Everything starts on the 14th, when Tyria will get all decked out for the season. Big cities like Lion's Arch will be lavishly decorated with holiday frills, as will the PvP lobby in the Mists and WvW's Central Citadel.
Starting on December 15th at 1:00 p.m. EST, the wonderful Toymaker Tixx will be visiting major cities to share his toys with their inhabitants. His first stop is the Grove, where he'll stay for 24 hours. He'll move to Divinity's Reach on the 16th, followed by the Black Citadel on the 17th, Hoelbrak on the 18th, and Rata Sum on the 19th. He'll end his tour on the 20th by coming to Lion's Arch, where he'll stay until the end of festivities on January 3rd.
Zommoros, the djinn of the Mystic Forge has gotten swept up into the holiday spirit! The Mystic Forge will be transformed into a giant snow globe, which players will actually enter in order to participate in Wintersday activities. "That's impossible!" I hear you say, but here's the thing: Djinn don't give a $#!% about physics. They just don't.
The first activity within the snow globe is the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle. The developers are predicting that players will not find the puzzle easy, but it is meant to be "less frustrating" than the maddening Mad King's clock tower. Players will still be going through in batches together. Unlike the clock tower jumping puzzle, however, Winter Wonderland starts off with three different paths, which should help the problem of visibility significantly. The path is wider at some points, which means that players will be able to spread out a bit and worry less about tripping over each other or missing a jump because a gigantic Norn or a Charr with oversized pauldrons happens to be nearby. Like the Halloween puzzle, this one is effectively timed: Players will continually be taking frostbite damage, which will erode their health over time.
There's a snowball fight arena within the Forge as well. Snowball Mayhem will pit player versus player in a capture-the-flag game mode that revolves around grabbing presents and bringing them to base. You'll get to choose between three combat professions: the supporter, scout, and heavy gunner, each of which comes with custom skills. The skills tend to have a light-hearted flair: You'll be firing off snowballs, crushing foes with snow boulders, and otherwise participating in madcap acts of gleeful violence. Each profession gets one profession-specific skill, like the Warrior's charge skill. Around the map, you'll find powerups to augment gameplay.
The Bell Choir is the final activity within the Mystic Snow Globe. It's a non-combat activity in which you and two other players will be playing three-part harmonies of several Guild Wars 2 and Wintersday-themed songs. Players will be hitting notes as indicators come flying at them; it seems to be like Guitar Hero for handbells. For the musically inclined, there's also a free play session where you can go nuts playing whatever you like.
As Toymaker Tixx is touring Tyria, you'll be able to enter his wondrous workshop each day to help him out. At each city, he'll be debuting a new toy for residents; helping him out while he's in that city will earn you a blueprint for that toy and ingredients for toy-making. If you help out with every city, you'll have enough ingredients to make a toy. If you can't make it in-game for the 24 hours that Tixx is in any given city, don't sweat it! You'll be able to replay previous days' instances once the toymaker has arrived in Lion's Arch.
The workshop is a five-player instance in which players will be automatically leveled to 80. It's meant to take between 30 minutes and an hour depending on group organization. The instances are additive: If you play at each new city every day, you'll see that the workshop gets more complicated over the course of Tixx's journey throughout Tyria.
Tixx's workshop is laid out like a miniaturized version of Tyria. He uses the layout to get toys acclimated to their eventual home (which I think is pretty much the sweetest thing anyone has ever thought up in all of time). When you enter the workshop for Toypocalypse, which is available after Tixx has arrived in Lion's Arch, you'll be able to destroy buildings and rampage through cities. Toypocalypse is, as described by a dev, "horde mode meets tower defense meets Guild Wars 2." Your goal will be to hold off waves of malfunctioning toys, pick up resources to set up defenses, and keep gift-bearing dolyaks safe. Toypocalypse will be hot-joinable through an activity server.
Toymaker Tixx isn't your only chance to get into the holiday spirit. Along with city and WvW decorations, there'll be plenty of other reminders of the festive season -- everywhere but Orr, in fact. There's not a lot of good cheer in Orr, so if you're feeling humbuggy and don't want to deal with immersion-breaking things, go party it up with the undead.
WvW features holiday-themed siege weapons, like ballistae that shoot candy canes. Presents will occasionally fall from the sky from Tixx's marvelous airship. Try not to let them hit you on the head, but once they've landed, you can interact with them to get stuff. What sort of stuff? You'll never know unless you open one up! There will also be snowmen scattered around the world, waiting to be assembled.
But wait, there's more! About 275 crafting recipes will be added to the game, you'll get access to themed finishing moves in PvP, and Wintersday weapons and chests will be making their way into the gem store. There will also be holiday tonics, gift boxes, and weapon skins that look like the weapons wielded by Tixx's inventions.
ArenaNet certainly doesn't seem to have skimped on the Wintersday content, but the good news is that you've got a good three weeks to soak it all in.
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