Halloween, probably more than most holidays in MMOs, gets a decent chunk of coverage from around the industry. Sure, it’s become a must these days to have seasonal content in your games. Players seem to enjoy it when their virtual worlds are decorated accordingly to our western traditions. Every year now, pretty much every major game has some sort of celebration for Christmas, New Years, even Thanksgiving often enough. But my favorite, far and above the others, is when my MMO of choice gets down with Samhain and gives us the Halloween fare. And today actually being Halloween and all, I figured I’d share with you my five favorite MMO moments from Halloweens past.
Feel free to share your own below!
5.) World of Warcraft’s First Halloween
It may seem like ancient history, but I still remember the first Halloween celebration in Ironforge and Oggrimar. Back in those days, WoW as big, but it wasn’t this worldwide cultural phenomenon that has grown to draw so much criticism, angst, fanaticism, and addiction. Back in 2005 when the first official Halloween celebration went down, we were just a bunch of gimped Paladins with Gnome masks, candy corn, and a sense of glee in our step. What’s almost better is if you can remember the days before launch when the WoW community team put together a little audio reenactment of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with Gnomes playing the main characters. Ah, the simple joy of receiving malachite as a treat. Seven years later and fall still makes me nostalgic for early Azeroth.
4.) The First Trip Into Duskwood
Speaking of early Azeroth, around October in 2004, while the game was still in beta, I was meandering happily around Elwynn Forest (the first incarnation of which is still the most complete themed zone in the game). I was happy to be playing the game, having only made my way into the beta recently. My very first hunter was still learning the ropes, and prone to wandering I found myself on the other side of a river… the sky had gone dark, and the bushes had eyes. It seems a little silly now, but this was around Halloween, and the mood and creepy atmosphere of Stitches’ playground was absolutely enthralling. The worgen before they became playable, the house on the Raven Hill Cemetary… it was all very appropriate.
3.) Warhammer Online’s RVR Halloween Bash
Let’s get away from WoW now, as this isn’t a column just about Blizzard’s behemoth. Like many, I was completely wrapped up in WAR’s launch a while back. And unless I’m mistaken, the team actually had a nice Halloween event ready to go just a few short weeks after the September 18th launch in 2008. Called “The Witching Night”, it wasn’t exactly the most in-depth creation ever, but considering it was ready to go so soon after launch, I’ll forgive them that much. So soon after launch, the RVR was plentiful, the lakes were not akin to deserts, and the madness was in full effect.
Plus, I got the coolest goblin mask ever.
2.) A City of Halloween
I wasn’t around during City of Heroes’ launch, but I was playing the game on Halloween in 2006 when my friends and I made a point to do what any hero should do on Halloween: dress up – as regular people. We walked around the popular hubs, talking about our boring desk jobs, who won the game last night, and whether Marge in accounting was ‘doable’. Ah, City of… you’re still one of the best RP games out there.
1.) Ultima Frights
By far though, my greatest memory from Halloween while gaming came from Ultima. Not really an MMO moment as my number one, so I apologize if I’ve mislead you, but this one just popped up in the ol’ noggin and I had to share it.
If you remember, in Ultima VII: The Black Gate, there was a throwaway reference to Wing Commander’s Kilrathi race in the form of a crashed spaceship in the middle of an isolated field. I never was so scared and into an RPG in terms of immersion than I was that night. Family was gone to some party, I was home sick and playing Ultima VII on our old Compaq Presario. When little green men crawled out of the spaceship and started chasing the Avatar across Britannia I about had a heart attack. I wanted to run with him. I wanted to scream. I probably could have killed the little buggers, but I just ran. It was probably the first time, and not the last, a game scared the living crap out of me.
But yes, I fear little green men. And yet I like to play Goblins. Don’t ask me.