Steam Achievements – Fun With Statistics

I have always gotten a kick out of the achievements system in Steam. It’s fun to unlock them and it’s fun to have more than your friends. It’s also fun to highlight the ones you treasure the most.

So I’ve set up my profile to show most of these things –

The first block is the choosable achievement showcase where I put all the ones that I like, for whatever reason. The Rarest achievements is auto generated.

As you can see, I have a number of achievements that are tied to the defunct game Marvel Heroes Omega. There’s a couple reasons why they’re so rare. The biggest one, is probably that these were added at a late date in the game’s life, so anybody achieving these would have had to run the game closer to its end of life for them to update.

And for some time, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to push these achievements off the list. That’s the main reason the Civilization 5 achievements are on there – I deliberately set out to get them. It’s never going to happen, because I’m not that good at most games to get .6% or less achievements. I have two that are .2% and the rest are mostly .4%, with the last one showing being .6%.

There’s a third party tool called the Steam Achievement Manager which will manipulate achievements, but this doesn’t work with Marvel Heroes. Apparently server-run games like an MMO report back to Steam what the achievements are and thus can’t be manipulated. Whereas a single player game will let you unlock achievements and it gets reported to Steam somehow.

No can do.

At least the tool helped me figure out something. There’s a horrible game named Gettysburg, Armored Warfare – supposedly a re-imagining of Civil War battles with armored soldiers and tanks. Kind of a Warhammer type thing. The reason it’s achievements are so rare is because you must play an online game to get them to fire, and nobody is going to go online with you and play this one.

So that’s why I can’t get these achievements.

Reports from the community are that even deleting games from your library does not affect your Steam Achievements, so I can’t just delete the game and rarest would reset.

Neither am I the only one to try and figure out this question. I get a kick out of how the people who responded to this don’t see the point (largely).

So my rarest achievements are sort of fun. I have a whole bunch that nobody can ever get at this point, and they’re very unlikely to change since I don’t seem to earn ones that other people haven’t earned. Instead, back to trying to earn more and pass up that guy with more than me.

Fuel Analysis For Your Mech


Dyson Sphere Program has a lot of possible fuel items, so I put together a table and analyzed the results.

I have not found any attempts to figure out the best Mech fuel yet so instead I set up my own. The only time I’m really concerned about mech fuel is when flying from planet to planet, or warping to other systems. It’s no fun to run out of power and be faced with reloading a save. So just what should I be burning ?

The two important factors to balance are the energy you can extract from the fuel (Total Power), and the Efficiency (How fast each item turns from inventory to power). Ease of collection is also a factor.

Fuel Efficiency ChartPowerEfficiencyStackTotal
Carbon Nanotube.084 MJ-80%1008.4.0168
Graphene.096 MJ-70%1009.6.0288
Crude Oil4 MJ+20%20804.8
Fuel Oil4.4 MJ+30%20885.72
Diamond.9 MJ-50%10090.45
Wood1.50 MJ-10%1001501.35
Hydrogen8 MJ+100%2016016
Deuterium8 MJ+100%2016016
Organic Crystal1.8 MJ-20%1001801.44
Fire Ice4.80 MJ+40%502406.72
Plants.5 MJ-30%500250.35
Coal2.70 MJ0%1002702.7
Energized Graphite6.30 MJ+60%10063010.08
Hydrogen Rod40 MJ+200%20800120
Deuterium Rod600 MJ+300%20120002400
Antimatter Rod7.50 GJ+5002015000045000

As expected the critical recipe components are horrid for power (Graphene, Carbon Nanotube).

For super early game energy plants, wood, and coal are pretty good. Gather easily and burn in the mech. You might want to save your wood and plants to make organic crystals, however. Early game they are hard to come by. Later game, the crystals will probably do in a pinch for short journeys if you have a planet to mine them directly from.

The various normal fuels (Oil and gases) are pretty bad, mostly owing to tiny stack sizes, so don’t burn these. I am hoping for a stacking rebalance – it’s nuts that one stack of hydrogen is 20, but your liquid storage tank holds 10,000.

The clear early-mid game fuel winner is Energized Graphite. Set up some smelters next to a coal field and store it, now you have mech fuel to get you anywhere within 5 light years. You can get a teeny bit extra power out of your Hydrogen Fuel Rods, but you have to set up a small production line to make them, so why bother. The extra efficiency isn’t worth it. Want to travel 20 light years ? Get several warpers and stack some extra graphite in your inventory.

