A Short Wrap Up of Blaugust 2022

Another Blaugust is in the books. It really flew by this year!

As always, a huge thank you to Belghast for organizing this event year after year and continuing to make it something to look forward to.

I enjoyed the Blaugchievemnents this year. I ended up with 15/19. Way more than I thought I would get at the beginning of the month.

My Blaugust run this year was quite successful. This will be my 26th post this month making this my second best Blaugust showing to date. Leaps and bounds better than Blaugust 2021 where I only posted 3 times. August 2022 accounts for more than half of the posts I’ve written this year.

Per usual, I’m feeling super positive about blogging coming out of this event. I’m looking forward to continuing to post more frequently in the months ahead. It was such a pleasure to see so much varied content this year and a whole lot of new faces. Though it will be nice to see a small slow down in the torrent of posts next month so I can read everything.

Hope to continue seeing everyone around the rest of the year!

The Lessons of Blaugust 2022

Another Blaugust is almost in the books. This week’s theme is lessons learned and the day before the event ends is as good a time as any to reflect on this. As others have mentioned this week, collectively we seem to learn the same lessons every year and then forget them until we learn them again next August. This isn’t a bad thing. I 100% fall in to the same pattern every August.

Before I sat down to write, I went back and read some of my earlier lessons learned Blaugust posts. Three things that I always come away with from this event are:

  1. I have time to blog as long as I make time to do it.
  2. I enjoy the blogging process
  3. Posting every day is not for me

This year I did in fact learn some new things:

  1. Scheduling posts ahead of time makes posting every day much easier
  2. I can write more than one post a day as long as I have time
  3. Sometimes I have to choose between blogging and doing something else.
  4. It’s ok to take a break.

You would think in my 6 years of blogging I would have figured these things out by now….but sometimes the simplest things take the longest to sink in.

My start to Blaugust 2022 was strong. I was four or five posts ahead for the first week. By the end of the second week some days I was scrambling to get posts out. And by the third week scrambling was not so fun anymore. For next year, if I want to hit those 31 days or any kind of consistent posting schedule having that buffer is hugely beneficial.

The second lesson seems kind of silly in retrospect but it’s important for the first lesson. I’ve found myself a couple times this month really in the zone and diving in to another post after I finished my post for the day. Usually I would save the idea for the next day but there’s no reason I can’t write multiple posts in the same day and schedule them out.

I have less free time now than I did a year ago and I have to choose how to spend it. You would think blogging might fall by the wayside but it’s been important for me to keep it going. This month, I found myself playing less in order to write more. This only works for so long when your blogging about games though. Sometimes I just have to skip a post to play some games.

Which leads me to my last lesson.

This one is the most important lesson I learned this year. 31 posts over 31 days is an aspiration and a challenge but not necessarily the goal for me. I’m going to end this event with 25 posts this month. Considering that’s almost half of the posts I’ve published this year that’s quite an achievement. I could have probably gotten those extra 6 posts out but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Allowing myself to take a few days off this month really helped me maintain my motivation to finish out the event!

Motivation or Lack There Of

This week’s theme for Blaugust is staying motivated. It just so happens to also be the week where I have found the least motivation. Not to the fault of anyone but my own. Posting every day is a great goal and I’ve done a pretty good job so far this month if I do say so myself. But Posting every day also takes time away from other activities. I was starting to feel like I had been posting more but gaming less and I needed a small break. So I chose to game rather than write the last few days for a bit of a reset.

This isn’t an uncommon occurrence for my Blaugust participation. The difference over the years is if I catch it in time before I lapse into not writing at all. I was feeling on the verge of one of those lapses today so I decided to sit down tonight and write something.

I think part of staying motivated is recognizing when your motivation is running dry and making a decision to do something about it. Seeing as it’s Staying Motivated week and I need some motivation of my own I’ll tell you what motivates me (which will in turn motivate me).

Let’s start with my biggest motivator: reading other blogs. It’s what got me in to this whole blogging thing in the first place. I find that, if I read enough posts, eventually I’ll get the urge to write something as well no matter how long I’ve been away from it or how little motivation I have to write. The inverse, is also true, the longer I go without reading other posts the more likely it is that I won’t write. Sometimes I find inspiration from others’ posts to riff off of but other times just the act of reading what other people are up to makes me want to knock a post or two out.

