HO HO HO. Christmas is practically upon us, and games eveywhere... well, mostly online... are joining the party. Whether they call it Winter Veil or Frostfell, it's a chance to deck the hubs with bonus XP and let everyone from elves to orcs don Santa hats and hand out treats to the good little wizards and barbarians. Here's a few of the events going on around the worlds over the next week or so. Is there something cool happening in one of your games that you think folks would find fun? Wrap it up nicely in a comment and leave it under the tree. By which I mean the article. Sorry, that metaphor seemed to be going in a better direction at the start of the sentence.
World of Warcraft: Winter Veil
Winter Veil doesn't change all that much year to year, and this one doesn't look like much of an exception. Alliance players can head to Stormwind and Horde players to Orgrimmar to meet Greatfather Winter and receive special presents. There's a big pile of new pets and toys to acquire, including Winter's Little Helpers and the rare mount Minion of Grumpus. There's not much in the way of quests, but the Abominable Greench has been given a but of a buff over previous years, and a number of the bosses around Azeroth and beyond will now drop funny green and red winter hats. And, as ever, to celebrate the season more practically, hop into any Winter Wondervolt machine to transform into one of Greatfather Winter's Little Helpers, or kiss the revellers standing under convenient sprigs of mistletoe for free gifts like the Fresh Holly, which turns your Mount into something more festive.
The Secret World: Krampusnacht
Along with a new expansion, The Secret World is celebrating the season by unleashing Hel. No, that's not a typo. The Krampus can be found across the adventure zones, looking to punish sinners. Defeating it opens a portal to Nilfheim for another scrap. There's also a secret quest involving figuring a way to lure Hel into the real world via a ritual, and no doubt a big fight. In the PvP zones meanwhile, players can earn the title Lord of Misrule for a few minutes. This turns them into Krampus and hands over some new abilities, with the title and goodies going to anyone who manages to take you out. Not so easy-come, maybe, but definitely easy go.
Everquest II: Frostfell
Magic wardrobes have appeared in Qeynos and Freeport, taking adventurers to the snowy world of Frostfell Wonderland Village. There, there's a new quest series about cheering up a sad gnome girl (which seems to start with 'buying the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion', the capitalist little hussy), as well as a chance to get presents from Santa Glug, some new armour pieces for players over Level 100, and The Great Candy Cane Chase where you bop around and gather presents on the track.
Guild Wars II: Wintersday
Toymaster Tixx has flown his airship to Divinity's Reach, and Wintersday has begun. Mostly it looks like familiar stuff. There's a fight to be had with the rebellious toys in his workshop, as well as a set of returning activities including mastering the Bell Choir to play both preset songs and your own tunes, a jumping puzzle that takes you high into the air above candy canes and snowflakes, and a quest to track down the grinchy Grawnk to get a Wintersday tree for your in-game home.
Sunless Sea: Christmastide
So, uh... this is kinda awkward. Mr Sacks has arrived in Fallen London, and demands your assistance delivering three dark deliveries around the zee. In matters of the Bazaar though, few things are ever quite so simple, and not every good deed has a happy ending. I can't really say anything else about this one here though because, well, I wrote it. If you play it, I hope you enjoy it, and if you don't... sorry, I guess. This one will also still be playable after the season, if a little less atmospheric in summer.
Final Fantasy XIV: Starlight Celebration
Sony's playing things a lot coyer than most, with its announcement pretty much just going "There Will Be Stuff." But that's cool. I quite like the surprise factor. The Starlight Celebration brings snow, costumes, and lots of bishounen and girls in slinky dresses and white beards looking up to the sky with looks of so much joy that I can almost taste the wassail cup. The action kicks off at Level 15, with the local Santa analogue (in this case, the official reason is soldiers giving children crimson coats) in Limsa Lominsa needing your help to ring in the season with a pretty long new quest.
Star Trek Online: Q's Winter Wonderland
Really? (checks) Huh. Yep, Q is now sitting in state at the Federation starbase and presumably elsewhere for good little Klingons and Romulans, offering to teleport willing captains to his pretty world of gingerbread houses and aurora borealiseseseses and attacking Borg snowmen, and worst of all, Neelix. Cooking. There's a few open missions to take part in, including mounting a defense against killer snowmen and eating as many pies as you can within a minute and a half, and what looks to be a new game, Cones of Conduct. Essentially, collect shaved ice and syrup to buff the Wonderland village's defenses, or else Q will destroy the entire universe. Or not. There's also a new ship to be won - the Tier 6 Breen Rezreth Dreadnought Cruiser, which seems a little bit mundane for a Q prize if you ask me. How about a great big flying Christmas pudding, or Q's face carved out of gold with engines on the back?
"Papa" Phineas T. Rotostar has flown across his magical Protostar Mall to subtly suggest that the season might in fact be somewhat commercial. You can celebrate the capitalist cheer by buying stuff like the SnowSphere, where it's always snowy and also toxic, brightly coloured outfits and a Mini-House, or so it says here, as well as having snowball fights with people in robot snowmen, and take part in (ahem) "Holi-Dailies". Oof, yet at the same time, applause. Don't know much about Wildstar myself, but this one certainly has the snazziest webpage devoted to the season, at least.
Neverwinter: The Festival of Irony
No, wait, sorry. It's called Simril. At this point, you can probably guess more or less what's going to be in it - a village of celebrations where you can gather presents, and face off attacks from the Underdark. Those pesky Grinches, always trying to stop everybody's fun. Every day lets you claim a present containing a chance to win rewards from other yearly events that you might have missed, and the option to team up with friends in a gift-giving activity that benefits them rather than you. There's also a sledding run, and a Beacon of Simril to collect and upgrade as the season goes on.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
...is thankfully doing nothing to celebrate Life Day. Though it is running its four-year anniversary during the usual seasonal slot, offering incredibly cheap discounts on Strongholds in Coruscant and Dromund Kaas, and memorabilia like a HK-51 statue and Ebon Hawk wall mount. So, nothing exciting, but it could definitely be worse.
(EDIT: Apparently it is, thus making the game 0.5% worse by connecting itself to That.)
Elsewhere? A few other games like DC Universe Online are marking the season with special offers in their stores, but that's boring, so they can advertise them themselves. I haven't seen many single-player RPGs pushing interesting patches for the season, though if you've seen any good ones, do post them. I do like it when games do that kind of thing. Fallout 4 incidentally offers a half-way version, in that when the in-game clock shows that it's time for Christmas, Diamond City gets redecorated with trees and lights, though I don't know if that's going to be locked in place for the actual day.
And that's it from me this side of Christmas, so have a merry one, a happy holiday, an excellent icicle-wielding murder spree, or whatever religious or secular entertainments you happen to favour. Have I missed any cool events? Post 'em below.