Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wintersday First Impressions: GW2

Always start discussing something before you have any idea what you're talking about. It's the internet way!

Deck the Halls

Heavy snow fell in Lion's Arch overnight and it looks fantastic. Maybe it's magic, maybe it's Asuran technology, whatever it is the snow's held its pristine, untrammeled whiteness despite hordes of heavy-booted adventurers stomping through the city, drawn in by rumors of loot.

Adverse weather conditions didn't affect the raising of street decorations. Boy, how it didn't. Candy canes the size of lamposts, strings of glitter-stars from eave to eave, more trees than Caledon Forest - the Authorities really went to town on this one. Who knew pirates were so festive ("ex-pirates, but I get your meaning..."). Piles and piles of gaily-wrapped presents everywhere, too. What's in those, anyway?

Don't You Know There's A War On?

Somewhat unexpectedly, the festive theme extends as far as both The Mists and The Frontier. On porting up (I always think of the borders as "up", don't ask me why) to Yak's Bend Borderland I thought for a moment I'd walked through the wrong Asura Gate and ended up in Santa's Workshop. If anything, our Citadel is more heavily decorated even than Lion's Arch. Is that appropriate?

The decorations do stop at the doors but I wouldn't be surprised to find our trebuchets lobbing Wintersday Puddings and our mortars firing Roast Moa as the season rolls on.

The Bells! The Bells!

'Tis the season to play mini-games. I found three. For the first I spoke to The Bell Maestro, who sent me to meet a series of snowmen, each of whom shoved me onto a stage with two other players and set us to ringing hand-bells. The main instructions were largely incomprehensible. The brief advice the snowmen give is more helpful but still, after twenty minutes and a dozen or so rounds I had little more idea what I was doing than when I began. I certainly wasn't making any progress or gaining any understanding so I moved on. I will try again, though, because while it may have been pointless it was pretty good fun. Who doesn't enjoy ringing hand-bells?

Next I spoke to the Festive Lionguard. There are lots of those, but only one stands on a barrel by the Mystic Forge Snowglobe and he's the one with the power to port you inside. Once there you get to play an Arena match called Snowball Mayhem. The instructions seemed much clearer here and I really liked the pre-made skill sets, especially the one that turns you into a giant rolling snowball to crush your enemies. Rolling round and round on top of a downed opponent to finish them off is hysterical. Can see myself playing quite a lot of this.

Last, and very definitely least, the inevitable Jumping Puzzle. A fey stripling going under the bland moniker of "Festive Youth" sets this one off. I tried it three times. The first time I was trying to take a screenshot and the first snowflake I was supposed to hop onto had already melted before I was ready to begin. Second time I fell off after five hops. Third time I did about eight and fell off. I would guess that put me about 1% into the puzzle, if that. Sod that for a game of soldiers, it's not what I call entertainment. Doubt I'll be going back.

I'm also guessing that completing these mini-games gets you something. It didn't get me anything, but then I failed at all of them. Not like GW2 to miss the opportunity to reward you just for turning up though, so maybe I missed something. Oh, come on - I probably missed everything!

Oi! That Went Right Down My Neck!

What would a winter festival be without snowballs? More orderly and better behaved of course, but where's the fun in that? Snowball fights in EQ2 can happen pretty much anywhere, can go on until someone runs out of snowballs and require no consent from the snowballee. Just like real life, in other words. In Tyria first you have to build a snowman. I was hoping that might actually involve, y'know, doing something with all that snow lying there in a heap, but it happens automagically. Once up the snowman scatters snowballs all around and you pick one up and throw it. One throw, that's your lot. As far as I can tell you can only hit someone else who's also carrying snow. Not sure about that - I lost interest rather quickly when I realized I couldn't just pelt them at all and sundry.

Except you can, sort of. The whole of Grand Plaza is a permanent running snowball fight, with an endless supply of snowballs and NPCs willing to throw them at you and be knocked down in return. Still can only hold one snowball at a time, though...

He's Making A List...

Of Achievements, of course. Most of them seem to revolve around Toymaker Tixx and he's not due to make his first stop for another five hours as I write. At The Grove! (boo, hiss). At least that gets it out the way early . I'm not much of a one for Achievements so I'll just be letting these fill themselves out in the background, or not. Mostly Not, I imagine.

What Did You Get Me?

When it comes right down to it, it's all about the presents, isn't it?  Did you get what you wanted? Thought not. Well, don't be glum! The Lionguard found they were so short of real army work after beating back the Karka that they had time to set up an Unwanted Gift Exchange. I don't know about you, but when I get a badly-knitted sweater that doesn't really fit I always take it down to the local army barracks to swap it for a toy sword or a slingshot.

Only thing is, I don't have any presents, wanted or unwanted. And that's not actually what they take. They take some new currency the name of which doesn't display and the icon for which looks like a strip of bacon. Couple of things on the vendor I might like to have, so I better find out where to get the new moolah.

Under Construction

Last but very much not least, work continues on rebuilding the Lion statue. The fish are back! Not spouting yet but it's great to see them. Nearby more building work is under weigh for Tixx's Infinirarium (I do not believe that's a real word). I'm just happy it's not me that has to use a lump hammer in this weather.

Wrapping Up

It looks absolutely superb. Visually it's a twee masterpiece, which works for me because I have an extremely high tweeness threshold. The decision to hyper-decorate for WvW and sPvP while leaving all the starting cities largely undecorated seems odd but I'm guessing each city will get the full treatment when Tixx floats in on his carnival balloon. Hmm, I must go see if Ebonhawke got decced...

For a first appearance event it looks very full of content. There are a number of infrastructure changes that might merit separate analysis too. Mini-games in general don't do an awful lot for me and jumping puzzles even less, so I wasn't expecting much there and what we got looks like about what I expected. I'm much more interested in Tixx and his Toypocalypse (and that's not a real word either!). All in all, a very fine start to what looks like a fun holiday.


  1. Aparently there are 6 diferent dungeons inside Tixx ship. The first 5 ones open at each city for 24 hours and you can repeat them after 2oth. The last one is the Toypocalipse, that open at LA at 20th.

    I tryed the first one, now I have a frame for a toy, just need get the mats for craft it...

    1. Are they six different dungeons, though, or the same dungeon six times with different toys as rewards? Guess we will see tonight.


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