Resident Evil 3 First Impressions and Thoughts

Resident Evil 3 Raccoon City Demo Capture 2

Everyone’s First Impressions on Resident Evil 3? STAAAARRRRS!

Resident Evil 3 is finally here, and I have captured my first impressions! Don’t worry if you don’t get all the STARS references that will be flying around – it’s an injoke from the game, that you will get quickly if you play πŸ˜€

There is only one game I have been waiting for with more anticipation, and it is teasing me on my shelf.

Final Fnatasy VII Deluxe
It teases me :p

I am waiting for April 10th to look at this one. Not just because of the request for no spoilers from Square Enix, but day one patches and the like aren’t available. So, my plan is to do my first impressions as per normal – even though the startΒ should be the demo that was recently released.

But enough of that teaser, on to todays game – RESIDENT EVIL 3! Resident Evil 2 blew me away last year, and the only reason I haven’t Platinumed it is because I haven’t had the time to dedicate powering through the later skill and time based challenges.

As much as I have been trying to stay away from reviews, headlines have flashed before me. Apparently the game is a ‘mixed’ experience. So what do I think after a half hour of gameplay?

Only one way to find out!

Is Resident Evil 3 a game you have been looking forward to? I can tell you from the demo, it plays equally well on PC, PS4 Pro and Xbox One S so you should have a great time playing it if you do!

Not sure if Resident Evil 3 is for you? Play the Racoon City demo – it is very representative of what Resident Evil 3 is like.

Until next time,


Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game is more than a re-theme!

Infinity Gauntlet Banner

When is Love Letter a different game? Infinity Gauntlet pushes this argument to the limit.

I love me some Love Letter. A fun and light filler game, I have spoken about it a few times. Check out my thoughts on a lot of the Love Letter games here. Now Marvel has gotten into the theme, and Infinity Gauntlet has gone one step beyond a theme upgrade.

How? Love Letter has turned into a one-vs-many game! One player takes the role of Thanos the Mad Titan, and the others take turns playing different heroes trying to defeat him.

Infinity Gauntlet Box Front
Infinity Gauntlet Box Back

Wait, how is that Love Letter? I thought the point was not to play the Princess?

See what I mean about pushing the limits of what constitutes a Love Letter game? Making this a competitive/cooperative experience certainly changes the feeling of the game. That said, it has sparked my interest.

The goals in the game are intuitive to anyone that has watched the Marvel movies. The heroes are trying to knock Thanos’ health to 0 before he can do the same to them. Or before he can collect all of the Infinity Stones.

So how do you fight in Love Letter? I remember the Baron starting a score comparison, but combat?

Infinity Gauntlet Hero Deck
A sample of heroes and powers. You can also earn bonuses for fighting!

Well, you have the right comparison. When you initiate combat, you compare the card in your hands secretly, and the person with the lowest number is defeated.

Unlike Love Letter, in Infinity Gauntlet there is no player elimination though. The losing team (heroes or Thanos) loses a life point, and the defeated card is put down and replaced.

Thanos has six health, and heroes have an amount determined by the number of players.

How do you collect Infinity Stones?

Infinity Gauntlet Thanos Deck
Thanos players have their own deck to play through, and holds more cards than heroes

Here lies another big difference between Love Letter and Infinity Gauntlet. The heroes and Thanos have their decks, and the stones replace characters for individual value cards.

When a card is played (discarded in the original rules), the card is placed in front of the player. So Thanos can be finding and playing Infinity Stones from their deck, while heroes are doing everything they can to thwart his plans.

But Thanos doesn’t have to play all of the Infinity Stones to win. Thanos players get to hold two cards in their hand instead of one before drawing, so they can keep a couple back for hidden information.

Once they can reveal all six stones, the player reveals and then snaps their fingers, winning the game. So we all get to recreate ‘The Snap’!

But I have Love Letter, why would I want this one?

Usually, that would be my stance. If you have Love Letter or a variant you like, that’s often all you need for your shelf. For a game with similar mechanics but a different experience, I would suggest Lost Legacy from Seiji Kanai, the creator of Love Letter.

But talking about the rule changes here, this feels like a very different game is on offer that the ‘a Love Letter game’ hides. I would have looked at a Marvel skinned Love Letter sure, but I wouldn’t be excited about it. Not like this.

One-vs-many games also usually put a lot of pressure on the ‘One’ player, as they have to act as game master and rules lawyer while trying to play as well. Infinity Gauntlet fixes this problem, as they are mostly playing the same game as everyone else with their own deck. This makes switching the Thanos player for multiple plays super easy.

Also, because Love Letter is such a simple and fun game, a long game is usually around 15 minutes. Plus you can play Infinity Gauntlet with up to six players, including more people, and no one can get knocked out first turn!

So at the moment, Z-Man has only announced the Infinity Gauntlet is coming. You can’t order a copy just yet unless your local store has it available on preorder. But when it is available, the low price point will make this an instant inclusion in my monthly games order. When I have it, I will tell you all about my thoughts on Infinity Gauntlet then! πŸ˜€

You can check out more about Infinity Gauntlet: A Love Letter Game from the Z-Man games site here. You can even grab the rules to decide if you would be as interested in Infinity Gauntlet as I am!

Until next time,


Doom Eternal First Impressions – I made a video!

Doom Eternal First Impressions

Doom Eternal has the tag line ‘Rip and Tear’. I play ‘Sticky Bomb and Pray’!

So I have had some start/stop video experiments that I have shared in the past. Today, there is another πŸ™‚ Rather than try to write up how I feel about Doom Eternal, I thought I would do a video of my Early Impressions!

My plan was to play 15-20 minutes of a game for the first time, and give my live first impressions and reactions. What do you know – even with prep, that didn’t work out quite as well as I hoped! Doom Eternal’s soundtrack in particular turned out to be a challenge. Life finds a way indeed! πŸ™‚

You can watch the video below, expand it up to full screen and all the usual stuff. You can also go over to my YouTube page at if you have trouble casting or want to leave a like/dislike and a comment. Feedback is appreciated!

So today, let me introduce you to my first ‘First Impressions’ game video, where I sit back and enjoy Doom Eternal πŸ˜€

Slightly Extended Impressions

Once I had played through the above, I was actually a little sad that I stopped recording. Not that I wanted to make a longer video, but because I found out I was only a little distance from another really cool secret!

