The Holiday season is best spent with family & friends, or if you’re particularly driven a good video game and mug of warm cider. For those of you who fall into the later part of that description fear not. Your favorite developers are just as smitten with the season of giving as you are and have sprinkled the holiday cheer in their very own games. Secret items, redesigned levels, seasonal player skins, unique collectables, winter achievements and special quests are all part of the celebration. Each year some of the most well known gaming companies go to great lengths to provide in-game events for their loyal players stuck at home during The Holidays.
Some of these are seasonal and can be expected every year but others are attempting the transformation for the first time. Sit back and throw a sustainable log on the fire as I present my gift to you: our In Game Holiday Roundup!
League of Legends - SnowdownLeague of Legends has always made seasonal skins available during specific international holidays. Never all at once Riot Games has made batches of skins active each year with a select grouping of characters each getting a holiday themed skin. As my friends know I’ve collected the costumes for a number of my characters already in what has lead to a loss of a small fortune. This year Dark Candy Fiddlesticks, Slay Belle Katarina. Bad Santa Veigar, and Snow Day Ziggs all get the snowy treatment with a collection of limited but menacing costumes.
Bringing your favorite character with a custom skin into battle is half of the fun of playing an everyday game in League of Legends. The folks at Riot Games have also added limited edition Holiday Runes, a modified “snowy” version of the Summoner’s Rift level, custom login screen, and all of the consumables in-game have been themed as well. To round things out players can gift purchases of Riot Points, Champions and skins to their friends through a seasonal feature in the spirit of giving.
On a sidenote be sure to check out Riot Games’ new website at riotgames.com as it has just undergone an impressive and crispy new overhaul.
The Secret World - End of DaysThe Secret World is an MMO that deals heavily in the occult, mysteries of the universe and supernatural events here on Earth. With the world presumably ending soon due to a shortage of days left available on the Mayan calendar Realtime Worlds has seen fit to give players a taste of the End time by including these myths and legends in the form of a downloadable content pack called “End of Days”. While playing the content you will have access to all the new content associated with the most recent content update (issue #5) but will also be able to participate in the End of Days content for a limited time.
Between the 21st of December and January 7th Players can take part in the event which has an army of “Mayan Zombies” and three otherworldly gods attempting to destroy Earth. Ultimately the God of the Nine Underworlds will break through and attempt to “end this age”. It’s not all doom and gloom though as heroes have the ability to collect new Auxiliary Weapons & pets while experiencing the new story arc associated with the content. During the event period a contest is also being run where players can earn points by completing the story with the top 1000 point earners receiving an exclusive title for their character and the top hundred getting a themed pet.
Guild Wars 2 - WintersdayIf Blizzard is a company that approaches their content with a sense of humor and comedy then ArenaNet has taken it upon themselves to bring class and beauty back to the MMORPG world. You won't see beer swilling and exploding goblin presents instead you’ll get to get to visit the floating workshop of the toymaker Tixx and his arsenal of workers are a very real suppliment for Santa in the world of Tyria. The crew travels to each major city bringing the cheer and frivolity typically associated with the winter holidays. An interesting effect of Tixx’s travel across Tyria is that at each city will host the event for one day with a different set of events found within huge floating fortress each day.
A huge amount of detail, modeling and painting has gone into this content expansion so it is worth noting a couple of additional details. As the event is parked outside of each city the huge fortress takes up a position in the sky that makes for an awfully beautiful screenshot, and since it’s there for only one day a piece you better get out your cameras quick.
DOTA 2 - The GreevilingDOTA 2 festivities usually involve appeasing a cantankerous god whose insatiable lust for candy, presents and eggs usually ends up in the destruction of the player’s world. During the 2012 Holiday Season Frostivus has been canceled and in its place we have a despicable event called the Greeviling. As a game mechanic the Greeviling works in much the same way the Halloween Diretide events work except this time you’re already in possession of a Greevil and boy god are they running amok.