Late game, while you’re building a Sphere, the Deuterium Rods start to look attractive. They are a component of the rockets so you’re going to be building them as you launch pieces of your Dyson Sphere. They’re expensive – you need to use the Super Blue Electromagnets to create them, but just wait until you’re building a lot of this stuff and start using these.

The Antimatter Rods are similar, power needs get really high at the End Game, and you’ll be making a lot of antimatter to deal with the white cubes.

Speculating About Lord Of The Rings (And LOTRO)



Taking a break from Dyson Sphere Program (Literally, I play this every spare minute), I decided to look up some old school gaming information and came across something I had not heard about previously.

Lord of The Rings is getting an epicly long television series on Amazon at some point. I like the idea – the family has transitioned to adult television so I don’t watch many shows with the kids anymore; watching this with them would be awesome. The gaming angle is that Amazon Game Studios is going to develop some kind of an MMO for Lord of the Rings.

Now – there is an existing Lord of the Rings Online game, fantastic for its time (2007), but which I find interminable today. Is its license about to be cancelled or revoked ? Or is it simply going to compete directly with whatever shadowy project Amazon may release someday ?

Amazon Game Studios hasn’t exactly captured the PC / Mobile game market, their offering Crucible came out and then was immediately pulled from the market – not a move that inspires confidence for me. I do not want to invest money or mindshare in games that disappear like that. Bloomberg throws up a report about them that was apparently so bad, Amazon felt the need to respond to them.

One thing that interests me is how little we’ve heard from John Smedley lately, ex-CEO of SOE and apparently one of the big mucky-mucks at Amazon Game Studios. I’ve tried to keep track of him since this dude is in my generation and touching on the same nerd-points I always seem to. He is reputed to be working on a secretive project, so putting all this information together……

Would we end up with a John Smedley – led team developing Lord of the Rings Amazon at this point ? A new MMO take on LOTR would be something that would interest me greatly.

My best source for LOTRO hasn’t covered this one so I’ve no idea how accurate my speculation is or if there’s more to the story.

Dyson Sphere – Part 1 – Starting Out


Currently, my Steam Playtime for Dyson Sphere Program is over 100 hours, but I have not yet completed the game. I think my current game will eventually result in a win, but in the meantime I wanted to start a playthrough and post it up.

Flying to your system

The game begins with the storyline and you flying into your starter world/system. I picked a 100% random seed which became Vega system, with infinite resources and 64 worlds. Every starter system consists of two planets and a gas giant (or variant gas giant). Isn’t it amazing how good the graphics are ?

First Planet. First steps. What to do now ?

The game consists of researching and acquiring resources, as well as setting up production lines to make resources. The first few recipes are shown, this is all I know how to make at start.

There’s only one early lesson I need to apply here : Save the wood and plant fibers. My first game I burned it all as fuel for the mech, then it was harder to start up making yellow cubes.

Iron and copper are nearby so I immediately grab some ore and make some iron and copper ingots. And then I start my first research :

The Tech Tree

The Tree is divided up into pure research (Technology) and upgrades for various systems. I’ll do the mecha core first since it only requires iron and copper ingots.

It’s a slightly odd window

The way you know your research is going is based on the little window. Manual research means using items from your inventory – the first number. The second is the number of items remaining to be hashed.

Now my mech can store a little more energy before being depleted.

I’m going to need coal so I zoomed out the window, theres a lot of stone nearby but the coal is a bit of a walk away. I gather a bunch to power the mech.

Stick Coal in the mech for the moment to keep it powered.

With that out of the way, the first thing I really want is logistics boxes – these store items for you. So now to technology items on the tree. The first step requires 10 magnetic coils and I have enough materials to research it, so I do. Now, Logistics is unlocked on the tech tree.

I need only some iron and copper to complete this so I gather some and Voila, I can make boxes. All I need is stone which I gather up.

I made a box

Now I can store more items. Your inventory is really limited so you need to take advantage of these boxes. And now I can clear some area for future building.

You get a variety of useful items from clearing the flora. Wood and Plants will make Organic Crystals someday. Titanium and Silicon Ore in small quantities will be useful to get started acquiring more of it. Stone is used for boxes and many other items, and Coal will make Energized Graphite, the best fuel available in the game.

