Salad Saturday Screenshot [30]

Time for another Saturday Screenshot! This time it’s one from the PS4 collection, from my time playing Assassin’s Creed Unity on Cake Box Fox’s account. We finished the game probably about a month ago now and had a great time with it. Here’s a screenshot:

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Here I am early on in my play through as the Assassin Arno, on a Paris rooftop hanging out with a feline friend that I found.

I thought the occasional cats I found in my play through of Unity were a really nice little touch. What was probably a small afterthought of the developer’s does a world of good in making the game world feel alive.

I for one always enjoyed taking a screenshot of myself with cats whenever I saw them. This one promptly ran off not long after the screenshot.

Talking of Assassins Creed, I’ve been having great fun in the newly released Assassins Creed Syndicate – this time based in London. I love the inter-play between the Frye twins and the London setting is well executed, interesting and alive. I’m planning on doing a blog once I’m finished with it, but for now I’m having far too much fun taking over London as the leader of the Rooks.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [29]

I’ve always loved my Saturday Screenshot feature, and I’m bringing it back with a favourite screenshot from my recent gaming.

This is a screenshot from Mount & Blade: Napoleonic Wars. One of the most popular servers these days is the role-play server – which has a very strict set of rules. You have one life per round, and two armies of real players fight each other to the death. You have to follow your officer (unless they get killed, as they often do!) and you can’t kill surrenderers.

Needless to say, the role-play server requires a heck of a lot of admins to keep 200 unruly players in check. When it works, it can work wonderfully. Other times, I just skip on by and head to my absolute favourite server – the bot server, where you hold out against bot hordes with other players.

Anyway; this screenshot is from one of the best battles I’ve been part of on the role-play server. I played as standard French line infantry and followed my officer (like the well behaved player I am!) and he led us across a bridge over a river dividing the battlefield in half. Immediately over the bridge was the wooden hut you can see on the left of the screenshot.

There were roughly 20-30 of us hunkered down in there. However, the entire bulk of our Austrian opponents had spotted us and were coming right at us. Majorly out numbered and well within range of their artillery, it looked futile.

Needless to say, we managed to hold out bravely despite the odds – and this screenshot is just as we’ve emerged from our hut having broken their attack. Just a handful of Austrians remain to chase down. Definitely one of my best gaming moments!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [28]

The week it’s a screenshot from Napoleon: Total War.

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I recently loaded up Napoleon: Total War again for the first time in a long while to do a 20min review (soon to be posted!). I’d missed the game and jumped straight back in with a naval battle.

I love the naval battles of Total War and especially taking on huge enemy fleets in my tough little ironclads.

In this case I’d picked 4 British iron clads against a super strong fleet of a dozen or so top of the line French ships. Massively out gunned – it was always going to be a tough fight and just what I was looking for.

This screenshot gives you a bit of a flavour of how it all ended. One of my ships caught a cannon ball to it’s magazine pretty early on and went up in a giant blast. It was even more of an uphill struggle as my 3 remaining ships took broadside after broadside from the French line – hundreds of cannon balls pounding away at my much smaller ships.

A good few French ships surrendered, and their Admiral fully sank, but it was too much punishment for my plucky little ironclad ships. This screenshot’s what happened to the flagship and Admiral Digital Salad on board. It was definitely an exciting battle, even if I ended up sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [27]

This week’s screenshot is from GTA V.

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That’s me doing one of the things I enjoy the most on the game – taking my off-road vehicles and tearing around the swamplands in them until they’re completely broken. In this case, my car had lasted most of the way across the river pretty much totally submerged before cutting out just then when it was within reach of the opposite bank. So close, yet so far.

That’s the other reason I decided to choose this screenshot for this week, because it’s a nice illustration of how I’m feeling about GTA at the moment. I feel like I’m starting to drift away from it. I’ve had some fun on my own, I’ve had some great fun with friends. I’ve even very occasionally had fun with random people I met in the game! I’ve now got to the same stage as a lot of people though, and I’m fading away from it.

The game is fantastic, but as it stands it’s just like my car – broken down within reach of dry land. Such a good game, but the completely free hand that hackers have online is ruining the experience. Any server you join will have a hacker either spawning millions of dollars, or killing everyone for the giggles. The hackers operate with impunity, and it’s just not fun any more as a consequence. I really hope they fix it, and fix it soon, but it doesn’t look like things will change soon.

