The Winter wonderland is here for all and there are some great additions this time that I think most people will enjoy… including myself. This time though it is good to see that everyone will get a chance to experience the new content and have a chance at the rewards, it feels a lot more inclusive that each of the stops at the different cities is 24 hours long and then we have a full 2 weeks with the end events. I have been playing this holiday event far more than the last because of this as I feel I am being included. I have done most of everything now and have my achievements for all the main Lion’s Arch activities not because I am an achievement whore or one of those consume all the content type people but because they were actually all fun in their own way.
The jumping puzzle area really does look absolutely fantastic, Arenanet really do make some amazing aesthetics for there worlds and they seem to go all out for these holiday events. I can’t say I wouldn’t prefer this development time being spent on something more worthwhile but at least what is being made is of incredible quality. The new puzzle really does have an excellent layout this time which requires a bit of learning and player ability but it is no where near as punishing as the Halloween one.. that one still irritates my nervous tick.
They have learnt from the previous experiences now as well as forum rage and made a few key changes to their puzzles design approach to alleviate certain big annoyances. Firstly they have split up the initial large group into three smaller batches which makes the first several jumps much easier to manage as players aren’t blocking your vision as badly. Secondly they have designed many of the jumps so they are away from any large overhangs or walls so that your not having to fight terrible camera angles. That was my big annoyance during the Mad King’s clock tower as many times it would turn the camera in an unusual way or block vision entirely. And lastly there are no stupid little kinks in the jumping pads to hinder your movement and make jumping, and running harder.
The jumping puzzle is still reasonable hard though but now that your no longer being unduly punished in certain parts, all the jumps are relatively smooth and easy to see so it is well within everyone’s ability to complete. But because it has been streamlined so much they have been able to push players to go at greater speeds in how they traverse the course, there is a timer for the course that uses the player health pools and with a certain amount of time you take damage and you need to keep pushing faster to make it. After practice, it is a rather easy course and you will be able to make the end relatively easily but at the beginning when your learning it is a lot of fun.
For some reason I find this incredibly cheesy but also incredibly fun, it has rather simple mechanics and layout in a way but it all adds up to more than the sum of its parts. There are 3 unique classes with their own set of skills and who fulfill different roles. The scout is your big damage class, The Heavy for reasonable damage and taking hits, and then support which focuses on control. The way these classes all balance out together is fun to play and actually feels rather diverse when the two squads face up against each other, each have their own pros and cons for the situation at hand. My favourite so far has to be the support as turning into a big boulder and constantly knocking people over and making them easy targets is a lot of fun, and then you have your ice patch and snow wall as well.
Now there are certain aims for each match. It is a race to 500 point through whatever means although the main point gain is through returning presents to your base, what makes this fun though is that the presents all spawn right in the middle area and because the players are all funneled towards it it just ends up being a massive battle Royale’. Players everywhere, skills being used all around, party members and enemies alike getting downed, revived and killed.. it is very chaotic but just oh so fun. It is no where near a serious affair like the SPvP but that is a great thing, it is just a way to have some silly player killing fun.
Another great game to fill some idle time with some interesting gameplay. It has some great principles which make it feel reminiscent of guitar hero in a way. Coloured notes come down and your job is to ring the bell note corresponding to the colour just as they enter the inner circle. I was rather terrible at it during my first several (maybe a lot more ) plays as I just couldn’t get the hang of when to ring the bell, then it was trying to learn the key pressing and such. Ping issues make this a little harder then need be but I eventually got the hang of it and it can be rather addictive as you keep striving for better scores as well as trying to beat those around you.
Overall I have to say that Anet did marvelous job creating some interesting but very fun holiday themed mini games to play which makes me wonder even more why there are still no mini games in the other capital cities (besides Keg ball that is).. especially the promised carnival sideshow part of Lion’s Arch that was promised. Having these in the game now for some reason just makes the game feel more whole, it isn’t some grind to get better gear or being on the endless battlegrounds fighting and dying. It a place to just relax, to have fun, be silly and just enjoy being in game without any pressure… there also good spots to just hang out with friends for a laugh. Bringing out these alternative activities for people to enjoy that don’t involve the familiar tropes of killing make it feel far more like a virtual world. Hopefully with time, as they realise how much of a difference fluff activities can make they might work towards them more.. and hopefully housing so I have somewhere to put all my stuff.
The Reward system is far better done then before as I’m sure no one wants hugely expensive holiday gear that only the select rich few can enjoy. They were just stupidly expensive before but know it feels like something achievable and I am glad Anet changed there minds regarding these holiday items as they really should be something that is attainable for everyone. It makes the environment far more festive and because they are much easier to gain I see a lot more people out there enjoying this new content. The world feels bristling with Wintersday joy as people newly gained and utterly hilarious Christmas skins. Necro with a princess wand.. haha
There are also plenty new recipes it seems that have some interesting effects, the insignias in particular are very well placed. I didn’t think about during the Halloween event but each time we are getting one of these events we are expanding the available gear choices in new interesting ways, this time some of the new points are boon duration and condition duration. The boon duration one seems absolutely amazing for a support guardian with the healing power added as well and may bring some interesting new diversity to the fights on the battlefield, the guardian support specs were already pretty good but now with this they have some very strong support capabilities. It will be interesting to see in the coming events how far they go with expanding the stat options as it may create new roles for many of the classes.
The new food looks like a good addition as well as it makes a few things a little more viable in WvW, the one food type I made, the saffron and mango ice cream givers a decent amount of healing power but the good bit is the karma increase. I am guessing most players have at least one character main at max level thus karma is far more valuable to gain then experience… very nice change… Badge drop one maybe in the future.. *hint hint*.
Well anyway good work Anet for a very enjoyable holiday event so far and I look forward to the other events.