Participating in community events/ projects are another one of my big motivators. Just this month I participated in Unwise Owl’s call for Humble Choice Reviews which I hope continues! Blaugust is sure to get me to write every year to varying degrees. Some years I make the 31 posts, some years I’m done after two weeks, and some years I make a short introduction post and don’t write anything else, but I’ll always attempt to participate. Then there’s the Blogger Succession XCOM Game that’s been going on now for over a year and a half. Last year was one of my biggest blogging slumps but every time my turn came back around I knew I had to write at least one post. Nothing motivates quite like a bunch of people waiting on you to play your turn…

My last motivator is simply writing something, anything really. Preferably something that ends with a published post. Kind of like what I’m writing now. There seems to be about a three day shelf life on my own motivation. Any longer than that, and the chances of me writing decrease significantly. It really is a wonder this blog has been going for so long…

Making a Return to Temtem

It’s been two years since I’ve played Temtem. The last time was just after Blapril 2020. . Logging back in to an MMO after an extended period of time is always tough. I had a party full of Temtems of which I had a vauge idea as to why they were there and what they did. I had a storage full of other Temtems of varying levels, most of the lower variety, which I assumed is why they were there. I also had a log full of quests and, after looking at the map, couldn’t figure out where they were suppose to lead to or where I had to go to finish them. I made the executive decision to ignore those completely.

I spent my first few hours running around this grassfield looking for fights. Brother was the one who mentioned he wanted to play the game again and his Tems were around level 30 already. Mine were not and I had some under level 25. I catching up to do. I got most of my Tems to 30 with my water type Tem, Umishi, falling just short at 29. I put the Cowards Cloak on him which is an XP share item since most of the Temtems in the feild were Nature type. Water and Nature don’t mix.

Umishi did evolve in to Ukama at some point in my leveling. I learned that 50 SV is considered a perfect stat which can change when a Temtem evolves. Ukama ended up with 50 SV in Special Defense. I have no idea if that’s good or not but I got an achievement for it so it’s something!

One of the nice thing about co-op is that if your partner hasn’t fought a trainer yet you get to fight them and obtain the rewards again. The partner battles are interesting. Each person gets to use their first 3 Tems to create a team of 6. I didn’t realize this until I summoned one of Brother’s Tems and wasn’t able to control it the rest of the battle. You still retain your own team of 6 outside of battle and can swap out Tems that have been knocked out or aren’t looking good into the combined team for the next battle.

This week we took on the second Dojo Leader, Rawiri. This is the Fire type Dojo and much like Sophia the trainers and Dojo leader here have multiple types of Temtems. For this Dojo, eveyone had a mix of Fire and Nature types which is clever. Fire is weak against Water but Water is weak against Nature so, yes, you can bring your Water Tem out to knock out the Fire tem but it’s going to get beat up by the Nature Tem as a result. It forces you to come up with a strategy other than exploiting the type weakness to win.

My character appeared without clothes in this battle for some reason

After beating Rawiri, we continued on with the main quest. We had some technical difficulties with a cable car that was suppose to take us to another zone. Somehow I ended up spawning outside the cable car and got stuck. I rebooted my game but wasn’t able to see my co-op partner anymore. In an effort to see if we could interact at all I challenged him to a Casual Battle. It was a close fight, coming down to my final Temtem and Brother’s (PancakeJohnson above) final two. I lost but my last Temtems put up a valiant effort.

After the battle we were able to see each other again. We tore off to the next zone, anxious to find some new Temtems and explore again. We found a tube that appears to lead to a housing sector. When talking to the real estate agent they let us know that the volcano next door was currently active and they wouldn’t sell us a plot. Maybe when we get further in the story this will open up. I wasn’t expecting housing in a game like this but I’ll definately be trying it out once I have the ability, and money, to get a plot.

We did get to the zone the main quest wanted us in. There was a whole host of trainers to fight along the way and a few new Temtems we hadn’t seen yet. At one point, we ended up on a detour without a place to heal our Temtems with a bunch of trainer fights. I’m not sure how, maybe we’re still a little over leveled, but we made it though a gauntlet of fights with a few Temtems still hangin1g on. At the end of the night we rushed the detour to get to a healing station.

I’m looking forward to playing some more and seeing if I can russel up any new Temtems. I sure won’t be waiting another two years to play again, especially with the game’s launch right around the corner.

