work. I’m now officially a Manager in charge of a team. Not bad at the tender age of 24, but now it’s the hard work of actually proving I can do it!

giphy (12)

Work hasn’t been the only thing I’ve been up to though. Although I’ve got the time to game, and even the money to put into it if I wanted to, I’ve been more and more of a ‘filthy’ casual gamer recently. I’m still in a bit of a transition with my gaming, but a quick run down of what’s been happening:

  1. I uninstalled GTA V pretty spontaneously back in August and haven’t looked back since. I took a hard look at whether I was actually having fun and decided it was far from it! Not to say it’s not a good game, I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I uninstalled it and haven’t looked back, I’ve not wanted to play it for even a second since – which is far less regrets that I thought I’d have about it.
  2. Guild Wars 2 has made a come back! I’ve reinstalled it and been playing it for the first time in two years. Not that much has changed and I’m really enjoying taking it easy and playing a little bit here and there. giphy (1)
  3. I’m also really looking forward to the full release of Prison Architect this Tuesday. I’ve been following the game in alpha for ages and it’s great to see it finally reach the finish line. I’m looking forward to setting up a new prison full of gangs and (most likely) a lot of chaos.
  4. We’ve also invested in a PS4. A little late to the party, but better late than never! We’ve been really enjoying getting back on to the console gaming train. In particular we’ve been enjoying Assassin’s Creed Unity, which although rightly ridiculed for being so buggy on release, is without a doubt the most fun Assassins Creed game to date if you ask me. I’m really enjoying powering through it, and the multiplayer is even quite fun!
  5. Now that we have a PS4 I’ve also been looking into the many games which are slated for release prior to christmas. I’m definitely interested in Assassins Creed Syndicate and Star Wars Battlefront, as well as some others, but I’m going to wait and see how they’re received on release. I’m a patient gamer these days! giphy (2)

That’s the run down of my gaming, but I’ve been up to far more besides! I’ve been reading Joe Abercrombie’s first book The Blade Itself. I originally discovered the series from the stand-alone sequel The Heroes – which is one of my favourite books ever. I thought it would be a good idea to read some more of Abercrombie’s stuff and I’ve not regretted it at all – I love Abercrombie’s fantasy worlds. I’m hoping to do a review once I’ve finished it.

I’ve also been watching Star Trek Deep Space 9 on DVD. I’ve blogged before about my love of Star Trek The Next Generation since childhood. Aside from TNG I’ve only watched the occasional episode of other series in the canon, so I’ve set to watching Deep Space 9. It’s no Next Generation, and Sisko is no Picard, but its been fun. I’m also hoping to do a blog post about my thoughts on Deep Space 9 once I’ve finished it as well! 
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Last but not least, Life As A Digital Salad has a new look which I’m excited about! Hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me soon.

Digital Salad –

Salad Saturday Screenshot [18]

This week I’m going back to an old old favourite, Guild Wars 2.


The last screenshot I took on GW2, now well over a year ago. How time flies!

I wanted to share my last screenshot because it’s also a timely reminder. With the GW2 expansion around the corner (that one that they promised they’d never do!) I’ve been mulling over whether it would be enough to drag me back.

Not that they’ve released that many details, or even the price, of the Heart of Thorns expansion yet, but there just simply isn’t anywhere near enough to bring me back to GW2. I potentially have the time in my evening schedule after work to fit GW2 in if I really wanted to, it’s not that. I’ve just lost touch with GW2 it’s been that long.

Its a nice feeling to look back at the screenshots of all the good times I had on the game, with a really great group of people. I met some fantastic gaming friends through GW2. None of them play it any more though, and as much as I enjoy looking back at the game; that’s a world apart from enjoying playing it again – learning the revolutionised stat system from scratch and all the associated rubbish of re-specialising your equipment attunements, etc, etc.

I look back at Ingelix, my little Asuran warrior in the picture above, fondly. She was probably nearing the 10th warrior I created in the game, and the only one to ever make it past level 10. I never got on well with warriors before Ingelix, but I took her all the way to top level 80. It was my last level 80 I reached on the game before I stopped playing, and it wasn’t that long at all after I reached it that I stopped. I reached top level on every class but a Thief (never could get used to how they played) and I feel dearly for each and every one of them. I have the screenshots to remember them as they were – but they don’t belong in the GW2 of today. Here’s to the happy memories of the old Salad crew of GW2.

