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A Treat, or a Trick?

David North Posted:
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Is Halloween really just around the corner?  Wow, time sure does fly by!  It’s a good thing though.  It’s not only my favorite holiday, but as a player from the original Guild Wars games, it means I get to play in a fun in-game event.  ArenaNet has been teasing us on their website, and the expectations are very high.  This is a sequel, so I’m expecting Guild Wars 2 to kick up the festive celebration a few notches. 

The first thing a player would always notice in the original game would be the decorations.  It was always fun to see ghosts and candy corn monsters running around town, causing all sorts of mischief.  Pumpkins, candles, cauldrons and other decorations would litter a town, giving you the Halloween feel.  Guild Wars 2 does the same thing, but really sells it.  Candles float, Quagans run around in costumes, bats hand upside down watching as you walk beneath them.  The best part is the change to the mystic forge, switching it to look like a giant cauldron. The effect is just what the event needs to tie the visuals together. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: After David wrote this, the following update was given by ArenaNet regarding the ability to get skins from the Black Lion Chests themselves:

"Our Halloween celebrations are in full swing, costume brawls are aplenty and the Shadow of the Mad King is falling across Tyria. Because we are as excited as you are, we will add another opportunity for you to get shiny Halloween goodies.

You will be glad to hear that we are adding recipes to the Mystic Forge that will allow you to throw stuff you get from the Black Lion Chests into it to get a special Halloween chest (no key needed for this one). These chests will include Halloween specific loot and give you a second chance to get one of the terrifying, rare Halloween skins. Here is the recipe we will add:

You need 1 Candy Corn, 6 Mystery Tonics, 1 Boost (any), 1 Boost (any) to get a Mad King Chest.

We hope you like this gruesome addition, we will let you know immediately when they will be in the game – enjoy the celebrations!"


The world outside of Lion’s Arch is also branded with the Halloween feel.  Giant pieces of candy corn stick out of the ground, waiting for you to collect the delicious candy.  Spooky doors also randomly appear, tempting you to knock on them.  Will you receive a tasty treat, or will you be attacked by a fearsome foe?! 

Lion’s Arch really goes through a crazy transformation.

A visual change is not enough though.  A fun event needs to get you involved, and in the past, ArenaNet sent players on quests.  This worked in GW1, but was just more of the same with a new theme behind it.  Now it’s a bit different, and don’t worry I won’t give away any spoilers.  Yes, you embark on a quest, but you’re not given a clear direction of where to go.   Instead you get clues to certain locations, so it’s more like a scavenger hunt.  And it’s rough, unless you’re the cheating type and head to the game’s Wiki page. It’s such a simple idea but it really works.  My Guild and I got our clues and really tried to figure out these locations while being all giggly about where the clues could be referring to.  Yes, this kind of content is “fluff”, but that’s not a bad thing.  MMOs without the fluff are void of life, in my book.  I felt like a kid again!

I wish candy corn was this big in real life.

ArenaNet has mentioned new stylish looks for our characters, with a Mad King Thorn outfit, and a Witch outfit.  Both are only purchasable with gems, and are actually pretty cool looking.  The Mad King Outfit even let’s you set up a ghostly table, so that you can start a food fight.  It not only looks cool, but offers some laughs. Nothing can be wrong with these outfits, right?  Well, if you’re spending real money to get these alternate looks, you may want to wear them all the time.  The issue is that you can’t fight in these outfits.  They are simply just for walking around town as costumes.  To me, this is a huge disappointment.  Before we learned about the event, I was expecting these to be permanent skins that you could use on armor.  They did this in the original Guild Wars, so it feels like a step backwards. 

Now I know how Spider-Man feels!

 A new costume isn’t the only new visual effect you can add to your character though.  They did throw in new themed weapon skins.  There are a few ways you can get these.  First, you can rent a weapon.  It doesn’t cost gems (just candy corn or a few silver), and lasts for 4 hours.  But they don’t look nearly as cool as the permanent skins.  You can also try crafting a permanent weapon to keep the look all year round.  Again, more info on the recipes for these can be found online if you go hunting.  I won’t spoil it here.  There are also the weapon skins that come in the Black Lion chests.  This is where it gets painful.  The drop rate on these things is just, wow.  I figured if I spent ten bucks or so on some keys, that would be enough to get at least one of the weapon skins.  Ha!  No treat here friends, only a trick.  I know the Gem Store is the way for ANet to earn money without a sub, but I guess I didn’t expect such a low level of luck with these chest drops.

An alternate skin for a weapon that I want shouldn’t be this tough to obtain.  Especially if I only have a week to obtain it!  I know some who have used thirty dollars worth of keys and still not one skin.  But they are getting dropped by the chests somewhere out there, because they’re popping up on the Trading Post for insane amounts of gold.  So if you’re okay spending cash to get the skins, you could always buy gems and convert them to gold, and get the skins that way.  The problem is, people are obviously converting gems to gold right now, because the conversion is at a new high lately and you get less and less gold per gem.  So, it all boils down to not being able to get the skins except by pure luck or spending money.  Simply playing the game doesn’t help you get the look you want, only money or pure luck can.  But, really… I suppose that’s the nature of cash shops in most games these days. 

As of this writing, the community team at ArenaNet did say they’re working on way for players to use other Halloween items (candy corn maybe?) to get the items Black Lion chests drop.  That’s good to hear, because while I know it’s plain and simple cosmetic fluff, and I know you have to spend money to get the costumes for the event too, something feels off about such a low drop rate on these skins.  The costumes, if you spend the money, you get them.  There’s no luck involved.  At least your money guarantees something.  Buying the keys and getting nothing feels a heck of a lot worse, that’s for sure.

The Guild Wars 2 Halloween event is far from over.  From what I’ve seen so far, it only meets half of my expectations.  The addition to gameplay is fun, and truly fits the spirit of Halloween.  I love the themed quest so far.  On the other hand, the alternate styles I would always get excited about in the original game don’t function the way I want them to in its sequel.  The skins (as of this writing) just seem too impossible to obtain without opening my wallet pretty wide.  Let’s see how they come up with fixing the drop rate situation, and see where we are this time next week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if I can get my ten bucks back from the couch cushions.  Oh, and I still need to find out what comes from behind the black door below…

What surprises await us as Halloween draws closer and closer?


David North