Teenagers Vs. Killer Robots

I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea what’s going on in *Generation Zero*. Part of that is my fault, I changed voice over language to Swedish for immersion (it takes place in Sweden) and then kept forgetting to read the subtitles.

From what I gathered from the opening cutscenen rouge robot war machines have been rampaging through the Swedish countryside and everyone has been evacuated. Except my character, and my three other teenage friends. No, we were on vacation in a boat in the middle of a river and had no idea what was going on until we made it back to land.

I thought that was rather silly.

We look kind of old to be in High School

Anyways, now we’re hunting down military radio relays, searching for bunkers, and shooting at every robot we come across and stripping them for parts. I’ve turned the voice over back to English so maybe next time I’ll catch up on why we’re doing all of this.

The squad jumped in to Generation Zero again this weekend. We’ve played it three times now, all to a varying degree of success. Now that we’re out of the “hitting things with bats until they blow up” phase we’re making some progress. Ok, who am I kidding? We’re still doing that but not as often.

This is what happens when you stand on a big propane tank and someone shoots it.

Last time we played, SuperToast wasn’t able to join us and we made a fair bit of progress across the map. It’s a big map so we were worried he’d have to run for a while to meet up with us. This was not the case. I think the save state of the game is based on the host so Toast was able to jump to our latest Safehouse fast travel point. He also was on all the same quests we had picked up last time.

I have some gripes with this game but this is, by far, my favorite feature Our group can’t always play together so this kind of multiplayer system makes our lives easier. No one has to play on their own just to catch up. The only downside was that Toast was down a few levels from the rest of us. It didn’t seem to matter to much.

This session we decided to clear out our side missions and move forward with the main quest line. One side mission we had missed back at the beginning of the game. We had to backtrack a little ways to complete it. The other side mission had us go to a town and clear out the robots there. There not a robot in sight when we got there. I even threw a boom box down to make some noise to attract attention but nothing showed up. They must not have liked the song.

We gave up on that mission and tried to do more of the main story. After we cleared out another radio relay our next mission was to the north on the mainland. We were currently on a little strip of land at the bottom of the map. It was a hike to our next destination so we started walking.

In fact, the majority of our play time was spent walking. Like I said, it’s a very large map and the majority of it is kind of empty. There are towns to explore, sometime you find a safe house fast travel point, but sometimes you’re walking down an empty road with a few cars to loot and nothing else in site. Every once and a while we’d stumble on a pack of angry robots but a lot of the time there was just nothing.

Surprise, surprise, this pistol was not effective

Along the way we went robot hunting. There are several named bots across the map. Sometimes you’ll get a notification that one has become dominant in an area and they even level up if you leave them too long. Kind of wonder what they’re doing while we’re roaming around the country side. Is there some sort of internal robot war going on? Some struggle for dominance? Sounds a lot more interesting than whatever we’re suppose to be doing.

Anyways, we found the biggest robot we’d seen yet in the middle of an open field minding it’s own business. We couldn’t resist engaging it. It took a whole lot of ammo to take down but it was a fun fight. Every once and a while one of us would get hit with a barrage or rockets, get thrown, a ways, and then revive at the near by church. Giant-A632 was mean but we wore him down with our never ending respawns.

It’s hard to tell if it was worth it though. Most of the time, the big enemies drop a bunch of crafting materials and we have yet to figure out how to craft anything. The crafting materials take up a ton of space in your inventory too. Inventory is weight based, one of my least favorite inventory mechanics, and crafting materials weigh a lot. There doesn’t seem to be a way to throw them in storage either so I found myself constantly dropping 10-20 pounds of crafting mats every few fights.

Maybe we’ll find a use for them and I’ll regret it but I doubt that. They seem easy enough to come by.

Planning Ahead

Blaugust is in full swing as we enter week two. It’s been great to be able to come back to the blog and get so much writing in this month. As always, it’s a amazing to see so much content in my Feedly feed too.

Every year. I’ve always felt a few days of Blaugust makes me think more like a blogger. I come up with more ideas and think about things differently. Theres also that extra boost of motivation to post everyday. But writing every day and posting every day are two different things.

Writing is more or less the easy part given that I have some idea off what I want to say and enough tine to bang it out. Editing, finding pictures, adding/fixing links, and formating is a whole other ball game that sometimes takes longer than writing the actual post.

