USgamer is a very special site indeed. Its staff are some of the nerdiest, and loveliest people I've ever worked with, bringing a ridiculously high level of passion day in and day out. I've been lucky to have been part of the team for a little over two years now, but unfortunately this is my final week working on the site. In that time I've written 1,826 articles. Most of these are guides, but there's some news and reviews sprinkled in there too, alongside the odd op-ed every now and then. It's a body of work that I'm immensely proud of, one that tells the story of my very first proper job in the games industry.
For my last article on USG, I wanted to pull out ten articles that mean a lot to me. Some of these are noteworthy due to the huge amount of work and effort that went into them. Some allowed me to work through personal trauma, while others are just great examples of how much a blast I've had working at USgamer over the last couple of years. So, while staying true to my SEO roots, here are the Top 10 Best Jake Green Articles on USG.
10. Luigi's Mansion 3 Gem Locations
This particular article brought me to my breaking point as a guides writer, and as a human being. In general, being a guides writer is a pretty awesome gig. You get access to games early, play them a bunch and then help other players with places where they might get stuck. The absolute bane of every guides writer's life is the collectibles guide. If you're trying to 100 percent a game and need to find a few missing collectibles, you probably just Google it, right? Well now imagine that not only does the information you're looking for not exist yet, but you are the one being tasked with willing it into existence, all the while you're on a tight deadline.
With mere days before the launch of Luigi's Mansion 3, I was missing one single gem collectible. I'd sent countless emails to my long-suffering PR contact at Nintendo, who despite their best efforts couldn't help me. One day to go and I pretty much gave up, wrote the guide and got it ready for publishing, final gem or no final gem. Thankfully, the solution came to me late that night, when I realized there was a small area of the map that I'd yet to search. There's nothing quite like releasing a full guide detailing the locations of 100+ collectibles; it honestly feels like handing in a dissertation. Next time you look up the location of some gem or ancient coin or secret tape, spare a thought for the poor guides writer who worked it all out first.
9. Top 10 Games of 2018: Strawberries and Horse Testicles
Next up is the first end of year article I wrote for USG . I'd worked pretty hard up to this point, trying to keep up with 2018's infamously stacked lineup of games, so it was fun to blow off some steam and reminisce on my first year in the industry. I always loved doing these end of year lists, mostly because everyone on the team each wrote their own. I genuinely read everyone's, and then tried to fill in the gaps on what I'd missed out on that year. I only got to write two of these articles (hell, maybe I'll come back to write a third), but between managing to shout out No Man's Sky in both, and getting to shine a light on lesser-known games like Legendary Gary, I feel like I made some good picks.
8. Life Is Strange 2 Lead Writer on Episode 1's Shocking Events and the Shift From Arcadia Bay to a Road Trip
Something that you may or may not be aware of is that our parent company puts on the EGX shows every year. This gives the USG writers on the U.K. side of the pond the chance to head to an event, which opens up all kinds of interview opportunities. The first event I attended while representing USG was EGX 2018, which meant a long train journey to the sunny streets of Birmingham. I had a few interviews and demo sessions booked, but the one I was looking forward to the most was one with Life Is Strange 2's lead writer Jean-Luc Cano . I psyched myself up and asked some difficult questions, got some interesting answers back, and went back to my hotel room to transcribe it all. Interviewing people is not easy, but the few times I have done it make me want to do it more often.
7. Ranking the Fictional Punk Bands in The Last of Us Part 2
I feel like we really hit our stride as a team on USG the last 6 months or so. This is largely due to a stronger emphasis on collaboration between writers while working on coverage of a new game. Generally, we'll get a few codes before launch, and each writer handles their own specific section. Reviews, guides, and features come out of this, and over the last few months we got really good at helping each other create better content.
This meant that I had more opportunities to write feature content on a new game, on top of the usual guides writing that made up my day to day. The Last of Us Part 2 gave writers and players a lot to talk about, and instead of focusing on the game's more violent and dour themes, I tasked myself with writing something light. This piece ranks fictional punk bands that I created, based on the artwork you can find in the game. It was a welcome palette cleanser after spending 50+ hours bashing people's faces in with various blunt objects in The Last of Us Part 2, and I'm happy that I managed to come up with a unique angle to a game that was covered as exhaustively as this one.
6. Alt-Frequencies Review
I only wrote two reviews while working at USG; they're not really my bag. Weirdly, both games involve a time loop, with Alt-Frequencies using time and a neat radio-tuning mechanic to convey a story of political intrigue and conspiracy . Alt-Frequencies came out at a time where the U.K. was tearing itself apart over the fallout from the Brexit vote, so its themes really struck a chord with me. I always prefer reviewing smaller games, leaving the triple-A blockbusters to more capable hands. It was great to be given the freedom to review games that I felt needed to be covered, even if it's not something I'd want to be doing full time.
