Three weeks ago I praised the Harvest Festival for being a pleasantly low-key event with no achievements attached to it. This might have created the impression that I dislike holiday achievements in general, but that's not true. It's just that I've been kind of sitting on the fence about a lot of them for the longest time. With the recent anniversary of the release of patch 3.0 and the introduction of the achievement system, it occurred to me that I've had a full year of achievement-infused holidays now and that I should really know by now what I do and don't like about holiday achievements... or should that be achievement holidays?
First off, it actually took me a little while to get into the spirit of the whole thing at all. Hallow's End and Winter Veil 2008 just kind of passed me by, with me being completely unaffected by the achievement frenzy they caused. The first meta holiday achievement I got was To Honor One's Elders, and looking back at it I don't think that was a coincidence, as the Lunar Festival, Midsummer and Hallow's End ended up being my favourite holidays in the past year.
Why? I think it's because these were all holidays that you could feel were truly celebrated all over Azeroth. It doesn't really matter where you log in and out, there'll be something for you to do related to the holiday: ancestral spirits everywhere, bonfires all over, and any innkeeper will be happy to let you trick-or-treat. For high-level characters this offers an incentive to visit places they might not have visited in a while, making the world feel more alive all around. For low- and mid-level characters this means that they also get to participate, no matter where they are currently questing, even if they might not be able to tick off every single item on the big holiday-related achievement list. Compare that to something like Brewfest, where all the action is pretty much limited to Orgrimmar and Ironforge.
My favourite holidays also didn't involve any (or relatively little) of the things I've come to dislike about holiday achievements, such as:
- timed grinds: I actually enjoy grinding to a certain extent (I've got four characters who're exalted with the Sons of Hodir, if that gives you any idea), but the key here is that I can choose when to make some time for grinding and when I don't feel like it. Grindy holidays on the other hand give you exactly one or two weeks to collect hundreds of chocolate eggs/burning blossoms/brewfest prize tokens if you want to get all the achievements related to the holiday, and you better not be ill or on holiday during that time or you'll have to wait a whole year to even get another chance.
- too many "fun" items: Okay, I get it, fun items are supposed to be fun. That's alright as long as they aren't required for anything, but when you're already struggling for bag space and you need ten different items to get all the achievements that's actually... rather unpleasant. Valentine's was probably the worst offender of this, what with the card collections and poetry collections and food collections and bracelets and candy hearts and rose petals and aaaargh! I'm mildly obsessive about keeping the content of my bags in order, and having too much temporary, holiday-related rubbish taking up valuable space is not something I appreciate.
- plain stupid achievements: Well, what's stupid? This is obviously somewhat subjective, but I would think that something that requires you to actively undermine other people's fun is pretty stupid for example. (Yes, School of Hard Knocks, I'm talking about you again.) The same is true for achievements that are purely related to luck with random numbers. I have no problem with things like the Needy or Greedy achievements for example, because while they are dependent on the RNG, you have all the time in the world to get them. A holiday pushing you to log in once an hour for a whole week just to "roll" and try your luck as often as possible is quite exasperating on the other hand.
I also rather disliked the Horde version of Rotten Hallow myself. Nothing like repeatedly getting flagged for PvP and getting ganked without having done anything while trying to figure out on which floor they hid that keg. I don't usually mind dying, but I'm not fighting the bloody Lich King here, I thought this was supposed to be a distraction from the more serious issues in Azeroth! I don't think something like that should require a death toll as high as the average raid night from me then.
Oh, and I'm not a big fan of Winter Veil for no reasons in particular. I think that might be related to my scrooge-like attitude about real-life Christmas though.
We'll see how Pilgrim's Bounty pans out.