What I've Been Playing This Week (aka Pile of Shame Sunday)

Screenshot of Remnant in Mass Effect: Andromeda

The following post is part of a series of posts that are published every Sunday to update readers on what Mark G has been up to with respect to finishing off games on his "Pile of Shame". The games to target are picked by Choicest Games contributors Choona, Luke and Lanna. As I'll be talking about my progress through these games, there may be spoilers ahead, especially for games containing a narrative. Consider yourself warned.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

  • Picked by Lanna
So I ended up doing some more side quests on Eos and a highlight was setting up an antenna so that Prodromos can now get TV beamed straight from the Nexus (ah… first world problems). Anyway, I ended up picking new Cryo Pods at this time that granted you access to hidden caches which is pretty good if you want new weapons without having to craft them. Also, in my game, Eos currently has 98% viability and it’s free from radiation – it’s so good not having to worry about your crew dying from severe radiation poisoning – but they still have to worry about native fauna, Remnant and Kett though… Also, the amount of area you can explore is huge and man are there soooo many sidequests – it’s maddening (and most are fetch quests too).

Before I said goodbye to Eos and its sidequests I made sure to complete one involving the use of seismic hammers in order to tap for groundwater. While doing this quest I was wondering where I’ve heard of bashing hammers on desert planets and what were the consequences of said actions – shortly after my crew experienced “wormsign”; yes, I know this isn’t Frank Herbert’s Dune, but it might as well be, since a huge Remnant worm erupted from the desert and started attacking the crew. Man it was a tough fight but we eventually whittled it down and defeated it.

After Eos, I travelled back to the jungle world of Havarl. Apparently Jaal had a quest for me to complete but unfortunately his contact ended up being a dead end (or at least, meeting one). I also worked my way up this Remnant structure where some so-called sages lived at its peak. Apparently, they may have a way of recalling the location of a third monolith (that needs to be found before the planet’s vault can be accessed) but the catch is that we require the help of a Roekaar in order to trigger a memory and pinpoint the location.

I then had enough of Havarl and headed back to the ice planet of Voeld to see if I could help Cora find any Asari Ark survivors. Just like on Eos, I spent a lot of time doing side quests. Unfortunately, with respect to Cora’s quest, we didn’t find any Asari survivors, just a whole bunch of Kett. But we did find a transponder that SAM and Cora could use to extrapolate the last known position of the Asari Ark. So I guess that’s something. Jaal has built quite a rapport with Cora, going so far as to consider Cora as a sister. Speaking of, I love the chats in the Nomad between your squadmates – it reminds me of the elevator chats in the original Mass Effect.

In terms of other quests I completed on Voeld, there were quite a few such as helping the Resistance free some prisoners from a Kett labour camp, finding a potential outpost site for the Initiative (but we need a minimum viability rating of 40% before we can even consider colonising the planet) and also discovering the truth behind the poaching of Voeld’s whale-like creatures under the ice. Apparently, despite it seeming to be poachers from the Milky Way that were responsible, it was actually an Angaran behind the whole sordid affair. In the end, I eventually let her go but told her to report what she was doing to her own people since she provided a compelling case that the whales could be used to help heal Angarans from wounds inflicted by Kett weapons. Jaal thought it was probably the wrong decision to make.

Other side quests I completed on Voeld included acquiring some “rem-tech” for Peebee, recovering an ancient map from some Turian scavengers that developed a conscience and I also helped a "Gloryseeker" attack a Kett base; he now has second thoughts about throwing his life away and will apparently seek advice from an Angaran priestess. There was also another side quest that involved an ethical dilemma where you find a missing Angaran that is torturing a Kett soldier for answers. You can either leave her to her own devices or end the Kett soldier’s life and turn her in. I chose the latter but it wasn’t an easy choice to make.

So I’ve finally had enough of side quests and now travelling back to Aya. I’m now Level 20, and I’ve crafted some pretty sweet Level 4 armour and weapons such as an Angaran sniper rifle called the Isharay and I’ve also upgraded my Heleus armour which is apparently a hybrid of Milky Way and Andromedan technology. I didn’t quite have enough research to get the blueprints for an N7 Valkyrie IV assault rifle unlocked but I did create a Level 3 version of one since I think they’re still pretty awesome – I love battle rifles or assault rifles with high damage.

Company of Heroes 2

  • Picked by Luke
I finally finished the third mission in the campaign for Company of Heroes 2! Now only 11 more to go (apparently). The last time I played Company of Heroes 2 (which was when it was originally released) the third mission was where I failed and eventually gave up on the game since other games were distracting me at the time. It all boiled down to ensuring the flanks weren’t broken by the German panzers but this isn’t an easy task when all you’ve got are three anti-tank guns since they’re the only weapons in your arsenal for taking out enemy tanks and the tanks can easily manoeuvre around them. What I didn’t realise the last time I played the third mission was how close I was to the part where you actually got to kick some butt… in the form of T-34s as reinforcements! Needless to say, the rest of the mission where you retake the ridge was really easy in comparison.

Now I’m on the fourth mission which introduces freeze mechanics to the player. When it’s really cold, normal troops (snipers are immune apparently) need to stay warm in either buildings or near campfires; if you leave them out in the cold too long they all freeze to death. Since I was afraid of my troops freezing I figured that at the beginning of the mission, they could do without that MG42 lying around for the taking – turns out it was a bad move since once your squad of conscripts reaches the rendezvous point, they’re ambushed by three squads of German soldiers – too late for friendly snipers to save your hides (and losing your conscript squad is an automatic mission failure). When I did decide to take the MG42, I managed to at least survive with half my squad intact.

It's also good to see that when you spawn snipers there’s a chance of them being female snipers which is historically accurate since the Soviet Union did employ female snipers during WWII such as Lyudmila Pavlichenko who is credited with 309 kills and is considered one of the top military snipers of all time.

A Virus Named Tom

  • Picked by Choona
Progressed a bit more in the single player campaign. Although I did get stuck for a while on one of those invisible tile puzzles (i.e. the puzzles where you must have the pipe in the correct configuration in order for it to be revealed) and I was tempted to use one of my skip puzzle tokens; through sheer luck I managed to figure it out in the end. I’ve currently finished four out of the six stages (the fourth one involved a holosuit and the fifth involves infecting a hydrator). I’m loving the soundtrack so far – just as well I’ve got it along with the game.

Currently, I’m once again stuck on a puzzle – just your default pipe puzzle without the need to test your reflexes – although I think I’m actually better at the ones that test your reflexes since they require less thinking and more reacting to stimuli (i.e. enemy drones). It’s good in a way that they mix up the types of puzzles otherwise I’d probably still be struggling in the first or second stage. Anyway, I’ll give this puzzle a couple of more tries but if I still can’t figure it out, I might have to use a skip token after all (and then of course, it’s all downhill from there!)

[ The Pile of Shame ]