I discovered another secret only a few minutes after finishing up my Thoughts in the video. And this secret had me grinning like crazy!

Doom Eternal has cheat codes that you can find in the secret areas!

Doom Eternal Cheat Codes Found
This is such a great idea. And I had my original Doom collection on such disks!

I haven’t tried messing around with them yet, but I think these are a great idea. Plenty of times I would fire up the original DOS Doom games, throw on invincibility and all guns, and just blast away for a bit on fun for a little while.

Doom Eternal is going to let me do the same thing, and use these overpowered features to let you explore the map more as well!

Until next time,


Six digital versions of board games to play while inside

Tokaido Following the Road

Staying inside and looking for something to play? Here are four classic games to keep you entertained!

The world is in a strange place right now. It’s been getting stranger and harder the last few years. I have been working from home during the week bar a couple of sick days, and I don’t see that changing soon.

The internet is abuzz with more stories of humanity being terrible and memes trying to make light of the situation. Apart from wishes that I hope you are doing as well as you can, I won’t be going into any detail of what I think of the world at the moment.

What I can do is talk about something I love – board games. Playing games is always something fun to do, and offers some escapism to boot πŸ™‚

Generally, on a Friday, I would be doing a full game review. Today I decided to something a little different, and suggest four board games that you can enjoy in both physical and digital form!

That’s right – you can play with others, or even if you are inside by yourself the computer AI offers a great time.

Enough of what today is about – on to the games!

Ticket to Ride – Steam, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox

A classic game I have referred to on the site now and then, usually in Last Week’s Gaming. It had been a while since I got this modern classic to the table, but it is as fun now as the first time I played it.

The premise is simple – collect sets of coloured cards, and trade them in to build tracks to complete specific tickets. It can sound overly simple, but the elegant simplicity of Ticket to Ride has made it a favourite amongst new players and veterans alike.

The variety of gameplay offered with a large number of ticket goals randomly given each game, coupled with strategic choke points and eventually recognition of all the routes makes Ticket to Ride incredibly addictive. It also helps that games on digital go very quickly, as shuffling dealing and scoring are all handled by the system!

If you have played Ticket to Ride before or play it enough to master the original board, you can get almost every expansion as well. Explore multiple maps from the USA, Europe and Asia. Each expansion brings new rule tweaks and challenges, letting you see why Ticket to Ride has survived so well in the ‘cult of the new’ in board gaming.

If you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play the original USA board for free! It’s hard to beat that price πŸ™‚ Fair warning though – the train whistles when playing on TV is rather shrill and will let the rest of the house know what you are playing!

Ticket to Ride Title
Like many games on this list, you can play solo or online
Ticket to Ride Gameplay
The actual game plays exactly like the board game
Ticket to Ride Expansions
Mastered the first lot of routes? Go for one of the expansions!

Elder Sign: Omens – Steam, Android, iOS

A lot of people are over the Cthulhu Mythos in gaming, and theme fatigue is a real thing. I adore Elder Sign, though. Cooperative battle Yahtzee is a pretty good description of Elder Sign, and Omens is the digital implementation of the board game.

I will never pull out the physical copy to play solo. There are so many decks of cards to deal with. Playing solo, I spend 1/2 – 2/3rds of my time managing the board. Playing with friends, this isn’t a problem, as you divide up the management and time flies. The general chat and sense of group success when you all work together is well worth the setup cost.

If I want to have a quick round though, I will always fire up Elder Sign: Omens. Technically I have it on my phone and Steam, but I only bought expansions on PC. Gameplay-wise, it’s terrible to watch someone play. Playing yourself though, is an incredibly immersive and rewarding experience. I can’t count how many times I have looked up after what I would have sworn was 10 minutes and discovered it was closer to 90.

The mechanics are repetitive. Pick a location, roll your dice to match symbols to pass challenges, and try to collect a certain amount of Elder Sign before the ‘big bad’ earns doom points. It’s a race to a certain number of points for both sides. But I have spent way too many hours telling myself ‘just one more game’ to not tell anyone to give Elder Sign a play.

Elder Sign Omens Mission Objective
There are various Elder Gods that you have to beat with differing conditions
Elder Sign Omens Mission Select
Different areas have different challenges. They all boil down to match the symbols.
Elder Sign Completing Challenge
Each of these areas are different cards in the board game, making the digital version plain looking

Potion Explosion – Steam, Android, iOS

I have talked about Potion Explosion in my RamblingsΒ and mentioned it in Last Week’s Gaming. Another collection game, in Potion Explosion you pick a coloured marble from a large dispenser. If two matching colours hit as they drop, they create an ‘explosion’ letting you collect them as well.

The random nature of the game already gives it a great replayable puzzle experience. Then I got it on my phone. I think I have close to 100 games on my phone alone!

There are three levels of AI opponents, but if you want, you can also play against others online. This makes it great if you are home alone, and want to test your skills against others πŸ™‚

But the random components dropping and mixing isn’t the only thing you can change up. There are different potions you can create, and with expansions different Professors you can ask for help – at a cost, of course. This gives you a heap of different ways to change up your game experience πŸ™‚

Potion Explosion Opponents
You can pick different levels of AI opponent
Potion Explosion Picking Components
Watching strings of components all connect and fill your flasks is very satisfying

Tokaido – Steam, Android, iOS

My favourite alternate name for Tokaido was given by a friend of mine. They describe it as ‘The Hangover Game’. Every other game engages you in competition or sometimes tricky logic puzzles. Tokaido is a challenge and has many different scoring paths. Where it stands alone is the goal of the game is to have the most fulfilling journey across Japan.

What do I mean by fulfilling? Treat the game as a holiday game. You need to experience different foods, go shopping, paint, chat to strangers, take in the sites, even donate to temples if you feel inclined.

The turn order can take a while to get used to. The person in the last place on the path takes the next turn. If you fly ahead down the road, others will have more time to go slowly and enjoy their trip. Just like when you are on holiday, if you rush through the experience, you don’t come out with as many memories.

While the theme is laid back, and the digital implementation has gorgeous animation, there is still a substantial strategic element to Tokaido. It is nice to sit back and enjoy, but if you relax too much, your competitors will smash your score.