Digital Salad –

Returning with a catch-up

I’ve been away from blogging for nearly a month now – sorry! I’ve had stuff to blog about, more than usual really, I’ve just not been motivated to sit down and write. Bloggers-block maybe? I’m a bad person, but I hope to keep going now that I’ve started again.


First big update is that I have a new PC. A new PC that can handle all the games I want to on presentable graphics without major lag!!!

This is awesome news, although at the same time I have been going through a bit of a transition with my gaming habits, so I’ve not quite settled in to the new PC yet.

Playing Planetside 2 with friends, on graphics that don’t look like a orginal Xbox game, without lag is pretty novel.

Guild Wars 2

Biggest news since I’ve been away is that Guild Wars 2 – the game that “will probably never do an expansion” – is getting an expansion.

I’ve not played GW2 in months now, it totally lost any draw for me. I had loads to do – I hadn’t even technically finished the story although I had done all the missions at some point or another. It totally lost me, and everyone I know who played it as well bar a few.

Heart Of Thorns is coming up sometime relatively soon after the announcement a week ago.

Immediately I thought, it’s a tall order to get me back on to GW2. A quick look at some of the new changes didn’t seem to answer my fears well either. Even the big changes that went down positively with the community didn’t make me want to go back – it’s way too late getting on for 3 years after release.

After some time thinking about it, I really want to go back to GW2 and I want Heart Of Thorns to bring me back, but I just don’t know if it can when I’ve been away from the game for getting on for 1/3 of it’s life span so far. I’ll see what comes out closer to release date on that one.

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My gaming generally is in a bit of a transition phase. I can play loads of games that I’ve always wanted to now with the new PC, but a lot just aren’t all that exciting once I do play them. Maybe I’ve waited too long to play them?

I still play a relatively small group of games that I’ve always played. Although, I have recently been enjoying Red Orchestra 2 and it’s twin Rising Storm. I realised I probably need to tone down how much I play that though when I ranked highest in a match – a good sign I’m getting a little too in to it even if that was a lucky fluke that time.

Other new gaming is Saints Row 4, which I’ve been playing with CakeBoxFox co-op. We love co-op games, and SR4 really delivers, and is a really fun game to boot. It’s not a great game, but a fun and silly one.

Saints Row divides gamers. I, like most of the SR fanbase, think that SR2 was the pinnacle so far. SR3 was my first ever pre-order and it disappointed me massively. I sold it on after racing through it out of duty. Now that we’ve hit on SR4 on our co-op questing, I think I understand what they were doing with SR3 and 4 more.

I appreciate the silliness, way over emphasised at times, and the tongue in cheek comedy of it all. Too many games are too serious, and I now realise I like SR4 and 3 now because I want an escape when I game – want to be silly and have fun.

Here’s CakeBoxFox and I messing about on SR4:

That’s it for the update now though, I don’t want to swamp with too much in one big block. I hope to be updating again soon, and hopefully about more than just gaming!

Digital Salad –

Salad Saturday Screen [2]

I made a promise of a new weekly feature and I totally intend to keep up with it. If I skip one its probably just because I forget, so a friendly reminder is probably always good! Without further ado though, this week’s screenshot.


An old screenshot from Guild Wars 2 this week.

It’s been quite a while since I last played Guild Wars 2, and as yet no updates have piqued my interest enough to pull me back. This screenshot was one of the last dozen or so before I stopped playing the game.

I title it “success” – only somewhat ironically.

The result of a failed attempt to retake Lion’s Arch during the Battle for Lion’s Arch living story released back in March (how time flies!). This screenshot brings back both the good and the bad of Guild Wars 2.

There’s the good of playing with friends in a big epic battle to defend the city of Lion’s Arch.

Then there’s failing because coordination was never good between players on Guild Wars 2.

Most of all though, there’s the memory of LAAAAAAAG. Guild Wars 2 was certainly never a very well optomised game; and with the amount of big flashy effects in a big battle, you’re lucky to be getting even a couple of frames per second. It’s probably the main reason coordination was a bit of a problem at times to be honest.

That’s it for this week’s Salad Saturday Screen – be sure to check next week’s!