This past week has been so busy and I found myself struggling to get posts out on time. The posts went live, sometimes at the eleventh hour, but I’m not sure I was completely happy with how they turned out.

At the start of the month I had myself a nice 4 scheduled post buffer. It was nice to work on posts a few days out, polish them up, and put them out. These last few days writing and posting on the same day has not felt quite as enjoyable.

I’ve never been one to plan or work ahead. Usually I write when motivation strikes. Probably explains the sporatic posting I’ve done here over the years.However, I’m starting to think that if I’m going to get 31 posts out this month I’m going to have to give myself some more buffers. Baby Kluwes keeps my schedule just unpredictable enough that I should take advantage of writing when I can, aka at nap time or bed time, and write multiple posts in a day.

The inportant part here is the writing. If I can get some first drafts written I can do all the polishing and bloggy bits later or on the day of if need be. Of course, life just gets in the way sometimes and thats ok too.

We’ll see how it goes!

Audio Drama Sunday: Uncanny County Season 1

Show Description: Mystical truck drivers. Robots gone haywire. Killer clown demons. And pie. So. Much. Pie. This quirky, darkly comic, Southwestern-flavored anthology brings you a new paranormal audio play every month. Sit back, open your ears, and hold on tight. Because you’re about to take a quick detour…through Uncanny County.

I’ve been digging through shows deep in my subscription list and trying to clean it up a bit. I’m constantly adding new podcasts as I hear about them but regularly only listen to the same handful. I blame the No Sleep Podcast for this…I’m still working my way through the three 3 season bundles I bought way back in 2019. I’m still only half way through season 9…

Uncanny County is one of those shows I’ve been staring at the thumbnail for years but never listened to. In fact, I think I heard about it through the No Sleep Podcast. At the time, it sounded right up my alley but never made it to the player

This week, I decided to finally press play and binged the whole first season.

Uncanny County is a horror anthology podcast. It’s more light-hearted than most horror anthologies out there. It reminds me of the Twilight Zone mixed with a bit of Goosebumps and sprinkle of dark humor on top. Each episode is voiced by a full cast and takes place somewhere in the county. The voice cast is small so you’ll hear the same people playing different characters throughout the season but they do a great job with it. With an average episode runtime of 30 minutes it’s easy to get through an episode or two while running errands or doing chores around the house.

The stories range from magical kittens to evil coffee and everything in between. Each episode stands on it’s own but characters will reference places and events from previous episodes. Sheriff Rowlands, a reoccurring character, usually shows up somewhere in the story to help out. There’s a running gag that the Sheriff’s Deputy never quite makes it past their first day on the job. All of this all helps the show feel like it’s all taking place in a specific geographical location rather than just a collection of stories.

As of this writing, Uncanny County has two seasons and 11 short bonus episodes. The lastest bonus episode was released on May 6th, 2020. The show notes on their website say that season 3 is still coming but was held up by the pandemic. A twitter update from October of last year says that Season 3 is still on it’s way.

I hope so! I’ve enjoyed every episode I’ve heard so far. At least I have a whole season to go before I’m caught up.

Here’s a few of my favorite episodes from Season 1:

Margaret and Beth have grown up with a mother who can, and does, do everything for them. They’re about to find out what makes her so capable. They’re not going to like it.

In 1938, Orson Welles terrified the nation with a false tale of a Martian invasion. One year later, after being all but driven from the industry, Orson is back on the air and about to face the most challenging broadcast OF HIS LIFE!

Twelve year old Treve wants a pet. But not just any pet. He wants something special, something unusual, something different. Because Treve’s felt different ever since his dad died two years ago. But the pet he’s chosen- well, let’s just say it comes with a price he may not be able to meet.

This Week In Melvor Idle: The Quest for Damage Reduction

As I mentioned last week, one of my short term goals right now is to obtain all of the dungeon boss pets. Currently, I have 7 pets out of 8 from the lower tier dungeons. The last pet I need is from the Dragons Den Dungeon which is what I spent most of this week preparing for.

In order to farm the dungeon without baby sitting my health bar I have to make sure my max health can withstand any dungeon monster’s max hit. To help with this, there is an auto-eat perk which can be upgraded three times from the shop. Once fully upgraded, auto-eat kicks in when your health is at or below 40% Hitpoints and the consumed food fills up your HP to at least 80%. So 40% of my max health needs to be higher than a given monsters’ max hit in order to idle the dungeon. As long as I have enough food equipped the dungeon can be farmed endlessly.