If you think the game sounds overly simple, think again. Each player has different available abilities you need to capitalise on to maximise your score. Owned everyone just meeting travellers one game? That was a lucky draw. You may meet no one that will help your score for the next 10 games.

While it might not look like everyone’s cup of tea, I can’t think of anyone I have taught it to that hasn’t enjoyed it.

Tokaido Following the Road
Travelling down the road in Tokaido
Tokaido Eating at the Inn
Even eating at the end of each day can get you points. But you can't eat the same meal twice!
Tokaido Complete Paintings
No cameras here. Enjoy the sights? Paint a panorama and get points!

Pandemic – Steam, Android, iOS, Xbox, PS4, Switch

I can’t recommend Pandemic enough. Sure, I have seen a lot of memes lately with COVID-19 and Pandemic, but that doesn’t change the fact Pandemic is a great game.

Digitally you can only get the original Pandemic. If you were to look at the physical versions, remember there are many versions with similar mechanics but very different gameplay available.

And like Ticket to Ride, if you have Game Pass on Xbox, you can try it out for free!

Pandemic is the game I am not going to talk about much here, as I have a full review that you can check out here. One thing I don’t touch on with the digital version in my review is the game soundtrack. The increase in tempo as you come closer to losing has a definite effect on you!

Pandemic Disease Cured
One cure down. Now to try and eradicate!

One Deck Dungeon – Steam, Android, iOS

And one last game that I recently reviewed, One Deck Dungeon has grabbed my attention hard lately. Many of my recent gaming challenges have been me playing it, to the point I am contemplating starting to exclude plays!

A card based dungeon crawler with light RPG elements (if you choose to use them), One Deck Dungeon is a great game. The only thing I would warn against is playing on mobile. The gameplay is just as fun as the physical or larger screen version, but you have to switch panels during a round and that hides information.

For my full thoughts on One Deck Dungeon, check out my review here.

One Deck Dungeon Gauntlet Run
My current play mode is trying to beat Gauntlet Mode with fresh characters. I haven't quite gotten a clean run yet.

What do you think?

I can hand on heart say that I have spent hours playing each game, many times multiple games in one sitting. I have spent many an afternoon with all of these games. Hopefully, you can do the same πŸ™‚

Do you think I should have included another digital game implementation? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook or shout out on Twitter!

Until next time,


New idea – would you like to hear some beginner tech pieces?

Seeing as how tech has a lot to do with my paying job, it’s an idea I think has some merit.

Recently I have talked a bit about things like PlayStation Now and my thoughts coming into the new console generation. I also get asked pretty often about gaming PC setups – laptops, notebooks, ultraportables, that kind of thing.

I have been watching a lot of tech channels on YouTube lately (I already watch a few quite regularly anyway), and for me they are great. Bleeding edge tech and breakdowns, cutting edge scenarios, what if budgetless builds – it’s geek porn for me.

But if I try to send someone looking for build advice to one of these channels, the message can get pretty mixed up. A lot of YouTubers put caveats on what they are showing, not saying definitively ‘this is better than that’. This is a good thing because what is best for me is not necessarily best for you, and that is hard to judge without a personal consultation.

To get the most out of these videos, you have to already understand what you are looking at. A lot of people in the comments can be cruel to people asking beginner questions looking for clarifications. Forums can be the same way.

Unbox Therapy Ultimate Gaming Computer
This is cool, but does it help you pick a PC? *Image from Unbox Therapy YouTube channel

I am not trying to call out YouTubers. The fact is, most of them are only talking about the cutting edge because they are paid to. And I don’t just mean by companies looking for them to sell the benefits of their equipment. By watching their videos, you are paying them with ad revenue/YouTube premium. New tech = more views = more money. YouTube is a business, after all. The people I watch know their stuff, or I wouldn’t watch them. But if I want to look at reviews for a budget to a mid-tier build, I usually have to go back a fair bit in their timeline. It feels like there is always a ridiculously over specced showcase build recently released though.

This is where I have a bit of an advantage. is still very much a hobby project for me, and this is the sort of general advice I can write and update every few months. I don’t have to worry about the impact on my revenue stream. It’s stuff I talk about a half dozen times a week in my professional life anyway for various scales.

So here is my problem. One of the articles I keep rewriting as I am still not happy with it is how PC Gaming Systems – as a category, not as a platform – is dead.

Another is why I am really excited about companies adopting Graphene batteries – hopefully, this year. I still have opinions and speculation articles as well, such as why AUD$1,000 for the PS5/Xbox Series X is actually not a terrible price. Seriously if Sony and/or Microsoft is reading, don’t make your consoles this expensive. But I can still justify the price if it is.

What I don’t want to do is bring reviews on Super Graphics Card Gedeon X Ultra Alpha 3 or things like that. I can’t afford the time or hardware :p There are plenty of excellent YouTube channels dedicated to talking about things like that already anyway. What I can do is talk to people starting out why an AUD$2,500 video card isn’t what most people need, and why.

Graphics Card Comparisons
While I want to talk about different cards, none of these comparison articles are on the horizon *Image source: TechRadar

Some people are nodding their head, some are getting ready to type in all caps how I am mad/wrong/stupid, some are curious, and others are just “Meh. Who cares?”.

This is where today’s survey comes in.

Because these are things I can talk about in various degrees of detail, I can write about the basics and changes for months. Great, I have site content for ages this way! But do you want to read all of that?

It would all circle back to gaming. I know from the little things I have said it doesn’t sound like it, but I do promise to keep it gaming relevant. I also won’t be cutting any of my current content unless you really want me to. This sort of stuff I have planned in the Tuesday/Thursday post schedule that’s up in the air at the moment.

So, would like to see me write about more tech type stuff in a beginner friendly context, or if I should stay away from it altogether?

If you do want to see what I am writing, there is a second part. These articles could get quite wordy by necessity. As such, would you prefer to read them as I do articles now, or would you like a vlog type video and/or podcast release as well? The podcast would mainly be the vlog audio-only, but maybe you would like to listen to my thoughts rather than read lots of text?

Let me know!

The survey!

Finally I got there! Now you have a tease of the sort of things I want to talk about, are you interested in hearing any of it?

Click on your choice and hit Vote!

Thanks for giving your thoughts – it will help to shape the site into something we all enjoy πŸ™‚

If there is anything else you would like to see me do or try, as always feel free to drop me a line! You can leave comments below, message me on Facebook, @JohnHQLD me on Twitter, or even email me at [email protected]!

