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! 
giphy (3)

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 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 –

Last Steps In Tamriel

If you couldn’t guess from the title, CakeBoxFox’s and my plunge into the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) has come to a halt. We’ve both decided to uninstall the game and unsubscribe from the fees after just 2 days of play. Here’s our reasons why we didn’t get on with ESO.


ESO seems to have been a let down for many players. Average Amazon user ratings put it at around 3/5 stars, and Metacritic puts user scores at around 6/10. Interestingly the professional critics were a bit kinder at an average 7/10. Those aren’t great numbers compared to other game averages.

ESO had such great potential, with a great deal of hype before the game released; there were huge expectations. Now, it’s reddit is quiet, there are hardly any blog posts dedicated to it and forums internet-wide are filled with people telling their stories of why they unsubscribed.

Here’s our story though, and its a little bit different from most.


I left the story in the last post with us feeling a little lost, and I think that’s the general feeling that runs through ESO. They made a design choice that they wanted to break from the tired old cliches of traditional MMOs. Unfortunately, whilst a good idea on face value, their decisions cost the game any direction. There is always a story, but it is always fleeting and almost pointless – you don’t get particularly invested despite some recurring characters that have no likeability at all.

That’s a relatively minor issue for us though. We could find our own fun, make our own stories, if only we were allowed to play together. ESO punishes players who want to play with friends. It will populate your version of the server with plenty of players, but you will dearly struggle to meet up and play with friends.


Where’s my Samwise?!

Like Frodo in the Lord Of The Rings I need my loyal sidekick beside me to make it to the end of the journey. For me, my Samwise is CakeBoxFox, and we had to work hard to make sure we could play together in ESO and even then certain points for solo only for no apparent reason.

ESO is an MMO. The thing is, if you can’t easily meet up and play with friends then its missing out on the heart of what it is to be a Massively Multiplayer Online game. Everyone needs their Samwise, but ESO punishes you for trying to play with friends.

ESO falling down on the MMO side of things would be fine if it was good at being an RPG – the second half of the bargain. But, it doesn’t do that very well either, which is probably what upset series fans the most. The combat is especially poor, with the skills leaving a lot to be desired.


The thing that really got us unsubscribing and uninstalling?

Well, the 24 hours it took to load the game up to playable spec should have been a give-away. The game ruined our computers. My older computer has not been enjoying having it loaded on at all. It could run the game relatively fine, but it ruined my hard drive. That said, both our PCs struggled incredibly with draw distance in game, with objects just randomly popping in constantly – but this seems to be a game thing rather than our PCs.

I’m reliably informed by CakeBoxFox that her sparklier PC went from a brilliant 8% fragmented to a shocking 21% fragmented from just ESO! Even her PC seemed to be a bit groggy from the updates littered all over its hard drive.


I think perhaps the worst bit of our ESO stint was that we had to force ourselves to play after our very first play. There’s something very wrong if you’re forcing yourself to play a game after the first play. Honestly, one night I was happy to just sit and do nothing much at all instead of play ESO.

We wanted to like ESO, and didn’t have most of the problems with it that many other players had. MMO fans hated it for its, not so great, innovations and Elder Scrolls fans hated it for its abandonment of all that made the Elder Scrolls a great RPG series. We’re neither of those categories and yet it still alienated us. It makes me wonder whether its too much to ask for a game that lets me play with friends and doesn’t ruin my PC?

Let me know your thoughts on ESO. Do you agree with what we thought of it?

Digital Salad –

First Steps In Tamriel

Flatmate CakeBoxFox recently blogged the trials and tribulations of Skyrim on the PC, which she managed to pick up for a bargain during the steam sale. Fox had been enjoying returning to Skyrim on the PC (we both used to own it on Xbox) and it had got me wistful about my time on the game in the past. So, we made the decision to take a bit of a plunge and delve into Elder Scrolls Online.


It wasn’t quite as spur of the moment as that sounds though. We’d been considering Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) since it was released back in April, just about the time that we were going off Guild Wars 2 – we wanted a replacement and ESO looked like it might be just that.

We’re pretty careful when it comes to new releases now, having been burnt with broken promises a few times, and the reviews for ESO have been pretty scathing – so we held off for a while. Our view on ESO beforehand was a little something like this:


Getting back into Skyrim tipped the scales though, as did the realisation that the game was only around £14 on Amazon these days (it really has dropped like a brick in price). We were still wary of it, being newbies to subscription MMOs, but it was time to take a chance and see whether ESO could wow us – we’re always game if we can play a game co-op!