What happens when the max hit of a monster is higher than 40% of your health? There are two options, get more health or get some damage reduction. That’s where I found myself this week with the Elder Dragon boss. It’s max hit is 470 which would mean my health would need to be at least 1175 to have auto-eat kick in. The max level for HP is 99 which would leave me at 990 health without. I’d need some serious bonus HP before I could effectively farm this boss. Not to mention, I’d need to get my Hitpoints up 15 levels which would take a while.

This is where Damage Reduction comes in. Up until this point, I didn’t have any equipment that provided damage reduction so I wasn’t paying little attention to the stat. Since I wanted to take a shot at this dungeon this week I went over to the fantastic Melvor Idle Wiki to figure out where I could get some DR.

The easiest thing I could do was upgrade my armor. I’ve stubled on this option before but thought it was more of a cosmetic thing riffing on Runescape’s gilded armor variations. It turns out these provide a huge stat boost as well a bunch of damage reduction once fully upgraded. I was able to upgrade my Dragon Armor set to the (G) Dragon Armor set and my Black D-hide set to the (G) Black D-hide set. That set me up for success with Melee and Ranged attack styles. I still needed something for Magic which I planned on using for that attack style for the Dragons Den.

Unlike Melee and Range, the magic armor set with damage reduction comes from the Runecrafting skill rather than upgrading existing armor. I had three out of four pieces of the Fire Expert set and needed to hit 90 Runecrafting before I could obtain the last piece.

You might be wondering, how do you know how much damage reduction you need before you can take on the dungeon? Well, you could do the math and figure out what percentage of the max hit you need to reduce by to equal 40% of your current health. Or you can head over to Can I Idle Melvor? which does the math for you. It shows you how much damage reduction or HP is needed with your current stats and combat style for each dungeon as well as Slayer Tiers. I needed at least 25% Damage Reduction to take on the Dragons Den with Magic which is what most of the week was spent working towards.

I was able to obtain 26% damage reduction with my Magic equipment and spent most of Friday and this morning taking on this dungeon.

The Elder Dragon’s Max hit Reduced to 347 with my 26% damage reduction.

Combat Skills

Attack 82/99 (+3)Strength 95/99 (+0)Defense 77/99 (+5)
Hitpoints 84/99 (+4)Ranged 77/99 (+3)Magic 91/99 (+8
Prayer 91/99 (+5)Slayer 73/99 (+9)

Crafting a bunch of damage reduction potions was ne of my earlier ideas to get more damage reduction. After getting Herblore up to level 90 I realized I needed Large Horns for the recipe. They drop from monsters in the Desolate Plains which requires level 70 Slayer. Early in the week I decided to try get Slayer up to par to take on the Raging Horned Elites. The drop rate for horns was a little slow for my liking so I decided to pursue other options to increase damage reduction.

Over the course of leveling slayer I was able to increase my other combat stats a fair bit. Defense and Prayer I got a whopping 5 levels in this week!

Non-Combat Skills

Woodcutting 105/99 (+0)Fishing 117/99 (+0)Firemaking 99/99 (+0)
Cooking 101/99 (+0)Mining 105/99 (+0)Smithing 102/99 (+0)
Thieving 87/99 (+2)Farming 114/99 (+3)Fletching 99/99 (+0)
Crafting 87/99 (+0)Runecrafting 90/99 (+3)Herblore 90/99 (+5)
Agility 85/99 (+14)Summoning 95/99 (+1)Astrology 79/99 (+0)
All skills over 99 are virtual levels based on additional experience gained after level 99 cap.

Agility was the other source of damage reduction I looked in to. Agility is a skill that provides bonus stats in the form of an obstacle course . Agility is leveled up by running the course which nets you a small amount of GP and XP for each obstacle completed. Unlike Runescape, you can’t fail these obstacles so it’s effectively a slow money printing skill with added bonus stats. Every 10 levels, another obstacle can be built to provide additional bonusues. Some obsacle’s provide both positive and negative effects.

Looking through my course, the Spike Trap obstacle provided two negative effects -40 hitpoints and -2% damage reduction. That whole category of obstacles only have negative effects and this one was the lesser of all evils. Getting an obstacle to 99 mastery halves it’s negative effects so my plan was to run the course until either the Spike Trap was at 99 mastery or I had enough in the mastery pool to level it to 99. I ended up doing the latter but not before gaining another 15 levels in Agility.

