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The Future of Holidays

David North Posted:
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ArenaNet has thrown some pretty good parties for the holiday in Guild Wars 2.  It is actually pretty common for an MMO to have a special event during a real time holiday.  The trick is to do so in a way that stands out from other games, and really reward players for participating in the event.  Dragon Bash is coming to an end now.

If I had to pick a holiday as a favorite, I don’t think I would be able to, but I could easily pick between the different parts. The jumping puzzle from Halloween is a great example.  I loved it!  It had the perfect difficulty level, and also gave off the chaotic feel of the holiday.  Now the new jumping puzzles for Dragon Bash are great, and it is nice to just start the puzzle over without having to wait for every player to fail.  But they feel more like a dungeon since the development team threw combat into the mix.

Each holiday also had its own set of weapon skins to help players share their joy for the event.  I love the huge Greatsaw Greatsword from Halloween, but as a set the Dragon Jade weapon skins are just amazing.  They feel like more time went into creating each one.  The Wintersday skins looked nice, and certainly fit the mood of the holiday, but they lacked an epic feel.

It's always scary seeing someone charge at you swinging this thing around!

While adding some more content that focuses on fun is great, rewarding the players is what will really make the event memorable.  Mini pets and achievements are always nice, but the Horns of the Dragon helm skin is probably the best.  Back in the days of the original Guild Wars, it was common to receive a special type of mask at the end of an event.  I am enjoying the back pieces, but I’d like to see more helm skins. 

I would love to see some Halloween styled head gear.

An MMO isn’t complete without dungeons.  The same goes for the holidays in Guild Wars 2.  So far we’ve seen a dungeon for every event, and each one has been pretty fun.  Tixx’s Infinirarium was great.  The dungeon really had an environment that fit the holiday, and the rewards were well thought out.  Instead of just giving you some gold, you would receive some parts to put together your own toy.  It just fit the event so well that even though it’s wasn’t the toughest dungeon, it’s the one I remember playing through.

The cycle of major holidays is now over, and it will begin again with Halloween.  Now typically in MMOs the events are the same every year.  If you didn’t get all the achievements and rewards, you simply would try again the next year.  Lately ArenaNet has been constantly throwing new content at players to keep the game fresh, so my guess is the holidays will change the second time around.

As I mentioned earlier, I want a new helm skin for each holiday.  I really enjoyed the holiday back-pieces, so maybe alternating between the two would work out.  I also want to see more skins that can be worn in combat.  I’m not a fan of town clothing, and to be honest I don’t see any players wearing these outfits.  Give us something we can wear in combat.  If I want to charge at players looking like the Mad King, why not let me? 

I really enjoyed the holiday dungeons, but I’m hoping that we will see something completely new each year.  Giving players a new challenge and new rewards will keep players interested in the events.  Now that other types of events have passed, the development team could look at all the feedback and perhaps incorporate some of those dungeon design ideas in the future.  And for the love of all that is holy, put the dungeons in the game permanently sooner rather than later!

Each event had its own way of getting players into the spirit of the holiday from scavenger hunts, to tracking down assassins.  It would be great if we had a new set of tasks every year.  There’s no reason they can’t be linked to the previous year, or even structured the same.  Without a new set of tasks there isn’t anything new many players won’t have anything to do during the event.

It may be possible that the holidays will be the same every year.  If that’s the plan, I wonder if the Living Story team will release some content for us players who completed everything?  Even if that was the case, I think I would be pretty upset.  Holidays are a big part of the MMO experience.  I had a blast for the first year of GW2.  I want the second, and the many years after, to be just as memorable.  Here’s to hoping the events and holidays will always be changing like the rest of Tyria. 

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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David North