Lots of queued actions. Right Click and Shift queues them.

I keep clearing while I manually build more items and wait for technology to finish, and in rapid order Smelting, and Basic Assembly, are completed. The most important next one is Electromagnetic Matrix which allows me to build blue cubes.

Need more coal.

All the gathering and making has depleted the mech’s energy, so I gather more coal. Your stored energy is in the yellow bar on the bottom of the screen; and the chamber are items that will/are being converted into energy. This is going to take a while, so I decide to build something. I place the mining machine along with a wind turbine. You need a power grid, to power all of your machines, and that starts here.

It takes a while, but taking the coal out of the mining machine and letting the mech harvest it, I eventually end up full of coal.

The Power Grid – Not Enough Power

When the mining machine is running, I don’t have enough power with the little wind turbine. I’ll need to build more of those things to get started. I leave it running and dumping coal into the storage box.

Next up is Mech Flight, which just requires coal and magnets.

Dyson Learning Experience



This Dyson Sphere Program is just amazing. I am 100% addicted.

On my fourth playthrough now, since several things are not obvious as you begin to go through the game. There’s no manual – you have to figure it all out from the displayed information in the game. It looks like the goal of the game is :

#1 – Research & Build a Factory on your planet.

#2 – Expand to other planets for different resources.

#3 – Expand to other stars.

#4 – Construct Dyson Sphere(s)

I’ve managed to get to step 2. There are a bunch of roadblocks that have made me start over, so I’m documenting these things here.

First – getting off your planet. You will research Flying Upgrade 2 and then be able to fly off-planet. You want to have some fuel in your inventory and in your mech, Graphite and Hydrogen are two obvious primitive ones or you can make fuel rods with a lot of power.

To get off planet, double tap the spacebar and your mech is atmospherically flying. Now hold the space bar and hold down the W key, you will transition to space mode. Don’t accelerate yet ! Figure out where your destination planet is – I have a hard time every time I do this – then point your mech at it with the W key.

Once you’re flying straight at your destination, press SHIFT. This accelerates you from 100 m/s up to 1000. I never go faster than 600 and usually 300, because if you miss the planet, turning around is very hard. Fly straight at the planet and crash into it by using ALT. Slow down by pressing S.

The research is done factorio-style where you have to construct colored cubes, which get burned in the process. Blue cubes are pretty easy – set up factories to make magnets and circuit boards, send those to a research lab for cube construction, then send them to storage or another research lab to conduct research.

Red cubes are a step up. You need Graphite, easily made from coal, but you also need hydrogen. Strangely enough, getting RID OF resources is the bottleneck you will have to solve. Hydrogen comes from oil refining, or X-Ray cracking, and you need tons of the stuff to make enough red cubes. The refined oil is much easier, you can send it to a liquid storage tank and store tons of it in these. You’ll want it later.

Next, come yellow cubes. These required diamonds, easily made (!?) from Graphite. They also require crystals which are created from two rare resources, 1 Organic Crystal, and 3 Titanium Bars.

The titanium has to be imported from another planet. The game is set up so every game will have little titanium on the starter planet, but at least one other planet with a bunch of it. Set up some factory resources and mine titanium, then smelt it into titanium bars and store it. Take a bunch with you back to your starter planet.

The starter planet titanium is hidden among all the trees and rocks scattered all over. Your mech can harvest all of this stuff, so you might as well, while you wait for some research to be completed. I get around 2-3 hundred titanium ore from this process and stuff for the miserable Organic Crystals

The REALLY hard part is creating the stupid Organic Crystals. These don’t sound hard – flying to another planet does – but they require a long complex supply chain. Get your Refined Oil, plus Graphite, to make plastic. Then take plastic, plus refined oil, and water, to create Organic Crystals.

Remember making those red cubes ? I keep ending up with a ton of excess hydrogen and a hard time keeping the refineries going to make refined oil. So you have to find some way to solve this, like make additional oil extractors over other oil seeps and feed that to a refinery farm doing nothing but extracting the fuel.

You can also make small quantities of Organic Crystals with the wood and plants on your planet. So I gather as much of that stuff as I can, store it, and once the recipe unlocks I make as much as I can.

