The Holidays aren’t just approaching, they are here, and with them they bring a fresh new Guild Wars 2 Wintersday experience for all the good boys and girls of Tyria. As a well renowned Wintersday Grinch, I’ve never been particularly enamored by the Wintersday special events. This year, ArenaNet has unveiled The Secret Lair of the Snowmen, which plays off of the famed Guild Wars 1 event sharing the same name. As could be expected from such an event, Wintersday may be in trouble, and it’s up to all able-bodied heroes to face an icy, cold-hearted threat, lest a beloved Holiday be ruined. We had the chance to join a guided play through of the event that took us through a little bit of the lore whilst defining what dangers players may encounter in this new 10-person Holiday Raid.
For those that may not remember what happened in Guild Wars 1, to defend Wintersday, a snowman of immense power was created named Freezie. With the Human Gods disappearance, most notably Dwayna, the Snowmen have since lost their way, and Freezie has forgotten the joy and warmth that Wintersday brings. At the beginning of The Secret Lair of the Snowmen, we learn that the snowmen are jaded, they haven’t received the call from the Human Gods, they feel forgotten, and look to end Wintersday. The new content begins with players being welcomed by Jolly Donny, a snowman who will aid you as you make your way to Freezie's lair.
The path to Freezie is one of minor perils. Some snowmen attempt to stop you, but nothing you and 10 of your fellow Tyrians can’t handle. Once you’ve escorted Jolly Donny to the end of the pathway, Jolly Donny will open the way to the interior where none other than Freezie awaits you. The Secret Lair of the Snowmen essentially is summed up by the final boss fight. Everything leading up to it is an amuse-bouche of little distinction. The boss fight, however, is broken up into three basic stages. The first stage is rather simplistic. Freezie will target the closest characters to him, so flimsy characters should always stand behind at least one, more defensive focused friend. Freezie also exudes a chill effect, and just being near him will slowly sap your health, but no so much that players won’t be able to out heal the damage effectively.
As the fight continues, Freezie will begin to utilize special attacks, such as sending a giant snowball after a particular player. Players will get a warning when the snowball is chasing them, and when this happens, they ideally should move as far away from other players as possible, unless they feel the need to have the snowball trample their teammates. After breaking through Freezie’s armor, players will then be required to find and throw snowballs at Freezie’s icy heart, which will repair his heart, but not before you repeat breaking his armor a number of times.
After each phase of breaking Freezie’s armor and warming up his heart, he’ll tack on more special attacks such as a freeze beam that targets and follows a player, ice spikes on the ground that will harm players, “deep freeze” which is basically a blizzard that will push players around, and dozens of minions that will attempt to protect Freezie. Despite the waves and the amount of various attacks and enemies’ players have to deal with, The Secret Lair of the Snowmen wasn’t built to be too difficult. Our team successfully completed the mission without any loss of life. Upon completion players can expect a daily reward of a pile of Wintersday gifts, but there are also rare rewards like the wintergreen flavored candy cane weapon set.
Despite being a self-proclaimed Wintersday Grinch, The Secret Lair of the Snowman has warmed my heart ever so slightly to what this years’ Wintersday has in store for us. As Vaughn Monroe once sang, “The weather outside is frightful,” and this year Freezie forecasts a considerable surplus on the fright. Will you be one of the brave Tyrians to help bring back joy to Wintersday? The Secret Lair of the Snowmen is available to play now.