Until next time,


Witcher 3 on PC, or Switcher 3 play anywhere? Why choose?

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt Title Screen

Don’t toss your Switch to your Witcher!

The Witcher 3 Complete Edition on Switch got it’s 3.6 update yesterday. CD Projekt Red had been saying the update would be ‘worth the wait’, and boy was it for me!

I own The Witcher 3 on PC, PS4 and Switch. And yet I haven’t played more than a couple of hours. Not becuase I don’t want to – quite the opposite in fact. I really want to be able to sit and dedicate hours to playing it.

So recently I bought The Witcher on Switch because I can take it with me. Yes, I take graphical hits etc., but the fact I can fire it up and do a side quest on my lunch break or two is worth it.

Yesterday the 3.6 patch was released to the world, and one unannounced but asked for feature has been added. Cross Saving!

It is limited to PC and Switch at the moment, which is disappointing for those that play on consoles. Hopefully this is still being worked on if this is you!

For me, I can now play The Witcher 3 at home on my PC with all the bells and whistles active. When I head out, I can now download my save from (Steam is also available) and continue in handheld mode. Best of both worlds!

Witcher 3 Cloud Save Menu
Hopefully PSN and Xbox can be added to this list soon

Wait – download your saves?

Yes. The system isn’t perfect, but it is a lot better than not being able to at all. You have to download your save from or Steam, and manually upload them again when you are ready to switch back.

This means for me worst case hotspotting my Switch to my phone for the download if wifi isn’t available. As saves are only a couple of megabytes, it’s not too bad. Annoying, but as I said a small hoop to go through.

So what else is in the patch?

You know those ‘graphical compromises’ people keep talking about? Now you can tweak your graphics! I probably won’t mess with this too much, but you can now tweak your settings.

I haven’t tested the patch yet to see if it changes between handheld and docked mode, but I would be surprised if it doesn’t tweak itself accordingly. After all, if you are playing docked you don’t have to worry as much about heat and battery life!

There are also other optimisations to help with frame rate issues and the like, as well as more language options. Probably my favourite feature is adding touch control support for Gwent, the in-game card game.

Witcher 3 Switch new graphical options
OK, so not an exciting screen in itself. But you can now tweak the settings like other platforms
Simulate Witcher 2 Saves
Well, I don't need this screen anymore!

But now I have a new problem!

And it’s a doozy.

Now that I can import my Witcher 2 save into The Witcher 3, which one do I choose? It will be fun to play and see the outcomes of my previous choices. But what to choose?

Oh, curse you first world problems!

What do you think? Was this an update worth waiting for? Or are you a console player that has been left out? Shout out in the comments or Facebook!

Until tomorrow,


How a PlayStation 5 rumour could ‘fix’ PlayStation Now for everyone

But PlayStation Now isn’t broken? Or is it? No, it’s just not out yet. But is it? WHAT IS THIS!

With the next generation consoles looming on the horizon, gamers everywhere are looking at what could be. Rumours fly around at an insane pace. Some are presented as such, some are clickbait. It would be best if you never put your faith in a rumour until the company in question confirms it.

And I am going to semi-break that advice while I cross my fingers and hope for new features in an existing service. It’s only semi-break because I am not counting on it happening, just “Wouldn’t it be cool if”.

Everything I am outlining is dependant on one rumour being true, then Sony making individual business decisions. This is an “I wish” discussion, not a report on what Sony is doing.

Anyway, now that’s all clear, some history.

What is PlayStation Now?

Short version, PlayStation Now is Sony’s version of Google Stadia. That came out first. To get around the complaints of the lack of backwards compatibility, Sony introduced the service in 2014 for North America. Within 18 months, access was added to the UK, then Europe and finally Japan.

For a monthly fee, you can play PS2, PS3 and PS4 games on your PS4 or PC. As the games are streamed to your device, all you need is a compatible controller. You can even use an Xbox controller for most games if you like.

For a couple of years, Sony pulled a ‘Vita’ and just let it languish. Not many titles, coupled with a pretty hefty internet requirement, meant it was still a niche product.

Don’t you pay the fee and play? Why can’t you use it?

PlayStation Now is only available in a few countries. Even in those countries, if you don’t have an excellent internet connection, good luck. This is a big part of the backlash over Google Stadia as well.

This doesn’t stop me seeing a bunch of ads for the last 6 years telling me to try it. Sony, you localise so much, maybe stop asking Facebook to ask me to try it for free?

Microsoft is going in pretty hard with streaming with the Xbox Series X as well. Here in Australia, while we are lucky to have Azure datacenters close by, the state of the internet infrastructure is a joke. That didn’t stop Microsoft coming up with a simple for everyone solution.

How Microsoft is paving the way for streaming while attracting new customers

Microsoft Game Pass is the first attempt foundation of consumer acceptance of XCloud, their own streaming solution. Want to try a whole bunch of games for one low price? Here’s Game Pass! Just click the title, and you can be playing it in a few seconds via XCloud.

It doesn’t work this way right now. Since 2017, Microsoft has been adding to the number of Game Pass subscribers. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of gamers all now used to access to ‘free’ games.

Game Pass PC Store
This is the new additions for PC. Xbox has even more choices!

How it works today is you download the games locally to play them. You need just enough internet to prove you can play it (basic account check), then off you go. Yes, you have to wait for the downloads and update them yourself, etc. People don’t worry too much, as that is how digital store purchases work already.

What has any of this has to do with rumours and PlayStation Now?

I promise I am getting there.

Nothing can help lousy internet. No matter how many settings you tweak or subscriptions to different tools you buy, if your line can’t handle it, that’s it.

Microsoft got around this brilliantly with Game Pass. Can you stream? Great play away! Internet not playing ball for some reason? Download the game and play on your console. Problem solved!

The reason Microsoft can do this is simple: Xbox has backwards compatibility. Put in an Xbox or Xbox 360 title, and you are good to go. Put a PlayStation 3 disc in the PS4, and watch the console get very confused.

But what if the PS5 has backwards compatibility?

Oh, I think I see where you’re going.

The statement from Sony is that the PS5 will be PS4 and PSVR backwards compatible. The rumour is that the PS5 will support all of the numbered consoles. Quietly I am hoping that the PSP and Vita can get in on the action as well, but that is extra fingers crossed territory.