Digital Salad –

Looking Back At Guild Wars 2

It seems an age since I last booted up Guild Wars 2. It’s been a good 4/5 months since I uninstalled it and I’ve never really been strongly driven to ever put it back on and log back in. I thought it’d be interesting to have a think about what I feel about the game now that it’s gone and untouched.


There are one or two things I miss about Guild Wars 2.

In the months since I last played nothing big has changed and pretty much none of the gripes which eventually put me off have been ironed out. If anything the new introductions since I left have only pushed me away more. Stopping playing Guild Wars when I did was a good choice, it had essentially reached the point where the fun had finally evaporated to be replaced by a grindy mush.

Going off Guild Wars 2 was just the start of a big change in my gaming habits though.

Change is good
Change is good and natural

I have literally one game for my Xbox 360 – GTA IV. Once that comes out on PC I will most likely be picking it up on there and enjoying GTA Online for the first time.

That said, even my PC gaming has changed. What was once dominated by GW2 is now the occasional hour on a Mount & Blade mod or Prison Architect every few days. The only game I’m really wanting on PC (apart from GTA IV) is Spintires; which isn’t really anything to shout about (although I do think is fantastic!).

My Nintendo 3DS is my current saving grace where gaming is concerned. I’ve developed a love of Pokemon and I’m already looking forward to Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire as I near the end of Y. There’s loads of other games on the 3DS which I hope to pick up at some point as well, such as Fantasy Life.

The most important reason I’ve been getting into the 3DS is the ‘pick up and play’ factor. The DS genre of game prides itself not only on being totally portable, so you can play wherever, but is more than happy for you to spend a couple of minutes tinkering while you’re on the bus to work as just one example. I like that, its the kind of gaming that fits really well around my life.

There’s another thing with the DS though, that the games are generally pretty good natured. Its more of a kids console some would say I guess. I would rather say its just different. Amongst the gloom and doom of many next generation releases, I know I’d rather be playing a happy game.


The end of Guild Wars 2 for me was pretty much the beginning of a pretty big change in me. What I like has changed, and GW2 was just the start of that. Change is good and natural, and I don’t regret it for a moment. Change can be difficult though and I’m still trying to work out exactly what I do and don’t like when it comes to gaming and other such things. I’m still trying to find the ways that I most enjoy spending my precious spare time.

What shocks me the most though is that I’m emotional about GW2.

I wouldn’t go back to it, but I miss it. It was a big part of my [gaming] life for a year or two. I created characters that I poured hundreds of hours into and knew like good friends. I spent hours with really good real life friends, and made a whole host of new ones. I miss those days on an emotional level. That’s a testament to the quality of time I spent on GW2, but not a good advert for going back. That’s a pretty rare thing for any media, and is fascinating in that way.

To a certain extent GW2 has meant that I can’t play MMOs, at least for now, because they can’t live up to that emotional connection I had with my Digital Salads. Regardless of how good a game might be, mental emotions stop me enjoying it; which does suck!

For now though, here’s to good times gone and the good times in a new present and future.

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Digital Salad –

Digital Salad: Guild Wars 2 Ending

I promised myself that I was going to look at Guild Wars 2 with a critical eye today. Today is reward day, the end of the 2014 Spring Tournament in World Versus World – the perfect time to sit back and contemplate my feelings about a game I used to love and now hardly play at all. What went wrong with Guild Wars 2? Here’s the Digital Salad thoughts.


Well, true to my promise I have had a think about Guild Wars 2.

After months of knowing exactly when the Tournament would end, and in the case of Europe, weeks of notice of which server was going to win, the reward chests have been a farce. A lucky few players have got them, many players have got the wrong ones and others, like me, haven’t got one at all. Arena Net; you don’t make it easy to like you guys!

So, I haven’t got the reward – the one thing I was waiting on to wonder if it would bring me back. That said, while I was logging in to check whether I had received my shinies in the post I decided to give the game another go. I thought some World Versus World would be ideal, maybe it could win me back over.

This Is Where I'd Put My Achievement Chest If I Had One! (thanks to CakeBoxFox for the picture)
This Is Where I’d Put My Achievement Chest If I Had One! (thanks to CakeBoxFox for the picture)

Every single borderland was empty, including the usually crammed full Eternal Battleground. I guess there’s a bit of exhaustion at the end of the Tournament, but on a Friday night I would expect a queue of at least 100 players on the Eternal Battleground a few months ago on a Friday night.

