For every player in every game, regardless of their age, MMO Halloween events are as much as a treat as any other piece of candy. It’s always great seeing how the local game lore treats the ghoulish and ghastly fun of this awesome holiday, and every year it is greeted with such an excitement that one can’t help but feel the freakish fever. WoW is no stranger to Halloween events, but the age of the titanic game might be getting to it. The childish giddy of seeing ghosts and monsters, tricks and treats, and other such things aren’t as powerful as it they used to be in an MMO as old as the mainstream market.
“A” For Effort
It took me a few days before I got into the game to see how this year’s Halloween is, but beforehand, I’ve been constantly asking friends on their opinions, and mostly, I got “meh”. I wanted them to be wrong, but, then, I almost found myself agreeing with their weak and paltry answers to something I always look forward to in every MMO.
WoW had undergone major changes since its conception, but it has still lent itself to retaining old standards, because that’s been what they’ve been doing to it’s own Halloween events for the longest time. True, there are some very notable changes through the years like the daily streamlining of item acquisition in the event, and, in this year’s Hallow’s End, some new pets and the Lich King costume (which is freaking awesome, by the way), and along with the updated graphics, Hallow’s End sure looks much more vibrant than it ever has been, but, it really isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. There isn’t any real fanfare like how it felt back when one first experiences the event, and truly not much different apart from new goodies. While I look at other MMOs and their seemingly exciting Halloween celebrations, I shudder at the thought that we may be seeing 2014’s Hallow’s End again in the very next year, almost untouched and unchanged, with only the minor addition of extra pets and trinkets to be had.
Sure, it’s an exaggeration to say that it hasn’t changed a single bit since its conception, but the event changed only little by little through the years and nothing really significant to merit an exciting demeanour towards it. It’s also a bit wrong to expect them to completely revamp the entire scenario every year just lasting for two to three weeks, and then never seeing its like again. In fact, a lot of people would be strongly against that. Which, pretty much leads me to my next point.
In my ventrilo server, across our twenty-five man raid team, only two or three people gleamed with joy at the prospect of Hallow’s End, while the others we’re too busy or too bored to care about it, still just waiting for Draenor as they continued to farm Garrosh or literally the farm somewhere on the jolly-jolly panda ranch.
“Why ya’ll excited?” someone asked them, and the shaky universal reply was, “Flaming Flying Horse!”
Hallow’s End, or every holiday event for that matter, simply becomes just another grind to do when it rolls on by. Missed your chance last year for the Horseman’s Reins? Well, here you go, another year to get a whole lot of nada in the loot bag. Got it? Then great! But what about the achievements? Got ‘em? Well, you’ll never have to bother with anything on this event for, like, ever.
Whatever it is that one is looking for in the event this year, it still pretty much ends up the same way; it becomes nothing more than an event to get those things you never got last year. It goes without saying that the completionist would go for more of the new things, but that’s besides the point. It does end up as a grind, for the sake of completion or not, and becomes less and less of something one looks forward to as October comes to its end.
Like it was stated earlier, people wouldn’t want any of these sorts of events to disappear or get changed completely, as it would bar them from ever being able to acquire certain event only items or achievements, because, if that were the case, WoW would practically be requiring players to work at times that might be inconvenient for them, thus derailing the balance between gaming and real life that we have.
However, due to this, these events just become part of a routine, despite them being created to celebrate its named day and to, ironically, alleviate the pressure of the routine and grind. It shouldn’t be treated as just another chance to finish or accomplish something, but it should be the very entertainment it’s supposed to be in the first place.
It then becomes double-edged, as Hallow’s End’s semi-stagnation being both a boon for players catching up and being a normal day with a name for veterans who just have to get a few new things and be done with it almost on the first or second day.
Right And Wrong At The Same Time
It’s been a while since anyone has yelped at the prospect of Halloween fun in WoW, though there are a few things people still enjoy despite its relative repetitiveness. There are some that like to relive the moments they’ve gone through as a repeat of a quest may hold some fond memories with a treasured friend or a wacky adventure during embarked while they collected tricky treats, listening to the huddled and busy masses acquiring item after item. And while I may not share the same kind of fancy for the feel of Hallow’s End at the moment, there are quite a lot of people that would disagree with me, as I know people who still feel the magic of this great holiday through Hallow’s End, even some people going as far as to claim that they hate Halloween, but simply adore the version of it in WoW.
While I may have said that the event feels like a chore, there is never a necessity to actually do them. One can simply have fun reveling in the Halloween atmosphere, talking to friends, having fun, like in a party. You already have the costumes, so why not? It still does alleviate the pressure of the everyday grind in this sense, so long as it makes a player feel comfortable, relaxed, and, above all else, having fun. I know quite a few people that just like roaming around on their broom or playing and fiddling around with their Hallow’s End event costumes as they bother people in Orgrimmar.
But it’s always about the Headless Horseman’s mount. It always is and always has been. It is the greatest highlight of Hallow’s End and it simply trumps everything you may or may not like about the event. This year is no different, apart from a level cap increase. The many denizens of the WoW populace greet this time of year so eagerly, mostly not for the theme and atmosphere of a very special holiday, but just because it’s another crack at at that mount.
“Ninth Year! This is my year!”
It’s something I see often on forums and the like, giddy and excited about the treat they can but more likely will not get (sorry!). In a sense, as I said, this pretty much negates everything, at least for people who haven’t gotten it yet, because it truly is the greatest sensation that we as people expect from our modern celebrations in Halloween. It can be summed up in the form of a simple question of “What did you get!?”
So… How Is It, Really?
With everything said, it’s really hard to place one’s finger on how well Hallow’s End of 2014 will treat the individual player, but I do know for certain that it both fails and succeeds at the same time. No matter how you fancy (or don’t) the theme, the grindy quests for candy, the hunt for candies all over Azeroth, or pitting eleven characters against the Headless Horseman, there’s just always something for someone, something that people look for, that special treat that you want, and those great memories that could be obtained from them. It’s not really how amazing the Halloween Event can be, or what new things it can bring, but more about what it already does best, and that is a fanciful wonderment towards the ghoulish and sweet, the scary and daring, and just plain old loving of treats. You don’t have to like the specifics of the event, but it just happens, and you find yourself in the midst of that childish limelight of ghosts, goblins, and, uh, Arthas. One of my friends say that Hallow’s End is never that great every year, but he always ends up loving it all the time as well. And, this, I can definitely agree with.
Also, Blizzard, please make the broom mount permanent.
Related: Column, Event (In Game), World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday