Wintersday 2014!

Divinity’s Reach is looking especially festive around this time of year! I wonder why… Because it’s Wintersday of course! The halls are most certainly decked around the city and, as far as I’m aware, everyone is feeling jolly; so let the fun commence!

The Crown Pavilion area of Divinity’s Reach is the most heavily decorated area, packed to the brim with snow, candy canes, ice castles, Wintersday trees, bows and pretty much any other decoration you can possibly think of. It looks brilliant! The area is packed full of players all taking part in events that pop up in the area from time to time and everyone seems to be having a good time! The rewards are very much the same as they were last year; being gifted presents of different sizes for completing the different events, and in those presents being a clothing related gift, which on its own is useless, but gather enough of them and you can trade the ones you have in for rewards. Pretty much anything you do that is Wintersday related in the game at the moment earns you these presents, so it’s pretty easy to start stockpiling them before you even realise it! A lot of the minigames and events you play does just go by without even realising it, it’s a fun little way to pass time, especially if this is your first Guild Wars 2 Wintersday; but more on that later.

There is a large range of activities for you to take part in; there’s a snowflake themed jumping puzzle (which is quite difficult!) in the Winter Wonderland. There’s also a bell choir event that I tried, but have to say I didn’t really enjoy. Personally, I found it felt very floaty and not quite finished, but I guess there was a lot of good Wintersday spirit and intention there so I’m willing to let it slide. The Toypocalypse event is a lot of fun though, it involves defending gift carrying dolyaks from waves of enemies that progressively get harder and harder, and you’re not allowed to use your own weapons, only specific Wintersday themed ones that you get to pick up from the start. It’s got some really cool and interesting mechanics in there like how you heal only in the centre of the map. There’s a load of other Wintersday related bits and pieces to do dotted around in the Crown Pavilion, and it’s all a nice little distraction, but this whole point is inherently the problem with this Wintersday.

But before going on to that just a quick word on the new stuff they’ve added for this Wintersday. There’s a sort of log-in reward system that has been put into the game which sort of works like an Advent calendar in Guild Wars, but it goes a bit past Christmas, and it’s a really nice idea; it gives you a cool little incentive to log into the game every day and play a bit (we’ll have more on the new rewards and achievements system next week, so be sure to check-in with GuildMag then!). There’s a new orphanage questline that had been added into the game as well. It’s a sort of riddle based treasure hunt that I’ve genuinely been having a lot of fun with. The questline starts off fairly bland having to do a couple of generic fetch quests, but after you defeat Grawnk it opens up nicely and you’re shown a collection of items which can be earned by solving riddles. And the main reward is a lovely Wintersday Tree for your home instance! They’ve also added a toy skin drop system and drops including sigils and runes, which seems a nice idea. I’ve heard from a lot of people, though, that the drops are so common that people don’t really think much of them, which isn’t the way I think it should be; some rarity is nice – it at least makes you feel like you’ve earned what you’ve got as a drop, but they are just minor gripes. Now, onto the main gripe!

The entire event is literally only taking place in the Crown Pavilion, and this is a real shame in my opinion. It would be awesome if the entire map was littered with Wintersday decorations and different Wintersday themed activities to take part in. Instead it’s all boxed into one small location and that’s it. There are other large problems as well; the biggest one is the fact that, with except for the orphanage quests, literally all of the Wintersday activities are things that were introduced by the game in 2012 (yep that’s right, a whole 2 years ago, bar a single activity that was introduced last year, but that’s still not really good enough). This, coupled with how little was developed and added for the Halloween event this year, is pretty disappointing. It does feel sort of like laziness coming from the studio, although, it could also potentially be that ArenaNet’s resources are being put into something else for the game, perhaps an expansion? This would be really cool, but if it is the case it would be nice to be told before being served reheated leftovers for Halloween and Christmas! Overall I am enjoying playing the Wintersday stuff here and there. It’s just enough to keep my attention for a couple of minutes and to keep me entertained; there are some interesting things in there like the Toypocalypse mode, but I’m just not sure if it’s really that interesting any more after playing it for the third year in a row… I’ll leave you to be the judge of that though.

If you’d like to know more about the history of Wintersday in the Guild Wars franchise, or get a taste of other Wintersday things, be sure to check out GuildMag’s special Wintersday magazine issue!

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