I continued to tweak my course where I could to either increase my health or add some more DR. My course now includes the following obstacles:

  • Lake Swim: +3% Damage to All Monsters, +1% Damage reduction
  • Raft Building: +2% damage to All Monsters, +20 Maximum Hitpoints
  • Ice Jump: +10% chance to Preserve Resources in Skills, +10% Food Healing Value, +5% Chance to Double items Globally. +2- Maximum Hitpoints, +10 Mining Node Hitpoints, +10% Slayer Coins, +5% Slayer Skill XP.

In the event I need more health, I can swap out the Lake Swim for Rocky Waters which would provide an additional +50 Hitpoints.


I unlocked Harley while writing this post! Yep, this is the boss pet from Dragons Den so that goal is complete.

Now I’ll have to figure out how to get my stats high enough to take on the Volcanic Cave. I’ll either need 37% damage reduction or 980 health to take this on. This should be an fun challenge to star figuring out week!

I also unlocked the HP pet Finn, the Cat (+10 Maximum HP) and the Summoning pet, Tim the Wolf, which provides +1 shard cost reduction when creating familiars.

Completion Log: 54.08%

Skills 91.13% (+2.72%)Mastery 30.39% (+1.46%)Items 48.53% (+2.04%)Monsters 42.59% (+3.08%)Pets 57.78% (+6.67%)

My biggest win for the Completion Log this week was getting 100% Farming Mastery. This means all items in the Farming skill have been leveled to 99 mastery rank. This is probably the easiest 100% mastery to get since Farming runs along side whatever else you’re working on. It took 238 days, 23 hours, 27 minutes, and 22 seconds to complete!.

Goals for Next Week

  • Figure out the best way to either get more damage reduction or more health to take on the Volcanic Cave Dungeon.

I’m not sure that I’ll be able to take on the Volcanic Cave this week. I have a feeling this will be more of a preparation week.

Backlogged: Omno

Platform: PC

Time to Finish: 4.5 hours (100% Complete)

I first saw Omno thanks to a demo in one of the Steam Next Fest event. The demo wasn’t very long but I liked the way it looked and played. I stuck it on the wish list where it sat for a few months. When the Steam Summer Sale rolled around this year, Omno, was a strong contender for a purchase. At the time, I was looking for more casual exploration games which Omno looked to fit the bill. When it came time to finalize my purchases I wasn’t as excited to play it over other games so I passed on it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find it in this month’s Humble Choice.

Things I Liked

The Puzzles: As I’ve mentioned before, I like puzzle games when they’re on the easier side of the difficulty spectrum. There are orbs in each level to collect that require you to solve a puzzle. These tend to be jumping puzzles which test your platforming more than your logical thinking abilities. In fact, I’m suprised at the platforming skills needed to complete some of the later levels. It’s nothing crazy but more than I was expecting from a game like this. It was fun to figure out how I was suppose to get somewhere and then figure out how to execute the platforming correctly.

The Visual Syle: The world is gorgeous. I couldn’t stop taking screenshots the whole time I was playing. Just wondering around the world I found some great opportunities to take a picture. The cuteness also provided some good shots.

I couldn’t help but notice as I traversed the world that this would look great in VR if it were first person. The art style has a chunky, cartoonish, look that seems to work well with VR titles. To be clear, this is not a VR title, but I would totally play a first person version of it in VR.

The Minimalist UI: I like a UI that doesn’t get in the way. Especially in a game like this that wants you to focus on the world around you. There are a few menus in Omno but they only appear when called up. Aside from a few interaction prompts the UI is almost non existent during gameplay. This made taking all those screenshots even easier!

Things That Could Have Been Better:

The Story Glyphs: Going in to this game, I thought it would be more like Journey. It just had that kind of look to it. Journey is incredibly good at telling it’s story through the world around it without any text. Omno has glyphs scattered around each level that are pieces a story.

The story tells of a tribe on a pilgrimage to a door of light that will lead them to a better world. It’s unclear if these messages were left behind for the player character to find or if they’re the player character’s own thoughts as they progress through their pilgrimage. They’re written in a sort of flowery, prose that I’m not too keen on.

There are also, stone carved murals throughout the game that, more or less, tell the same story but in a simpler, and in my opinion, a better way. I would have liked to see more of these as they felt like they were more a part of the world than the floating, esoteric glyphs.