If this feature is indeed real, Sony could pull a Microsoft and let you download the games to your PS5. No streaming required. Open PlayStation Now up to all PSN territories, and let that sweet subscription money start rolling in.

If you can stream, great. Instant game access on multiple devices is definitely the way to go. No waiting for downloads or updates, pick a title and play. I believe streaming content like this will be the norm at some point, just not today.

If you can’t stream, that would almost be better for Sony financially. Hosting the download files only is a lot cheaper than the cost of streaming infrastructure and would offset these costs. Especially as more people globally would be helping pay for it. Even in the areas PlayStation Now is available, only a percentage of players can use the service.

Metal Gear Solid 4
Metal Gear 4 I can't play again as my PS3 died. I could if I had PlayStation Now though...

Pull a Microsoft. Get everyone wanting to be a part of the service, not just the select few.

So your big ‘fix’ is to copy Game Pass. Why would they?

Why wouldn’t they? Sony couldn’t do offer this for various compatibility reasons in the past, but if that is fixed – why not? The setup is so good, I bought an Xbox. Two, technically. I don’t regret upgrading my preowned first purchase for the purple beastie πŸ™‚

With one exception Rabbit bought for me, I have yet to buy a single Xbox game. That one game was Red Dead Redemption, and yes I know the sequel is prettier and everything but I try and judge a franchise from its roots. I haven’t had to. My games come with Game Pass.

The Purple Beastie
The Fortnite Xbox One - my Purple Beastie. Enzo loves it too, as you can see from the fur :p

Games suggested retail pricing is around $110-$120 in Australia. We usually pay less than this (just), but no one is going to slash the prices on launch titles. Say the PS5 is $100 less than the Series X, you lose that advantage in just one game purchase. And you will need that one game (at least) to justify your shiny new console. Online multiplayer? Do you have PlayStation Plus? That’s another $12 thanks. This does give you access to some free games, so that’s a bonus. But it’s a choice of 2-4 depending on the month, and you might not like any of them.

“Ah, but what about the games for Xbox? They still have to buy games as well!” I hear you say. “Both Xbox and PlayStation need all that extra stuff!” Well, yes and no. Yes, Xbox uses pricing tiers for different services. No, because you are getting more for you money from Xbox these days.

For AUD$16, you can buy the console AND Game Pass Ultimate access for one month. Play what you want. Play online straight away. Even get a couple of free games with Gold. Wanted to play that exclusive launch title? If it’s Microsoft Studios (which it probably will be on launch), it’s already included with Game Pass. Console cost + $16 to play over 100 games including new releases? Done.

PS4 Starter Pack
Starter packs are a great way to save a little money, but you still spend more

Well, I wouldn’t say I have been totally bought across. I am still Team PlayStation, I just appreciate what Microsoft is building. If it’s not on Game Pass, I will probably look at PS4 and Switch versions first. But they have my attention, and I will look. That’s more than they had from me 12 months ago.

The only way for Sony to combat this is to offer parity with Microsoft. On the surface, they do with PlayStation Now. But it’s not the same. With the service only available in certain regions coupled with no fallback option if things aren’t great internet wise, it’s chalk and cheese.

Xbox One S Starter Pack
Xbox has starters and the digital only console. Every saving has some form of extra price.

Are you trying to say buy Xbox?

Gaming is expensive. You pay a lot upfront, but hopefully over the next 7-8 years that cost overall evens out. Doesn’t help that initial splash out though.

I will always say game on what works for you. Microsoft has given players ways to maximise their gaming cheaply (and legally) compared to the limited market PlayStation Now has. It has even used this low cost of entry early to bring across PlayStation fans like me.

I am really hoping that if the backwards compatibility rumours are indeed true, Sony launches PS5 with the new PlayStation Now that allows game downloads in ALL regions. If this is the case, and Sony undercuts the Xbox pricing, it would actually be an attractive saving for the consumer. Not just the superficial save that costs you more in the long run.

I really want streaming to work. Not just for the convenience as a gamer, but environmentally as well. Data Centers use huge amounts of power, which still isn’t great, but companies are doing everything they can for effeciency and plenty of centers are now being built to be powered by renewable energy only. Steps are being made, and each step forward is progress.

And like every complicated chain, that’s one part of the puzzle. Because people will be using lower powered systems to run games, they will use less energy as well. Without buying so many discs and cases, the amount of plastic created and thrown out is affected. Think Video Tapes and Music CD’s. Thanks to services like Netflix and Spotify, less of these are being made while the product itself reaches a lot more people.

Streaming makes sense in the long run, it’s just I don’t think we are there yet. This new generation of consoles will hopefully be the last generation that uses the digital download/play locally model, and I hope Sony takes advantage of this.

If they don’t? They may as well hand the next generation victory to Microsoft, similar to how Microsoft handed it over with the launch of the Xbox One.

Until next time,


Bring on The Child Season 2!

The Child

Let’s be honest – it’s The Adventures of Baby Yoda :p

I am one of those people that just signed up for Disney+ for the year. Yes, The Mandalorian was the only real new content available or that anyone was interested in. But you know what? It was worth it!

Just after the season wrapped up, Jon Favreau said that we would get more adventures of Mando and the child this coming fall. Side note/rant: I really wish companies would start using quarters instead of seasons – they are different all over the world.

But yesterday Disney+ revealed that the second season would be airing in October – just shy of a year from the debut!

I am a Star Wars fan. I can’t tell you the second cousin of the pilot on the left, but I enjoy the universe. While Disney claimed the extended universe non-canon after their acquisition of the franchise, this didn’t bother me. I was looking forward to seeing what new stories would be told. Respecting series roots is one thing, taking that universe somewhere new is another.

The Child
I have to wait HOW LONG? Nooooo

But it’s not just Star Wars that got some love. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier wil be coming in August. I am really curious to see how this folds in to the MCU. Will Bucky help Sam with training as his new role as Captain America? Or will it be a series of adventures that tie in somehow to the wider universe? It will be interesting to see how it works out.

The other show with a more confirmed release is WandaVision in December. This is actually sooner than its original 2021 release window. I am less interested in this show, but I will definitely give it a go. I am assuming that it will be set prior to Endgame, otherwise they are announcing major spoilers for the series. Maybe it’s set in a What If? type of thing?