Maybe they’re all busy with the Living World content, but various forums suggest that those areas are pretty empty at the moment – the Queen’s Gauntlet was certainly dead when I poked my head in to check. I don’t know where everyone has gone, but it seems that player numbers are down again – at least at the moment. So, I logged in to the Eternal Battleground.

I hoped on the commander tag train and followed it for one tower siege, a small attack from the rear as we entered the tower and it was done. Tower captured in 2mins with a handful of enemy casualties and one bag of meh loot.

I felt absolutely no joy in that siege at all. I used to enjoy it, but it was so similar from countless other sieges I have done before that I just gave up after that. Perhaps a very limited taster of the current state of Guild Wars 2, but it speaks volumes more about my mindset for the game.



A picture of the original Digital Salad, post make-over, waving goodbye (sorry about the awful graphics – the PC hasn’t been well recently!). I think it most likely is goodbye. Poor old Digital Salad had his in-game birthday almost 6 months ago now, and since then I’ve used only 4 hours of his 24hrs in-game booster. I don’t think he’ll ever use the other 20hrs, and it shows just how little I’ve been playing.

Even if I had got the achievement chest this evening I would have to wait until the end of next week to spent the tokens they’d just rewarded me. The tokens just aren’t enough to keep me waiting that long, there are too many other things I would rather do than playing Guild Wars 2 now.

That is partly the game becoming stale, at least for me, but it’s also because I’ve changed. I am no longer the same person I was when I first started playing Guild Wars 2 at launch 2 years ago, I’ve changed in many many ways – so maybe I’m not right for Guild Wars 2 either.

It’s not you Guild Wars, its me. 

Well maybe not quite like that, its more a mutual thing, but for now the Digital Salad is no longer a Guild Wars 2 Salad.


 Digital Salad –






Digital Salad Gaming Update

Since my last post, explaining why I decided to uninstall Wargame: Red Dragon despite and perhaps even slightly because I had been spending hours on it fruitlessly, I have been busy! So I am long overdue an update to the followers of all things Digital Salad.


Guild Wars 2

The first thing I need to update is Guild Wars 2. I had promised myself that the patch on May 20th would be make or break. I’ve hardly touched the game since I hit level 80 on my final alt, I’ve had no drive to play it at all.

After the end of the Living Story there hasn’t been much content released at all, most likely because the developers at Arena Net have been focusing on their big release in China. Its a big market that they want to make a big splash in, that’s perfectly understandable. That said, it almost feels as if they’d like to replace the original player base with the new Chinese market.

Besides the lack of new content, the second World Versus World tournament season is nearing its end. In the EU, my server, Seafarer’s Rest has won with a little over a week left to go. There’s no way that any other server can match the straight winning score that Seafarer’s has managed to chalk up.

Battles in EOTM can occasionally surprise you
Even EOTM has grown dull now

The thing is, this season has been incredibly dull. I loved playing last season and had some fantastic experiences despite our abysmal performance that time around. This time, its been more of a repetitive zerg train for weeks and weeks, and that’s just not dragged me back into the game the way I thought it would. I’ll probably log back in for the achievement chest on May 30th at the end of the season, and that’ll be it.

The latest patch to GW2, a re-release of the Queen’s Gauntlet and Zephyr Sanctum are both releases I did pretty much to death the first time round. Sadly, as well, many of the best aspects of these releases the first time round have been viciously nerfed, so much so that the potentially heaving Queen’s Gauntlet – an experience I loved first time round – is already pretty much deserted for most players most of the time.

Frankly, I will stand by the promise I made to myself a few weeks ago. This is make or break time for GW2, and its looking like it’ll be coming off my computer sometime in the near future. I will log in on May 30th for the WvW season chest, and that will be the day I make the decision. Will GW2 win me back? It will definitely be difficult to leave my Salads behind.



Hearthstone is still creating a bit of a buzz, so I thought I would check it out and see what the fuss was all about.