During the Greeviling players can take part in a special match that has you recovering presents that were stolen by rogue Greevils. As in Diretide you can defend a “present horde” and steal your opponents collection of gifts from their own horde. If you collected a Greevil during the Diretide event you can equip him/her/it before heading into a Greeviling match and you’ll have a special skin/color associated with your monstrous form. Each player gets a ragged sock at the beginning of the match inside of which is a whistle that transforms you into your Greevil form. Once you’ve taken on the visage of a winged reptile with a gigantic lower jaw you also get the benefit of a different set of skills and abilities. There is no humongous Roshan battle at the end of the match as the announcement video might have you believe but the winning team gets gifts that are unique to the seasonal event.
HawkenA mysterious transmission came in for Hawken players on the 17th of December, for the last few days it has perplexed the community as to what it might mean. Bits and pieces of the transmission were clear but the bulk of it was garbled data that warned of an “imminent” snowstorm that was “approaching major urban areas”. Most players seemed to think that it was a snow covered map and possibly some other seasonal extras that would soon go live in the game. They were right. Early this morning the Hawken Twitter account announced a short downtime for maintenance during which servers were updated with the new content entitled “Operation Frostburn”.
From December 20th to January 14th players can enjoy a festive version of one of their more popular maps. The new map, a winter version of Prosk Hydrometeorological Research Station, is covered in snow and a number of changes have affected the visual game mechanics of projectiles, jets, mech skins and environment effects.
Players will find their bombs have been replaced with High Explosive Gift Wrapped goodies. The mech’s jump jets have been augmented with a Flurry Fury Thruster which clouds your abilities in sparkly snowflakes. Your lovable repair drone has been given a thematic upgrade as well sporting a nifty top hat, smiley snowman face and twigs in place of his repair probes. To wrap things in a nice tidy bow, literally, you can further augment your mech with seasonal “camo” in three different patterns: Snowflake, Candy Cane, and Gift Wrap. Now you can wreak havoc with festive cheer...and rockets, lots and lots of rockets.
Sound ShapesQueasy Games had a hit on their hands when the released Sound Shapes for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3. Our reviewer looked at the inventive platformer back in September of this year and since then it has enjoyed moderate success on the PlayStation Network. Part of the draw for this unique musical game is the addition of new levels, sounds and instruments through DLC content contained in an “album”. Each album can be activated and played through from the main level selection screen and once inside the theme and feel of the game changes almost completely. Once you play through an album you will get the sounds, instruments and sprites that are used inside the album for use in your own level designs.
The Holiday Sound Pack was just released and includes, as you might have guessed, a bevy of holiday instruments and themed sprites for you to use in your own level design. Queasy Games is watching for the hashtag #XMAS in user submitted levels so make sure to create your own Holiday themed designs and share them with the community.
DC UniverseLarfleeze is back and since December 11th this year he has been stealing presents and presenting a unique challenge for our heroes and villains in DC Universe. This year the evil holiday trickster has taken advantage of the battle between the Sinestro Corps and the Green Lantern Corps that is now raging in downtown Metropolis. Each of the fallen lantern members from both sides have had their power rings stolen by Larfleeze and with each passing moment his power is growing. Each side must rally to challenge his domination and recover the presents and the power rings to prevent them from being misused.
If you ask me the villains would be better served by letting Larfleeze pillage the corpses of their inevitable battle and release him on Earth to reign Christmas-Themed-Destruction on the unsuspecting masses. Since the Villains of Metropolis aren’t all that despicable they will attempt to complete the same goals, with a twist of course, that the heroes must in order to defeat the Christmas Trickster and restore balance to the world. In the process players can receive gifts and can spend their spoils in a themed Holiday store where hats, clothing, sweaters and other collectables can be purchased. The villains have a particularly interesting set of collectables this year that turn them into sadistic looking nutcrackers, whereas the heroes will find themselves clothed in hats that look like presents and absolutely horrid looking Holiday sweaters.