Ho Ho MMO: Celebrating the (Virtual) Holidays

by Tyler Edwards, December 22 2011

The holidays are a time of joy and celebration for all, in which people from all walks of life take time to visit with loved ones, give and receive gifts, and eat unhealthy quantities of food. But such celebrations are not limited to the real world. The virtual worlds of MMOs also offer up a variety of Yuletide celebrations for one and all, with plenty of new quests, achievements, and special items. And, once again, lots of food, but luckily, you don't have to worry about packing on the pounds from all the pixilated pie and turkey.

4. The Feast of Winter Veil (World of Warcraft)

mmo holidays

In ancient times, the peoples of Azeroth spoke of a being called Greatfather Winter, whose icy cloak spread the veil of winter across the land. Those that celebrated him were said to be rewarded with great bounty, and so the tradition of the Feast of Winter Veil was born.

Of course, nowadays, the goblins of Smokeywood Pastures have gotten their greedy mitts on the holiday, and ever since, Winter Veil's sacred origins have been lost in an orgy of presents, food, and eggnog. One could thus make the argument that Winter Veil is a holiday that very closely mirrors the real holidays.

But this is all to the benefit of the players of World of Warcraft, as Winter Veil offers all kinds of toys and vanity items, such as holly to turn one's mount into a reindeer or snowballs to throw at other players. It also offers several vanity pets for the game's many pet collectors, and the holiday is also a boon to those with the cooking profession, as it offers many special holiday recipes.

And if you ever wanted to be one of Santa's sorry, Greatfather Winter's helpers, those clever goblins can turn you into one resembling a festively dressed Gnome any time you like. Finally, there are some holiday-themed quests to save Metzen the reindeer, a not-so-subtle reference to WoW designer and lore guru Chris Metzen.

3. Season's Greedings (DC Universe Online)

mmo holidays

Nothing says a hero like saving Christmas, and likewise, nothing says a villain like ruining it. Knowing this, Sony Online Entertainment has brought a special holiday update to DC Universe Online this year.

The villainous Larfleeze, leader of the Orange Lanterns, has been neglected by Santa Claus this year being a super villain is a good way to make it to the top of the naughty list and so he has lashed out by stealing holiday items and hiding them throughout Gotham and Metropolis.

Both heroes, under the direction of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and villains, commanded by the wicked Sinestro, must defeat Larfleeze's orange construct minions and recover these items before he can ship them back to his homeworld in the Vega System.

Available to players at all levels of subscription, Season's Greetings offers players many new perks and holiday items. A Feat can be earned by spotting Larfleeze hiding in Metropolis or Gotham, and if you want to get your character into the festive spirit, you can equip them with some of the new holiday vanity items, including reindeer antlers and a "Holiday Elf" outfit. You can also add insult to injury when fighting your enemies by striking with the mighty snowglobe grenade.

2. Holiday events (Runescape)

mmo holidays

Unlike the standardized annual events of other games, Runescape makes things more interesting by having a new event every holiday, each with unique content and rewards. This tradition dates back a decade to 2001.

Runescape's holiday events have changed much over the years. In the early days, they were simple, generally just including a few special holiday drops, such as party hats and Santa caps. It's interesting to note that since these drops were only available during their associated events, they are now extremely rare. Santa caps can sell for billions of coins in game and are now considered a status symbol of great value.

As time has gone on, the holiday events have grown increasingly involved and elaborate. The 2009 event parodied the traditional "A Christmas Carol" story, having players take on the role of ghosts to rescue Santa Claus from the dark wizard "Ebenezer Scourge." The 2010 event took players through a series of wintry puzzles in the dungeons of Daemonheim. The 2011 event has players playing in the snow with the wizards of Wizards' Tower and offers a number of rewards, including a new pet for members and a new emote.

1. Frostfell (EverQuest and EverQuest II)

mmo holidays

Frostfell is a unique holiday in that it occurs simultaneously in two games: EverQuest and EverQuest II. It has all the familiar trappings you'd expect from an in-game holiday celebration special quests, new items, holiday crafting recipes as well as some unique touches of its own.

While still obviously influenced by real world holiday celebrations, the EQ developers have put a little extra effort into incorporating Frostfell into the mythos of the EverQuest universe, making it feel less out of place compared to its equivalents in other games.

Frostfell is said to date back to the Lost Ages, when the world of Norrath was covered by a curse and no god's favor fell upon its peoples but for one, who traveled to Norrath in secret and hid gifts to aid the world's struggling inhabitants. Over time, this evolved into a festival still celebrated by the peoples of Norrath to this day.

In addition to the usual content from past years including the Frostfell Wonderland village holiday zone EverQuest II adds a great deal of new content for this year's celebration, including a new dungeon, new quests, new items and trade recipes, and more. EverQuest also offers a new quest involving the Santug Claugg character.

Frostfell is a large celebration in either game, and for spanning two games, it is easily the biggest of the holiday events on this list. It is also the one best incorporated into its game's world. For these reasons, it earns the top spot on our list of virtual holidays.