That’s as far as I have gotten. I restarted the first time because it was all confusing. Second restart was due to choking on oil and hydrogen in a huge mess. Third restart due to Organic Crystal madness. But I’m starting to see a pattern here and am producing resources for the next cube. The easy one is a crystal made from silicon, and these are under construction already. The hard one will be on my research path sometime soon.

Also, set up a plant to make sulfuric acid. This requires – you guessed it – refined fuel, water, and stones. The recipe for graphene requires it, and this stuff is for solar sails and your interplanetary, or planetary, drone system.

And remember to take in all the sights. The visuals are just breathtaking.

What I would really like to understand is just HOW you construct the Dyson Sphere, but it appears the tools don’t work until you have finished the tech tree.

More Than Conquering The Galaxy ?


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ROTP is definitely an awesome game as it approaches release – go take a look. The end goal, of course, is to conquer the galaxy, meaning every system which has a maximum of one planet in it. Each planet is simplified as well, to permit the task to be completed.

I hadn’t really thought people might be able to design a better game, with a BIGGER GOAL than that, and incorporating more detail than simplified sliders, but it appears Youthcat games – a Chinese group of designers – have managed it with the Dyson Sphere Program. The universe is empty, so we’re not talking about conquest……….. although that might come in the future of this early access game. You apparently pick a system, and set to work creating a Dyson Sphere, a set of constructions around the star to harvest absolutely all of that stellar energy.

The game immediately brings to mind Factorio. Probably Satisfactory as well, although a “3D Factorio” was not enough to convince me to try it. The visuals are all really pretty, and I’m very clearly playing a Factorio clone. Mine iron. Mine copper. Start researching – which costs things you build with Iron and Copper. Manufacture stuff in a massive factory to reach the end goal.

You are a mech (In effect – the text is more subtle), and you build and sculpt your initial planet until you can begin to move from planet to planet; and presumably from star to star. The end goal is pretty far off for me, but I’m getting the hang of it and it is incredibly polished and bug free for an Early Access steam game.

Definitely something to consider buying, and this week, it’s on sale for a mere $18. $20 full price. It’s release week, and will be on sale for 41 hours as I write this.

I’ve owned the game for about four days, and ……… there have been four micro patches in that time. The developer appears serious about being committed to the game and finishing it all up. True, these are seriously micro patches (Like one new feature and 3-4 issues dealt with) but the attention is important.

If you REALLY want to find something to complain about, I’m sure you can – the translation isn’t perfect, maybe all the phrasing makes sense in Chinese – Or the minimal documentation – but it looks like a worthy successor to Factorio which can capture hundreds of hours from you.

Not Actually Impossible


I recall reading an analysis of the chance that any player will get a Light or Dark Nat 5 in Summoners War. It was well reasoned, and showed the math that you would probably never get one. Unless you were lucky.

I’m lucky. I have Pontos, the Light Sea Emperor.

S1 – Transfers a harmful effect to the enemy.

S2 – AOE attack that silences enemies for 2 turns.

S3 – Grants immunity and invincibility to all allies for 1 turn.

Based on that last skill, it sounds like the obvious runing choice is triple will, which should make that timeframe four turns instead of one, unless there’s some exception carved out in the code I’m unaware of.

And of course, where do you get will runes ? That’s right – the Dragons basement. My Tricaru project takes on even more significance based on that.

It turns out someone has already made an even better spreadsheet than the one I came up with, and I’m using this to try and solve the 18-ish piece puzzle of getting runes to achieve the Tricaru team. The good news is I have the three 2/4/6 runes on the first Icaru, with one set even being determination, thus giving me more wiggle room for the stats.

Been farming all day the rifts in search of either runes, or rune materials, but so far haven’t added to the three existing. Slot 1 is easy, but slots 3 and 5 have very steep and random requirements so it’s a question of waiting for the RNG to settle.

I recall something I learned in math class about random numbers – the anomalous results tend to “clump”. I am hoping that I get some nice clumpy results and more Nat4 and Nat5 light & dark creatures.

Building (Tr)icaru


The new hotness in Summoners War is building a team to clear the Dragons basement. The meta team is usually called Tricaru, which consists of three Icarus, plus Verdehile which long time players all have.

You might think, as I did, that the difficulty is just creating three Icaru with full second awakening, but that would not be correct. The challenge is runing each Icaru. I had no idea it would be this difficult when I started.

