Halloween has a special place in all of our hearts. It's that one time of the year, well except for cons, where we can dress up in strange and creative costumes. We can stuff our faces with more candy in one day then a person should eat during the entire year. It's also a great time to log into your favorite MMO and take part in themed events. Blood and Madness has kicked off in Guild Wars 2, and as suspected ArenaNet has added some changes to the festivities. But is it enough to make a return to the Mad Realm?
Last week I talked about what I wanted to see during the Blood and Madness event. I was hoping to see a new scavenger hunt to give us more background into a new character called the Bloody Prince. I also wanted new weapon skins, and changes to the labyrinth. I didn't think that was too much to ask for. There hasn't been a holiday event for a while so I figured the team would have plenty of time to bring in a good portion of new content for those returning from last year. Sadly, that’s not the case.
I really enjoyed the scavenger hunt from last year, and I was hoping it would make a return. It was a neat way to progress the story while also using a spooky theme for Halloween. Story is even a major priority in Guild Wars 2, with a huge focus on the Living Story part of the game world. Now we do get some new story because they have to introduce the Bloody Prince somehow, but instead of a nice story that progresses with some small tasks, a simple and short instance is used to start things off. After that, the event has you grind to gain achievements just so you can get to the end.
Now I'm not complaining that the achievements are too hard, because they're extremely easy to obtain. My issue is that rather than coming up with something interesting, such as ghost hunting, you are given the task to grind in an area that you probably already played through the previous year. The least they could have done was given us a new area to mindlessly kill things for an hour in. If you don't like to grind, and just care about story, you're out of luck. If you don't get the achievements, you don't get to see how things with the Bloody Prince end.
I'm actually pretty confused right now. During development ArenaNet mentioned that they wanted to do away with mindless grinding. It's not fun, so why force it on players. Overall I think they've done a pretty good job. Grinding is available for players that want a little extra such as legendary weapons, but it was never required. Now we have this event takes a huge step backwards and forces a grind, not just for the achievements, but for the story as well. What happened to ArenaNet's design philosophy? Did they not have enough time to focus on this event?
I'm not expecting hour’s-worth of extra content to be added just for a holiday event, but I would at least like a half hour of brand new story based content. Story is such an important part of Guild Wars 2 that you just get used to a certain standard. What could have saved this event or me, would be a brand new labyrinth. The struggle between the Mad King and the Bloody Prince isn’t really felt at all during the event. Imagine if their energies began to twist and bend the Mad Realm, making it an even deadlier place to explore! Instead the two are just standing awkwardly across from one another.
The scavenger hunt should have returned again this year, but using instances to simulate flashbacks into the past when speaking to the ghosts. This would have made the event more engaging and interesting. Just running around with a zerg killing enemies for a while just isn’t fun.
I find the Halloween event to be a pretty big disappointment the second time around. There just isn't enough new content that warrants a return visit to the Mad Realm. I'm not sure if the lack of new content was due to a tight development schedule, but what new content that was added doesn't fit in very well. It just feels like it was slapped in last minute. I sure do hope future holiday events receive better treatment. But there may still be hope! Another item on my wish list was for the dungeon to be altered. The Mad King still hasn’t crossed into our realm yet, so something new and exciting could be right around the corner.
David North / David North is a freelance writer for MMORPG.com. David loves to play and makes games, but now he writes about them! If you want to creep on him and make fun of his ability to draw, follow him over on twitter @David_the_North.
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