Either way, it will be great to see how Disney+ is treating some potentially great material πŸ™‚

Until next time,


Sega Europe going old school on PC packaging – and it’s recyclable!

Sega Total War Rome 2

I remember when software boxes were cardboard, and Windows NT 3.1 came on 22 floppy disks!

Yep, I am that old :p

I remember when I would buy any software, it would come in a thin cardboard box. Games tended to be in slightly thicker cardboard, and I had some until I moved to Cairns a few years ago. Still, I must have destroyed about 20 Lotus 123 boxes installing them at different companies. Not intentionally, but if you squeezed just that little bit too much it flattened the box! Ah, the memories :p

What bought on this little trip down memory lane? Last week, Sega announced that they were committed to continuing an earlier packaging experiment. The experiment? 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. Even the shrink wrap can be recycled safely.

What’s the big deal? You can recycle plastic already. Sega is just cheap.

Yes, plastic can be recycled, but only a certain number of times. Then it pretty much sits in its most toxic form in landfill or floating somewhere.

And while cardboard can be seen as cheap, it isn’t. It really isn’t. Because most packaging is plastic, most factories are producing it. Because fewer people want these packages, fewer people offer to make it. Cardboard packaging is actually more expensive than the plastic cases! We see this in board gaming as well. I have seen lots of people complain about the ‘cheap’ wooden pieces in games when they can cost double their plastic counterparts in terms of production costs.

There are other benefits to the cardboard packaging as well, though. Cardboard packaging is lighter and cheaper to transport. Lighter loads help reduce the carbon footprint of shipping large numbers of games even further. Sega is using water and vegetable-based dye to print on their covers. Why is this important? Because it ensures that the cardboard can be recycled with the least amount of waste (if any).

Sega Total War Rome 2
Keep the lot, or safely keep the disc sleeves and recycle the packaging. Your call.

Plastic boxes last longer, but that is part of the problem. Large numbers of plastic cases are thrown away each year. Hopefully, other companies follow Sega’s example.

But there is also something puzzling about the change.

This only applies to PC releases. PC gaming is great, but physical sales of PC games haven’t exactly been booming for a decade at least. Across the board, downloading your games rather than playing the physical release has been increasing more and more.

I have bought around 45 physical games in the last two years. Most were PS4 and Switch. Two were for PC, and only because they were ridiculously cheap on sale at EB. Both of these PC games required I download the new versions anyway, so the physical part was not needed, except for my shelf. Those two games? Starcraft 2 collection and Diablo 3.

That means with my highly accurate testing group of 1, the number of physical PC games I purchased borders on insignificant. The boxes were also cardboard as well, but with metallic embossing and the like the probably made some of the cardboard unable to be recycled. This is what Sega is improving, but how many will see the benefit?

If you go to any gaming store with physical games, consoles dominate the shelf space. It’s just the way things have gone and will continue as digital storefronts continue to dominate sales.

Pokemon Sword and Shield Dual Edition
Buy the dual pack? Get a special case to hold both games, plus both retail packages! What a waste!

So it’s just a publicity stunt?

I don’t think so. While I remember the old cardboard boxes with a sense of nostalgia, for Sega this is a significant change in ‘standard’ production. Dipping their toe into the waters makes financial and business sense. My issue is I don’t see how this small a market can make a big enough dent to understand the economic, market and environmental benefits though.

So while commendable, I say Sega Europe should go one step further. They can convert the packaging of all of their physical media in the new packaging, not just PC. Maybe just for an individual title/titles as a trial – converting everything at once would likely be too costly for the company to absorb. But trying with a broader market at the very least would allow better scrutiny of the ‘success or failure’ of the project.

Also, I would like to see Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo follow suit. Not including collectors editions, most games are a single disc that can be well protected in a cardboard sleeve. Worse, some games are just plastic covers for a download code printed on cardboard. Even if the new packaging was trialled on these download only retail releases, that would be a huge impact.

The more people that do this, the more the cost goes down. Here is hoping Sega can get the ball rolling with other companies.

Until next time,


How I choose what games to Play, Finish, Platinum or Complete

PlayStation Trophies

Do you like the look of a game? Then it would be best if you played it. That simple.

Gaming is a very, very broad term. For a lot of people, it generally refers to video game players. Personally, if you play games, you are a gamer. That’s it. Mobile, Console, Board, Wargames, Tabletop RPGs – it doesn’t matter. You enjoy playing games, you are a gamer.

The other day, I talked about my gaming goals for 2020. I had picked a few Board Games that I specifically wanted to play in 2020 for different reasons. But I didn’t do that for Video Games. Not because I was trying to be vague, but because picking Video Games to finish is a lot harder.

Decide to play a Board Game and decide you don’t like it? Walk away. You might have devoted two to three hours, but that’s it. You have played the game and decided you don’t like it. Video Games can be even quicker. I put down Detroit: Become Human about an hour into playing because the controls were driving me nuts. It was 2018 – movement changing with camera angles outside of your control should not be a thing!

But I played it. With patches, these issues are apparently resolved. Harls recently got the Platinum for Detroit and has mostly convinced me to give it another shot.

Pyramid of Pengqueen
An entry level one vs all, but a little lacking in gameplay

So I should play everything?

If you like the look of a game, you should play it. Yes, reviews and opinions can help you decide if you think you would like a game, but you are the only one that can ultimately make that choice. I gave away Destiny 2 for example because the extra grinding being introduced just made the game not fun for me anymore.

Harls still actively plays Destiny 2, and I don’t think he is ‘wrong’ for enjoying it. The fact he has fun with it makes it a good game, just not for me.

All forms of art are like this. If someone doesn’t share your tastes in music, movies, television, books, comics or art very rarely do we miss a beat. We might be surprised someone doesn’t like a particular genre, but we write it off as “Oh well, it’s not your thing”.

Gaming, for some reason, is still somewhat elitist. Don’t like the new hotness? What’s wrong with you! That is what a lot of the media I watch and read all seem to shout out. It’s not exclusive to gaming, true, but if I don’t enjoy a popular movie (or enjoy a not popular one) that is usually the end of it.

20180421 Destiny 2 Harls The Blade Selfie Emote
Meet Harls. It's usually his fault.

I buy a lot of games on the strength of designers and publishers. It’s the same as movies – there are actors, writers and directors that I will go out of my way to watch anything they are in. We all do to some degree.