The magic number is getting 2381 extra defense points for me (as per the community’s table). Okay. That doesn’t sound hard, but it turns out it actually is.

Target Defense2381
2 Defense Artifacts(200)
Slot 3 Rune (Flat Mainstat)(160)
Slot 2 Defense (63%)(463)
Slot 4 Defense (63%)(463)
Slot 6 Defense (63%)(463)
Wildcard Defense points needed632

So far, so good. But then you realize what all this means based on the rules of Summoners War runes. You CANNOT have a Defense % substat on any of the 2/4/6 runes because that’s the main stat. Also, Slot 1 is the Attack rune and therefore can’t have any defense stats, either flat or percentage.

Flat Bonuses0
2 runes left (3, and 5)
Amount per rune316
So what percentage?42%
Defense Max8%
Potential Defense – Legend40%
There might be some rounding issues here, but point is made.

So – to do this without “special” rune sets, you need two runes with almost perfect rolls and perhaps some good grinds added to close-to-perfect ones. Do you have any of these ? Yeah, me neither.

Maybe you could make this work with every rune having flat defense stats as well, but that’s not likely. Every roll into flat is a roll that can’t go into percentage, after all.

So with that out of the way, you have two rune types of value here. Guard runes, and Determination runes. Guard : 2 runes gives a +15% defense bonus. Determination : 2 runes gives EVERYONE on the team a +8% defense bonus. Just to make it more painful, Determination is hard to get since they come from rifts or crafting…….. and Guard runes come from the Dragons dungeon.

Dragons. You know, the dungeon you are building these creatures to conquer.

I started playing around with the spreadsheet above and I think I found the sweet spot, where getting the stats is difficult but not impossible.

Target Defense2381
2 Defense Artifacts(200)
Slot 3 Rune (Flat Mainstat)(160)
Slot 2 Defense (63%)(463)
Slot 4 Defense (63%)(463)
Slot 6 Defense (63%)(463)
Additional Defense points needed632
Guard Runes (3×15%)(344)
Determination (1×8%)(62)
Wildcard Defense points needed226
Flat additions0
2 runes left113
Required amount32%
Per rune16%
Much less stressful

This starts to get more do-able. Somehow, acquire at least one Determination set with high defense values and figure out how to plug that into an Icaru. Or, give Verde a Determination set. Either works. Get 2/4/6 Guard Defense runes (Believe it or not, I don’t have a single one :cries:) And getting 16% per guard rune just means getting a double roll on a rune and/or adding some grind. Get flat stats for an even easier time.

The best way to get 6 star Guard runes is running Dragons 12, and my current team passes it a mere 50% of the time (Verdehile, Dusky, Fran, Loren, Spectra). Still – it will happen eventually with these parameters. I can also craft Guard runes to shorten the time, hopefully.

This will be fun, even if it takes a very long time to finish.

Engineering Good PvP


Your career in Fortnite is also an interesting topic.    Compare this with your PvP game of choice.

I started out as a clueless newbie who had seen nothing more than my daughter running through a virtual world much as I have done many times over the years, and/or watching her fall from the sky in a fantastic skydive / glide combination before hitting the ground and starting the real match.

You control your direction and the speed of falling. You eventually deploy a glider which falls slowly but has lots of lateral movement.

And I played my first game.   I got killed, I think.   I followed my daughter and obediently listened as she explained nuances of the game.    I stepped back and let her turn on the feature “If you’re handicapped and can’t hear well, we will show you where the sound of footsteps is on the screen” – right up my alley considering the amount of silent gaming that I do.    (If you play on a PC, turn this on.   Super helpful.)    And her friends were all amused at the Silent Dad fumbling his way through the game and helped protect me.

But after a dozen games I was on my own and solo, and I’d figured out the first pieces of the game.   How the weapons work, how to build a wall, where the controls were.   And a funny thing happened – I won the game.

Wow, am I good at this or what ?

No, I definitely suck at this game.    It turns out that Epic has added bot players to the game, and then there are the people trying to play on devices which Fortnite was never meant to be played on, like smartphones, or where control issues are present.    And I merrily pickaxed them, shoved shotguns in their faces, and avoided anyone who looked like they were building structures, until I was the last man standing.

People build crazy things like this contraption at the speed of mouse clicks. I’m much slower.

