Winter has finally arrived. With the changing of the seasons come cold weather and warm tidings. Some of us may absolutely love the season while others downright dread it. No matter how you feel about the holidays, one thing is for certain… there will be a plethora of MMO Holiday Events. ArcheAge is no exception. The Winter Maiden Festival has come to Erenor and is packed to the brim full of wonderful goodies, including a surprise or two.
Right from the get go, the Maiden Festival is a significant improvement over the dismal Hallowtide event. One of my biggest complaints about the previous event was that most of the cosmetic items were obtained exclusively through the cash shop. There was also a lack of engaging content. The previous event included one daily and the rewards were consumable items, with no cosmetic rewards available. This time around, Trion had made a valiant effort to remedy that.
As with the last event there are still event items in the cash shop. Players can purchase one of two different seasonal gamble boxes; each contains a different variety of holiday themed items. There is also a yuletide sleigh skin available, allowing players to turn their farm hauler in to something reminiscent of Santa’s sleigh. It doesn’t seem near as bothersome this time around. During the last event the cash shop items annoyed me, but since there’s a reasonable amount of new content in the patch, it drastically changed my view on the whole event.
I normally don’t find the appeal in the holiday themed layouts, but this one I really enjoyed. The decorations have a wonderful feel to them and provide warmth to the game that is much appreciated. All the major towns have festive decorations littered throughout. In addition, major zones have added snowfall, adding to the overall holiday theme.
Beyond the decorations, one of the first things you will probably notice is the addition of a small stocking icon in the lower left hand corner. Every thirty minutes you can click the button to collect a Flame Lunabox. The box contains Flame Prize tokens. Once you collect twenty of these you will receive a piece of festive winter themed head-wear.
The main quest for the event is given by “The Winter Maiden Messenger” and she is located in most major cities across Eranor. The quest is quite straightforward and doesn’t take much time to initially complete. During the event all NPCs have a chance to drop “Festival Tree decorations”. After you have eight of them you can turn the quest in and receive a tree. Once you place the tree you will need to acquire four Decoration Packs from various mobs. Once you place them on your tree you will receive a special box which you can open once an hour.
I particularly enjoyed this portion of the event. One of my other complaints of the previous events was the absence of a combat quest. It appears that Trion may have felt the same way. The combat oriented quest adds a level of variety to the event. While combat quests are not a deal breaker with seasonal events, rewards are. There is plenty of incentive to complete the quest; some of the rewards are absolutely fantastic. Some of the shining jewels include Christmas Wands with a unique animation and a winter coat.
Pine trees are a necessity when it comes to winter events, but what about snowmen? Where are the snowmen! Not to worry, ArcheAge has plenty of those in store too. In the culturally appropriate reference to the movie Frozen, the next quest is titled “Do you want to build a snowman”. Unlike the previous quest it is a bit simpler in design. This time, when you defeat an enemy NPC it has the chance to drop a Packed Snow or Snowcone Packed Snow, once you get two of the same time they can be combined in to a snowman that contains one of seven different plushies for your home.
Thus far, the event is exactly what you would expect. It has snowmen, Christmas trees and a festive environment. I know what you’re thinking: “But you mentioned a surprise”. Indeed I did, and Trion gave us quite the gift.
Included in the same patch is the addition of both the Red Dragon field boss and a new instanced dungeon called “The Sea of Drowned Love”. We already knew the Red Dragon was coming, but the new instance came without notice and completely by surprise. It’s technically not winter themed content, but these two new additions do represent the first new content that was not available in Alpha or Beta versions of the game.
Although I personally have not had the opportunity to experience either of the two new additions, from the reactions of the players it is clear that the update is very much appreciated. The entire spirit of the event had significantly raised player morale and goes a long way to showing that Trion really cares about appeasing its player base.
In my view, the Winter Maiden Festival is an astonishing success. My expectations were remarkably low, in fact I was almost dreading the event. I assumed it would be of the same quality as the previous one. I was wrong, and I am very happy that I was. The game has seen its fair share of problems since launch, fortunately this was not one of them.
Many of my concerns about the state of the game have been temporarily put to rest. Does this mark a change in direction for ArcheAge? At this point, it’s hard to tell, but the high quality of the event has put me in the seasonal spirit. Let’s hope that Trion can keep up the momentum and provide an engaging experience well in to the New Year.
The Winter Maiden Festival is running now and ends on January 8th, 2015. For more information please visit the official website for complete details.Related: ArcheAge, Column, Event (In Game), Hasla Herald, Update