So yes – if you think a game looks good to you, if you get the chance, play it. This doesn’t necessarily mean buy it though. With Video Games, if you wait you can get them much cheaper down the line. Or even free with various programs like Game Pass and PlayStation Plus.

So what is Finishing games?

Everything else I am talking about today is more Video Game related. It’s not that a lot of the same things don’t apply to Board Games, it’s merely that the majority of Board Games are quick one-off experiences. A game of Gloomhaven is not ‘finishing’ Gloomhaven – you need to make it through the campaign to do that.

So when do I consider a game finished? The short version is when you hit the credits. When you clear the main objectives, you tend to reach a narrative end. Some games have branching storylines or post-game content, but finishing those are more achievement/trophy hunting or completion runs.

Pokemon Shield
I beat the unbeatable Champion! OK, almost everyone will. But it is where I call the story ended.

But how do you know if you want to finish a game? It’s because you are enjoying it and want to continue playing. It’s easier to see when you don’t want to finish a game. If you don’t have the patience for the same fetch quest over and over again, probably RPGs aren’t for you. Going to collect x items/kill y creatures are a staple quest line for many adventure games.

Sometimes you can be as pumped for a game as you can be, but the game just isn’t going to let you enjoy it. Again, I bring up Detroit: Become Human. This sort of game from David Cage isn’t for everyone, but I enjoy the quieter narrative-driven games now and then. I was ready for a quick time heavy, strange movement experience. I wasn’t prepared for frustrating walking controls. So while I was prepared to put a lot of hours into Detroit, I just couldn’t.

It’s experiences like this that stop me from saying “I want to finish this game” challenge goals. While I might want to finish them, until I am actually playing it, I can’t say definitively if I will put in the hours to finish it.

How do you know how long it will take to finish it without spoiling it?

There is a website that I think more people should know about. Google “How long to beat” and the game you are curious about, and you should be taken toΒΒ 

That’s it.

You need to know how to read the results, but How Long To Beat takes an average of different players times and play styles. When I look at the times, I always look at the Leisure column. This is usually a good indication of how long it takes players to finish the game while exploring and generally having fun.

Then I add about 25%. Why? Because that’s how I tend to play. Like any game, it all depends on how you play. I tend to go side quest exploring a lot, and especially games with a lot of twitch reactions required I add a lot of retries. I’m an old man, I don’t have the same reaction time I used to πŸ™‚

How Long To Beat Luigi's Mansion 3
I give Luigi's Mansion somewhere between 20 and 40 hours to play

But where do you go from finishing a game? Well depending on your platform, you decide if you are going Trophy/Achievement hunting.

Hunting Trophies/Achievements

This is the path for a game you can’t get enough of. You get a virtual reward for completing certain things in-game. When these were first announced, I thought to myself “Why would anyone do this?” but then I started earning them. The good thing is that these requirements tend to be the same on any platform you play that game on. Even Steam has gotten in on the act. Steam achievements are a thing, but I have ignored these for years. Trophies are for PlayStation, and Achievements are for Xbox.

The most significant difference is that PlayStation has a Platinum trophy for some games. This is earned by collecting all of the other trophies in the game. So I tend to lump Trophies and Achievements in the same class, and if you receive all of the achievements on Xbox, you still Platinum it in my mind. You don’t get a unique reward for doing so.

Now, some gamers that proudly call themselves Trophy or Achievement hunters. I bow to the dedication and skill required to these players. The countless hours needed to do all of these tasks is staggering.

PlayStation Trophies
Achievements give different scores for each one. PlayStation gives bronze, silver and gold trophies.

Until 2017, I would never have called myself a Trophy Hunter. I didn’t own an Xbox until 2019, so I have just started earning Gamerscore. But I found another site in 2016 that put my PlayStation gaming into perspective – PSN Profiles.

Now I didn’t take a screenshot at the time, but the shot shows my standing after getting the Platinum in Final Fantasy XV. Today, even after barely playing my PS4 last year, I am still in the top 5% of trophy collectors in the world. A lot of this is because of the number of games I managed to Complete on my PS3, PS4 and PS Vita. Another part is because I have tried a lot of games on the PlayStation.

JohnHQLD PSN Profile Stats
Note: I have edited my actual PSN Name for this picture

OK, So why is all this important?

Earning trophies has changed over the years. Getting the Platinum has been made easier for a lot of games that I love. Take Kingdom Hearts 3. I got that Platinum in about 4 weeks. If I was to try to Platinum the original Kingdom Hearts, it would probably take me the better part 6 months. You used to need to basically finish a Completion Run to earn a Platinum. Now a lot of games just need you to do most of it, for example, find 80% of the collectables.

This isn’t universally true. Earning the Platinum for the Resident Evil 2 remake requires me doing speedruns of tough levels. I will also pretty instantly ditch any game that has multiplayer trophies. The closest I have ever gotten is Destiny 2, where I need to do a raid on the hardest difficulty setting. I can probably do it, but I don’t want to hunt for a fire team just to do this.

And that is where the difference between finishing a game and getting the Platinum. You need to love the game enough to go above and beyond just the basic game. When I finished Final Fantasy XV, I only had to get 4 more trophies. Two of them I was just going to get. Fish until I got to Level 10, and walk around so that Gladiolus got his survival skill to Level 10.

That left just two more trophies. Fly the Regalia, and defeat the adamantine.

So why did you choose to get the Platinum?

Simple – I really enjoy Final Fantasy XV. From a trophy hunter perspective, I did it the long way. I played New Game+, meaning I had to play all of the main story again. But this wasn’t a chore – I was looking forward to doing it. Once I discovered this, I loaded my last game save and unlocked the flying regalia. Easy done. Then went back to my levelled up New Game+ and did the adamantoise hunt.

It didn’t take me very long, especially as I was flying through the main quests, leaving the side quests until I could just enjoy the open world.

But it did take me another 20 levels to get to the point I could take on the level 99 creature. I chose not to play the episodic DLC specifically to get this trophy. Well, at least I decided not to play the other stories at that time.

20200127 Final Fantasy XV
This was not an easy fight. The adamantoise is HUGE!

This is why I respect full-time Trophy hunters. They choose to do this for basically every game just to get more trophies than other players. That is a fantastic amount of dedication that must be recognised.