And I really enjoyed it.   I had come out on top, after all.     And in my mind it was all those years of shooters via the PC (Wolfenstein, Doom, and the rest) that made me victorious.   So I played another solo game.

The COVID 19 lockdown convinced me to keep going and stop being such a cheapskate, buy the $10 pass, so I did.   And I kept winning.    Almost every game.

I’m not sure when, but at some point I only managed to keep in the top 10 or top 5 where I have stayed ever since, but that has to be the gentlest introduction to PvP I have ever been exposed to.    And in a 100 person murder simulator no less.

No sense of loss at all.   Earn XP by doing well at the game, and carefully managed by the designers, so you don’t earn too much or too little and follow their intended path to Max Level.    Move up and down skill tiers based upon how well you do in the game (The formula has not been shared with The Internet).

I can compare this well with Ingress.

  • The first day I played I could not touch anything the other players were doing, because I didn’t understand the game and their power was logarithmically higher than mine.
  • My attacks the first day were laughably weak and didn’t do any damage.   Not that I understood that, I just noticed that nothing was happening.
  • Every defense was a loss.    Both on my first day, and on my last day – it’s impossible to defend, leading to a losing experience.   Sure, you just rebuild, but in the moment you lost, if it was a portal or field you wanted to keep up.
  • Every bot account was player created and dedicated to spying or cheating.

What a different experience than I’m used to for anything PvP.   New players are just fresh meat to be beat up on until they can rise to the occasion; or just beat up on until they quit.   Not Fortnite.   Epic carefully holds peoples hands and skillfully matchmakes them to create enjoyable experiences.

I think I’m hooked now, for the moment anyway.    And a lot of it comes back to that intoxicating feeling of beating 100 other people at The Hunger Games – whatever the truth of that is – and gives me a window in the success of Epic.


Discovering Fortnite


An advantage to having adult kids in the house is the games they discover might be fun.    Such is the case with the everpresent Fortnite.

I have heard about this game for a year and a half from all the muggles of the world.    “Oh my god, my kid is playing Fortnite too much !”    Being busy with Ingress at launch time and other priorities since, I have never investigated further and simply sneered at the idea that the game might be interesting.    This is just for kids !

Then my daughter got an Xbox.    And she LOVES Fortnite.    She’s been playing for about six months and is pretty good, and has some unusual priorities as far as I’m concerned – her favorite thing is the skins and wraps and whatnot that the game has.  She immediately told me I should play it, but also threw out mixed signals since she didn’t want me partying up with her crew (a bunch of real life friends), especially after they all started telling her how cool I am.   I didn’t want to screw things up for her.  But she convinced me to try it out, and I journeyed and persevered through figuring out

  • What is this game exactly ? (Well, that’s easy, 100 player Battle Royale)
  • Where did this come from again ? (Not a Gears of War player, never played an Epic game)
  • Why is this fun ?   What’s the progression ?   How to do this cheaply ?

And so here’s what I figured out, credit to Wikipedia for most of it :

Back in 2017 Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds – PUBG for the initiated – came out and was a huge success.    I was tempted to buy into it, but PvP has never been my thing and it cost around $40 I believe.    Having a huge Steam backlog keeps me from buying things nowadays.

Also in 2017 Epic was putting together a free to play game called Fortnite.    This game sounds like a bunch of gamers getting together in a conference room and talking about what their new game should have :

  • Fully destructible world
  • 4 player coop (See Left 4 Dead)
  • Zombies
  • Free to play with microtransactions
  • Tower Defense concept
  • Buildable structures in support of tower defense
  • Scavengable representation of the real world

And they went ahead and realized their game.   It was OK.   RockPaperShotgun was not very complimentary, making it sound like microtransaction hell.

But when PUBG came out, they realized their game was pretty close and a good fit in the Battle Royale era, so they threw their hats in the ring.    In a super short two month timeframe they created “Fortnite Battle Royale”, which now has become Fortnite.    With the success, the titles have switched.


Fortnite BR is now a multi billion dollar success.    They have the entire teen universe playing this plus God knows how many other gamers.  After you get past Battle Royale the game has features including :

  • Free To Play.   Want to try it ?   Just put it onto your device.
  • Chapter and Season content.   I keep forgetting which is which.    But the Season 2 introduced a new map with a hugely varied set of areas for you to kill each other on.   I have to hand it to their mapmaker(s), it’s really well done.
  • Want to pay ?   Buy a Battle Pass which is good for one Chapter.   $10 is pretty reasonable.   This permits you to unlock a few characters, and get all the rewards for levels 1 – 100.