As for me, I’ll keep going with GTA for the time being, but I fear that I might be completely going off it. I’ve recently done a 20minute review of the game though, which I’m hoping to publish in the next week or so, and I have so many screenshots I might also do a special bumper Saturday Screenshot of my favourites at some point. So keep tuned!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [26]

A new game for my blog this week – Diablo 3. Screenshot001

I’m relative newcomer to Diablo 3, but CakeBoxFox has been a long time fan. There’s bits of Diablo I don’t like, but don’t get me wrong, I can definitely get behind slaughtering hordes of monsters!

This screenshot is from my first Greater Rift, some real top difficulty end game content. I’m the dazzling purple lady wizard in the middle, CakeBoxFox is the buff monk to my right, and the scary witch-doctor on the left is the one who willingly dragged us like an anchor holding him back the whole way through and is our real life friend TheDope.

I’m pretty amateur compared to many players, especially our guide TheDope. Still, I had a lot of fun, and many mobs were slain in true Diablo style.

The main thing I did learn though, is that my first class choice, the Wizard, whilst fun, is just not for me. I’m already over half way there to levelling up a very melee focused barbarian for completely different feel. But here’s to my first top level character and my first greater rift!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [25]

A quarter of a century of Screenshot Saturdays. That sounds far more epic a milestone than it really is, but needless to say I’m marking it in style with the wonderfully ‘unique’ game Mount Your Friends.

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Mount Your Friends is a truly wonderful game. It’s everything I love about the Indie games industry – quirky to it’s core.

The game’s described as “a fiercely competitive sporting event for you to play with your friends in the contextual security of your own home, assuming that your home is not composed of sexual innuendo”. The sexual innuendo bit is the real crux of the game.

Take out the sexual innuendo and it’d be a good game, but not particularly noteworthy. Add in the innuendo and you have an instantly memorable classic. Without going into too many details for fear of falling foul of any digital decency filters – Mount Your Friends has a particular attention to detail for the physics of a certain male body part amongst other features. I’ll say no more for now!

The screenshot above will give you a bit of a flavour of what I’m on about though. Team Digital Salad are the hairy gentlemen on the left, and team CakeBoxFox is the very scary blue alien team on the right.

I can’t remember the last time a game made me laugh as much as this one did. Truly wonderful, as well as a handy way of settling disputes between you and your friends. The only downside to it is the big advantage the person who goes first gets; following players are always playing catch up to try and get higher than them and win the game when the other can’t match their height.

Buy Mount Your Friends for yourself and any friends! It’ll be worth it! Just maybe don’t make a character as scary as CakeBoxFox’s.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [24]

This screenshot is a little late in the day for a very good reason – it was captured not an hour or two ago! I feel it should be accompanied by a success kid meme.

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This is GTA Online Digital Salad during a cut scene of the second GTA Heist – the prison escape. I’m playing a prisoner, smuggled in with another player pretending to be a guard. Another player circles in a stolen plane waiting to pick us up, and the last heist member circles in an attack helicopter. We need to break out the guy in glasses safely.

For whatever reason this heist has been a sticking point for me. I’ve done it so many times with loads of different people, from level 9 up to level 140ish. Every damned time we failed – sometimes for reasons I couldn’t even fathom. A few times I had people disconnect, and plenty more rage quit. I like to think the rage quitting wasn’t usually because of my work!

I always tried my best, but it wasn’t good enough to get the “hiest complete” message pop up I was eager for.

Tonight I’ve finally managed it though and finished the heist, so I’m really chuffed! I never thought it was possible for a long while, but I kept working at it, and my persistence eventually paid off!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Salad Saturday Screenshot [23]

I feel kind of bad to re-visit it, but it’s the game I have by far the most screenshots of – and there’s so many I want to share! This week it’s a Mount & Blade screenshot again – sorry!

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I’d say that you should probably listen to this while looking at this screenshot to fully appreciate it. I think I was playing Scotland the Brave at the time, right in full view of the enemy’s guns and I didn’t give a damn. I didn’t die once – I don’t know if they were showing me mercy and not shooting at me or I just had some Scottish luck.

Its a perfect example of why I love Mount & Blade. I didn’t kill anyone on that round and it didn’t matter, I had all the fun I could ever want being a bagpiper inspiring my comrades on.

I really like this screenshot, I find it kinda inspirational – without wanting to overdo it! Here’s to standing up brave and strong for whatever you believe in.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com