Tomorrow’s a bank holiday so I took Friday off work to create a restful four-day weekend. Bliss.
I bought a rug from IKEA because they’re one of the few companies who sell half-decent rugs which aren’t made of wool, and I insist on inconveniencing myself by avoiding wool to make some kind of point that nobody cares about. I like the rug.
I got my first dose of the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine! 🎉
Elegibility for my age group was announced on Friday morning, although I happened to be up past midnight on Thursday night and got lucky with the booking form when I tried it before going to sleep. The earliest appointments at my nearest vaccination centre were still a couple of weeks out so I checked Guy’s Hospital instead and they had slots available for Saturday morning, which I obviously jumped on despite the hospital being a 45-minute walk away.
The vaccination process was fine and relatively quick. They were very busy so there was a 30-minute indoor Shit Argos Experience while I waited for my name to be called, which I would’ve preferred to avoid, but the situation seemed pretty safe and it was totally worth it to get jabbed.
It’s now a day later and, apart from my arm being surprisingly sore at the injection site and my muscles aching a bit, I basically feel normal. I’m looking forward to my second dose in July.
Thanks chimp virus.
It felt very strange to be out & about in London after so long stuck inside. It’s certainly the furthest I’ve been from my flat in the last year. A little anxiety occasionally crept in around the edges — there were people everywhere — but it was a glorious sunny day and I felt relaxed and free as I walked over the Thames towards London Bridge. Hello Tower Bridge! Hello the Shard! Hello HMS Belfast! Life goes on.
I treated myself to Returnal to celebrate being (partially) vaccinated.
It’s fairly interesting and fun so far. It certainly feels like a PS5 exclusive: the raytraced lighting and 60fps frame rate look great, the haptic feedback is up to Astro’s Playroom standards, the 3D audio is immersive and convincing, and the soundtrack occasionally has a pleasing Boards of Canada vibe. Thankfully it’s possible to set the subtitles to be comfortably large (i.e. the normal size for TV and movie subtitles) even though all of the rest of the UI text remains unreadably tiny. I appreciate that it gets straight into the satisfying, arcadey action and has you exploring an alien planet in the first few minutes of play rather than wasting time with setup or tutorials.
When starting any new game I’m always most worried about the RPG elements which must inevitably plague every major title for some reason. Returnal has kept them mostly under control, although of course there’s still way too much boring admin going on with skills and upgrades and slots and stuff, not to mention all the pointless faffing about with earning and spending in-game currency. It’s not bad enough to ruin the fun but it’s a shame to see it happen at all when they could have instead focused on a really great core experience without all the distractions.
As with e.g. Spelunky, I’m unable to appreciate the “it’s different every time you play! infinite variety!” idea. I’d rather play a far smaller set of hand-crafted levels than the inevitable samey mishmash of random generation where everything looks identical but hasn’t been thoughtfully designed. (I realise I just shouldn’t play roguelikes in that case, but due to some kind of oversight I don’t get to decide the genre of the big new releases.) And it’s tempting to complain about the gameplay being repetitive but maybe that’s churlish for a game about being stuck in a time loop.
Finally, it’s sort of ridiculous that this game is so much more expensive (£70!) than The Last of Us Part II, which is clearly on a completely different level in terms of ambition, scope, complexity and narrative. I suppose games just cost loads now.
Anyway, I am in fact enjoying it, which is the only reason I’ve played it for long enough to have all these gripes.
Nat has almost caught up with me on For All Mankind so we’ll be able to watch the season 2 finale soon. I’m excited.
One thing that’s changed in the last year is the sheer volume of coffee I get through. I used to gingerly buy 200g or 250g of beans at a time and they’d last me for a month of occasional weekend cups. This week I got 3kg delivered and I’m worried it won’t last as long as I want it to.
I don’t want my treadmill to show cumulative metrics (distance, steps, “calories”) on its display because it doesn’t understand the concept of pausing: it can only be started or stopped, and everything gets reset to zero when you stop, so those numbers are meaningless if you ever take a break mid-workout.
In fact the only thing I even vaguely want to see is the current speed, but the configuration app doesn’t allow the selection of fewer than three pieces of information to cycle through, so I’m doomed to forever be tormented by the knowledge of how far and how long it’s been since the last time I stopped to get a drink, do a wee or answer the door.
I’m now down 3.8kg in total.