From the delving I’ve done so far, there seem to be a few distinct approaches by different MMORPGs to their Christmas/Festive events. I’m playing sessions in the mornings mostly before family arrives or other activities start so time is limited; I’ve been testing the waters in a few games I’ve not played extensively at this time of year.
Life-day in SWTOR is a remarkably understated festival for what is arguably the brashest of holiday seasons. It boils down to throwing snowballs at festive droids or other players with a pretty slim chance of receiving festival currency on each throw. You can travel to specific worlds to spam snowballs at the rarer “overheating festival droids” for an extra chance of a random stronghold (housing) decoration as a reward.
It’s a very low-key activity, something you can do while playing or if you want something you can grind for a time to get a bunch of the rewards. Despite the focus on rng, the decorations are surprisingly a choice when that particular reward appears so it shouldn’t be too onerous to get whatever combination you want for your stronghold.
Daily quest savings plan
Lord of the Rings Online typifies many MMO Christmas festivals. The basic outline is a series of daily quests to complete with festival currency as a reward. You complete the dailies to save up for various rewards items from a festival vendor. Neverwinter’s Simril event was very similar.
The core difference to this model is the predictability of the effort/reward elements; a player can easily work out how much currency they need for whatever rewards and then do the approrpriate number of days worth of quests to get them. It may be a bit overly predictable but I do prefer it from lots of rng. As I would expect from the LoTRO developers there is some charming writing to the quests, although also some striking references to winter and the particular hardships of winters on the poor.
There are a good number of rewards to save up for, some choice mounts or war-horse barding (cosmetic armour) and a load of housing items.
The final category builds on the daily-quest model but I mark it as distinct because of the volume of new content that has built up over the years. Everquest 2 is the main example I know of, there may be others.
There is so much to do for this event I hardly know where to start. The key element for this post is that the developers release new content every year to complete. It’s like the daily quest savings plan above but with each year of the game’s life representing a new layer. I’ve done a few quests so far on my newer shadowknight, he’s generally a blank slate in seasonal content since I’ve not had him long. The questing, crafting, festive collectables and new housing items offer plenty to dig into.
As well as the basic quests you find in all the major cities there’s also the very lavish Frostfell Wonderland Village zone for the event. Having a separate festive zone for such activities is nothing that unusual but Frostfell Village stands out for its size and for the density of quests there.
One feature many of these festivals have is the daily login reward – collecting a daily present from some Santa Claus equivalent is common. LoTRO’s version adds an extra daily bonus quest but it serves the same purpose of encouraging players to login often during the festival. In some cases, for example Simril in Neverwinter, you pretty much have to do the activities every day of the festival season to save up enough currency for the more valuable rewards in the one year.
Three different approaches to the season, other MMOs may have different versions I haven’t covered here. What’s your favourite if you play the seasonal activities at all?