Guild Wars 2 players to battle toys for Wintersday

By Ozzie Mejia, Dec 13, 2012 12:10pm PST

Guild Wars 2's world of Tyria has undergone cataclysmic changes over the past 250 years, but its traditions live on. With the Mad King's Halloween rampage subsided, it's time to celebrate Wintersday. This year, Tyrians can embrace the holiday season beginning on December 14 when Tixx the Toymaker goes on a world tour before settling in Lion's Arch until January 3.

"We wanted to come up with something new and fun for Guild Wars 2," explains holiday event coordinator Stephen Waller. He begins by pointing to the Mystic Forge, the crafting station located in the middle of the Lion's Arch Mystic Plaza. This area will be transformed into a giant snowglobe and will house three brand new activities--the Winter Wonderland (an all-new jumping puzzle), Snowball Mayhem (a snowball fighting zone), and Bell Choir (a New Year's-themed musical game).

The main draw, however, is Tixx and his whimsical workshop aboard his airship. The Asuran Santa analogue begins his tour in the Sylvari homeland of the Grove at 10am on December 15 with a Sylvari-themed toy. He'll spread holiday cheer there for 24 hours before moving to Divinity's Reach, the Black Citadel, Hoelbrak, and Rata Sum, carrying toys for those lands' respective races, as well. His final destination is Lion's Arch for the Wintersday Festival. Tixx will be dropping presents from his giant Golem-shaped airship in the sky. Just make sure none of them fall on top of your head or your next Wintersday present will be a concussion.

Tixx's ship is home to his workshop, which will feature a new five-player instance. This instance (which will scale players up to level 80) is not structured like a traditional dungeon, featuring Tixx's toy creations, in lieu of dungeon monsters. Although pesky Skritt foragers, searching for "shinies" to add to their collection, will also pose a threat. Waller says the instance can be completed in 30 minutes to an hour and any player who completes it will receive a blueprint (for whatever city Tixx is in that day) and special ingredients to craft a toy mini-pet. New blueprints and parts are available for each area of Tixx's tour, though players will be able to catch up later at Lion's Arch if they can't log in for that day.

The Wintersday events will climax with Toypocalypse, an event centered in Lion's Arch. Denizens of Lion's Arch must put a stop to Tixx's malfunctioning toys before they take over the giant toymaking machine in Tixx's workshop. As soon as players finish containing the malevolent toy-related chaos, they can talk to Tixx in the Grand Piazza, where he will offer a one-time holiday gift until the end of the Wintersday event.

Waller was also a part of the team behind GW2's Halloween festivities and the first holiday event has proven to be a learning experience, especially in terms of scaling difficulty. For example, some players that took part in the Halloween event were less than enthused about the jumping puzzle included in the Mad King's Clock Tower. Player feedback has been noted and Waller says that the difficulty level for the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle has been adjusted accordingly.

"I would say, difficulty-wise, it's slightly less difficult than the Mad King Clock Tower," Waller said, "but it's certainly not an easy jumping puzzle. There are three phases to the jumping puzzle. We've also got three different pads that people will start off on, so while you'll be playing the jumping puzzle with other people, you'll have a variety of starting locations. And at certain portions of the jumping puzzle, it's a bit wider, with different options for the path that you take. We think that we've kept a lot of what we thought really worked well, like the timing-based aspect from the Clock Tower. Once you're in this puzzle, it's cold, so you're going to be hit with Frostbite -- you'll be taking damage as you go. There are other aspects that are timing-related that you'll see when you get in there, but we think that's one of the things that makes it a blood-pumping type of 'get your energy level up' type of jumping puzzle, as opposed to something that you take at your own pace out in the open world."

On top of these festivities, the Wintersday event will include 275 new crafting recipes, new holiday-themed PvP finishing moves, and holiday-themed WvW siege weapons. Wintersday will last three full weeks, so players that are bogged down by holiday commitments will still be able to take full part in all of the festivities.

"We know it's the holiday time and people are busy, traveling and visiting family," said Waller. "So we wanted to make sure that we provided a lot of different content, but also made it available to people more as their time allows. Some people may want to jump in there right away and play the whole holidays, but some people may be constrained through previous plans. The way we look at it is as a thank you to all of our fans, a 'Happy Holidays' for them--three weeks of fun content for free that they can enjoy."

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