Giants in the Earth

We got in another session of Aliens: Fireteam Elitethis week. Last time, we cleared the first set of campaign missions “Priority One” and got our feet wet with the gameplay. This week we took on the second set of campaign missions “Giants in the Earth”.

From what I’ve seen so far, each campaign mission is split up in to three smaller missions.. The first 3 in “Priority One” took us about 25 minutes each to clear. The first two missions of “Giants in the Earth” took us around the same time.

Each mission has a recommended combat rating to clear it. Combat rating seem to be based on your equipped weapon loadout as well as your class level and class mods. “Giants of the Earth” Mission On has a recommended combat rating of 250. That was a good 20 points above either of our current ratings at the time.

Not wanting to replay the first set of set of missions again, we decided to ignore the recommendation and play the mission anyways. How much could 20 points matter?

Mission one was going smoothly. We were progressing at a decent rate, losing more health than the last set of missions but nothing my trusty trauma station couldn’t handle between med pack pick ups. That is, until we got to the final wave fight of the level. We ran in to trouble trying to suppress a swarm while also trying to deal with a big, ole’, tank that is the Xenomorph Warrior.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough fire power to take down the Warrior before he downed Brother, me, and our AI companion. To his credit, our AI is an excellent shot. But when given the chance, he will stand in the middle of enemy swarms until he runs out of health.

We learned some important lessons with this run. First, if your team wipes you have to run the whole mission again. I’ve taken issue with this sort of thing in the past (see my frustration with GTFO) but another 20 minute mission is a lot easier to swallow than 2 hours of wasted time.

Second, we learned that we should actually utilize the utility items. Specifically turrets.

There are chests scattered around the level that, when opened ,provide some quantity of utility items. They range from special ammo, turrets, minds, and even some traps. Some of them have names in a variety of colors which, I’m assuming, makes them better than their white named counter part. Either way, when you get a purple named turret at what looks like a big fight, you’re going to want to use it. Multiple if you have them.

Mission One: Take Two went better. We knew what to expect and took advantage of that to speed our way through the level. We made our way back to our last wipe in under 20 minutes.

This time when the Warrior rushed the squad we met him with a barrage of rockets, two sentry turrets, and 3 assault rifles. He didn’t stand a chance. We made short work of the rest of the wave and got our mission complete.

When we got back to base I noticed that we had completed two Tactical Opportunities (Dailies) that rewarded us with some challenge cards, some credits, and a shiny, new flamethrower. Sadly, the Doc class can’t use heavy weapons. I would not be setting our enemies ablaze. But Brother could and he was very excited to try it out.

When we started Mission Two, we had the option to add our newly aquired challenge cards. These impose limitations on what you can do in the mission but offer bonus reward like an XP multiplyer and extra loot on mission completion.

I threw one down to restrict dodging in exchange for a 1.5x XP multiplier. Brother threw one down that restricted reloading or changing weapons until the clip is empty. This one offered a 2.5x multiplayer. I was hoping they would combine for a 4x multiplyer but it looks like it takes the best card and uses that for everyone.

Mission Two introduced us to a new enemy type: synthetics. They came with guns. Finally, a use for the Gears of War like cover system!

The fun thing about the synths is that they also shoot at the Xenomorphs. Once there’s no more Xeno’s they go right back to shooting at you. Your average synth is a bit tankier than the average xenomorph but they aren’t as numerous.

Again, we used the turrets and some mines to clear out the big swarms when they came. We only had to run this mission once and picked up our sweet, sweet, bonus XP.

After acquiring and/or buying some new gun attachments as well as getting some new skill modifiers I’m sitting at a 382 combat ranking. I’m interested to see how that will affect the third mission in “Giants in the Earth” now that I’m 130 points over the recommended ranking.

I’m also left wondering what the heck there is to do after we beat the 12 Campaign missions. Each mission has a couple difficulty levels so I’m sure we’ll be running those again. Possibly multiple times each. But there’s also this mysterious locked “Game Mode” option in the menu. Hovering over it says it’s unlocked once all campaign missions are complete. Color me intrigued…

Sure, I could look it up, but I’d rather the surprise once we get to that point. We’ve recruited another squad mate, SuperToast, who will, hopefully, be able to replace our AI next time. At least we can tell him to hide behind cover!