5. Paper Mario The Origami King: Full Great Sea Map With All Island Locations
Every now and then, there's a project that reminds me of why I like writing guides. Paper Mario: The Origami King was one such project, allowing me to enjoy a 40-hour Mario story while whittling away on guides that I felt would be helpful for players coming after me.
One particular guide was a real joy to put together, the walkthrough for the game's Great Sea section. As you unlock new locations in this area, they are added to your map, and to find them all you have to sail an adorable little boat around. Many of the Great Sea islands were tough to find, but extremely satisfying to uncover. This whole segment of Paper Mario: The Origami King gives off real Wind Waker vibes, and when I think back to the completed map and the accompanying guide I wrote it always reminds me that, yes, I am very lucky that I get to do this job every day.
4. The Last of Us Part 2 Understands the Important Part That Music Can Play in the Mourning Process
In the lead up to the release of The Last of Us Part 2 I fully expected it to hit hard as far as emotional subject matter was concerned. I was surprised while playing through it, as I felt largely disconnected with the violence, the horror, the story of revenge, instead connecting with a fairly inconsequential music minigame that appears a few times in the story. In these sections you use the Dualshock 4's touchpad to strum a guitar, all the while Ellie sits, sings, and mourns the loss of a dear friend.
It all reminded me of the time I had used music to help myself through the mourning process, so I naturally felt a very strong connection to Ellie and her guitar. Writing this piece was a very cathartic experience, one that reminded me of why I even bothered getting into writing in the first place.
3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons Walkthrough
The Animal Crossing: New Horizons Walkthrough on USG is my magnum opus, the single piece of work I am most proud of. I worked harder on the 100 or so guides in this collection than I've worked on anything else in my career. In the lead up to launch, it was clear that New Horizons was going to be a huge success. I took a risk, and employed a slightly different guides approach, one that involved producing a hell of a lot more pages, hoping to reach more people. By the night before release I was about as close to burnout as I've ever been, but I was confident that the work I had done would at the very least be justified if we did okay traffic at launch.
I woke up to messages from a bunch of different people on my team, the guides had broken site records, with nearly every one of them sitting comfortably at the top of Google searches. Being a guides writer is tough, but most of us get by on the thrill of seeing our work reach large groups of people. These Animal Crossing guides reached more people than I'm likely to reach ever again with a guide or any other article I write. Sometimes hard work goes unrewarded, but every now and then you see proof that it can pay off in droves.
2. Axe of the Blood God: Our Non-Spoiler Final Fantasy 7 Remake Discussion
Something I wish I'd done more of in my time at USG is be on more podcasts. I got to be on this episode of Axe of the Blood God with Kat Bailey, in which we discussed our thoughts on Final Fantasy 7 Remake. The reason I love this episode so much is mostly due to Kat's totally unhinged energy throughout. I think she'd marathoned the game so hard that it kind of broke her brain a bit, and you can kind of tell that our thoughts were very much up in the air. I like Kat a lot, and I'll take any opportunity to sit and talk games with her, so it was nice to do it on Axe of the Blood God.
1. Outer Wilds Review
One of the best parts of this job has been getting to try out games that I'd otherwise have missed. One morning, my manager sent me a DM simply saying 'Outer Wilds?' I didn't have a whole lot on that week so decided to give it a go, and if you've read my review you'll know that it ended up being one of my favorite games of all time. Around the time I was working on this review, Eurogamer's own Christian Donlan had recommended to me a book about time called Time Travel: A History by James Gleick. This book helped me form my thoughts about Outer Wilds' unique take on a time loop, and for a week or so, it's all I really thought about. Sometimes you struggle to get words onto paper, no matter how much you enjoy the subject you're writing about, this case was the complete opposite. The Outer Wilds review kind of just flowed out of me, and once I was done I changed very little from my first draft. I think it's some of the best writing i've ever done, I'm really proud of how it turned out.
Working at USgamer over the last 2 years has been such a pleasure. The team is made up of people who are genuinely the best at what they do, and I've learned so much from each and every one of them. It's frustrating to have my time here cut short, but this isn't exactly uncommon in this industry. I'll likely pop up on the site every now and then, but for now I'm moving onto something new. I'm grateful for getting to be a part of such a talented team for as long as I was, and I'm particularly thankful to our Editor-in-Chief Kat Bailey for being such a great mentor, and to Senior Editor Caty McCarthy for helping me improve as a writer. I'm not the only one leaving this week, so make sure you check out Joel Franey's farewell piece here (it also mentions Outer Wilds). Hirun Cryer is also heading off this week, he's an extremely talented writer and you should absolutely check out his catalogue of articles on USG. Thanks to everyone who read my articles during my time here, and to everyone who continues to read and support the site.