I downloaded and installed the game (surprisingly fast actually) and instantly saw why so many have fallen for the game so much. It is a really beautifully made game with a lot of care and attention going into its design. Add to that the, these days pretty novel, card style of play and you have a real recipe for success from Blizzard.

I love the game, but at the same time I’ve been really struggling with it. I know its just me, but I can’t get a deck to work on any of the professions. I’ve had some invaluable help from friends with building my deck, but I’m still not mastering what I’m finding a pretty steep learning curve of how I actually need to play that deck.

I can’t fault the game for that for one second; it is fantastic and many players probably get into far easier than I do. It’s just denting my enthusiasm for it a little. I also feel that the decks aren’t quite as flexible as I would like, with a little more viable build variety being a definitely area that I would like to see Blizzard work on. Otherwise, Hearthstone is definitely a really great game, I’d probably say one of the best of 2014 so far, and amazingly free to play!

Diablo 3


Recently, fantastic flatmate CakeBoxFox was bought a copy of Diablo 3 for the Xbox 360 and we’ve been playing it co-op as a duo a fair amount for the past week or so.

We are definitely a bit behind the times with Diablo 3 but we had been prevaricating over whether to buy it or not for a while. Being bought it was the perfect kick start we needed; and we’ve been loving it!

I cannot recommend Diablo 3 enough. I’ve been playing as a very aggressive style Monk, with Fox supporting me with a back line minion master Witch Doctor. Together we’re a pretty unstoppable force – so far at least! I definitely enjoy the teleporting mayhem that ensues in a fight as a Monk, and I know that Fox is enjoying the Witch Doctor very much as well. Diablo 3 definitely seems to cater for all profession preferences and play styles.

Most of all, besides the fantastic sofa co-op, something so sadly lacking from so many modern video games, Diablo 3 is the perfect RPG for both Fox and I. The setting is good, with a nicely rendered top down view, but most of all its the mobs that make Diablo 3 a winner for me. Diablo 3 has good bosses that challenge you as well as huge mobs to make the Dynasty Warriors series proud; a perfect balance which is incredibly satisfying when you triumph over everything a dungeon throws at you!

A screenshot from the PC version of Diablo 3. Fights often get this crazy, and they are amazing fun when they do.
A screenshot from the PC version of Diablo 3. Fights often get this crazy, and they are amazing fun when they do.

The story of Diablo 3 is nothing special, but well done. Its enough to carry the game, and its the gameplay which makes it really shine out – and that’s the main reason I recommend it so highly.



Sorry for the capitals, but that’s how the game is spelt and illustrates a simplistic brutality at the very heart of this classic indie gaming offering.

I’ve had DEFCON for quite a few years, but only recently got back in to it. The game is essentially the screenshot above. You are randomly assigned a  zone on a stylish 1980s wargaming style world map, asked to place your nuclear silos and anti-missile batteries – then you wait as the clock ticks down to nuclear armageddon.

DEFCON is amazing, not only as a game but as a social statement. You can honestly have great fun, as strange as that may seem, triumphing over all in the nuclear exchange that inevitable happens in every DEFCON match – a brutally short 5 minutes or so usually. The gameplay is fast, simple and effective – all of which feed in to its brilliance.

You sit there, potentially as the victor, having killed billions around the world. It doesn’t matter though the game shouts to you; you killed more of the enemy than your people!

Then it shows you the statistics, and makes you sit and look at the destroyed cities of your homeland. Moscow may well be leveled, but London and Washington are too. Your people are dead, while you sit comfortably in your Cold War bunker directing it all on your retro computer monitor. This is how real nuclear war plays out, on a screen in a bunker somewhere detached from the reality of what “1 million dead in Moscow” means.

As far as social statements go, and political ones too, I don’t think they come stronger in video gaming format than DEFCON. It doesn’t ram any message down your throat – it just shows you exactly what nuclear warfare is in stark brilliance.

There are no winners in nuclear war as they like to say, and you really realise how much that is true with DEFCON. The game feels brutal, and that’s because it is. That’s it main theme, clinical brutality – exactly what nuclear warfare is. It feels wrong, it feels horrible and that is the really important message that DEFCON makes.

Play DEFCON, I really do recommend it. Not only is it a really well made game, but for the important message it makes it is worth the download (the trial version you can get for free off their website is essentially the full version, so just get that for free!).


