The Life Day event actually started when the Cartel Market began selling Life-Day-related items on the week of the 10th. The items were the exact same items that were on sale last year. Many people, including me, were concerned that the whole event (if you could call it that) would be a complete recycle of last year's. Of course, we had the tensile bomb, the Life Day orb, the Life Day robes, and everyone's favorites, the festive snow-blowing speeder. (That was sarcasm, in case it didn't come through the text.) Fortunately, this year's SWTOR Life Day festivities didn't end there.
On the 17th, BioWare relaunched the Gree event on Ilum. Although the station hosted the Master of Ceremonies event, the true holiday event took place on Ilum. Of course, it was more of the same as last time, but out of all the other events SWTOR hosted this year, the PvE side of the Gree event was fairly enjoyable. I also believe that BioWare's holding out on the event for several months actually made the event a bit sweeter.
When mentioning the Gree event in the SWTOR anniversary article, I spoke of the lines of people standing idly by waiting for the next person in line to click on the pylon in the PvP zone. I only minimally participated in the Gree event the last time it came around, but as I understand it, BioWare shortened the length of the Gree-bubble buff needed to activate the pylon. This seemingly minor change actually turned the PvE event into an actual PvP event because a player could not hold on to the bubbles as long as they used to. Players actually fought at the pylon as they waited for it to clear. On my server, that made the activity more frustrating a lot of people, but I think those people would also admit they were not avid PvPers, whereas the PvP groups appeared to love this change. And for that reason, I'm glad for it. The lines of people waiting for the pylon to clear are all but gone, and the southern terminus is actually a PvP zone again.
Holding back the Gree event for an extended period of time also meant that a good chunk of players had not participated in the event, yet. For me, that was a bit hard to believe at first because the event was about a year old. But then it occurred to me that a great number of people have been returning to the game, and some players had not played during a Gree event at all. In our raid 16-man raid group, we had about four players who had to gather up Gree reputation before participating in the Xenoanalyst world boss instance. Perhaps it's just me, but when players in my group experience content for the first time, it refreshes the content for me, too. It's not as if I'm experiencing it again for the first time, but there is a renewed vigor to the event.
If you follow me on Twitter, then you likely saw me tweet when I received "A Special Snowflake" title, but I'm not sure that I am a fan of the actual Life Day event over all. For me it seems to be a departure from the parts of this game that retain the Star Wars mystique.
Although the decorations are minimal, both Carrick and Vaiken stations are dressed in holiday fashion, and near the Galactic Trade Network you will find a jolly fat man dressed in a red robe beckoning you to join him and buy his wares. Surrounding the man, who resembles Santa Claus, are other humans playing various instruments. BioWare did add some fun to the official site by creating an edict that explicitly said, "These items are under review under Section 53-T of Imperial law and their purchase may constitute an official Contraband Violation," but of course, we are going to buy his junk anyway.
Unfortunately, there aren't many things to buy. But the first one you have to buy to participate in the event is the Life Day Snowball Bomb. According to the rules, you must throw this bomb at other PCs that do not already have the Snowball Bomb buff to randomly receive a snow-covered parcel. However, as many of us found out the first day, you can throw the bomb at whoever is not attacking you, buffed or not. That means PCs, companions, vendors, and random NPCs could potentially grant you a snow-covered parcel. In fact, I received a snow-covered parcel from the Xenoanalyst on Ilum and each of the Dread Guards in the Terror From Beyond operation. Obviously, someone at BioWare fell a bit short when testing this event -- but it worked out to our advantage.
Unfortunately, that was the whole event. Buy a Snowball Bomb then throw it at random people. You can buy a ridiculous Sleigh I speeder for 24 Snow-Covered Parcels; if you've been doing the Gree event and gathering parcels, then you can trade in 16 Gray Helix Components and 36 Snow-Covered Parcels for a Cyan Sphere, a Gree vehicle that we have lovingly called the snow globe because it is pretty much a ball with an engine strapped to the back. Once you've collected 100 parcels, you gain the title "A Special Snowflake." And in case you were wondering, I've found that you receive a parcel about every 5 to 7 snowball bombs you throw.
The actual Life Day event with the Master of Ceremonies feels like an unimaginative time-sink so that the devs can feel that they gave us something other than Cartel Market items. But I'll take it. At least they gave us something, and with the Rakghoul event coming again soon, there are bigger things to look forward to.
Merry Sithmas to all, and to all a good night.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to email@example.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!