Friday, December 17, 2021

Getting Into The Winter Convergence Spirit With The Winter Convergence First Impressions Blog Post (I Think I'm Catching The Tone Here...)

Winter Convergence. It's not the snappiest name for a festival, is it? It's the one they're going with though, so I guess we'd better all get used to it. I won't make any more snide comments about it, I promise. Not this post, anyway.

Forget the name. Now I've taken a first look at the event, there's one thing I can definitely say in its favor. It's big. For a brand new festival in a brand new mmorpg it's really quite impressive.

The game wants you to know about it, too. There are banners for Winter Convergence all over the place. I think I went through about five different screens telling me about it before I got into the game proper. 

Then again, I may have gone round more than once. I did have a little trouble coming back after my short time away. I won't bore you with the details but let's just say I'd forgotten a few things and then, when I got in, my internet connection went out

There were a few other issues as well, so all in all in it wasn't the smoothest of returns. It's just as well the event itself is highly accessible. If I'd had to make much of an effort I might have called it for the day and gone back to EverQuest II.

I didn't, though. I managed to get myself into the game, where my character was patiently waiting by the roaring fire in the Town Hall in Weaver's Fen. In retrospect, if I'd known it would be weeks before I saw her again, I'd have taken the trouble to run her back to her house in Mourningdale (On which she now owes property tax, also something I forgot about.)

The very first thing that caught my eye was the huge string of lights above the fireplace. It felt remarkably cheery and, like the entire Winter Convergance festival really, weirdly inappropriate.

I don't really want to start out by picking holes in what is, after all, supposed to be a jolly bit of holiday fun and it's very important to remember that so far I've barely seen any of the content and done almost none of the questline. It's theoretically possible that when all is revealed it will make perfect sense. I'd have to say I think that's unlikely but the possibility exists.

Even so, I'm finding the whole thing a little hard to swallow. There are a lot of lights for a start but I don't believe Aeternum's tech level supports electrical power yet. Everything seems to be lit by oil lanterns. I guess we'll have to assume these lights are all Azoth-powered but Azoth does have a very distinctive blue color and half these lights are pink. 

Then there are the "Lost Presents". One of the key ways to earn the holiday currency, Winter Tokens, is
by finding presents that have been stolen by "the Frigid Folk" and left scattered across the landcape. As yet I have only the vaguest idea who the Frigid Folk might be and absolutely no clue why, or more importantly how, they're stealing presents. 

For that matter I don't really know who they're stealing them from. Townsfolk, presumably, but why the beleagured inhabitants of all these towns, most of which are under virtual siege from the wide variety of arcane and malign forces surrounding and threatening to overwhelm them, should be making, wrapping and stockpiling gifts in such prodigious quantities mystifies me. I thought they were all running out of supplies, getting desperate. They've certainly sent me on enough missions on that ticket.

Then there's the Winter Wanderer and the Winter Warrior, two elemental forces, one of whom is also split into two, a Positive and a Negative. The Frigid Folk follow the Warrior but so far I've seen none of them. 


I have, however, met the Winter Wanderer's positive persona. He's a twelve foot tall yeti and he lives in a Winter Village that he built himself or so I'm guessing. I think there are several of them. As an elemental force I imagine he can be in more than one place at a time. 

I spotted one of the villages on the map just north of Weaver's Fen so I ran up there to take a look. I found my first lost present just outside the town gates. Hard to miss, really. You can see the blue glow from several hundred yards away. The presents also show up on my HUD radar display, although it's possible you need a certain level of gathering skill for that to happen. 

By the time I got to the Winter Village I'd recovered three lost presents, which turned out to be very handy, since one of the first things the Wanderer wanted me to do was combine three presents into a Winter Token at a Holiday Hut (These names are killing me...) How that works I couldn't begin to imagine but it does.

The Winter Village itself is fantastic. Absolutely beautiful and not entirely out of keeping with the built environment. The huts are reminiscent of some "German Markets" I've visited in real life, although in my experience it's usually been raining and the only "snow" has been coming from a hose poking out of an upstairs window.

The big advantage of being an elemental force of nature dedicated to Winter, of course, is that you can have all the snow you want. Not only that, you can make sure it only falls in convenient and scenic locations, in pristine swathes and attractive drifts and if any should happen to thaw it will immediately re-freeze into delightful icicles. No need to grit the roads or shovel the sidewalks, let alone buy a cylinder of compressed air.

Let's not cavil. The art department's done a superb job. The highlighted locations look beautiful. I could and very likely will use some of them for Christmas cards. I particularly liked the stage with the purple curtains and I was chortling to myself when I discovered you can crouch down and stroke the oversized clockwork rabbit's snazzy sweater.

I'm not quite so sure about the writing. The Winter Wanderer talks like Yogi Bear after a stroke. I don't know quite why such a supernatural entity should be so inarticulate although I have an inkling we may get to find out. He certainly knows my name, though. He wouldn't stop using it and since he was trying to convince me to do him a favor at the time, it made me suspect he'd read one of those management books on how to get the best out of your workforce.

After I'd made my first Winter Token the Yeti sent me off to find a regular settlement to grab myself a present from under the tree and check out the town board for winter temp work. I looked at the full map for the first time and did a double take. Most of it was green.

It seems my faction has been very busy while I've been away. When I was last there we had three territories. Now we have eight. We have lost Brightwood but we own everything else except Weaver's Fen and Mourningdale.

As it happened, Brightwood was the nearest so I went there, even though it was in enemy hands. It makes precious little difference to me who's setting the taxes. At first I veered off route a couple of times to pick up some lost presents but it seems there's not much need to go looking for them in the wilderness. When the Frigid Folk steal them they seem to like leaving them by the side of the road. I found one about every few hundred yards all the way there.

The tree in Brightwood was hard to miss. It dominates the central square, wreathed in lights and piled with presents. I helped myself to one of those then checked the town board, which had just three Winter missions. One of those autocompleted when I took it, since I happened to be running across country carrying thirty stone blocks. Actually more like fifty. Who needs a sleigh?

Around then my GeForce Now timer began to tick down the last few minutes so I decided to log out and write this. As I was leaving, I noticed yet another promo for a free gift in the Cash Shop (It actually tells you about it at character select but I wasn't paying attention then.) I clicked on that and got myself a lovely potted poinsettia for my house. I'll have to pay my taxes before I can place it but I was going to have to do that anyway.

There's also an impressive, free Hunter's Festive Coat outfit with ermine trim. I took that too, of course, but there wasn't time to try it on before I had to leave. Something to look forward to next time.

And yes, I will be back. I'm not remotely convinced by the lore but Amazon seem to have the holiday fun part down. Part of the event runs on Winter Tokens and part on reputation, using the exact progression mechanics as the three player factions, with a whole load of items opening up for purchase as you reach higher ranks. I only had a brief glance through what you can buy or earn but some of it looks pretty desirable.

If I wasn't already hip-deep in the snow of two other holiday events I'd jump right on this one but since it began later and goes on longer I'll probably save it for a while and do the others first. Winter Convergence has the huge advantage of being new, though, so I may not be able to hold back.

In addition to the things I've seen so far there are Ice Caves to explore, Gaelemite meteors to mine and a whole questline to follow. I'm sure this won't be the last time I post about it all. This is why game companies run these festivals. They get people logging in.

In this case I'd say, at first sight, they've done enough to justify the hype. We'll see if I still feel the same by the time the snow melts away in January.

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