Quite a long post updating you on what I’ve been up to gaming-wise recently there, from the ups of DEFCON and Diablo and the downs of GW2 and Wargame: Red Dragon. All sorts of other exciting things have been going on as well which would be far too much to include here, so I hope to update you on other happenings soon!



Digital Salad –

Digital Salad: Guild Wars 2 Update

Its been a while since I last blogged about Guild Wars 2, and much as changed in the Digital Salad digital realm since then! So, I thought it was long overdue that I gave a recap on everything I’ve been up to GW2 related.

Ingelix holding her Charrzooka backwards - don't ask why!
Ingelix holding her Charrzooka backwards – don’t ask why!

I made it!

My Asura Warrior Ingelix has hit the level cap of level 80.

Its taken a lot of hard work, much of which I must admit was in the Edge Of The Mists for the easy experience on the Champion train. That said, I really enjoyed EOTM with her, and not just for the easy experience. I still find it to be a really happy medium between the opposing forces of PvE and hardcore WvW.

I’ve now kitted Ingelix out exactly how I wanted her stat wise and aesthetically, and I’m considering using up the spare bits I’ve got in the bank to make an ascended rifle for her.

An ascended rifle is potentially in the mix in the near future, here previewed previously on my now defunct Norn necro
An ascended rifle is potentially in the mix in the near future; here previewed previously on my now defunct Norn necro

Before any GW2 warriors laugh at me, yes I do run a Greatsword/Rifle build and really enjoy it! Its pretty much as opposite the current Hammer/Longbow meta-build as you can get, but it works for me and that’s what matters most to me.

I definitely went for a focus on survivability though, which is lacking on a lot of the mainstream beserker warrior builds of all types. My utilities are all focused on survivability, with invincibility skills, conditions cures and stability to keep me going and dishing out the awesome damage that you can get from a mighted up greatsword.

That’s probably far too much talk of warrior builds on GW2 though. There are plenty of very in depth threads for those who want to learn more where players have theory-crafted and calculated the good and the bad of each profession, so if you want to know more check out the game forums or the game reddit thread for those.

Aside from getting Ingelix up to level 80 and paying out a shed load of cash for the armour and weapons; I guess warriors being so popular inevitably makes the gear expensive, I haven’t done a great deal on GW2.

Edge Of The Mists has been my main staple when playing GW2 recently
Edge Of The Mists has been my main staple when playing GW2 recently

The Spring 2014 WvW tournament rumbles on, but I’ve found myself growing weary of it already, which is very odd when I enjoyed 2013’s tournament so much.

My server, Seafarer’s Rest look set to take the top spot in the EU gold league without much competition; potentially doing it without a single loss. Last season’s winners, Vizunah Square, have dropped even further down to 2nd last now.

I think I perhaps understand a little more about why Vizunah may have dropped, because being undefeated at the top is damn boring. I don’t want that to sound like I have a massive ego though, because as far as I see it we’re sitting at the top more by luck than anything else. We’re not the best, we’ve just had a good run of luck which has made us the current best. With Vizunah being undefeated last season I can understand why their server community disintegrated and their players went elsewhere in search of more fun.

I’m hardly going into the borderlands or eternal battleground these days because it is so boring. Its just not satisfying.

Battles in EOTM can occasionally surprise you
Battles in EOTM can occasionally surprise you

EOTM hasn’t been great on offering up epic battles, but there have been a few which went on for ages that were incredibly enjoyable. Moreover, the camaraderie was real in that fight. Without teamspeak and the angry commanders that seem to plague my server, you fight together on instincts. When that works, its an amazing thing and feels fantastic.

All in all though, now that Ingelix is level 80, I’m struggling for any real aim on GW2. That’s GW2’s main problem as a game; a lack of things to do at max level.

If I weren’t such an alt-aholic, I would’ve run out of things that interested me as soon as I got my first character to level 80 over a year ago. There’s nothing much to keep you invested, the game itself is not all that much fun in the long run. So, with my alts now essentially finished off, I have nothing left to do on GW2. I will pop on occasionally, but from now on I see my play time becoming very minimal, even if big changes occur and new areas open up. I think the magic has finally worn off for me, which is increadibly sad for a game and set of characters that I have invested so much in.


Digital Salad –