My team. They’re just skins, absolutely no in game benefit.

  • Cheapskate ?   Play through the chapter and acquire V-Bucks (premium currency).   Hold onto them and you can buy the next chapters Battle Pass.   Ad Infinitum.
  • Whale ?   Buy a Battle Pass and keep buying V-Bucks.   You can spend them on Skins, Wraps, Songs, Gliders and other weird things, that all look really fun.
  • Don’t wait !    Each item is only available for a limited time.   Artificial scarcity with the skins, I am sure, drives a lot of impulse buying for whales.

I would love a bunch of X-Men outfits but shelling out $30 isn’t going to happen.

  • Many platforms.    I have seen Xbox, Switch, Android, IOS, and PC.   There are a lot of concerns with these different platforms all being matchmade together, which probably doesn’t matter too much because :
  • Skill Based matchmaking.   Everyone wanted to party with me when I was a newbie because the opponents are easier.    As you build up a record, they get harder, if you do well.   I can clearly see my opponents are harder than at first.
  • Like Progression ?    It’s there.   Season 2 Chapter 2 includes several unlockable skins for the “normal” progression, and the ability to unlock gold versions with each level you increase above 100.    For example, I unlocked a Brutus skin, and as I level up his head is gold and it’s trickling down until his entire costume will be 100% gold.

  • Want achievements ?   These exist, not really well done, but it’s kind of fun to try and pick them up.
  • Spy Theme.    This is exceptionally well realized and assisted greatly by the fantastic score I hear playing the game.   There are techno versions of music too, maybe that works for the kids, but I love the 60’s James Bond vibe I get from this.
  • Don’t like PvP ?   There’s no sense of loss in this game.   Lose a match, and just jump into another one.   No big deal.   The cartoony aspects of the game help a lot here.
  • Building based shooter.   I don’t build much (I think I’m called a Grounder for that reason).   Most of the match winners build structures as fast as you can click a mouse and it’s weird to watch.

Have I mentioned the main game yet ?   Why, no I haven’t.  It will be familiar to anyone who knows the Hunger Games universe.   You skydive onto an Island along with 100 other players and fight.    Find weapons tucked away in different spots on the map, acquire resources and build up little structures and rooms.  A “Storm” continuously closes in and keeps the players from just hiding out far away from each other.    Eventually a couple of players are squooshed into a small area and the last person standing wins.

The “Lobby” is where everyone shows off their cool skins and emotes, just before the match starts.

You can play solo (my preferred version), or Duo with two people, or Squad with four (My Daughter’s favorite).   Voice coms, which I have avoided with all the determination of an old bastard hating on new technology, are well implemented and inescapable.   And there is NO COMMAND LINE TEXT CHAT.    You can only talk with your teammates….. with your headset on.   By voice.

It’s fun.   It’s super hard to win.   But it’s all the game aspects behind the Battle Royale that make it a big success.

Then there’s the tweaky things I noticed.   XP is an interesting one.

  • You want to level up to unlock the next reward on the Battlepass.   But the vast majority of XP comes from Missions.    These come in a couple of flavors and are limited to a few at a time.

Yes, I have completed all the missions for the XP.

  • This, of course, pushes you to play daily (Daily logins !    Investors etc want to know this ) and not to play after they expire.   Pretty neat mechanic as well to keep teens from spending less time in the game.
  • Being a grinder, I managed to figure out a good way to play without missions.   I fish and scavenge.    Catching fish, strangely enough, gets you nearly as much XP as opening a chest.   Avoid other players, open chests, and fish for the best XP.   Having said that, it’s just the best available.
  • Grinding XP for four hours gets you about the same XP as a mission that takes 15-20 minutes.

And there are no rewards for winning the game.    No rewards for first place, second place, whatever.    Very little career tracking other than this.

3 Wins to my name

I remember each of these wins clearly.    It’s a fun sense of accomplishment.

So for now I am a daily player contributing to the juggernaut that every muggle parent exclaims against.

Fishing. For XP and Health with bonus Legendary weapons occasionally.