So, the game was bought, and it soon arrived. Initial reactions were a little something like this from both of us:


It took the best part of a day to download and update so that we could play, that’s even on Fox’s pretty awesome new PC. My old not-so-reliable didn’t stand a chance. Second of all was the cheek of the game to ask us to pay for 30days subscription before it would give us our free 30days.


I wish I was kidding. That said it only takes the payment at the end of your “free” 30days, so you can technically cancel it. But, as newcomers to subscriptions, I would like to game to take it’s eyes off my wallet for a second. We were determined to give it a good go though, so we eventually got into the game and hit the opening cinematic.


Soooo, you’re breaking out of prison again. Just like in Skyrim and all but one of the previous installments. I have a feeling Bethesda might have a serious prisoner fetish they may want to speak to someone about. Not the greatest start for originality, but it was fairly fun.

Character creation was fairly in-depth, although with nearly any MMO these days the love and attention all seems to have been focused on the humanoids – not as much on the poor Khajiits Fox and I created!


That’s about all there is to report for getting on for 10 hours of gameplay. The quests are the same as you would expect for any MMO or Elder Scrolls game. It’s nothing too special, although after a while you kind of lose direction.


I kind of already feel that, which seemed to be the biggest thing in the negative reviews we saw before picking up ESO – a lack of end game.

I’m not level 10 yet, where I get access to the much-hyped open world Player Versus Player. and I already and left feeling a bit “meh” by the progression. Whats the point of it all? The story is too bland and predictable, even by MMO standards (which are not honestly that blockbuster usually).


I’ve had some smiles and a lot of fun adventuring alongside Fox for the first time in an Elder Scrolls game. I just don’t know how much more it has to give.

Currently, it’s just not sizing up as great enough to warrant a subscription off me every month. It’s not bad in the slightest, and perhaps I’ve been a little bit tainted by reading the reviews beforehand, but it’s not knocking me off my feet.

Let me know your thoughts on ESO. Did you pick up ESO? What did you think of it? Did you pass ESO by and why?

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 –


Digital Salad: All Change in GW2

The Guild Wars 2 feature pack has hit us full force. Just as I was getting back in to GW2 after a relatively long break, enjoying the 2nd World Versus World Season, and the biggest changes since the game’s release have thrown everything into a bit of chaos. Lets take a look at the good and bad of the GW2 April 2014 feature pack.


The changes this week to GW2 are huge, so much so that I’ve spent the rest of the week going through each of my characters one by one trying to get their trait build back to where it was – all were reset with the patch. Its not been a kind patch to those of us who love alts, but I’m getting there with my tweaking!

So, the first big change is the wardrobe. PvP clothes have essentially been eradicated, and the skins all rolled into a central ‘wardrobe’ of skins. All the weapons and armours you were wearing pre-patch are now unlocked for use across all your characters.

Outfits such as winter clothes or the pirate outfit from the Gem Store are now wearable in combat as skins over your armour; with town clothes being removed as a concept completely. I never understood why they put town clothes in to be perfectly honest, it felt like a half-baked idea that they never completely finished before release.

The new outfit skin for armour system makes much more sense, and works nicely. Unfortunately, there have been some problems with the implementation of it, with some previous town clothes not transferring well over to outfits. Once they’ve processed the gem refunds they’ve promised for everyone who’s not happy with the changes to the looks that’ll all be under control though.

A fabulous looking Charr in the Winter outfit - now wearable as armour!
A fabulous looking Charr in the Winter outfit – now wearable as armour!

Dyes have gone account-bound, a long overdue change. The most interesting part of that though is the changes to unidentified dyes as a consequence. The drop rate of these, already pretty rare, sources of new dyes has been dramatically reduced. Combined with that, The Gift Of Colour which is needed to craft the legendary staff Bifrost has been reduced from 250 of these rare little gems to 100. Clearly ArenaNet have some sort of plan for the unidentified dye market, but it seems almost certain that the price will skyrocket into the future.

Another half-baked concept that’s finally been dropped (on the quiet – and wasn’t in the patch notes) is the personality system.


The personality system had potential that they never capitalised on. The only time it ever really came up were some incredibly superficial speech options that never changed to overall story at all. I know that simplistic good/bad personality types and speech choices aren’t the in thing with video games at the moment, but I do miss the personality system. The wasted potential is sad to see go, I’d much rather of seen them fix it up a bit even if it did remain a largely forgotten and ignored concept.

Another long overdue change is World Versus World experience going account-bound. Why wasn’t it like that in the first place?!

