The holidays at Guild Wars 2 have historically been a period of a whole pile of fun and excitement for the community, with big updates, seasonal activities and changes to the world. In recent history, the holidays have seen even more than just holiday updates, with 2015's Halloween paired with the launch of Heart of Thorns, 2015 Wintersday seeing the Fractal update and addition of Encryptions and liquid rewards, 2016 Lunar New Year seeing the addition of Central Tyria Gliding. This year being no exception, with Wintersday hitting alongside the launch of the latest PvP season. Although I hate to see things detract from the holidays, its seen a huge influx of players that can only be good for the game.
The holidays are my absolute all-time favorite part of the year, bringing with them new parts of the game to enjoy and boosting the population in general. Divinities Reach is up there for most popular city in the game, but that population skyrockets when they bring the Infinirarium to town. Suspiciously, so does the presence of Orphans in town... Hundreds of players run back and forth escorting the precious cargo of a Dolyak, throwing their precious gold to replica scammer-tron, or jumping in and out of a toypocalypse portal looking for their friends. All this on top of a beautiful winterscape of decorations in the shadow of a giant inflatable golem.
Of course, my favorite Wintersday is still the first, where all the cities were similarly decorated and able to access the activities, especially Lion's Arch which looked fantastic. But I think that I can let it slide, considering the other benefits of Wintersday and what it has brought to the game in the last few years. The sheer gold influx to players is a big part of it, with presents and gifts being showered on to us, and if you can get over the pure adrenaline rush and
carpel tunnel holiday cheer of opening your presents as they come in, then you can drop them on the trading post for a pretty significant sum. Farming the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle can net players lots of gold, provided they can survive the heart attacks and red hot rage monster that tends to strike around the halfway mark and its rigged exploding presents. After your fiftieth or so fall, that’s when you go to Snowball Mayhem, and start venting your rage in the form of ice cold snowballs to the face of your enemies.
If you’re not in to being a parkour Christmas ninja, then maybe you should try out the Toypocalypse. A delight for lovers of Tower Defense, place your defenses and stop the rampaging toys from getting to the precious gift dolyaks and save Wintersday! To me this is probably the most significant Wintersday event, for both good and bad ways. This event is such a change to the normal events of the game, and is fairly unique within Guild Wars 2, one of the few places where players cannot simply use 100% damage gear and massacre all the little enemies as they arrive, but requiring them to play smart and use the tools available to them. The big negative of course is the four-year long problem of not being able to play with friends. Outside of some lucky RNG, there is no set way for players to get in to this experience with their party, and as a team event that can be both frustrating and off putting, leaving you screaming at Arenanet for not addressing this sooner.
Skins and fashion are without a doubt the most sought after items for lots the game's player base, and Wintersday is an event that has brought us a lot of expansions in Fashion Wars 2. Like many others, a lot of these are locked behind the gem store, but it also has added 3 Black Lion sets, the toy weapon set and now the wrapped weapon set, as well as one of the most expensive shoulder skins locked behind experiencing and competing parts of the Wintersday Update, Winter's Presence, which makes it snow around your character. 3 gem store outfits, two gliders, a backpack and a couple of very festive hats, with the hats being some of the most affordable gem store skins in the game, make Wintersday is a pretty great addition to the game. As well as the scarf skin which is one of the most used shoulder skins in the game. This is fairly significant because it means that we are getting, even if they are themed, a lot of influx yearly to the wardrobe, with a lot of being obtainable completely in game, something players have been crying out for.
If you like legendary weapons, and have a lot of gold to spare, then one of the biggest time gates can be the karma requirement for the weapons. Some longer term players now swim in Obsidian Shards, but many others have a fairly limited supply. That’s where our good friends the Orphans come in! Wrapped gifts can be given out to the Orphans, and to reward your generous spirit the game showers you with Karma, the currency used to buy Obsidian Shards, some level 80 armor and trinkets and other miscellaneous items around the world. With the new maps using Karma as the currency for their heart vendors to get a lot of useful items, I encourage players to use this time wisely, as farming karma like this can set you up for the whole year. Many of the players already sit on a big pool of Karma, but for others a source of easily farmable and quick way to get Karma is a boon, and can reduce time gates on the things that they want significantly.
Wintersday definitely bring a lot to the game, and although I do adore this holiday, my
naughty list problem with this holiday just seems to grow annually now. While it’s a fantastic holiday, and the events are so much fun, for three years now players have been experiencing almost the exact same content in the exact same place. The updates are few, with maybe one or two small things added each time on top of the new gem store item. Luckily it comes around once a year, and so it’s pretty hard to get bored of repeating the content, but after all these years it would be great to see an extension of the story, or a new activity, to keep the festival fresh for those players that have been around a long time. Hopefully Santa Tixx brings a new toy, or at least a repair kit for the existing toys, for next year that can make this fantastic holiday even better.
To all of you yet to experience this content, I highly encourage you to get involved. It’s one of the best, and most varied parts of the game that lets you do a lot of things that you usually would not get to experience in this game. It’s also the only time you can purchase Piles of Snow for your guild hall, which I highly encourage you to do as they are fantastic tools for building, and also lead to various other new decorations through Scribing. Just running around the world you can find giant presents, and who knows what you might find inside? Probably more damn Skritt trying to steal your holiday cheer...
Merry Christmas everyone, wishing you a very safe and happy year to come. With a little luck, next year we will have even more to celebrate in Tyria, with the smell of an expansion around the corner, and hopefully some more of these wonderful QoL changes that we've been seeing, the game is looking like it’s still got a lot of life left. Hopefully that means some nice additions to our holidays, for the players sticking around to see all this new content.