A View from Atlas Park: Winter Event 2006 – Deck the Halls (and Snaptooth)

This is a belated view of the Winter event – what can I say as an excuse other than Xmas being a time of year that finding a spare hour amongst all the social events (and then recovering from the events) is nearly impossible this year?

At this point the Winter event for this year has been up over two weeks, with Phase 2 – where clickable glowie presents have appeared on the streets of Paragon City and the Rogue Isles and award players either naughty (Snow Beasts) or nice (Present enhancements) rewards – having kicked off on the 18th. For veteran players of CoH/V, Phase 2 is a throwback to the previous Winter event, but it seemed to me that the presents were a bit harder to find this time. As before, collecting 200 presents earns your character a badge – getting to 200 isn’t too hard on one character if that’s all you want, but it is a real grind to those poor poor altoholic badge junkies out there. Phase 2 is fine as a concept, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before.

Phase 1, however, is completely new to CoH/V. For the few who haven’t seen it, or those people from the future (hello!) who want to know what was in this event, a new area was added to the Pocket D. In this area was a ski resort of sorts, with a chalet up top and two ski slopes. Characters of both heroic and villianous persuasion could ski down the slopes (skiing being a newly introduced trick for this event) and team up to do the unique Winter Event mission.

The Winter event mission concept was a little hokey – Old Father Time sends you to save Baby New Year from the Red Caps who wish to steal the power of the dawning new year – but the mission was very well designed. You got a mission from Old Father Time in the ski chalet, headed to a mission door somewhere within the ski area and entered a snowbound instanced area filled with Tuatha De Dannon and snow creatures. Defeating the snow creatures around a frozen lake gave you a key to enter an ice cavern filled with Red Caps; one “branch” of the cavern (out of three possible branches) held Snaptooth and the superdeformed (in the Japanese cutesy way) Baby New Year. Snaptooth, the Elite Boss of the Red Tooth who seems to guest appear at CoH/V events, was soloable on some AT builds but a nightmare on others… but given the number of players who were interested in the event, there wasn’t much difficulty in getting a team together that would quickly take him down. From there, it was just a matter of taking Baby New Year back to the zone entrance and bingo, you got to choose from one of four rewards, with each reward giving a different badge. I say the mission was very well designed in that you could do it in about 10 minutes if you rushed, which makes the job of people playing through it multiple times much easier – you could get all four rewards (temp powers and costume pieces) and badges in about an hour if you wanted to. Unlike the short mission in the previous Winter Event, it also had more replayability and placing it in the Pocket D saw it very easy to pull a team together, even with sidekicks and exemplars. I’ve completed this mission at least 20 times with several different teams and the best thing about it was that it was fun for most of those runs; once it stopped being fun and became a chore, it was easy enough to stop contacting Old Father Time.

If I had a complaint, it would be that it was harder for the heroes and villains to interact in a team, which in turn made “pure” teams more desirable. You can’t search out available villains for the Winter Event mission using the Team Find button if you are a hero, nor could you hand over Inspirations to them if they needed it. This did put a bit of a barrier up between players in mixed hero / villain teams, but it was generally only a small one.

All in all, this Winter Event is one of the better events that has been seen in the CoH/V world. Phase 2 was nothing special and a bit of a grind, but Phase 1 was something that really grabbed players’ attention and was fun to go though several times. More importantly, Phase 1 was also something you could complete quickly if you wanted to – it didn’t require vast amounts of time or luck to get it completed (or even completed several times).

If you haven’t done the Winter Event yet, I’d get a move on – it finishes January 2.

With a new year just around the corner, 2007 looks to be an interesting year for CoH/V. The devs have indicated they have three issues planned, with some guesstimated arrival dates of February / March, June / July and October / November. Issue 9 will arrive with the inventions system, which will allow character advancement / adjustment outside of just leveling up your character. Although exciting, I wonder if this will see the introduction of loot (or, more importantly, ultra-rare essential loot that players must grind for) to CoH/V. I hope not. I like the fact that I can buy pretty much everything I need from the in-game stores and that only the Hamidon-level Enhancements / SHOES are drops you can’t get elsewhere. With inventions planned, the devs have also let us know that a silent auction system will be put in place through the new Wentworths’ buildings. I see this helping encourage wider trading between players, but that CoH/V’s economy will remain seriously broken – higher level characters routinely hold millions of influence / infamy and there frankly aren’t enough ways to spend it. Unfortunately, I see most things still being traded between players rather than bought, which will still leave players who don’t know the right people out in the cold. However, we will see when more information is announced.

The upcoming year will also be interesting for the MMOG genre with numerous new MMOGs coming out and more information (probably) being announced about Marvel Universe Online, Cryptic’s other announced project. It will be interesting (and inescapable) to see how CoH/V stacks up against MUO. Again, time will tell.

[p]So, farewell 2006! Happy New Year everyone![/P] [p] – UnSub [@UnknownSubject] unsub@warcry.com 31 December 2006

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