My characters were all sitting at a measly 20-30 rank levels until the patch, and now I’m up to a more respectable 70-80. For all the hard work I put in to WvW across my characters I never had enough level up points to spend on any upgrades, despite earning it with hard slogging across the borderlands. Now that it’s account-bound I can have flameram mastery and supply mastery, and that feels good. A good reward for the hard work I’ve put in to WvW over time; which at times has felt a lot like bashing my head against a brick wall with my server. A good, long overdue, change!

World Versus World ranks now account-bound!
World Versus World ranks now account-bound!


Another long over-due change has been the update to sigils. Previously, each weapon you wielded could have one sigil giving it special qualities such as a Greatsword of Bloodlust or a Greatsword of Ice. Thing is, some weapons are two handed and some are one handed; meaning that those running with one handed weapons got twice as many sigils as someone with a two handed weapon – hardly fair! So, ArenaNet have very sensibly balanced that out by giving all two handed weapons two sigil slots. A good change, but why on earth did it take almost two years for them to do?

Hearts have changed for the better as well! Instead of the largely ignored message popping into your inbox when you completed a heart you now get a quite pretty pop up:


That’s a good, and pretty unexpected change. It makes hearts feel a little bit more worthwhile and special, which is great; especially when you’re likely to have done all of them at some point before and have probably wonder what the point was anyway!

So, hearts have changed for the better as well as a few other little tweaks. Nothing big has really changed for the better though. The wardrobe was certainly a big change, but the verdict is still out on just how successful or not that has been. Lets have a look at the other big changes though:


Sounds pretty epic as a name, but what actually is a megaserver? Well, the patch rolled out what they were calling a trial of an idea where out in the pve world you are no longer in your server, but in a megaserver with everyone else in that area. The whole things been rolled out across the whole world now pretty much because ArenaNet found it so ‘successful’ on launch day. But, how good is the megaserver idea?

Positives – the empty areas have got some new life, and you could walk for days without meeting a single player in some parts of the world before. That said, it can still be very quiet in parts.

Negatives – tremendous lag on the more popular maps. Also, it can be incredibly difficult for guilds to coordinate together into one map, but that isn’t too dissimilar to previous overflow problems.

Most of all though, the megaserver introduction has lead to an overhaul of all the world boss events. They are now all timed in a rota, which with my schedule and it being based primarily for American audiences, means I won’t ever be able to do certain world events again. Very frustrating, although I can see the benefit of there being an event guaranteed every 15mins I think it’s a little too fast – there’s no downtime between them. Perhaps a 30 min slot for each would have made more sense.

Taco - I will now, sadly, probably never defeat you again now
Taco – I will now, sadly, probably never defeat you again now

All in all, then, the megaserver has got some positives to it, but its causing a lot of problems. Big guilds are unhappy because they can’t adventure together and I’m unhappy because I’m lagging more than ever and can’t do all the world bosses anymore. Perhaps with some tweaks the idea could work much better and make us all happier.


The final big change is to the trait system.

First good point, you no long have to buy the trait books from vendors for 50silver, 1 gold and 2 gold to unlock each tier of traits. That’s a good change.

However, although each tier now unlocks for free as you level up you now have to buy each trait. Thankfully my characters have been spared having to traipse across the world in search of mountains of trait achievements or saving up hundreds of skill points to buy them. For a system that worked relatively simply and smoothly, giving you difficult choices of what to specialise in, ArenaNet have really messed it up.

I appreciate that they want to force people to go out and enjoy the world of Tyria. The achievement method of unlocked the traits will certainly do that. But if they wanted to do that it should have been in the game from the start. Now is far too late to add such a huge balancing problem.

Honestly, as much as I’ve loved making alts over the years, the astronomic jump in difficulty for leveling an alt thanks to these trait changes mean I will probably never create another one; and that’s incredibly sad for me as a player that loves creating new characters all the time.



The feature patch has been a big one, certainly, and it’s been a struggle to keep up with all the changes and get some kind of normality back to my characters.

The small changes, such as WvW ranks going account-bound, are great changes but long over-due. The bigger changes haven’t been so good., and have seriously dented the amount of fun I can have on GW2.

Now, with these changes, more than ever I will probably be playing just World Versus World on one or two of my older characters. That is bound to get dull eventually, but the ways I used to spice it up are now just not options – a sad change for me as a player who has been getting back into GW2 in recent weeks.


What do you make of the changes? How have the changes made you feel about GW2?


Digital Salad –