But do I want to do this for every game? Nope. If I have finished a game, I don’t always want to keep playing it. Think of how many other games I could play in 20 hours! OK, probably only one other video game, but at least 10 board games!

When you make a Platinum run, you choose to forgo other gaming to keep playing that one game. Just like finishing a game, I might decide not to invest that extra time. And how do I know how long this will take? How Long To Beat! It’s an excellent site for helping weigh up these kinds of decisions πŸ™‚

And finally, the Completionist run

The final type of run is a Completion run, and it deserves that capitalisation. To Complete a game, you discover every secret, do every quest, find every character – it changes from game to game. Still, it always involves seeing every last thing a game has to offer.

I could talk in more detail on completion runs, but this is already a pretty long article. Instead, I will point you to one of my favourite YouTubers – Jirard Khalil aka The Completionist. His YouTube videos review a game and document the journey as he Completes different games each week.

Yakuza Kiwami Quest List
These kind of lists are how Completion runners tend to keep track of their progress

There have been many games I was aware of that watching his passion as he talks about his experiences made me by the game. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the latest such game. I knew it was a Star Wars game, and many had raved about it. But watching and listening to his video about it made me fire up my PS4 and buy it then and there. Check out the channel, even if you don’t want to Complete games, he has a great take on game reviews.

The last series I tried a completionist run on was The Witcher 2. I haven’t started the Witcher 3 yet, because I know how many hours I am going to spend on it. This was partially due to time constraints in the last couple of years, but it is also because games are just getting so massive!

Looking at How Long To Beat, a leisurely completion run of The Witcher 3 clocks in at 433 hours. That’s almost 3 months playing the Witcher as a full-time job!

The Witcher 3
A lone tower in the distance? I sense a quest!

I want to do it, though. It’s the reason why I haven’t started it yet. I know it sounds contradictory, but I want to play The Witcher 3 over and over again without interruption. I don’t want to play The Witcher overly tired and missing something. I want to enjoy every second of it. And now, I think I have found a way πŸ™‚

So a Completion run is ‘better’ than a Trophy/Achievement run?

By now, you can see the difference between when I say I played a game, finished a game, Platinumed the game, or Completed the game.

Completion runs are for you more than trophies are. There isn’t really a way of showing off how many games you Complete like your PSN profile or Xbox Gamerscore.

If you love the game, your Trophy run is the beginning of your journey. Even with modern ‘easier’ trophy lists, they will help reveal secret mechanics you will need to do the Completion run.

Whether Completing a game is worth it is up to you. For me, because I see a Completion run as a step beyond a trophy run, it’s a mark of just how much I love the game.

As I have shown with my gaming goals, I include a Platinum run and a Completion run in the same group of challenges. It’s just a way to keep playing a game I love even after the public proof of that enjoyment has stopped coming.

Think of it like rewatching your favourite movies, or rereading your favourite books. You finish both a fair bit, but how many do you go back and repeat again and again?

So how do you plan a Trophy/Completion Run?

This is all really hard to decide before you have started playing though. So today, I look at the playtime on How Long To Beat. If a completion run takes more than say 60 hours, I will probably play it on Switch just so I can take it with me. Because most of these games are massive adventure and/or RPG type games, this really helps. But that means no trophies!

If you want to specifically go for the Platinum or increase your Gamerscore, you are locked into PlayStation or Xbox. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just how it is. You won’t get a Platinum for Breath of the Wild, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think people should play it!

With the Switch, I can now take The Witcher 3 into work and finish a quest or 3 on my lunch break. This will be easier for me to try and Complete it, as I can take the Switch with me wherever I go! That means playing more Witcher. How is that bad?

Now, notice I am not saying The Witcher 3 is best on Switch. If I wanted the best game experience, I should be playing it on my highly specced desktop PC with its SSD load times and 1080Ti graphics. You know what I won’t get, though? A Platinum!

The Switcher
Yes, there are compromises playing on a 'weaker' platform. But there are positives as well!

I can’t take my desktop to work with me. Not easily, anyway. I can play it on my gaming-grade laptop with lower graphical power. It’s still a lot to carry and setup. As good as the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X are, there are always compromises playing a game like The Witcher 3 compared to my desktop PC. The biggest one? My Witcher 1 and 2 saves are on PC, and I can’t transfer my saves to console. Yes, decisions in the previous games affect your story in The Witcher 3!

What I can do easily on the Switch is to pick it up for 10 minutes and play, then put it down. Yes, I still can’t transfer my previous game saves. There are graphical quality hits and framerate issues during larger battles, but I can do it. But if I am already making these compromises on a console, surely the portable trade-off is worth it?

And this is the most significant decider for my Platinum/Complete games goal. It’s why I have grouped them together. Yes, kicking back on the couch and playing PlayStation is incredible, but if I can only do that for say 5 hours a week, it’s limiting. I will happily sacrifice trophy counts if it means I can get another 3+ hours a week playing the game. A quick session on my lunch break, or just one more go as I lie in bed – portability is a significant consideration.

Last year, I finished The Outer Worlds on Xbox. I really like it. I want to finish the game more times, making different choices and seeing where it takes me in the story. Here’s a spanner in the works though – I haven’t played it since finishing it. Why? The Outer Worlds is coming to Switch. Just like the Witcher, I can take my Switch with me and squeeze in a quest or two on short notice. I don’t have to plan to be on the couch. I can still finish/Complete a game, I just don’t get trophies.

After all that, the final decision really is as simple as “What will I enjoy this more on?” Graphics and computational grunt do help with immersion, but it isn’t everything. For me, anyway. Enjoying it more comes down more to the easiest way to play a game I want to play.

The Outer Worlds Switch
Play through The Outer Worlds again in short bursts while I am out and about? Yes, please!

And now we come back as to why we play games in the first place. We play the games we play because we enjoy them, and the medium you play it on shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Again, if you are a Trophy hunter/Achievement hunter, I am not trying to say you are doing it wrong. That is part of your enjoyment and is tied to a console.

But for me, the more I enjoy the game, the more time I want to put into it. And that is enough for me.

Hopefully, all this explains how I approach gaming. Now you can see why I didn’t want to go into it with my gaming challenges! What about you? How do you approach your gaming? Let me know in the comments, or shout on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,